Wednesday, December 23, 2009

One Step Forward

The ego is a difficult entity to control or even keep in sight at all times. Yet without that awareness, being completely true to Oneself is impossible. The ego is what separates me from my True Self and controls my body-mind-intellect complex with ease. Me - my Spirit - prefers to remain an observer when the ego is ruling. It is only when I am consciously aware of my ego that I can attempt to be true to Me. Not that the ego is always doing the wrong thing - it can be loving and kind too but it is also a show off at that time. The ego does everything to increase its own power. In that sense it is completely self absorbed.

What then is the difference between the self absorption of the ego and the Self absorption of the Spirit? The Spirit is all pervading and so It's absorption in Itself includes all - there is no hunger for power or control. That is what makes it so easy for the ego to take over. If the Spirit had wielded It's power over the ego Its purity would be lost. The Power of the Spirit lies in Its capacity to give in to the truancy of the ego and remain an impartial loving observer. Clearly that is my inherent quality and the inherent quality of all of us. We are capable of remaining loving observers of everything happening in the world. To remain in this world and express this quality I need to train my ego to be all loving and imitate my Spirit. The ego has not yet been able to identify what is in it for it! To respond with love towards the most abrasive, the most demanding, the most violent means losing the battle and the war as far as the ego is concerned. But is it?

What is fear or hatred or violence but disruptive vibrations exuded by minds? What is the best way to nullify these? More of the same can only increase the disruption. A soothing vibration is the only way to quieten a disruptive one. That is simple physics. I know that the vibration of Love is exactly the opposite of fear. Giving in to violence in love is very different from giving in to it in fear. Giving in can be my strength or it can be my weakness depending upon where the reaction is coming from. How do I know where my reaction is coming from? When it feels good - in a soft way without feeling as if I have won or lost a battle; when I feel at peace with the decision and not belittled by it - when I am left unruffled - my reaction is coming from love.

My thoughts are the easiest for me to change, my feelings are more difficult. Feelings have been established due to years of wrong thinking and the memories they have left behind. With practice I can watch over my feelings and reverse them, it only takes longer as they are deeper in my subconscious. Deeper still are my emtions - the ones I have the most trouble keeping in check. I can see that inspite of my thoughts being markedly improved and my feelings being calm my emotions do flare up leaving me wondering what more I need to do to stay focused on my True Identity.

My emotions - whether the positive ones or the negative ones can be aroused even when I am conscious of my thoughts and feelings. For example; my son called to say he had an accident. It was nothing major, the car was slightly damaged. No one was injured. I talked to him, tried to make him comfortable about the situation and bring his confidence back but I was still frustrated at his negligence and by the turn of events that led to the accident. The event had already happened, nothing untoward came out of it. I knew there was nothing I could do yet the emotions did not stay at bay. The only way to get to them, understand them, and master them is through deeper meditation. I have proof that meditation is a powerful tool that brings lasting change to the workings of the mind.

The ego is a fearful entity - it's worst fear being its own destruction. It will do whatever it takes to stay alive. Years of wrong thinking has empowered the ego. Fortunately my Spirit is unchangeable and whenever I call upon It to guide me It does so willingly. Habit has made it difficult to let It be the doer. Hours of keeping the mind in constant company of the realm of the spirit through books, the web and writing has made it possible to recognize the benefit of cultivating new thought patterns and pursuing them. Contemplation and meditation establish right thinking that changes feelings and replaces strong emotions.

I am looking forward to learning Vipassana and staying present in the world and not giving in to everyday temptations that enhance the power of the ego. Staying ever watchful is the journey and it is outrageously beautiful.

Friday, December 18, 2009

From Silence to Stability

Stability is considered a negative in the world of economics - it means absence of growth they say. In the world of the Spirit though Stability is an essential aspect of growth. A stable mind makes it possible to go deeper and discover one's True Self - the one that is the Ultimate, Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent entity that defines us all.

What is Stability of mind and how does one achieve it? A stable mind is simply one that does not react either positively or negatively to any stimulus. It accepts every thought, event, person with complete equanimity. To achieve this state there has to be an understanding that the world at large is only an illusion and transient. To get to this stage one only need study everything that has ever happened and recognize the truth of this. This must be done with an open mind and the results that come out of the observations depends on the stage of stability that a person is at. Each of us is always right no matter what the conclusion since it is a subjective exercise.

Over the years my observation has changed. At first stability of the mind was only a myth and something that was a theory found in books. Completely unachievable - an Utopian idea. I even thought it was a form of escapism. Then it seemed possible under certain circumstances - like in lives of monks who have secluded themselves and do not have to deal with the vagaries of life. With time I began to acknowledge that after about the age of eighty and living a life full of peaks and valleys some people may be able to achieve this state. Now I know that this stability is available to anyone who chooses to have it. As a matter of fact the earlier one achieves it the more blissful life becomes. Living harmoniously is only possible when the mind is unruffled.

Our mind-body complex is the greatest deterrent to our spiritual progress. The senses tempt the mind and easily take control of it. The mind begins to identify with the sensual pleasures and is blinded by this identity. The egocentric thoughts only get stronger and have a powerful hold over the mind. Things, people, events become all important and the capacity to discern the real from the illusory is completely lost. It is not as if the mind is incapable of understanding this difference it just refuses to understand it because it has so much fun being out in the illusory world. Pleasure is to be had even in pain. We repeat our painful stories to others and more often than that to ourselves. We relive sad events of our lives and keep them alive even when the event itself is past. How masochistic is that? Nothing is gained by holding on to pain - except that the ego is sure of not getting overpowered by the Spirit. The reign of the ego is threatened when we bring ourselves into the present moment every moment and accept all that has passed and do not focus on the imaginary future.

My father passed away when I was a teenager. I love my father as much today as I loved him then - love does not require him to be present in my life if it is unconditional. When my love wants my father physically present it proves that mine is a conditional love - it is conditional upon he being alive. Reliving his death and causing myself pain, reliving the fun moments and bringing pleasure both cause my mind to become unstable. One is not better than the other. Memories need not be lost but I cannot give all of my power to my memories. I can think of my father and feel the love that I feel when I look upon a rose bush in my garden or a grand old oak tree in the park or a hare hopping across the walkway into the woods or a dead deer as it lies beside the roadway - since all of it is just an illusion.

It has taken me many hours of silent contemplation and meditation to tap into this knowing. Many of life's experiences had overpowered me too. I could not see the folly in getting involved and enmeshed in the drama of life for as long as I was living as if I belonged to this world. Then a few major incidents of the world made me stop in my tracks. A dear friend gave up on our friendship. I had not foreseen this. I was sure that the friendship had a strong base as it was founded on spiritual likeness between us. This was the second time such an event has happened in my life - a person I thought touched my soul gave up on the joint pursuit of spiritual growth. Another was the fallout of an enterprise that I had undertaken with someone I considered like minded. It ended with me feeling that every intention of mine was misconstrued. Then there was an event that made me feel mistrusted and disrespected by someone very close to my heart. With all of these events the common factor was me. It made me think that there was something about me that caused me to feel betrayed, misunderstood, disrespected. The mind loves to lay blame and take me on guilt trips as this only strengthens the ego.

I spent hours contemplating over this - not on the events themselves - but on my feelings and thoughts. I prayed fervently that I see the light and then one night as I sat in silent meditation I 'heard' it. I had lost control over my mind. It was the instability of the mind that made it appear like all of this was about me. It was not. With every event and every person I had been true to myself. I was being me. How someone else saw me was independent of me. How then was I betrayed, misunderstood or disrespected? Why does it matter how they looked upon me when I know that I was true to my nature? I am perfect as I am - a child of God just like those who judge me. They are and I am. That is the only truth. My perception of their judgment of me is just as immaterial as their judgment of me - both are unreal and independent of the Ultimate Truth that is unchangeable. I love all of my judges and thank them for being my teachers on my journey to finding this beautiful Child of God.

I have taken a long step towards knowing me better. The drama is fun to watch. I can play life as I watch it for as long as I do not become attached to my role in it. I am an actor with a beautiful costume, expensive jewelry, state of the art make-up - but even more fun is knowing that my part in this drama is all a game and when one game is over I can go to the next with a new set of costumes completely unaffected by my previous role. That is the strength of my very soul. I have identified the essential Truth - the Knowing, Pure, Loving, Peaceful, Happy, Strong, Powerful Me. This identity brings Stability of the mind and makes it possible to be in this world and not become part of it. Spectating life is truly blissful.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

All of Me

I have a hidden dark side too. The one that is capable of anger, lies, hatred, jealousy, fear, and many other emotions that are available to mankind. Yes I am capable of all that, given the right set of circumstances. What a shocker. Here I was thinking I am this perfect Bliss and Joy and then I was prompted to ask if I could experience anger or frustration again. At first I laughed and said, "No way." I know now that I have control over my mind and I can choose to think positive even if things are not going the way I wish. Life is not about me and my wants and desires. There are so many justifications for not falling into negative thought processes. But this was not how I always was - this is a learned quality and so it is only a part of who I am at my core. I cannot deny the other side of me. In the privacy of my home I do get angry and frustrated and downright bitchy.

My fear now is not that others will not approve of me but that I have an ego that will take me away from my path to spiritual oneness with all. My fear is that I will be the one who judges and separates others from me. My ego and I are still struggling with the idea of who I really am. I am not my body, mind and intellect. Body, mind and intellect are mine. It is like me identifying myself as the clothes I wear instead of identifying that the body is wearing the clothes. This shift in consciousness is difficult to hold on to without daily practice. I 'know' that this body-mind-intellect is a sheath and that the divinity I am is who I really am but without that vision constantly in my experience it is difficult to stay focused.

