Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Life is all about choices!

“This way” or “That way” are always the two options served to us in our lives and we have to pick any one. Like the famous dialogue of King Khan in the movie DDLJ, “Zindagi mein hamesh aapko do raaste milenge, ek sahi ek galat, aur aapko kisi ek ko chunna hoga” haha. A fair point without doubts, dear Raj or ‘Simran ka Raj’ to be more accurate.

Is really life is a matter of choice or there is a force ruling us and we are just acting puppets in its hands? Ask and wonder many. Are our thoughts and actions completely determined by forces over which we have no control? Or, are we free to decide for ourselves, to be the captains of our fate? The question of fate versus free will is an old one and eventually ends up on a philosophical note because science is still not ready with its answer. Some argue, debate and some even reject the idea out rightly and bring the all-powerful “Destiny/Fate/Kismat ka Likha (Favorite of us Indians, haha)”and some go double in their confidence saying “It’s all in our hands and its our choices only which make our lives”. Everytime I get trapped in the discussion, smilingly I say, “OK” because who knows what it is really.

Life starts with the choice that we have to make from the first day we are born and then of course there is a choice that life offers you to take at every step. Infact, if we go back a little with time, we are expected to take few choices even before our birth like which womb to choose and which family to go. Perhaps that’s what we call as “Free Will”. There is an interesting catch here, if you notice. While there is a belief that we have everything destined, there is a choice in the choices. Like for eg: For once the soul gets the relief that it has taken a choice between taking a birth or not taking a birth. The moment it takes a sigh of relief, then immediately the next choice comes up as birth in which form of life – animal/bird/insect/reptile/worm or what. Then again let’s say with great difficulty the poor soul again gets up to take a decision and take a sigh of relief then again the question arises which animal/bird/insect/reptile/worm and so on and so forth.

For hundreds of years, this debate went in favor of this view that God, whom we have never seen, being all-powerful and all-knowing, was considered to have predetermined all that would happen in the future. Everything, therefore, must have been predetermined by “HIS” prior knowledge and prior decisions. The second point of view comes with the argument served on table that if we are merely puppets in the hands of a predetermined life, how can there be any punishment for doing what we couldn’t possibly have avoided ? Further, if we say, “Well, punishment is also predetermined,” then punishment loses all moral significance, claiming the point that punishment is useful because it can bring in discipline in the society and can bring in a change in the factors that determine a criminal’s behavior. Then we see judiciary with the assumption that the judges are just acting mediums to announce the decision of the supreme power. So right or wrong comes later, but yes the free-will is definitely there because of which we clearly take a choice.

The free-will brings in another concept in view for consideration, which is very much supported by science is “Determinism”. In today’s day and age of scientific advancement, we are constantly at the study of “Self”. Discoveries in the fields of psychology, physiology, neurology, and pharmacology indicate that the determinant's dream of being able to predict all facets of human behavior may soon come true. Behavioral scientists anticipate a time when an examination of the biological and psychological characteristics of an infant will enable them to write his life’s story before he lives it. In short, the evidence available today regarding human motivation and how human attitudes are affected makes a strong case for determinism. But again an interesting point here that is sometimes made in favor of free will is that if determinism is true, those who believe in free will are determined to be that way. So it’s a nice jigsaw puzzle for the human mind to remain occupied solving it, haha.

But in such a situation, the spiritual science comes helpful a great way. We get our understanding of the reconciliation between fate and free will from the Bhagavad-Gita, well supported by other schools of thoughts in the same field. The first relevant bit of information is that we are neither our material bodies and nor the ever notorious mind; we are eternal souls with acquired body and mind. If we agree to this theory atleast then we can go on to understand the extent to which we are determined and the extent to which we have free will or we have a predetermined and ordained life.

Ref to the arguments made above, if we have a free will then we would always choose what makes you happy and our enjoyment. But that always doesn’t work for us. So many times our decisions are against out temptations and we go with decisions that are best for us. So clearly there is somebody inside who is continuously guiding us in that whispering voice “don’t do this do that”. When we listen to that and act in accordance we will always benefit.

