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Category: spirituality


Why did we join the school we did?

Why did we join the college we did?

Why did we choose the subjects and majors we did?

Why did we choose the life partner we did?

Why did we choose the job we are in?

Why did we choose to have children?

All these Why’s are not to ask whether we chose right or wrong. There is no right or wrong. But the question is to know whether we thought about these things at all. Much of our lives are based on herd instinct. We do things because everyone else does them.

Surprisingly, in the only thing that truly matters in life, aka self-realization, the herd instinct doesn’t work, because there is no herd.

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So intuitive – part 1 of 2

Have you ever had a feeling about something that turned out to be true, even though you couldn’t explain why? That’s your intuition speaking! In Vedic/Hindu spirituality, intuition is known as the directly perceiving faculty of the soul, and it is a powerful tool that allows us to know the truth about everything without relying on sensory experience or reason.

According to Paramhansa Yogananda, there are three stages of intuition awakening:

Crude intuition: This is the initial stage of intuition awakening. It often appears as a calm, haunting feeling that occasionally turns out to be true. However, this type of intuition can be clouded by distorted reasoning and emotional feelings.

Semi-developed intuition: This type of intuition comes from frequent exercise and using pure reason and calm feeling. It is important because it allows us to distinguish true intuition from false impulses, leading to better decision-making.

True intuition: This is the highest form of intuition, which comes from the soul. It is developed through regular meditation and practice. When our intuition is fully developed, we will stand firm in our knowledge and convictions, no matter what challenges may arise.

That’s the definition anyway. No personal experience to opine on, but concluded tomorrow!

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There are auspicious times for everything in Hinduism.

Every God or Deity has a specific time or day of the week to get the best results.

There are auspicious foods as well. Modak for Ganesha for instance.

Specific clothes. Like black for Shani.

Specific food fasts to appease specific Gods.

It might appear that this is all for these Gods. Because God likes it this way, and this way only.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. God doesn’t care about when and where we offer something to Him. He only cares about whether we are connected to Him, preferably always. By extension, all times then automatically become auspicious.

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Alcoholics Actionymous

Everyone knows AA is where alcohol over-indulgers go for rehab. But is joining the program the end of all troubles? I don’t have any experience in this domain, and can’t say for sure – but I doubt it would be any different from most other programs or lessons or coaching or tutorials for anything. There is perhaps some stuff handed on a platter, but there would be no substitute for self-effort.

Why the sudden talk of AA? A podcast I was listening to recently had the guest mention a quote by Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Apparently Bill once said “You can’t think your way into right action, but you can act your way into right thinking”.

This seems very simple and intuitive, but it is quite profound. In today’s world, there is an alarmingly high number of armchair scientists, theorists, psychologists, doctors, therapists, and all sorts of other pseudo-professionals. Armed with degrees from FB-college and WA-university, no domain is out of reach.

Is ‘thinking’ important? Of course, without proper thought and planning, one cannot succeed. But action (aka karma yoga) is essential. Especially on the spiritual path, thinking too much can only get in our way. But, by taking small steps towards positive actions, such as being kind to others, practicing gratitude and mindfulness, we’ll find that our thoughts and desires start to align with our actions, leading to a more fulfilling life. And eventually we may just discover our deepest desire – to attain enlightenment – even if we do not consciously desire or realize it!

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We’ve all heard about SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. This is goal setting 101.

But there’s also a SMART in the non-material realm, which I came across in the newspaper recently.

S for Spirituality.
M for Measurable.
A for Action oriented, like Karma Yoga.
R for Renunciation.
T for time, which is running out.

When do we begin to follow this SMART?

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Fruits of action

We are often told by Lord Krishna in the Gita to give up the “fruits” of our actions. What are these fruits?

We typically tend to associate these fruits with the various results we get. You put in a lot of hardwork, and it resulted in you getting a promotion. And so that becomes your fruit of action.

But is this all there is to it?

The word fruit is emblematic of something far deeper. It indicates the cycle of birth and death, and the incessant repetitive nature of creation and dissolution.

An apple fruit contains within it various seeds, each of which in turn containing the latent potential of not just future trees, but also future apples, future seeds, and future grandchildren-trees!