I am neither positive nor negative - these words describe my thoughts. These thoughts are definitely influencing my behavior but do not define the Me that is Pure Consciousness. It means that Joy and Anger co-exist in my mind and that they both deserve to be embraced. As long as I see these emotions as separate and different from one another I see me and others as different too. I may be less angry today because I see the folly of anger but it is still a part of my psyche. I still enjoy being joyful more than I enjoy being angry or sad. This degree of more and less is a figment of my imagination. Stability of the mind is the order of the day and I must learn to recognize that both are emotions and both are part of the same spectrum and neither can have a lasting effect on me. What lasts is my equanimity because at any given moment everything is stable and eternal. The off and on of this field of vibration that is the world is eternal and completely unaffected by my ups and downs of emotions. My perception is what makes things appear up and down, good and bad, right and wrong. Up, down, good, bad, right, wrong all bring their gifts with them. All I have to do is open myself up to the gifts and receive them with equanimity.

Debbie Ford's books are an eye opener into the darker side of me. Even if I cannot associate my present behaviors with emotions like anger, jealousy, spite and revenge what is to say they were not part of me in the past and will not be part of me if the circumstances are conducive? An interesting concept to say the least. Acquired qualities that I may have hidden are still mine. My conscious recognition of these emotions and of negative thoughts are necessary for me to be able to acknowledge and accept them. I must reconcile myself to the absolute fact that I am made of every possible emotion, thought and feeling that is - how else can I claim to be One with all. If I separate the bad from the good then I must separate me from the others - there can never be separation where there is Oneness - and Oneness is Real, separation a dream.

I am a peaceful, loving, blissful soul but I am also a violent, hating, indifferent, mean, sad soul. One is not better than the other - they belong together and must be accepted as is. I AM. There are no conditions to it. You too ARE - no conditions. I not only have to be able to see this, acknowledge this and accept this - I must also LOVE this. I can only BE if and when I am complete. I live in the world of duality and have learned to differentiate good from bad, right from wrong but that is not how it is. Everything just is - no labels no qualitative differences allowed.

So who am I? I am a Perfect Soul. I have permission to have all emotions, all feelings, all thoughts and they are all perfect too. So I am Joyful, Blissful, Loving, Sorrowful, Angry, Jealous, Kind, Mean, Sweet, Bitchy, and whatever else I and you can possibly be capable of - infinite and eternal. I AM ME.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Relationship with Me

Now that life is no longer about the approval of those around me I am beginning to understand the tenets of relationships clearly. The one and only relationship that is of any value is the one with my True Self. All other relationships are based on values that are mutually workable for those within the relationship. The relationship with myself though is based only on Truth. Truth about the inherent Me and all other beings. The vibration that makes me and every being around me tick. The vibration I put out there is the vibration reflected back at me.

This is a beautiful revelation. This morning I had the opportunity to deal with a few people and found out the joy that comes out of being in the presence of Oneness. I was dealing with a government official who looked quite grumpy when I got to his counter. He was short in his greeting and demanding and demeaning in his tone. I was determined to treat him with the softness and respect I expected from him and so I smiled and spoke softly, gently, with love, and without fear. The man seemed to change in an instant to a benevolent helpful gentleman. It was amazing because the moment my aggressive husband spoke to him the man's demeanor changed and the moment I spoke he softened again. It was as if magic dust was in the air. I love it.

Well it is easier to do with strangers, though, than it is with some people I know. I need to consciously make an effort with them. In these relationships there seem to be too many conditions already in place and changing this will take effort - from my end. Every established relationship outside the one with myself has two major conditions - trust and respect. In all aspects of my relationships with family and friends these two factors are always at play. The moral fabric is what the trust is based on. This could be about speaking the truth, being faithful, about money or any aspect that is important to the relationship. Unless there is complete trust it is impossible to develop respect and without mutual respect a relationship can never be sound. The ups and downs of relationships are conditional upon the trust the two people involved have in all aspects of a relationship.

In a marriage both partners must be true to themselves and with each other. There must be set rules between them about how they will deal with different issues like children, finances, extended family and friends, career, home, religion and more. These rules need not be set in stone but a change in rules must require mutual discussions and consent. A marriage requires a 100 to 100 partnership - both partners giving a 100% of themselves to the relationship. One does not dominate the other, one does not lead the other by a leash. Each partner has their responsibilities for the purpose of convenience and there can and will be crossovers in responsibilities. Spouses can have disagreements and yet have a relationship that only grows in love and respect if only they treat each other the way they would want to be treated by the other. Needling each another, insulting each another, ridiculing each other, being condescending and controlling each other can only end up in a parting of ways. A tragedy that can only be avoided if each is willing to get into the mind of the other and feel their pain, their joy and their love and be willing to trust and respect their feelings. Each partner must be True to themselves, be an embodiment of Love and be fearless of one another, for a marriage to be heavenly. Both have to accept that they are One with the Universe and therefore absolute Bliss is possible between them no matter how different each is in the physical realm.

Between a parent and an adult child too mutual trust and respect is paramount. Unless I can trust and respect my child I cannot expect to be trusted and respected. This trust is not determined by social norms - this trust is about my treatment of my child as an independent individual with a mind of his own. My child is One with the Universe like I am - his beliefs and ways may be different - but his Truth and my Truth is the same and therefore I trust and respect him both as an individual and as a part of the Universal fabric. We do not have to agree about anything and yet the Love we share is comparable to the bliss that I have within the relationship I have with myself.

In a relationship with the Self all that is needed is the acknowledgment that this relationship is unconditional. Truth is not a condition - it is the relationship. My relationship with myself is the fabric of my happiness. When I am true to myself I am happy. My truth may not make anyone else happy but that is immaterial - since the only one that I have to live with till the end of time is myself. Marriages and other relationships may be 'made in heaven' but to keep them heavenly requires effort. My relationship with Me is effortless, personal and absolutely blissful. To hell with the rest of you. Take me as I am or leave me to myself - I ain't compromising anymore. Naive, stupid, too kind, gullible, obese, a snob, spendthrift, stingy, intimidating, any other words that describe me in your vocabulary? Use them if you will - I know I am none of those things - I am what makes me tick - I am Silence, Love, Abundance, Joy, Bliss, Truth, GOD. I am ME.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

From Pain to Humility

The path traversed respecting the human side of me has often times been one filled with pain, hurt, anger, confusion and a sense of wonderment at what life is about. I have always been aware that these experiences were superficial, transient ones but I could not see anything deeper. Life was about everyday stuff - home, family, money, work, friends, things, relationships and more. I was sometimes joyful, sometimes not. I never went out consciously looking for joy or sorrow - they just happened to me. Even in joy there was fear of it not lasting long enough. Life just happened. My mind was my master and I was it's dog on a leash. I went wherever it took me.

Painful life experiences never shook me up deeply. There was a sense of resigned acceptance that life was about unpredictable pain filled events I had to experience in the span of time spent here on earth. I had not asked to be born - I was given birth to. Now I was left to fend to unpredictable life experiences - how unfair is that? Happiness was a myth and so I just sailed along letting experiences happen to me.

This insensitive, unintelligent, and disconnected way of living made it possible for people, events and things to dominate my existence. The more I let them rule over me the more powerless I became. The inherent nature of my being never got the chance to express it's glory. Over the years of living this way I felt myself getting depleted of my confidence, self respect and self esteem. I became adept at hiding these shortages but deep within me I knew I was degrading rapidly. Unbeknown to me this journey was also revealing the true secrets of happiness to me.

Many a times when one is cornered a sense of desperation makes one do something that is apparently uncharacteristic to break out of the dark into the light. I found myself cornered by my own life choices and to escape that wretched place I reverted back to one of my most loved activities - reading. Fiction is what I started with and insidiously moved towards self improvement and eventually into the realm of Spirituality. Words of some great Western Spiritual Teachers opened up a new world to me. They spoke in a language I understood. The Hindu Scriptures are rich but they are in a language that does not penetrate my being. Even the translations in English are too flowery for my understanding. The English language has the capacity to express the most complicated concepts in the simplest terms. The Spiritual Teachers of today have used the language beautifully. Once these terms began to make sense my life experiences became my most revered teacher. The tenets of any Scripture whether from the East or the West are inherently ageless and come from the same Source and so the Gate to Heaven opened wide.

Today I no longer believe that life happens to me - life now happens for me. I was not given birth to - I was given birth for.... My true purpose is clear now that I recognize this. To have this human form gives me the opportunity to experience my divinity. My place in this world is to love myself and others unconditionally. This requires me to be completely void of ego. It means being humble.

True humility frees me from focusing on me, whereas a low self-opinion tended to focus my attention on myself. My pain, my hurt, my anger is now surrendered to God and all my attention is on the Omnipresent. Petty things, ideas, words do not have room in my thoughts but more importantly petty words and ideas thrown out at me ricochet away from me. This requires my concentrated effort since I am habituated to let it affect me adversely. Today I recognize that it is upto me to keep my thoughts only on the Omnipresent even within the pettiness and it passes without causing ripples. This surrendering is what keeps me humble without being humiliated. It is this humility that takes me away from pride and despair and lets me be me. Who cares what anyone else thinks of me? Their opinions never did and never can define me.

I am learning to say 'Thank you' to pettiness and to pain and surrendering my ego to thoughts about the Love of God - the Omnipresent impersonal God that is humble enough to forgive all my trespasses and lead me gently and lovingly to my own Divinity. All I do is offer myself in humility and release myself from the bonds of pain.