As spiritual beings, we are all part and parcel of the original and supreme power which is omnipresent and omniscient, the “nirakar roopa”, as we say. This means that we are reflections of the “Self”. Since we are a part of this supreme energy, even we are divine but this divinity is veiled. It is camouflaged. Divinity is our true nature always but we remain ignorant of that and precisely because of this that our mind plays with us all its games. It is the mind which comes up with its desires according to its conceptions and informations of the material enjoyment and its attachment to it. Then
on top of it is its egoistic nature because of which comes the thought of our independent existence. It is because of this ego, we foolishly think ourselves the doers of activities in this world.

Existence is One. Whatever multiplicity is seen as existing is because of the One: I am. Nothing other than the One can exist independent of the One and this includes the mind.

Supposing there was no mind. In that case, there would be no one to think, see, perceive or judge. There would be absolute order or perfection with no confusion of any kind. The existence of the mind is created out of attachment to that one thought: “I AM”. The unmanifested became manifested after which the first knowledge came as: “I AM”. This particular thought “I am” gets created as a sense of presence: “I exist”. When this “I am” becomes "I am this"; or "I am that", then that becomes the beginning of the false entity: “the ego”.

Hence to conclude, If we consider ourselves different than the source only then that there would come the concepts of Divine Will vs Free will or Determinism.

So let’s live life to the fullest even if we believe it's by compulsion (i.e as ordained) or by choice. 

Cheers to a happy contended blessed Life ahead for all ! 👍

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Fake it till you make it

Ha ha Aristotle started it all. He had said to be a virtuous man, you must first act like a virtuous man, and he was an intelligent man .. must say. 

I had heard people say it but I never believed in it and so never gave it the right weightage. My face was an exact reflection of my mental state. If I was upset my face would say it. If I tensed and worried my face would say. If I was happy my face would say until one day I realised I was becoming such an obvious factor. In addition I also realized I hardly smiled because 90% of the times I would either remain sad or tensed or worried or irritated or upset about something or the other. All started noticing this and commenting on it. I kind of not liked it. I thought to myself why should the world know my state of mind. So, in order to hide my state of mind, I started faking a funny smile at others so much so that I faked a smile at times when smile had no business in my life. With this, one good thing started happening, I started getting compliments for my smiles and started getting replaced to the comments. I started looking happy and joyful. The outer expression started impacting my inner world and I actually started remaining happy and joyful. Then I realized oh wow it seemed to be working ;). I started faking more smiling faces and more happy looks. 

Then slowly and gradually, just for the fun of it, I started faking on many other things. The more I faked the more I was getting convinced that it was working on me. For eg: I had fallen in to the practice of thinking negative. But I knew that if somebody would know my thoughts they would comment and so to hide my negative thoughts, I started faking positive thoughts. Two things started happening - One, my folks started complimenting on my thoughts and citing me as an example for positive thinking and second, my thoughts actually started bringing in positive results because as they say Universe always takes things on face value only. 

My ability of faking started becoming more frequent. I started faking almost on everything that I wanted to do but I was not being able to do it in real life for some reason, like building that inner confidence, living the happy state of mind within, taking everything in positive stride so on and so forth. I had my own reactions and secret confessions to that. 

Then one day I realized faking was not helping in the long run and perhaps it was wrong to fake a false thing and I should not be doing it. So I stopped faking. I was sure people would get to know my real nature and they would again start passing comments and judging me. But to my surprise came in no comments but all complimentary things. On introspection I realised, I actually was doing a lot of things which I wasn't doing earlier. In the process of faking, the subconscious mind had started picking it up as its own nature and now by default it was no more a fake .. I could actually make it. 