The fruits of our actions are no different. They contain seeds which propel further action. The promotion of today will lead to a desire for more wealth and promotions for future years, ad infinitum.

These fruits might seems sweet and delicious, but in effect only bind us more and lead to more pain. The only way, as Krishna says, is to renounce the fruits.

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Defining meditation

It’s quite hard to define a word such as meditation. It’s an experience, and surely everyone experiences it differently. A book I came across recently called Steps to Raja Yoga by Swami Atmatattwananda Saraswati has a full chapter devoted to meditation. Here is an excerpt that defines meditation:

Definition of meditation as per the Yoga Darśanam: The sanskrit word for meditation is known as 'Dhyana'. According to Maharşi Patanjali, the founder of Yoga philosophy, meditation is defined as (P.Y.S- 3:2) Tatra Pratyaya Ekat- anata Dhyanam'. Tatra 'there', or in a particular stage. Pratyaya means the content of consciousness or the modifications of the mind. Ekatanata means unbroken stream or uninterrupted thought. When the contents of the mind remain at one point or thought and continue for a long time, the experience is known as meditation. The Sanskrit word Dhyana is also derived from the root word 'Dhyai' which means Chinta' contemplation, or deep thinking in order to achieve the higher level of consciousness. A spontaneous and continued state of the mind focused on any particular process or object is described as meditation.
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In the quest for siddhis

A lot of people, especially atheists, look for proof that God exists. What they are really looking for, are the existence of deities. And the transfer of some Shakti or energy or supernatural power aka siddhis to them or those they know. This will finally “prove” to them the existence of a higher power.

But the existence of a higher power is already obvious no?

Look at creation. Can any one species on this planet, either alone or collectively build all of creation? Nope. Even the starting point would have to be to use creation itself to create. So, disqualified before the game even starts!

Even amongst us, each one of us already has siddhis. Compared to someone who is deaf or blind at birth, those who can hear or see are surely blessed with siddhis. Just the ability to breathe and be alive is a siddhi! Even beyond that, some people have outstanding oratorical skills, or acting skills, or cooking skills, or math skills, or soft skills and so on. These are all siddhis only. If we can devote ourselves to our ishta devatas in gratitude for what we are already good at, then more will come, but it won’t matter, because the mind will already be pure.

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The divine is IN us. Here’s a short story from Osho that reiterates this point.

A man approached a Zen master with the desire to become a Buddha. The master, no less than 90 years old, in response, struck the man hard, leaving him confused and hurt.

The man went to an old disciple for an explanation of the master’s actions. The disciple explained that the master’s actions were rooted in compassion, and that the man should consider the master’s age and physical limitations before judging him as cruel and violent. At 90, the master’s hand would have pained more than this fellow’s cheek!

Despite this explanation, the man still sought the deeper meaning behind the master’s actions. The old disciple simply replied, “The message is simple. If you are seeking to become a Buddha, you must understand that you are already one. The master’s strike was a reminder of this truth.”

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HNY HHP – part 2 of 2

Today we look at Happiness and Health.

  1. Health. Physical and mental. Everyone is facing issues of one type or the other.
    1. Sense control or Dama is key. Right food yes, but not just what goes into the mouth but all other inputs as well for the eyes, ears etc. Moderation is critical. 6.16 6.17 of the Gita has Krishna speaking about moderation in everything. Mind you, He doesn’t talk about giving up everything, but about practising moderation. How can we practise this? Maybe have a “1-day off” ritual every month. On that one day alone, we give up something, like social media or TV or certain foods etc. This will only serve to strengthen our mental, emotional and spiritual muscles.
    2. Positive thinking – for mental health, which is a huge contributor to mental health. How? By cultivating positive noble qualities. These are enlisted in the Gita 16.3, called Daivi sampath, or Divine qualities. Examples are no anger, compassion, altruistic, non-critical, forgiving.
  2. Happiness. Where is it? Not outside, but inside each one of us. Spiritual happiness comes “in spite of” vyakti vastu paristhithi, not “because of”, and that is a key distinction.
    1. One practise point is to try and enjoy all work. How? By converting work to worship, and Krishna explains in Chp 18. Do all work with dhriti and utsaaha, perseverance and excitement.
    2. The ultimate spiritual truth, unlimited Ananda is within us, our own true nature. Sat chit Ananda. Like the UPS, it is an Uninterrupted Power Supply.