Friday, November 27, 2009

From Silence to Omnipresence

There is so much to learn. When does one start putting the lessons to practice? Reading and listening to Spiritual Leaders can be addictive since there is a sense of 'feeling good' in their words. The challenge is putting the lessons to use while living in the world. The Oneness Experiment by James Twyman and Anakha Coman makes it possible to practice what I have learned over the last many years. The experiment has shown me the presence of Oneness in every event, thing and person I have encountered over the last 3 weeks. The experiment has helped me understand the power of my own thoughts and feelings in very practical ways. Every breath, every sight, every touch, every thought is a step on my journey towards knowing the Eternal Spirit better and recognizing it as the omnipresence it is.

For many years I claimed not to have time to meditate. Meditation then meant sitting in silence for a period of time and concentrating or focusing on a name or a light or a thought. Today everything is a meditation - if I choose to make it so. Remaining present in the moment is really what meditation is. Cooking, cleaning, writing, bathing, reading, watching TV, conversing - everything I do becomes a meditative state if I can remain fully attentive to what it is I am doing. Breathing - every single moment even when I am sitting down doing nothing - is a life experience if only I acknowledge it for what it is. I write, read, clean with a sense of enjoyment and it becomes valuable, with a sense of boredom and it becomes boring, with a sense of dislike and it becomes painful, with a sense of non-involvement and I remain oblivious to it. It becomes that which I bring of myself to it. Why then should I not choose to bring my entire self to the task with gusto and make every moment of my life a series of fireworks that light up my world? As I sit here writing this piece I look around me and there is so much to do, fold the laundry, clear the sink, do the cooking, sweep the kitchen, do the groceries, pay the bills, call my children - and yet I am sitting back enjoying writing without the tasks bothering me. When I am done with my writing I will take on the next task and enjoy that one too. I can choose to sit and fret about the pending tasks as I write - that would mean losing out on the pleasure in writing. So I choose to acknowledge the tasks and continue to write and enjoy every word as it floats out of my mind into my fingers and onto the screen. I bring all of me into my writing and that becomes my meditation for this moment.

The challenge is dealing with people - especially the ones who are on a different wavelength than I find myself in. I have found that the best way to deal with them is to remain fully present in their presence. I do not have to participate in conversations on subjects that do not excite me as much as it excites them - but I can choose to be fully present without being judgmental about them or their words. That is all that is required for me to be in a meditative state even in the presence of others. Imagine - meditating with your eyes wide open and seeing the goodness of others glow out of them as they speak. It is very exalting - once I have stopped judging their appearance and their words. This takes time - my habit of years, of forming opinions first must be curbed and I must rewind and accept the person and their words as a reflection of Spirit - the one that is omnipresent.

Life becomes a string of beautiful moments even when circumstances appear difficult. Acknowledging and accepting a circumstance's 'isness' and relaxing in its glory makes me its observer, and so its master. Every circumstance, material or person comes into my life for me as my friend, my lover and I befriend and love it in return and the heart stops pumping so hard, the sweat in the palms dry up, the butterflies in the stomach stop fluttering and a peace infused moment fills me with joy again. Acceptance of a moments 'isness' empowers me and it loses its power over me. It is as if I am in a race that I presumed was a sprint only to find after I left the starting post that it was a hurdle race. What would I do then - stop at the hurdle and cry over it? No, I would jump and clear the hurdle with the force that is needed to do so. Why then should life hurdles not be handled the same way? Why then should I not call up that unlimited strength inherent in me, to clear the hurdle and move on?

Omnipresence is no longer a concept for me. Omnipresence is an experience. It is what Oneness is all about. It is an inclusiveness with everyone and everything that brings a lightness to life, it illuminates even the darkest moments. Every moment is infused by the Omnipresent and so it is perfect. Basking in the presence of the Omnipresent is truly Glorious.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I give Thanks.

Everytime I hear someone wishing me Happy Thanksgiving; everytime I see an e-mail or a post with best wishes for Thanksgiving I smile at how commercial every such event is. What do I mean when I wish someone 'Happy Thanksgiving?' Just that they enjoy the day, eating turkey or tofu or lamb or anything they prefer to today with family and friends? Or am I giving thanks that they are in my life? If I think about it - and I mean really contemplate - then it is that I am grateful that they are in my life. Over the years I stopped reflecting on emotions and feelings and became more about people. I moved outwards when really I should have gone inwards. Feelings are what I am about. Good feelings make me feel better - not 'good people.' I have always believed (and often been ridiculed for believing) that we are all inherently good. Today I am convinced that my belief is a hundred percent true. It is upto me to remain focused on the good in everyone I deal with every moment. Holding on to a good feeling is what makes an experience good - immaterial who I am sharing that experience with.

Gratitude for any thing, event or person raises the vibration to elation; which raises the vibration to bliss. Remaining in the gratitude mode keeps me in bliss. This habit I have formed of judging and comparing leaves very little room for gratitude. I have practiced judging long enough now I choose to practice gratitude and I find I am smiling more often, have developed a higher level of patience, and am enjoying each moment with gusto. My true nature is one of happiness, peace, love and gratitude. How do I know this? It is in these emotions that I feel connected to myself and others. When I am angry, suspicious, doubtful, sad, I feel disconnected from myself. When I look back and think about events, things and people that have caused me pain in the moment they came into my life I realize that each of those had something good in them that only surfaced after - sometimes long after - they were gone. I now make conscious effort to remain non-judgmental and reach into myself to accept the so called good and bad and just accept everything at face value. An event is just that, an event - it may bring me joy or sorrow at that moment but inherently there is good within the event. Every moment is a perfect moment if I choose to look upon it as a perfect moment.

I choose to be grateful for my life - moment by moment. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Listening to the Universe's Personal Messengers

I am so fortunate to have access to this wonderful experiment that James Twyman and Anakha Coman are sponsoring. The experiment is called The Oneness Experiment and is based on a book that the two have written called The Proof. I would like to suggest that anyone who is on a spiritual path take the opportunity to get the book and use it as one of your guides on your path.

On Saturday I was also privileged enough to listen in on a conference call that James and Anakha conduct every week. This week's special guest was Neale Donald Walsch of The Conversations With God fame. There is a recording of the call at www.jamestwyman.com Click on The Proof on the right. Listen to Conference Call #3 if you wish to hear his absolutely marvelous message. It is inspiring and useful insight even for those of us who are struggling with questions about life.

James, Anakha and Neale are messengers that will help take us to that next level. They have touched my soul. Thank you God for Everything.

Friday, November 20, 2009

From Silence to Love

"A strong positive emotion of regard and affection" - is a dictionary definition for Love. Somewhere in the process of a lifetime Love is expressed as many emotions - not always positive and not always of regard or affection. The sound of the word has a positive feel to it but the emotion behind it may be one of lust, greed, power, possessiveness, jealousy, security and many other unpleasant emotions. Pure Love must be unconditional - only then will it be the strong positive emotion of regard and affection that the definition talks about. Love with a string attached has different names.

The one condition Love cannot have is that of selfishness. 'I love because' - will necessarily have a self serving string attached to it. This conditional love can change to hate, fear and even indifference very easily. All that it requires is my interest to be jeopardized and love flies right out. A lasting love is a non-judgmental one. Love has regard for its loved one even when there is wrong doing not because love is blind, not because love is tolerant, but because love is compassionate, love is accepting, love is inclusive, love is respectful, love is expansive.

Love comes from the inner depth of silence. Love requires no verbal expression. The energy of love is strong and positive and a loving touch can be electrifying, a loving gaze can make the heart race or tears brim over. True love can be felt even in the absence of a loved one. This love never fades. A veil may hide it and make it appear hazy but a love that has tasted that depth is nothing but everlasting. It is very much like the love a mother feels for her child or the love between lovers - the ones who know that theirs is a love of many lifetimes. When the eyes of true lovers meet they speak in a language that is indecipherable to anyone else. A mother can look into her child's eyes and know his emotions without asking a single question. This language of love can be spoken through a touch or a gaze or by just being present without the exchange of words. "I love you," is being shouted out in every nuance of love.

In the West where the weather was harsh and allowed for short harvesting season man was looking at mastering the nature outside. Science and technology owes its discoveries to this search of the Western cultures. Today the West has mastered and has outdone Mother Nature to live in luxury even under the harshest conditions. In the pursuit that started off as a need to survive, man has lost his sense of Self. The senses and the ego have slowly edged the spirit out. The outward expression of love - words, actions, things - have become necessary to prove an emotion that has the infinite capacity of carrying its own eternal energy.

In the East the land was fertile, the weather was perfect and men had the luxury of delving inwards to master their own true nature. They discovered the silent language of love that can be expressed simply by being Present and available. There was no need for words and gifts. Love was life, love was who they were. As the world got smaller due to scientific and technological advances and the boundaries of the East and West got thinner there was an exchange of ideas that for a short period of time diluted the awareness of love being life.

Delving deep into the silence I have discovered that hearing and saying the words "I love you," are the best ways for us to start getting in touch with that energy. The three little words need to be uttered with the energy that touches the soul. The love needs to be felt before the words are uttered and then the weight of the words reduce till they will no longer need to be uttered. Silence is a beautiful language and deserves its place in our lives again.