Without any debate I admitted there is a great benefit in faking and yes Aristotle was right - to be a virtuous man, you must first act like a virtuous man. Today modern science admits it and the notion is used in cognitive behavioural therapy (changing behaviour patterns). So yes Fake it till you Make it ... ha ha :) 

Monday, February 24, 2020

Mind - My enemy, My friend

Mind can be the enemy and mind can also be the friend. It is the mind that binds and it is the mind that liberates. When the mind is attached to objects, which are transitory and impermanent, is the mind that is your enemy. This is the mind that binds. But a mind that does not abide anywhere, on any object, is a mind that is your friend. This is the mind that liberates. 

Knowingly or Unknowingly, all of us are struggling to deal with it. One second the mind remains here then the other second it is somewhere else breaking our mind into pieces. Till the time it is in pieces and the pieces are in continuous mutual conflict, peace remains far from us and we are always in a state of chaos, leading to nothing but unhappiness. It is only when we learn to put these pieces together so as to make the mind whole and integrated, that we gain the gift of liberation.

Be it the sages and rishis and enlightened masters like Buddha, Vivekanand, Ramana Mahrishi, Nisargadutta Maharaj to name a few, they all have to say the same. But there is also no surprises to the fact that Mind is the most notorious thing to handle. Having said so, the rishis have also said that it is difficult but not impossible to control the mind. 

However, Patanjali, the great master of the Yoga-system, calls these pieces of the mind as vrittis, modifications, which are ever arising and never subsiding. Only when these vritis are controlled, suppressed and eliminated through the science of Yoga ie the right kind of discipline and training, can the liberated state of mind be achieved. When we set into the practice of YOGA, the mind plays a role there too. Patanjali, has divided these hindering factors as "antarayas"(intruders in the path of yoga) and "viksepasahabhuvah"(co-existing with mental distraction). The antarayas are nine: Vyadhi(disease), styana(mental laziness), samsaya(doubt), pramada (heedlessness), alasya(physical laziness), avirati(absence of dispassion), bhrantidar-sana(false perception), alabdha-bhumi-katva(non-attainment of yogic states) and anavasthitatva (falling away from yogic states when obtained). To these nine obstacles, Patanjali adds further five more, classifying them separately as a second group -"viksepasahabhuvah". If these exist they are immediately and invariably followed by mental distraction. They are namely : duhkha(sorrow), daurmanasya (despondency), angamejayatva (restlessness of limbs), svasa(forcible inhalation), prasvasa(forcible exhalation). 

In addition to this, Patanjali has also further explained the 5 Kleshas that are considered as the root cause of all of our pain and suffering in this human experience. According to Patanajali’s Yoga Sutras, there are 5 main afflictions or kleshas and these are Avidya(Ignorance), Asmita (Egoism), Raga(Attachment), Dwesha(Aversion) & Abhidvesa (Fear of any change specially death).

However, inspite of all the obstacles and hinderances and problems of the mind, Patanjali suggests one clear way to remove all these is Meditation and Devotion to the supreme power under the path of Bhakti as also mentioned in Bhagwad Geeta under the Bhakti Yog where in he says to surrender to him our every thought, word and deed. While practicing meditation, one important step is "Pratyahara" which is withdrawal of senses from the world outside and keeping them under the control of the mind. At this stage "Dharana" which means fixing your attention on a particular object (middle of the eyebrows, tip of the nose or external objects like light or any image of the lord etc). At thisstate however, there is still the consciousness of the trio - The ego sense, the object of meditation and the process of meditation. When Dharna ripens, the flow of the thought becomes unbroken and it becomes "Dhyana". When dhyana again goes into deep state, the mind gets so absorbed in the object of meditation that it looses its own identity and awareness and this state is know as "Samadhi". In this state, the mind is so deeply absorbed that even the ego-sense is completely subjugated. This state is such an intuitive and super-conscious experience that the yogi starts getting revealed of the cosmic secrets and gaining the knowledge of the "Self"  as the means of liberation. 

Meeting self is less of a struggle today !

As I grow I can clearly see the distinct difference between Freedom Within and Freedom Outside that runs parallel to every action.