2023, nay every year henceforth, if we practise these, will be amazing.

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HNY HHP – part 1 of 2

It’s a little late now to be exchanging new year greetings, but bear with me. We had a super satsang session recently, where the speaker laid out a simple road map that anyone can (and everyone should!) follow.

What do we usually greet with? Happy New Year (HNY), and I wish you a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous (HHP) 2023! So the speaker took each of H, H and P, and gave us a quick but structured road map. We’ll cover P today, and look at the 2 Hs tomorrow.

1. Prosperity. Which is doing well, both materially and spiritually. 2 things to do for this.

One is to have focus (hence goals are important). And make them action oriented rather than linked to end results. Instead of saying my goal is to lose 5 kilos, say that my goal is to eat 1 bowl of cut fruits every day and spend 15 minutes exercising. Spiritual goals would include how much time to devote to spiritual practises, how much to devote in the service of others, and how much to donate to the needy. Being focused, as Krishna says in 2.41 of the Gita, vyayvasaayaatmika buddhi, is critical for achieving one’s goal.

Second is to ensure self-effort, with self-confidence. The famous Uddharetaatamnaatmaanam shloka from chapter 6 verse 5 is on point. Be optimistic, be fearless and ensure to have a spiritual diary / audit process to take stock.

Concluded tomorrow with the 2 Hs!

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Negative stripes

Was watching a podcast on YouTube where the guest was a tantric practitioner.

He spoke of the existence of a lot of extra-worldly things. All sorts of beings, many of which are mentioned in our mythological texts and which we take just to be stories or figments of someone’s fantastical imagination.

But this practitioner was convinced that all these are for real, and that he had had personal experiences with such beings as well.

It’s hard to know whether something like this is true or not, whether all these astral planes and 5th and 6th dimensions and such exist or not. But one of the things he said was intriguing. He was talking about a few very “negative energy” beings. The podcast host asked him if these beings were “bad”.

To which this gentleman said that it’s not about bad or good, but just about samskaras or tendencies. A tiger will bite, if you out your hand in its mouth. Does that make the tiger bad?

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We all know that old example, where when we point out index fingers at someone else accusingly, three fingers are pointing back at us.

We know this, we understand it, and yet we find it hard to accept any sort of blame. If someone at home or at work says something to us, we instantly curl into a defensive ball like a porcupine.

We behave like Gods with those who are beneath us on the so-called social ladder. But one word of disagreement from anyone above, and poof, we get hurt, crying in our heads like a punctured social bladder.

If we crib and complain about the external world, all we are doing is to make that external world even more real. This is exactly the opposite of what spirituality teaches us about existence.

If we can take ownership of our problems, and look within, and make ourselves perfect, without looking for perfection outside, then all the problems will automatically get resolved.

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Being Human means what?

We’ve all come across spiritual texts and saints who say “just be”.

They say that’s all spirituality is. Just be. No need to do anything. Just be. Whatever is needed, is already within you. Just be.

What does this even mean? Can’t say I’m 100% sure to be honest, but here’s one excerpt from a book on Kundalini Yoga called KY Exposed. A pretty good read I must say, although it seems to be extremely advanced (so waaaaay out of reach for me, but interesting stuff nevertheless):

Being isn't opposed to living life. It doesn't imply that you sit and don't do anything all day long. It does mean that you simply aren't hoping for something to happen. You embrace life as it is, for life is not separated from you! Your body-mind will act and do what it has to do, but inside, you are peacefully reposing in your blissful Self- Awareness.
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Meditation PS

PS here refers to Problem Solving.

Meditation PS? Yes, because most people, me first on the list, struggle with some important stuff.

Like how to keep the mind calm and focused? Answer: it’s not possible, because that is the nature of the mind. Advanced yogis can, but not without deliberate practice, which is what made them advanced yogis in the first place. For most others, even after brief meditative spells, they will crash right back into the plane of desires and attachments.