I suggest expanding the definition of Love to be - "An unconditional strong positive energy of regard and affection." I remind myself that Love is expressed as an emotion but is in reality the vital energy of life itself. From the depths of Silence, Love expresses itself as a glow that envelops us all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

From Silence to Happiness

An AAHAA moment - True Happiness is possible only when it is Unconditional. All other feelings of happiness are transient. I have often heard of and even felt "unconditional love" towards others - but have questioned its veracity in my life since this love is directed towards people I know. This love came from a capacity to forgive and to accept that they have perspectives different from mine. Sometimes if there was 'wrong doing' I loved inspite of it. And so by virtue of the love being qualifiable it somehow lost its capacity to be unconditional. Then there is the love I feel for those who I may not know and who may not know me but whose troubles I know about. I feel for them and I send out blessings towards them - there is a sense of compassion in this love. Again this is love because they are in need. What I really want to be able to feel is love that is flowing outwards all the time. No judgments, no sizing people out, no first appearances or anything like that.

Then last night as I listened to a spiritual guru it dawned on me that it is not only love that needs to be unconditional it is Happiness. My happiness comes from within me and is therefore completely in my control. My definition of happiness though is based on my belief system - something that I have developed from the first moments I got associated with the physical world. My divinity remains untouched by these belief systems but my human side is acutely affected by them.

When I can go back to my core - my divinity - and look out through my mind's eye I can see that my happiness is measured by how I FEEL. When I feel good I am happy when I feel bad I am unhappy. When life goes the way I believe it should I am happy when it does not I am unhappy. There are degrees to this happiness and that too I gauge by my feeling-o-meter. Feelings come from past experiences of pain and pleasure that helped develop and establish beliefs. These beliefs have mostly misaligned me from my True Self. Whether a feeling is a good one or a bad one it comes from a belief that is mostly biased. The play of duality is what has established my beliefs. How I, the Authentic Me, sees something is often different from how my ego sees things. My opinions and views must not only be expressed they must also be understood and accepted for me to feel good. This is conditional happiness. This is the kind of fleeting happiness my little I is yearning for.

A friend ignores me and this makes me unhappy. Where does this feeling come from? If I examine this feeling I can justify my unhappiness because I believe I can expect my friend to be true to my friendship. My happiness is dependent on my expectation of reciprocal feelings towards me. My friendship was therefore conditional upon her feelings towards me. Unconditional friendship means that I am a friend because I love her and get pleasure from caring about and for her. Then whether or not she considers me a friend becomes immaterial. If and when she needs me, wants me, remembers me I am there for her. She may have kicked me to the curb but I never got to the curb - I stayed at her door. The pleasure I got from the friendship still holds true, for in my heart is the knowing that my love for her is unchanged. The kind of love a truant dog has for its master - how soulful and touching is that love? It is complete all on its own - independent of anything else there is. This love is independent of who she is and completely dependent on who I AM. How then can I be unhappy?

My belief system and my feelings are intertwined and when I examine my feelings and disentangle them from my beliefs the picture that comes through helps me align myself to my authentic feelings and therefore makes it possible for me to go back to my Source - my Divine Self. Feeling unhappy or sad or angry is considered 'normal' simply because I have developed a belief that it is so. What I forgot was that these feelings are only a mechanism to measure my beliefs which I must then consciously and continuously tweak. Instead of brooding over, crying, complaining and regretting, thus becoming unhappier, if I examine the feelings and figure out which misaligned beliefs they are coming from I can choose to correct them for future reference. This applies for happy feelings too. All happy feelings are not essentially in tune with the Authentic Me.

A friend praises me for my kindness and compassion towards her. I feel proud of myself and happy that she is so appreciative of me. Here like in the previous example my happiness is conditional upon my expectation that my feelings be reciprocated. This too is being decided by my misaligned belief that my happiness is dependent on her appreciating all I do. Like in the previous case my happiness to be unconditional must be independent of her response to me. There too I am at her door even if she has placed me on her dinner table. My love for her is independent of the meal she treats me to.

Beliefs that arouse opposite sets of feelings are ones that must be changed. I must remain stable under all circumstances. The emotions that arise whether they be elation or sorrow, love or anger, fear or indifference must all be used to bring myself to that plain where there are no bumps either way. Feelings will arise from moment to moment and every feeling deserves expression but every feeling also deserves attention. I must use my feeling-o-meter and bring myself to my core to find the stability that comes from my inner happy being. The happiness within me is complete on its own - I am complete within myself. People, circumstances, events will come and go and as they do so they will leave their mark on my ego self and on my beliefs, feelings and thoughts but if I can get myself back to the equilibrium and remain true to my Authentic Self being loving, compassionate and giving, Bliss will be mine.

Friday, November 13, 2009

From Silence to Creation

The time has been well spent. Just 'being' in Silence has proven the futility of constantly doing. Having given myself the opportunity to go into those spaces in my mind which bring inspirational thoughts I have discovered some fabulous secrets that were hitherto known but not believed by me.

There have been many moments in my life when I have successfully 'predicted' events of the future. I now realize that those were not predictions of events that were already fated - they were events that I co-created simply by raising my vibrations that necessitated those events. I vividly remember some of the moments when the so called predictions were made. The first one that comes to mind is one where my husband and I were in Bombay traveling along a known road in an auto-rickshaw. He had for years dreamt of working outside the country. A desire he had very often shared with me. That evening too he was deriding his luck about not having any of his dreams fulfilled - a very common way in which he usually expresses his deepest desires. At the spur of the moment I said he should stop despairing as soon his dream would be fulfilled. He clung on to those words and wanted me to tell him where he thought he would be going. At this time his sights were set on Europe and the US. Am not sure what it was that prompted me but I looked at him and very determinedly announced he would be going to Africa. We both laughed as neither of us were even aware at this time that Africa was a place to find work in. For some reason we both carried that thought with us and often talked about it jokingly but as if it were true. Sure enough within a couple of months a gentleman he had never met or heard of before offered him an opportunity to work in Nairobi and six months later my husband was working in Africa.

Since then I have often wondered why such major predictions have not come my way. Now I realize that giving in to the vagaries of life and living in the company of pessimists is not very conducive to inspiration unless one can consciously practice raising ones vibration. It is not that life gives rise to the various feelings I have - it is I who creates my life experiences with my deepest feelings. This is a great discovery and one that has come from time spent in meditation, contemplation and writing with abandon.

The first part of becoming a creator of experiences is easier than the next part, though. Expressing a desire is easy - but doing so without resisting it is not. Remember asking is supposed to be showing greed which is not what ladies should be doing. Oh dear - what a sure shot way of crumbling creation right at the start. Allowing a desire to be fulfilled requires me to bask in the thought and feelings it rouses. Instead I tend to find reasons why the desire will not or cannot be fulfilled. It is only the desires that flow through me unhindered that manifest themselves. This requires me to give in to my desires without feeling guilty about wanting it or letting my intelligence decide that it is not possible to achieve. The previous sentences are the ways I should avoid thinking. All thought must always have a positive connotation. Reconstructed the sentence reads - "This requires me to give in to my desires knowing I deserve everything I dream of and believing that with the seed planted, the Universe is in the process of letting it blossom." Both sentences say the same thing - one brings a frown to my face the other a smile. It is the smile that eventually makes dreams come true.

The joke is on me. I have read about these principles of abundance often enough but since I never acknowledged this to be true in its entirety I denied myself the pleasures of fulfilled dreams for many years. Now I am in the process of re-training my brain - the one that is controlled by my ego. I am constantly watching my thoughts and training myself to think without resistance no matter what. I know I can create my own dreams - now I am in the process of letting them in.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From Fear to Love - God by God

I came into this world not wanting to - crying as if in excruciating pain. Yet it is how I first breathed 'life' into my being. From that moment I entered the realm of duality - of pain and pleasure. Suckling my mother's breast I learned to attach myself, to want, to have, to like and to dislike. I lost my divinity little by little and soon I forgot that I am divine. The human side of me was not just predominant it was as if that was all I was. Not that being human is all bad but I learned and developed traits that were conducive to living a materialistic lifestyle devoid of spiritual depth.

I could have lived a life exemplifying my divinity but my environment was not attuned to it. I come from religious parents. I was raised to believe in God - a physical God. This God resided outside me. He was meant to be feared, to be revered, to be worshiped from afar. If I sinned He would punish me like He punished so many of the poor, destitute, sick and physically and mentally challenged I saw all around me. I remember as a child seeing a deaf and dumb young girl in a park. The sounds that came from her throat made me afraid. I asked why she was unable to speak and was told that she had been punished by God in this life because she must have lied in her last. I was terrified. I went home that day and told my mother about every lie I could remember having uttered in my 6 years of life on this earth. The sensation that went through my body for days after still makes me shudder.

In India leprosy was rampant as I was growing up. The stigma attached to the disease made it impossible for sufferers to live at home, or to even seek treatment. They resorted to begging on the streets. Again my understanding then was that God had punished them for sins committed in a previous life. How is it possible to think about divinity when there is fear of punishment from the Divine in the forefront of an innocent mind? What was worse was that there was the potential that I could have sinned in my previous life and so a punishment was waiting for me. Everytime I saw or heard of suffering I cringed.

As I grew up the punishing God never let up. He punished us all the time. God became someone to fear and in that respect He was real. Bowing down to Him everyday I only prayed that He not punish me. When I did wrong knowingly or realized I had done wrong I watched to see what the punishment was going to be about. Thinking back I realize what a waste of time that was. If instead of thinking, "Be careful, God is watching," I had thought, "God is kind and is watching over me," things may have been different.