As a child I was never held back to anything. My grand parents and parents were traditional but believed in giving complete freedom to our upbringing. I was given the complete freedom to choose every aspect of my life - the subjects that I want to pick for my studies, the career I chose, the guy whom I chose to get married, The hobbies I wanted to pursue, the places I wanted to visit, the dresses I wore. There was complete freedom in everything. Inspite of that, I realized a chained life. I was chained to my own thoughts, my own mind. 

I was always under the grip of my mind. Chain of thoughts continued without a break. I was always either in the past or the future, never in the present. Inspite of having everything that I could wish for a good life, I was never happy. The unhappiness raised to such great heights that I fell into a depression trap. I started falling physically sick, remaining mentally lost and emotionally low with the palpitation scores always remaining on the higher count. Tears used to just roll down without any reason. Thousand questions blasting in my mind like thousand atom bombs exploding every minute. I had started distancing away from everyone and remaining in my own silo. My restlessless was increasing and patience and concentration were completely lost and irritation and anger was at peak.  I had lost the pleasure and fun of life.

Until one day, I realized the life I was leading was not a normal life. I knew medical treatment was not answer. Few chemical pills will not cure me. I knew there was something much beyond. And there started my quest. I started looking for answers to the obvious human mind questions. Nothing could give me the solution I was looking for. 

Finally, it was like the universe heard me and it seemed apparent that the universe wanted me to go through process of heavy grilling to carve me to a good shape. It was an intelligently designed plan. Gradually and slowly, things started changing in my life on its own. My circle of friends changed, my selection of books, movies, plays changed, my subjects of discussion changed. I started following my daily practice of Yoga, Meditation, Prayers or Chants and participate in satsangs. Initially it needed a push. I had to literally force myself to close my eyes even for 5 seconds coz of the chaos running in my mind but eventually I started enjoying it. The results were still not apparent but much of the noise had started settling down. I wasn't into any overjoyed state of happiness but peace had definitely started walking into my life. 

This continued for good fifteen-sixteen years when I finally started enjoying and reaping some benefits. The daily routined practice of my spiritual exercises and closing my eyes and sitting quietly is less of a struggle today.  But then, as they say spiritual practices take time but definitely do have the power to open the mind, nourish the heart and change the inner world. I am happy that I can say too.  

The 20 minutes investment everyday leads to a Paradigm Shift - A transcendental movement. Always to my surprise as it has happened, no matter how much of a disturbance I am in, within few minutes something magical starts to happen inside as I sit with my eyes closed. I feel opened to something way beyond my own imagination. Its a clear movement from one way of being to another. I have no idea what is it but then - for sure - there is some magic to the whole experience. It gives a state of freedom from bondage, freedom from the clutters of the mind, freedom from the chains of thoughts, freedom from the captivating needs of the body. 

Its difficult to put everything in words but to just share few experiences of this state that I enjoy :

1.I allow it to "let loose"
The focus somehow shifts to a state of Love and Bliss with washing away of all my feelings of anger, hatred or any kind of discomfort, invariably leading to Selflessness, Empathy, Generosity, Oneness and rejoicing a state of "Equanimity".

2.I reach the melting point of my own EGO without much effort. 
There is a beautiful feeling of melting, dissolving and getting lost into the space of "nothingness"- that's deeply profound. The state of "EGO" gets completely  fused.  I am Everything or I am Nothing. It's no more tight and suffocating - its in its fluid state - its flowing all over. 

3. I go beyond "I / ME / MYSELF" 
From somewhere unknown there flows a sense of "Oneness" that yields a deeper and wider perspective to Life. I take a break from the big "ME". I am no longer the big "ME" which means I am not inside the defined square of my own uptight 'Identity' any longer. Its magical - I close the mind and the entire personality dissolves. 

4. I m pulled towards the "Center"
There is a strong pull of all my attention to the center. The focus automatically moves to the point of third eye and everything seems so much in balance, so much in control, so much in peace.