What to do? Catch hold of your Guru or Ishta Devata. Not physically, but mentally. And try to meditate on topics related to them, if not on them only. This gives some freedom to the monkey mind, while still keeping it on a leash. It helps if we truly recognize and believe that everything we are today, and everything we will be tomorrow, is entirely because of the Guru and/or the Ishta Devata. They are both the same at their core, so choosing one over the other doesn’t matter. If we feel deep down that everything is because of them, then where is the question of our ego, and hence our desires and attachments?

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PPP model

We hear all the time of the PPP or Public Private Partnership model in infrastructure development. And how this is the most efficient way of building for the future.

Another PPP model came to mind for our own development as I set out for a walk recently.

This PPP is Prayaas Prarabdha and Praarthana.

Prayaas is our own self effort, without which we cannot even wake up from the bed.

Prarabdha is whatever destiny we are born with. It can be changed at least to some extent through the first P, but still needs to be endured in good measure.

And finally Praarthana or prayer. We can put all our effort and more, but without the grace of God and the Guru, it all remains meaningless.

This is the PPP model for our own development. What do you think of it?

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G Force

There’s always a lingering question about “experiences” that one might have on the spiritual path.

Some people say they have visions of various deities. Others get some siddhis? Some receive messages in their dreams. Others discern changes in their mental state – more angry, more heated.

Are such experiences good or bad? Is it even possible to classify them as such?

Came across a very nice analogy to think about this. It’s similar to being on a fighter jet for the very first time. As anyone who’s watched Top Gun will know, the force is so much, that one can quickly feel disoriented.

But is this force of gravity bad? Or is it good? There’s no clear answer, because this is not something that can be classified into good or bad. It just is what it is.

But if you have an experienced instructor pilot with you, they will teach you and prepare you for that moment. Ditto with a Guru for spiritual processes.

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Knock knock knocking on…

…heaven’s doo..oo..oooorr, was how the iconic Guns n Roses band crooned their super hit single many decades ago.

It would seem like getting into heaven is truly a difficult task. Just keep knocking and knocking, but when and whether the door would open, quite literally, “God only knows!”.

A quote from poet Rumi struck me as interesting hence:

I have lived on the tip of insanity wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens! I have been knocking from the inside!

Think about it. This is pretty much what each one of us on the spiritual path is doing. We are knocking on God’s door, but this God is already inside, so we too are knocking from the inside!

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Space exploration

“Last year, I had a life-changing experience at 90 years old. I went to space, after decades of playing an iconic science-fiction character who was exploring the universe. I thought I would experience a deep connection with the immensity around us, a deep call for endless exploration.

"I was absolutely wrong. The strongest feeling, that dominated everything else by far, was the deepest grief that I had ever experienced.

"I understood, in the clearest possible way, that we were living on a tiny oasis of life, surrounded by an immensity of death. I didn’t see infinite possibilities of worlds to explore, of adventures to have, or living creatures to connect with. I saw the deepest darkness I could have ever imagined, contrasting so starkly with the welcoming warmth of our nurturing home planet.

"This was an immensely powerful awakening for me. It filled me with sadness. I realized that we had spent decades, if not centuries, being obsessed with looking away, with looking outside. I did my share in popularizing the idea that space was the final frontier. But I had to get to space to understand that Earth is and will stay our only home. And that we have been ravaging it, relentlessly, making it uninhabitable."

This is what was said by William Shatner who played an iconic character in the Sci fi TV series Star Trek. The Gita says that not only is space “outside”, but that even the earthly world is “outside” only. The true essence lies deep within each one of us.

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Unity in Oneness

In the 11th chapter of the Bhgavad Gita, Lord Krishna shows his VishwaRoopa Darshanam to Arjuna.

What does Arjuna see?

Countless forms of all types of creatures, and surely all of space and the universe and more.

He sees all types of Gods and Goddesses too.

All of them manifesting in different forms, however very much a part of the same all-pervading shapeless formless timeless Bhagavan.

Despite such unity of the Gods, it is mind boggling that human beings decimate their own unity in the name of God(s).

Let’s pray for a peaceful and united 2023! ??

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