As a child I was surrounded by books that made no sense. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda seemed like Latin then. I was coming at it from an angle that was contrary to what Swamiji spoke about and so the words seemed completely foreign. I never quite understood what 'Knowing Myself' was all about. Who knew me better than me? I was this horrible mass of mistakes who deserved to be punished, what more was there to know? I was really an innocent, confused, scared little girl who never mastered the art of reading between the lines.

I come from a loving home where I was doted on and given all the comforts of life. This material world was the only world I knew and life was about having things and comforts. I saw poverty and suffering from afar and was afraid. This was God's punishment and I had to escape His wrath. I was fortunate to have a good family and be well provided for but I could lose these anytime. That is where I got this burning need to be liked - if everyone liked me God had to like me too, right? After all He was this man sitting in the altar. He had been seen by people who wrote about Him and His teachings that my parents read from regularly. So if others liked me I could convince Him that I was likable. He would definitely see that.

The other myth about my God was that I was never to ask anything of Him. That was being greedy. He would give me all I needed. Be grateful for what you have. Look at the ones who have less than you do. Consider yourself blessed and never ask for more. What a terrible myth to believe in. It created a scarcity mentality that is hard to overcome. The infinite abundance of the Universe was hidden from me for years. I deprived myself of so much simply because I was afraid to receive everything the Universe wanted to give me. The omnipresent God was absent from material things. To believe in this oxymoron was unintelligent but everything is possible with God. It was therefore sinful to want anything. My relationship with God was one of Fear, Punishment, Scarcity, and eventually Abandonment. No wonder I work so hard to be liked.

Today my relationship with God is different. My Personal God still sits in my altar - He is my habit. I have an impersonal God the one who loves me and watches over me and guides me towards liberation from fear, punishment, scarcity and abandonment. The one who shows me how wonderful this gift of life is and how much I can achieve and have by just being. Liberation or Moksha is no longer about becoming one with an unknown entity after death, it is about being free from attachments in this life. It is about recognizing the transience of this life and this world and living each moment in its fullest - free. It is about not giving in to bullying, emotional blackmailing and manipulation by anyone - free. It is about loving me, for I like every other animate object am one with the Universe - free. I can have what I want when I want and enjoy it for as long as I want to- free. What is mine is mine because I want it to be mine not because some God above wants it to be mine. What a freeing thought. I am responsible for everything I have had, have and will ever have. My body, my home, my relationships, my work everything is because I am and when I have left this body the memories of these wonderful gifts will be mine to carry forward even if I physically leave them behind. I do not need to prove my worthiness to receive - I have because I choose to have.

This is a benevolent God. One who blesses me with everything I desire. There are no taboos, no limits, no restrictions. This is the God within me who I have complete access to at all times. This God is my being and my consciousness and is connected to every other being and consciousness and is an observer of everything I think and do. Every thought and action has a consequence and it is a predictable one - but it is not unique to me. Everything that is happening around me is a consequence of every other action and thought that this infinite Universe had, has and will have. Destiny is not determined by the Big Man in the sky. We are responsible for the cumulative destiny of the Universe and the microcosmic destiny of each of us. Karmaphal is determined by each action and thought being thrown out there and therefore being attached to the fruits of our actions is futile. Unless we can all tap into the Universal Mind, the Universal Intellect we are better off leading a life serving, sharing with, helping each other with compassion and love. The only way we can ensure a beautiful tomorrow is by making today beautiful.

The air I breathe is the air everyone else breathes - the one that is not just molecules of gas but life itself. This life is common to us all and is the string that keeps us tied to each other. This Life this God this Universe this Truth this Breath this Moment are all one and the same thing. This journey to coming to this understanding is a step towards experiencing, realizing and living it. It will take a lot of unlearning and relearning before it will become a habit - the one to replace the habit of my Personal God sitting on my altar who I still bow down to with reverence. It is only through His teachings and guidance that this journey has been possible.

This is my journey from Fear of Abandonment to Unconditional Love from my Personal God to my Universal God. Thank you God for Everything.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Baba - White Sheep

November 3rd each year is a black day in my calendar. 34 years ago today I lost my Baba to brain cancer. He was 52 and suffered for 6 weeks of which 3 were thankfully spent in a coma. The end was recognized as the heaving of his chest stopped as the sun set that evening. It was the day after Kali Pujo. There were fireworks being lit all around us but I was oblivious to the sights and sounds of that evening. The evening was a haze midst a houseful of people. A stunned silence and then agonizing cries from friends and family were heard off and on all evening long. Yet there was a sense of extreme relief for me - I no longer needed to worry about Baba dying. This relief outshone any grief I may have felt over my loss. For years I had worried about his passing. For as long as he was outside the home I worried that he would not come back - that he would die and leave me.

When I was eight I watched my sister who was 13 have an epileptic seizure as she played ball with her classmates. She passed out and never recovered. That was my first contact with abandonment. I saw my parents despair over the loss of their child. I could not quite relate to what all the fuss was about. She had seizures and slept for hours after, almost every day. It was only later that I realized that there were to be no more seizures and that it was time for me to be attended to. It felt good.

Baba poured all his attention on me and my brother who was seven years older than me, a teenager who did not want to be doted on. I on the other hand was ready for all the attention Baba could shower on me. Then three years later when Dada left home for Calcutta I had arrived. In the next precious few years I became princess.

Baba was a big man - tall, broad and big hearted. To the rest of the world he was a Bengal Tiger. At work and amongst our friends and family he was to be handled with care. He was highly disciplined in his ways and expected everyone around him to be so too. Quite the perfectionist in everything he did and he did a lot. He was good at many things from repairing his Morris Minor and polishing it to a shine each weekend to embroidering a beautiful landscape on silk; from changing the light bulb to developing photographs in his dark room; from reciting the Gita to cleaning the toilets; from painting the walls to being a successful Homeopath - if he undertook a task he would do it well. He had a short temper, very little patience and loved to secretly gamble (horse racing to matka to playing the lottery). He was an extraordinary man from whom I learnt to love the written word. He insisted that I be proficient in the English language, that I be a career woman, that I be self dependent, and that I love with abandon. He told me often that he would leave me with a wealth of education and not a penny. "Inheritance is a curse," he would say, "And all I want to leave my children with are blessings."

His words as he lay a clean sheet on the bed (yes he was good at that too) "The way to a man's heart is through a well made bed and his stomach," still rings in my ears. I was about 14. Many a night after I had completed my school assignments I would lay down between my parents and he would read to us from Leo Tolstoy, Agatha Christie, Somerset Maugham and even the Encyclopedia Britannica. He loved to read both in Bengali and English but insisted that Bengali would come to me in good time, "Matribhasha to, theek shikhe jabe," (It is her native language - she will learn it in good time,) and so I should concentrate on the English language. His English was good but he had an accent that I enjoyed teasing him about. He took it all very sportingly.

He demanded attention simply by his presence. Maa had it hard. He expected his meals to be served on time and in a particular way. The thala (stainless steel plate) had to be shining clean, the food had to be piping hot, the water had to be poured just as he got to the table, and the food had to be perfect each day. Our home had to be spotless, the curtains had to be drawn open and shut at exactly the right time, Maa had to be perfectly dressed at all times and she had to be there when he needed her. She had to be his wife, his sister and the mother he never had all in one. In return he gave her his all. He adored her and made sure that she never lacked in any comforts. He showered her with his attention and spent quality time with her.

Your passing has left a space in me that can never be filled, Baba. I remember you often, in good times and bad. Most times my memories of you brings a smile to my face but on this day each year I shed a tear in your honor - you are my guiding light and all I do in life is a reflection of your direct influence on my life. Maa taught me many important life values and you taught me love. Today I am as old as you were when you left this world and I know I make you proud. Your absence from my life has made me acutely aware of your presence within my soul. I love you dearly. Rest In Peace. So long - till next time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

From Fear to Silence through Love

I approach life from either a place of fear or one that has overcome fear. I am not sure if I ever approach life from a place of Love - yet. Fearlessness is not love but defiance within me. So whatever I undertake has an element of fear in it. The fear is mostly about whether or not I am living my life according to the norms that society, my culture, imposed values, or friends and family agree with. Inherent is this dependence on approval that I am always struggling with. The fear of death is so far away from my mind because the fear of being disapproved is always ahead of every other kind of fear there can be.

I am intellectually and to a certain extent even emotionally aware that I am immortal - that death does not mean non-existence and this motivates me to know the inner me better. Meditating, contemplating and writing helps me walk the path towards that goal. They take me to that spot within that reveals the workings of my mind and my capacity to deal with my thoughts. When I analyze the direction of my thoughts I become aware of the power of fear on them.

A quiet meditative state is the most peaceful for me. Letting my thoughts flow through, or drawing my thoughts back towards a center are both easily attainable. Sometimes I can even let my thoughts wander as I watch over them without getting attached to them. A dangerous game to be playing because slipping and letting them take over is precariously close. The frustration of coming out of a quiet meditative state and finding myself back in mental turmoil is very trying.

Writing is not as peaceful but watching the words as they appear on the screen is very fulfilling. It feels like an agitated meditation. The thoughts flow through me - but now they get expressed rather beautifully. Most times I am not aware which corner of my mind the thoughts are coming from. There is a sense of excited anticipation as I am not always aware of what the writing will be like. The peace comes after I am done with my first draft. In my writing I find many answers to questions I have been asking myself. It is like an exercise of peeling the large cluster of banana flowers. I have now learnt which part of the flowers I should keep and which part to discard and why. Most of the thoughts can be and are destructive to a healthy life. This peeling process is more productive in the sense that the mental turmoil can be kept out for a longer period of time.