5. I am flown in to a mesmerizing state of abundance leading to heartfelt gratitude
I awake to the awareness of being blessed with so much to be thankful and grateful for. There is absolutely no obsession for more Consumption and Materialism. So many times I get so overwhelmed that I have ended up with tears rolling down from my eyes, flowing over my cheeks and I come back to my senses to wipe them off.  

Inspite of having such a powerful experience, strangely enough, the effect fades slowly as the day progresses. But then as I grow I see signs and symbols that give me the proof that something beautiful is definitely happening inside and slowly but surely helping me grow and evolve. 
  • An increased state of conscious awareness of staying in bliss and enjoying more moments (if not each moment) with the belief that "whatever is happening is happening for my own good".
  • An increasing belief that everything happens for a reason and more often being able to surrender to my fate and accepting life as it comes. 
  • Fear, Worry, Apprehensions, Anxieties, if not always, to a great extent I seem to keep them under control and act with patience. (Still a long way to go though ... I know :) ). 
  • Ability to "Ignore" a lot of things happening around that I do not approve of  and not get in to a conflict zone with a desire to give it back or prove a point.
  • A definite loss of interest in constantly being in the process of interpreting the actions of others and being judgmental about people but being neutral towards most situations and people today. 
  • A beautiful contented feeling of being connected with self and nature and things around.
  • Most importantly developing a more diluted form of my own EGO. The "Sorry", "Please" and "Thank you's" come easy and Smile flows naturally.
It seems like I have started living life again and the best part is I meet myself everyday ! 😄 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Its not easy to break an investment !

"Its not easy to break an investment" said a friend. 

An instant supremely convinced answer came from inside - O yes, most certainly & most definitely.

But the question that bogged me was "What is that investment that I am talking about?" and at the end of the day what is the return that I am really looking forward to ? What is the negotiation all about?

At the level of my mind i.e the thoughts, the question is in some form of a funny technical evaluation. At the level of my heart i.e the emotions, it is in some form of an emotional evaluation.

Starting from each moment of sacrifices made, precious time spent, trust entrusted, support extended, extra mile taken, to the most sacred investment of 'emotions exchanged' everything is an investment that has gone it to it. And when so many things have been put in to something, its but natural that it becomes the most precious thing and hence the question - is it really going to be easy to break it ... obviously not. Breaking it down can tear you apart. 

Further, for any investment done the general expectation is a good return. But the question here is what am I expecting in return of this investment that I have done over these years. Is it a life time companionship? Is it a life time social / emotional / financial security? Is it a life time guarantee of love ? Or what is it ?

"The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. To put it more accurately, it is not so much that you use your mind wrongly - you usually don't use it at all. It uses you" .... haha .... so rightly says Tolle in his book "Power of Now".

The MIND as we all know it by its nature is supremely evaluative and keeps a count of every single penny. But on the contrary, the heart is one sweet little thing that we humans have got as a blessed gift. And because they are so opposite in nature the two dont don't get along and because they don't get along we pay the price. 

So if I evaluate from my mind then the day the returns stop coming in - I will stop investing. But if I do the evaluation from my heart my investment would continue whether I get my desired return or not coz at the end of the day the real ROI is a contented, happy peaceful guilt free sleep as breaking an investment is certainly not easy :)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mirror Mirror who is prettier !

Whenever there comes a reference of a mirror, the first thing that comes to my mind is the fascinating childhood fairy tale "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" 
Image result for Mirror Mirror who is prettier animation
The story of Snow White is not a simple story. Its a classic example of how we are so fond of seeking affirmations for our self worth. Like in the story the step mother of Snow White could not appreciate and recognize the beauty in other woman. For her she was the only one mattered. She needed this magic mirror to affirm her dignity and beauty daily. The only answer she was satisfied with is "self". So she constantly asked "Mirror Mirror who is prettier?"

But why did she do this ? Why wasn't she convinced and felt the need to check daily ? Why did she feel the need of that daily appreciation and affirmation that she was the prettiest ?