It is in contemplation that I am aware of my fears. Analyzing my thoughts is an art I acquired a few years ago. It requires me to hold on to a thought and take it deeper without letting my mind wander to other unrelated thoughts. This is very similar to meditation except that I am now focusing on a series of thoughts and taking an active part in disseminating them.

The direction of my thoughts is dictated by fear. These fears have been derived from years of being a reactive thinker. I never learnt how to make decisions. Most life decisions were made per chance. There was rarely a logical thought process to decisions. It was only a few years ago that I recognized this weakness and have since made a conscious effort to define my own set of principles and values that make it possible for me to make better life decisions. One of the most basic principles is to be open minded and the second is to trust that we humans are inherently good - often unintelligent but good. One of the values I have established for myself is that life is not about being right - it is about being happy. Happiness is whatever I want it to be - it can be very transient if I let the outer world define it for me. Bliss is about choosing to be happy always. Bliss can only be achieved if I know my own permanence. If I busy myself with transient, material, ego defining activities without anchoring myself first happiness eludes me.

Fear of conflict, confrontation, being misunderstood, being misjudged, being disliked has ruled my thoughts for many years. An apparently happy stable childhood, in retrospect, appears to have been filled with events that were unsettling. The capacity to hide feelings from myself and others has made it impossible to even recognize my feelings now. Outward expression of feelings of love, passion, anger, hurt were considered taboo during my childhood. I was a replacement child who was apparently loved deeply - but was I loved for me or was I just an obsession of over protective parents? The unveiling of some childhood events and my reactions to them then and now make me wonder if the manifestation of suppression of emotions and feelings have caused the diabetes and the obesity. Some good friends have often pointed out that the apparent happy persona I project is a facade. I have laughed and emphasised that I have had and still continue to have a blessed life. I believed that too. I was the exception to the rule that repressed emotions cause stress related and immunological health challenges.

As I sit each day contemplating on Truth many relative truths show up on the screen of my mind. Usually they relate to more recent life events. I have to make a concerted effort to go farther back and delve into the depths of my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. Once there a conflict arises between my memories and my feelings. That is when I would stop the process, get up and engage myself in other activities. Not anymore.

A best selling book about self healing has given me the courage to tackle the conflict and still feel safe and secure. It requires me to make affirmations - simple enough - not for me. Making positive affirmations that I can repeat through out the day is impossible when my mind refuses to cooperate. There is a sentence in the book that says " Your mind is a tool you can choose to use any way you wish." It brought a loud AHAA.. from me. Believe me when I say this is not a new concept to me but for some reason I never took control over my mind. Now I am retraining myself. I do a basic exercise each day - albeit a silly one but I do it anyways. There is a game called Scramble on Facebook. It is a grid of 25 letters (5X5) from which you can derive different words. The possibility is often in the hundreds. You can have 3 letter words and you can potentially go to 25 letter words. At first I played just to score as many points as possible and where the maximum score could be more than a thousand I managed to score around 80. NowI use this game to get my mind to look for 7 letter words or more only. This requires my mind to twist itself through the letters in many different directions since it is impossible to get 7 letters in one direction in a 5 by 5 grid. My mind resists even this exercise and refuses to look beyond a unidirectional line. It took more than 40 boards to find five 7+ letter words on a single board - even then these were mostly derivatives of the same word like (finished, finisher, finishes, refinish). Pathetic isn't it? My point is, that controlling my mind to stay open to possibilities requires concentrated effort. I find it easier to create a blank mind than to change a thought.

The world is a cruel place. Hmm.. how do I change that to a positive? For one stop watching the news, definitely do not watch soaps and do not indulge in gossip. Run away from life, I mean. Or I can choose to stop that thought and think, "I am safe and secure where I am and so are many others." After all, the whole world is not a cruel place. There are many kind people doing many kind acts all over the world. I can become one of those people and we can make a difference one person, one act, one moment at a time. I can refrain from joining in on a gossip session and walk away. I must keep my mind in check and watch over it. The fear of a cruel world whether it be the world at large or my immediate circle, whether it be a world of the past or of the now, can only cause more fear. This fear is in the mind. I am in no imminent danger and so I must control my mind and use it to overcome any and all fears. The understanding is evident the implementation needs practice.

I am choosing to spend a lot more time in contemplation because I need to go along this path to find the lasting silence within my mind. The fears must all be tackled before I can touch that inner Stillness in a meaningful way. I have traveled part of the path from fear to defiance. The rest of the journey from fearlessness to love into silence awaits me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Replenishing Me

Living through the vagaries of life I move on an inward journey. A solitary journey that is unique since there is neither anyone I know nor any strangers on this trip with me. The vehicle is my mind and in this vehicle is my own mind - the one I am only now discovering. It leads me along various paths and as I move forward I am oblivious to where I am being taken. This mind is full of secret cracks, crevices and caves and although it appears to be out in the open it is really hiding somewhere in a small hole from where it is watching everything happening around it and reacting according to its 'acquired nature.' The ride is not just interesting but rejuvenating. The cracks and crevices hold wonderful secrets that are liberating.

The choices I have made through my life have been based more on what I have learnt than what I truly want. The first thought that comes to mind with any task I undertake has been about how the outside world will react to the result. This world maybe one other person or a community. Sometimes it has been to impress others and often times it has been about not being looked down upon. It was about seeing myself through the eyes of others. I am aware of this trait, I have acknowledged that this is completely my trait and have also accepted that is how I behave. I now am attempting to raise myself out of this self defeating trait. Just to say I will not look at myself through the eyes of others is not enough. I have to relearn how to know me through myself. I am learning about my own true nature through my own likes and dislikes that arise intuitively. It is not easy to just give in to a feeling and not analyze it before saying or doing something. But to ascend the negative trait of comparison of my feelings against those of others I must begin to honor my intuition. It is a process I go through in my mind.

Social norms makes some demands from me - again it is not about what I want but more about what society demands. Someone is in the hospital undergoing surgery. I spend a few minutes each day saying a special prayer for her speedy pain free recovery. I care about her but I do not see the need for me to express this concern each day, or even disrupt her schedule by visiting her at the hospital. I do not need to know how she is doing each day. This is not about me - only about her. I know it is a surgery that will relieve her from years of pain and discomfort and I just want her to have a comfortable journey through this process. So I continue to pray but refuse to vie for her or her family's attention by calling, or visiting her. I have sent out my best wishes and my availability to help if I am needed. I feel good about my decision and so have sent out a positive energy into my environment.

I have found that those who really care do not demand my time. They know I care and am available. These are loving people with whom I can be me. Some great friends and my boys fall within this category. I have been physically away from my sons for a few years now. They live in a different country. I do not call them every day neither do they. I never expected them to do so. Yet I feel as closely connected to them today as I did when they were babies. Even though I do not know about their daily activities I 'know' everything about them. There is this sense of oneness with them. I know that if I had spent my time waiting for their calls this connection would have been weaker. It is the same with my good friends. We may not be in touch for months but when we need one another we pick up where we left off and simply move forward. They have my shoulder and my back and I do theirs! It is a deep connection that does not require any work to be maintained. It just is.

Through my life I have known many people with whom my connection is superficial. It is difficult to cultivate a lasting trust. This is a connection that is constantly being tugged at. I try to hold on when I should really just let go. I can love them and be there for them but these relationships require constant attention and are draining. They are vying for approval and are dissatisfying. It is best to leave such relationships for social good times. Going too deep with them eventually end up in disasters. They are easier to maintain for short stints of time only. My challenge is recognizing these relationships and differentiating them from the true ones. My belief that inherently everyone is good makes me move forward with every relationship trusting that it will be a true one. Then one day I get kicked to the kerb. I pick myself up and I move on. I am now learning to pull myself away before I get thrown out with the bath water. I continue to give of myself, hold them in my prayers and good wishes - from a distance. The kerb is not where I deserve to be.

I had learnt that being alone is a sad way to live life. I know now how untrue that knowledge is. Being alone can be joyous and fulfilling. The silence of being with oneself gives me the chance to reconnect with me. A connection that had been torn because of the din that I kept myself surrounded by. I reflected what others saw me as, instead of reflecting who I really am. I was more about my ego and less about my spirit. It is only with time spent with myself that I have recognized this. I am slowly reverting back to being one with me. The demands of others, their needs, their problems, and their sad stories at their convenience ruled my life. I hurt myself in the process. Now I am still available for others but only if I am ready and if it is possible for me to be there when they need me. If I do not feel replenished I do not give of myself anymore. When I give on an empty tank I feel I am being had. This is good for neither of us. There have been times when I gave too much and each time it was as if everything around me collapsed. They were good lessons to have learnt. I paid a hefty price but it was worth it simply because it has brought me closer to me than I have ever been before.

Replenishing the tank - this can only be done when I am alone. It is not about what I get from others just as being empty is not about what others get from me. This is all about what I do for me. Meditation, contemplation, writing, reading, these are activities that replenish me. When I do not give enough time and energy to these I drain myself. When I am surrounded by the presence of others be it through the telephone, the computer, TV or in person there is no time for these vital activities. The more time I spend in silence the more vibrant and energetic I feel and the more connected I am to myself. I choose to distance myself not to run away from others but to run towards me. I want to know more about me and less about the world out there for now. I recognize that when I know me I will have known the world too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

From Chaos to ...?

Chaos and clutter seemed to be everywhere in my home. It was a reflection of my chaotic mind. Multitasking my way through life, I believed, was what kept everything around me running. I know now that the less I have, the less I do the more is achieved and more at peace I am.