So many times I wonder - Was the step mother the only one who wanted this affirmation ? Isn't she just like one of us ?

Arguably so - We  all are the same. Invariably we have all been there. We do look in to the mirror to see what we want to see. We do compare ourselves with others and seek a silent affirmation of being better than others, We do in many ways make an attempt to prove ourselves how much better we are than them ... even sometimes to the point of bringing others down - not a great idea of course.

Quiet a few times I do wonder to myself what if this universe had no reflective surfaces, What if there were no mirrors ? What if we dint know how we looked like ? What if we did not have anyone reconfirming to us what we wanted to hear for ourselves OR What if we had mirrors that were like scanners which only showed us the internal affairs and told us whats really going on ....  

Most often we look at the mirror and strike an instant connect with our alter ego and we smile ! In every interaction, we subconsciously explore every possibility of seeking a validation of our perfect making and reassuring ourselves of being the best, somewhere deliberately suppressing and avoiding our "self - referral" system, that we all have inside us, which keeps popping up at every odd minute.  

But guys .. hold on ... a warm assurance .. this does not make us EVIL at all . Its just being human. The construction of we humans are that way. We all have an innate desire in us to be known, respected, loved and wanted. Unfortunately, we sometimes, in our ignorance get carried away a bit too far and in the process of seeking to fulfill these desires we adopt unhealthy ways.

Let’s not be like the stepmother in Snow White. 

Lets not forget we all are also made up of beautiful hearts which helps us in bringing the other side to our personality. Instead of the physical mirror we can have our private moments with that inner mirror which is inside all of us silently smiling and watching everything but not saying a word. It only speaks up when we decide to spend some time with it. More and more we start spending time with this little inner mirror, more and more it starts talking to us and very lovingly making us realize how truly beautiful and pretty we all are. 

This is something that we need to remind ourselves daily. With this post I want to take your attention to all those qualities which make you truly beautiful and pretty. I request you to attend to yourself, concretely, quietly and reflectively. I urge to withdraw yourself completely from the external influences and delve within and discover your own potentiality of being.
Trust me it will go without saying "You are the most beautiful - The prettiest - The best "

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Privilege of being a "Woman"

What a powerful realization  ...

Just heard Sushmita Sen's talk few days back ... bowled over completely :)
Hats off to you lady for your heart wrenching speech at the "Save and Empower the girl child Campaign Fashion Show" - You were simply awesome !

Image result for womb of nature

The age of the Aquarius is on its way by December 2012 ... is how she starts. Explaining further she says the age of Aquarius is when women will rise. It is the time when we will come to the awareness of female strength. This powerful opening statement was more than enough for my eyebrows to raise and my eyes getting glued to the screen awaiting anxiously for her next line.

She continues ... 
there is a reason why the law of nature says to you I will not let you choose - when you become pregnant you will not know / you shouldn't if its a girl / boy.  That is the law's nature of keeping the balance between the nurturer and the provider. And if we kill the nurturer life will stop to exist the way we see it. If we kill the girl child we kill the womb of the universe. 

How beautiful and how wonderful a thought is that. 

The PRAKRITI - mother of the entire cosmos - takes a birth with a girl child. While I write this I get the goosebumps - realizing what a power it is that we all women carry - the power of nurturing LIFE ...  'WOW' :)

Modern science has reached the moon and beyond but has not reached till date even close to a good answer to the question - where does life come from ? Medical science confirms that a baby's heart starts beating 18 days from conception - but the puzzle to solve here is how does an organ of a poppy seed size just suddenly bursts in to life by spontaneously contracting, triggering its neighboring cells and setting off a chain reaction until all the heart cells are beating and then the rest of the organs start forming slowly and slowly. On a spiritual understanding it is not just simple a body of bones, muscles and blood - it is LIFE. 

Isnt it just magical - "pure magic" and nothing else to put it in one word. 

My complete surrender to that energy, to that power and to the women who have the blessings to be born with the womb that brings life on earth.