I spent years working outside the home for financial abundance. I had many things but no time to enjoy them. The 29 large windows in my home that I dressed up with different shades I never raised to look outside; luxurious sheets that I never laid on my bed; china I never ate out of; rooms I never spent any quality time in are now all in the past. I built a 'successful' career, earned money and collected useless trinkets. I spent time keeping them safe and clean but never found a moment to appreciate them. There was very little time or energy left after running around trying to balance work, home, family, friends, and things. I gave up reading, writing, meditating so I could work, keep house, and help provide for my children and extended family. Life was stressful and chaotic and yet it appeared like a great life. Very deceiving - but only in retrospect. While I was in Maya mode life as it was, did seem great. I did not miss peace of mind - I never identified with peace. I was stressed and accepted it as a way of life. I did not consider changing my way of life to free myself from the stress. I looked for ways to do so while I was in the maze of material wellbeing. If only I had silenced my mind first and then entered the material world I would have been better served. It is possible to live in abundance and still be silent and clear of the mental chaos.

Back to karmaphala tyaga - being detached from the results of action. Being attached to money and things only increases desire while causing confusion and stress. Flip flopping on every decision and worrying about whether decisions are right once they are made is inevitable. Attachment to the fruits of action or trying to control the results of action can at best bring chaos into my life. I have learnt that letting things flow while continuing on a path, adjusting for eventualities that come my way is the best way to move forward. Financially save 10%, give 10% and then spend; mentally meditate, be present; emotionally expect nothing, be honest, truthful, compassionate, forgiving, accepting and loving towards all including myself; intellectually read, listen, learn, practice goodness, talk less; physically eat right, be on the move, stay clean, care for the needs of others and myself; spiritually simply be and do. Simple principles that keep life stress free.

Reading the list it seems easy right now but I do know that unless I can keep the emotional - mental - intellectual - physical - financial - spiritual balance I can slip and chaos can be my companion anytime. The key is keeping a keen eye on the ego. That element that is in the maze within my mind and is always just below the surface. I must learn to use it and not let it use me. Unless I can stop identifying myself as my ego I cannot identify with my true self.

To go from chaos to order requires conscious effort. The habit of multitasking takes me away from the present so often through the day. I have learnt to develop triggers that bring me into the now. Since I do not enjoy housework being present during cooking, cleaning, laundry is difficult. I now make it a point to stay present by noticing the feeling of water or detergent on my hands. I consciously smell the spices, the soaps, even watch the dust as I go about doing my housework. Staying present when reading, writing, watching TV is not a challenge - these I like doing, you see. I find that the more present I remain in the so called uninteresting tasks the more I enjoy doing them. No wonder it is said that we humans can achieve anything. It is all in the mind.

Now that my mind is settled and calm the urge to go deeper is constant. In the midst of everything I can distance myself from worldly affairs and become instantly silent. It can be very calming and extremely enjoyable. There is no anger, no frustration, no sense of lack, no pride, no shame, just a sense of joy and a subtle satisfaction. Whatever will be will be and I just am here. Life is good, it is enjoyable inspite of all the turmoil there seems to be around. The future was, is and will be uncertain. The past is done with. The present is right here and it is perfect. The chaos is gone and life just is. No chaos, no order. It just is.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Silent Mind

Silence is a state of mind. I remember as a child hearing about and observing people practicing Mouna Vrata - the vow of silence. They would not speak for a day. The stress that this would cause around the person was hilarious. They would be sitting with a pen and paper handy - in case they needed to say something. They would have a bell or a steel bowl and spoon at hand to make a sound if they wanted attention. This misconception about the vow of silence being about keeping the mouth shut lasted in my mind for years.

I know now that the vow of silence is about silencing the mind. What a beautiful concept. The need to say nothing. In today's life where there is so much to excite my senses it is not an easy vow to keep. To practice silencing the mind each morning by meditating only on the breath and at the most on the sensations it brings in the body is a very calming experience. It takes time and conscious effort but each morning I find it becoming easier. Observing the turmoil in the mind as a bystander causes the chatter to stop and unknowingly draws the mind to my Ishta and Japa (out of sheer habit). I can then put my effort on paying attention to the breath. This process relaxes the body too. I become aware of the muscles that are tensed up and then they start relaxing. I am alert but relaxed. Silence follows with the shallowing of the breath and a chill runs through my body - a pleasant chill. This ends up distracting the mind - but with effort the mind can be drawn back again.

These short stints of silence often end in an understanding of an emotion or a thought that has been elusive. It is as if from the silence comes an experience of knowing. If I had to describe it in the physical realm it would be as if I am watching a flower bud blooming. Something happens from the inside out and there is that moment of AAHAA. This could be as simple as deciphering a single thought or the meaning of a, till now, incomprehensible book. These moments have given me an insight into forgiveness, envy, compassion, guilt, truth, hurt, trust, greed, love, relationships and many more such characteristics, emotions and feelings that were at best superficially understood till now. Sayings about a broken mirror, or once a liar always a liar, war and peace etc. make so much more sense now. The importance of compassion, acceptance, unconditional love and forgiveness for my own inner peace is clearer today. There was an understanding of the need for these before but now I know they are key to cleansing my mind. These experiences are like applying an icepack to a fevered head. There is an instantaneous cessation of the turmoil in the mind. These discoveries in turn make the mind more silent. This is the cycle that I look forward to experiencing each morning. The vicious cycle of negative thoughts pulling me down is slowly but surely reversing. The cycle I find myself in is neither negative nor positive it is simply uplifting.

Life experiences have made it possible for me to get here. Experiences that I have labeled as positive or negative in the past are now free of their labels. They are just experiences that have opened up avenues in my inward journey that would have remained closed. Experiences and the inherent power of the spirit have shown me a path to knowing myself. The ego feels wounded and defeated but I feel good. The purpose of my existence in the physical realm is self discovery and unless I can watch over my ego and keep it in check this purpose cannot be fulfilled. I am so blessed to have a few hours just to myself each day. These hours are my most precious as I am able to use them to meditate, contemplate, and write. I am traversing a path that has been fulfilling and I look forward to continuing along this path of self discovery. I want to get to the end of the path where the discovery stops, the cycles are non- existent and the Truth and I become one. When the writing stops I will be there.

Inner Silence is my greatest reward for choosing to be silent.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

From Gossip to Silence

Gossip is defined as rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature. It is possible to gossip with oneself about oneself. I find myself doing more of this and thinking a lot less about other things. I made a choice to spend more time with myself so I am not distracted from my move further inward. A lot of time has been spent thinking about my nature and analyzing everything from my thoughts to my weight, my breath, my emotions and my relationships. I have always enjoyed talking to myself and have used these conversations to know me better. Self gossiping has helped me find sparks of my true nature and helped my inward journey into my inherent goodness.

Self talk has taught me that to find Me, I need to experience myself at a much deeper level. The physical, mental, emotional, intellectual experiences that I have with myself are still very superficial. There is something much deeper and that is the essence that I must find. Gossiping to myself about myself brings on an excitement and increases my curiosity about myself. These internal dialogues have given me glimpses of a deeper me, but now I must learn to silence the conversation. Curiosity has the tendency to take me into the past and the future - not the directions I want to take. As this urge to silence my mind further has been growing stronger I came across a subject called Vipassana Meditation. Something I had never been privy to before. Now it seems to be all around me. Such is the generosity of the Universe.

Becoming aware of the 'Now' is a technique that the Buddha taught twenty five centuries ago. It is a method that helps one go deeper and clear the mind of its cravings, aversions and attachments. It is a form of meditation that I have been searching for. I am aware that concentrating on my Ishta can take me only so far since that form of meditation limits me to the physical form of my Ishta. Meditation on another object brings surface calmness but lacks the wherewithal to hold me in the realm of spirit for long periods of time. There is an absolute need to go much deeper inwards where the awareness is a lot more subtle. I have started my journey into Vipassana and am finding it to be very challenging. The mind keeps going towards my japa and my Ishta and of course other worldly affairs - but practicing the technique is simple enough and I know since it has been thrust upon me I will get there.

Silencing the mind is an exalting experience. Often I get there for split seconds and it is like a burst of energy, an inner light, an inner flash that leaves me overwhelmed. These flash moments are truly beautiful and am hopeful that with practice I will have many such moments. I am unable to describe these flashes as peaceful yet. They are vibrations that cause strange sensations within the body very similar to getting goosebumps and having butterflies fluttering inside me. At first I was left feeling strangely disappointed by these sensations but over time realized that this disappointment came from my association of these sensations as arising from fear or anxiety. Are these sensations flashes of myself revealing itself to me? Are my senses therefore, incapable of deciphering them?

Every journey I take towards my inner essence brings on experiences that are very revealing of the dream that this life is. The fears, the anxieties, the pains, the pleasures, the events, all of these are transient and extremely superficial. They have caused me many trips through hills and valleys all through my life. I realize now that these journeys that were often extreme were essential for me to get to this point of self contemplation. The events happening around me reveal how strong the ego is and how strongly it veils man's true essence. Life experienced superficially is one that is laughable compared to the one led from the depths of the spirit. It is possible to live in this world and be unaffected by the physical realm. I can enjoy every moment as an experience that takes me Godward if I continue to live my life from the exalted place of my spirit. The ego must only be used as a tool to help me stay in the physical realm so I can enjoy the spiritual one.

This journey I am on from self gossip to silence is a uniquely beautiful one so far. I am alone on it since this is one journey that requires to be taken solo. I am surrounded by many but I experience my journey all by myself. How exalting.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Unshakable Mind

Sthitaprajna - one whose mind does not waiver under any circumstances. The Gita talks about such a person as being established in God. The Buddha talks about being at peace even when there is turmoil around. I often get the opportunity to test this aspect of my mind. Some latest developments in my life have proven that even if my mind gets shaken when there is turmoil, if I make a conscious effort not to let my mind wander too far out I can rein it in. I have learnt a great lesson in forgiveness. I find that guilt is a function of my capacity to forgive myself first and foremost. I am a spiritual being in human form and so human characteristics - faulty by nature - will raise their heads. Each time I can recall my spiritual self to forgive my actions, learn from mistakes and move forward a few moments earlier than the previous time.

Actions and words I would normally have considered a personal affront even a few years ago now seem to be reflections of the mind of he who affronts. I understand that in this physical realm there is no absolute truth. Truth is a perception just as a lie is and is completely dependent on the state of mind of the interpreter. When I say something as simple as 'I love you,' it can have different connotations. My intent may never be perfectly understood. The way I can avoid conflict of opinions is one, by being as silent as possible in my mind- speaking as little as possible and refraining from expressing an opinion if I have formed one; two, by being accepting of all and knowing that their opinion is inconsequential. One may look upon me as a beast and another as a God - this does not change who I am. It is only the beholders perception of me - it may be their truth for that moment but it is far from the absolute truth and can therefore change in a moment.

Evil is only good gone bad. The base of every action is inherently good. I commit no sin knowingly. If I feel a twinge that what I am about to do is wrong - I stop - I only continue when I have justified to myself that what I am about to do has merit. That is the dichotomy that most of us find ourselves in dealing with this world of dualities. There are multiple aspects to everything. It is only that thought that comes from the depth of the spirit that can escape this dichotomy. The depth of the spirit lies in an unshakable mind. That mind which is unaffected by the ups and downs that are occurring in the world of dualities. Only when I can take every moment as an event that is independent of me can I keep my mind stable. Dishonesty, insincerity, lies, and other negative characteristics are the perception of a judgmental mind. Unless I can keep my mind from judging everything and everyone every moment I cannot develop a stable mind. I can be non-judgmental only when I develop compassion and love for my human nature and that of everyone else around me. I am not right or wrong - my thoughts or actions are. These thoughts and actions are my ego establishing itself over my Spirit. Where ego reigns Spirit is only the observer but where my Spirit is supreme, ego becomes a non-entity. An ego that functions only as a tool to make living in the human form possible and not as the ruler of this human form is the ego of a stable mind. Unless I am keenly aware and ever watchful of the ego it begins to rule my life and shakes my mind.

I was sent a Buddha quote today that talks about an insincere, evil friend being more dangerous than a wild beast for where a beast only harms your body the other harms your mind. I am sure that there is a lot more to this than appears on the surface. For one, insincerity and evil cannot be applied as adjectives to friends and secondly the Buddha talked a lot more about the inner world than about the outside one. I am my own friend or enemy depending on the relationship I have developed with my mind. If I let my mind waiver at the slightest turmoil I am my own enemy, insincere to my spirit and therefore negatively influencing my inner peace. It is only when I am unshaken by anything that is happening around or within me that I am my friend, loving, compassionate and therefore maintaining my inherent inner peace. The Buddha was born into luxury and was raised in opulence - he chose to suffer and survived only because he recognized his own stable mind a long time before he left the material world. His was not a mind that rose and fell because of the opinions of others. Only when I have established this stability can I excel spiritually. I am not there yet - but am on a path that is leading me there.

Self Improvement

As I look back over the years I see the various paths I have walked to get to where I am today. The number of things I have learnt, done, and achieved make me smile. These worldly achievements are worth nothing at this moment. All that matters now is the now. This moment is unaffected by my past and exists independent of all other moments. My experiences are worth something only if they have taken me towards my true purpose. Anything I have done that took me away from my purpose was a waste of time.

I remember looking at those who were unable to multitask and taking pride in the fact that I could. Multitasking wasted many moments of my life since being a hundred percent present in any moment was impossible. All that multitasking helped me achieve was a stressful lifestyle. All the work related positions I held brought me 'success' in the physical, material realm. I made good money, was able to buy many things, developed a great reputation as a good worker, made many friends, traveled and enjoyed a 'good life.' Somewhere in the process of being 'successful' though I forgot my true essence. I was on a path of growth and improvement in the so called real world. This dream world is full of bells and whistles and very little else. Growth and improvement in this world was the sure shot way I chose to lose myself.

The only improvement that is worth anything at this moment is my spiritual one. The one that has opened my eyes to recognizing that all of these achievements, possessions and successes are not the real purpose of being here in this physical form. These experiences only caused me to spiral downwards and away from my spirit. I wasted my time. I would have been better served if I had established my spiritual identity and then gone out into the world. Then I would have catapulted my way up into self realization - the true essence of self improvement.

Since I had not established my spiritual identity I got distracted by the materialistic world that lies all around. The true meaning of wealth became about having money in the bank and about being able to buy things for my pleasure. Many years ago I knew a person who said that only mean minded people had bank accounts. I looked upon this person as a fool - the joke was really on me. Here was a man who spent his life serving others with every penny that he earned. He was always smiling even towards the end of his life when he had not a penny to his name and was unable to feed his family. His family survived through it all. The stress was felt more by those who judged him than by the man himself. He lived every moment as it came. Then one day he died. He came with nothing, left with nothing leaving nothing behind. His legacy is the love with which all whose lives he touched remember him. It is no less powerful than the legacy a millionaire leaves behind for his future generations to enjoy. When we leave, what is left behind is the spirit with which we served our body, mind, intellect and others.

Name and fame is about being recognized, being popular, and being liked by people whose opinions are really worth nothing. What is really important is about liking myself. It is essential that I have a clear conscience knowing that I have lived a giving, serving, loving life. Whether or not others believe I am good does not change my inherent goodness. When I take the high road to spiritual improvement I have to be able to do so with compassion, unconditional love, and free from guilt about the path I have taken to get to this road. The earlier I establish my spiritual identity the easier this becomes.

Everything I do in the outside world is about functioning within the norms that society has put in place. This is the world of duality where good and bad are completely subjective. What may be good to some is bad to some others. It is therefore essential that I live my life by my own judgment alone. When decisions are made from the depth of my own spirit my confidence is at its peak. Decisions made based on what others think will have some good elements and some poor ones - based on who is judging it. This will invariably shake my confidence. Self confidence and self esteem can only be established when I am true to my inner essence. Unless I know this essence I cannot be true to it.

Meditation that takes me on an inward journey is the only self improvement that I need to consciously work on. All other improvements will follow from this one. It is the foundation on which I can build character and so move forward loving myself every moment. God is not inside me or out there - God is who I am. Perfection is about recognizing this God.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Recognize Me

A flurry of activities are on. It is that time of the year. The time to celebrate the advent of the Mother. It has me wondering why she comes only this once. Why do we think about defeating evil only once a year? Is the Pujas a reminder to cleanse my mind once a year or is it a reminder to always keep myself clean? Why is the prep work of Maa's arrival about so much activity? Should it not be a time for me to contemplate rather than on getting busy with cultural, social and ritualistic activities? What is the significance of my activities?

Many questions and all the answers tell me that the activities are all about running away from the contemplation that will get my ego to take an inventory of itself and find it to be short of many qualities that it needs to become a true reflection of my spirit. As the scriptures say a Bhakta who loves his Ishta becomes one with the Ishta. He acquires all the qualities of his Ishta except His powers. A true bhakta remains one with his Ishta as long as he does not attempt to emulate the power of creation, maintenance and destruction. Once he acquires these powers a Bhakta becomes a slave of his ego again. Becoming one with my Ishta - what a blissful thought. The journey there requires to tread a path that means my ego must be trampled on without breaking my spirit.

Getting involved in outward activities means drawing attention of the outside world towards me - being in the limelight. Something I must learn to draw myself away from. The more I do with the intention of being noticed the further away I am moving from achieving oneness with Thakur. All my life I have been recognized for my achievements. I have always known that the recognition I get is many folds more than my achievements and have considered this a blessing of Thakur. Then it was brought to my attention that I take the limelight and it made me think. How am I doing this? It is by getting involved in outward activities. Action cannot stop but it can be done without projecting myself into the public eye. I must accept that being recognized feels good and then learn to do, without expecting recognition. I am definitely not creating anything, I am maintaining nothing and am hopefully not destroying anything. It is all His doing. Providing lip service to this thought is no longer enough.

Over the last few weeks I have contemplated on this aspect of my ego and have found it to be lacking. Whatever I do has the odor of wanting to be noticed. Except for my writing. When I write it does not matter what people think about it. I enjoy knowing what thoughts it raises in the minds of my readers because it helps my thought process to move forward or to change direction. This in turn spurns a new burst of ideas that take me into further contemplation. My writing does not need appreciation for it to continue - but almost everything else I do wants appreciation.

This year my contemplation on the arrival of Maa has helped me make a resolution. Draw myself away from outward activities as far as possible. Do what is necessary as silently and as inwardly as possible as activity or karma must continue. I have a duty towards society to continue to serve it since I am in it. These duties must be done as far as possible anonymously and not as a leader but as a member, not for adulation but to be of humble service only.

Recognition is not a blessing unless I can use it to keep me on my chosen path. Till the time I can learn to use it this way I will stay away from it. I am not ready for it. Humbly recognizing and applauding the achievements of those around me I must continue on my path towards inner silence.