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Showing posts from 2010

Grace for my Uncle

Saturday morning started off with sad news. My only surviving Maternal Uncle had passed away. It was the day after the Festival of Lights - and it brought back memories of a day 35 years ago. That too was the day after the Festival of Lights and about the same time that my father had passed away.

My uncle was a fun loving young at heart man all his life. All of us loved him dearly. Our children loved him just as much. He made every one he met feel special. He was genuinely interested in what each of us was doing, in our interests, in our family, in our city, in our relationships and in everything that made us feel important. I am not sure how he did it but he made everyone feel that their life was an amazing one. He never seemed old in his dealings with us even if he could not quite remember our birthday or when we last met. He invariably remembered what we had been passionate about the last time we had spent time together. Even in his eighties he put many of us to shame about everyt…

35 long years

Thirty five years ago today my father left his body and seemed to leave us behind. It was a very sad day for me. I was 18 and I had lost my guide, hero and best friend. It took me a while to acknowledge that because the first thought was not about my loss - it was more about relief. I write it right. I was relieved that I would no longer have to worry about my dearest father dying. His dying had been my worst nightmare for many years before the actual event. I am not sure now what I was really afraid of - if it was what the future would hold without him or if it was the moment of his passing. I still cannot put my finger on it but it did not take long for the fear to be overpowered by the grief. Thankfully though, the grief did not last too long as it was soon replaced by all the wonderful memories of some great little moments that I had the good fortune of having with my dearest Dad for the last ten years of his time with us.

Today I recognize that Dad left his body but has been wit…

Identity Crisis - Resolved

Life is complicated. Joyful one day, miserable the next, jubilant today, despondent tomorrow. Unpredictability makes life stressful and challenging. I was hired at a great company today and so I am on top of the world. My boss is a tyrant so I am in the doldrums. I found out I am pregnant and nothing could take this joy away from me ever, but the morning sickness the next day makes me wish I did not have to go through with pregnancy to have my own child. My teacher praised my essay but my classmates left my name out of the class project that was presented in assembly.

Well of course we are on a roller coaster ride - life is not fair. Things done with the best of intentions backfire. Good things happen to bad people and terrible times befall good people. That is what life is about. The world will go on its way, independent of me. The wise understand this and move on without it affecting their emotional stability. Many of us do not understand this concept. We identify ourselves with ou…

Liberation of the Soul

The concept of the Soul being Liberated suggests that it can be bound. The Soul is infinite and limitless and so cannot be restricted. Clearly there is a deeper meaning to the phrase Liberation of the Soul. To get to the meaning I need to know who I am and what the Soul is.

I - meaning my body, mind and intellect - am a micro manifestation of the infinite Soul. This materialization is limited in time and space and is both surrounded by and in association with other finite manifestations of the same Spirit. The Soul can shine through brighter in some beings than in others. This in the case of people can be seen as levels of beauty or strength in the realm of the body; sharpness of intelligence; purity of mind and so on. These manifestations can be honed and enhanced if the individual so desires. The mind has a limited capacity to comprehend the depth of the Soul. The intellect may understand it through analysis and wisdom but the mind has the capacity to experience its presence at a le…

Abundance - spiritual definition

When I hear the word 'abundance' it brings the vision of plenty. Lots and lots of money, large home, beautiful cars - things. In reality though Abundance is about the sense of satisfaction that comes from what we do have. For some this satisfaction may come from what they already have and for others it may never be attainable. Abundance is a state of mind. The more we choose to be satisfied the less things we need. It is not things and money rather it is our personal sense of gratitude and generosity that brings us a sense of abundance.

This is very similar to the idea of faith. One has faith on ones Spiritual Teacher and God. This is not about the ritualistic prayers offered to them or chanting their name. It is more about the strength this faith gives us in ourself. It is said that with faith one can walk over the ocean. The Guru or God Incarnate does not help us walk over water physically - one can do it because one has put complete faith that they can - whatever the reason…

Kandhamal-a symptom of a larger ill.

I was not aware of the atrocities of Kandhamal (Orissa, India) till my school friend mentioned she was on her way to a tribunal to speak about the plight of the women there. Being the voracious reader I am and being privileged enough to have the time and the resource available to surf the net I began reading about it. I sit here in my beautiful home ten thousand miles away and complain about the heat wave that raises my electricity bill while thousands of men, women and children are living amidst squalor and in fear because they have chosen to execute their right to follow a religion of their choice. They probably do not feel the heat or the cold because they fear for their very life and livelihood. We could blame the local politicians or law enforcement for their continued suffering over two years after the atrocities first took place but are we all not just as culpable?

A few unintelligent hoodlums carried out a horrible act on our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons an…

Finding God

If this world is an illusion - why then as reasonable intelligent beings can we not see beyond it? It is impossible to believe that there is 'nothing' where we can see, smell, hear, feel 'everything' around us. We have been provided with sense organs to experience the world as it is. If this were unreal and Consciousness was the only Reality we would have been provided with the tools to be able to experience the reality. If the purpose of life was to know God then we would have come into this world knowing that and living life accordingly. Something is not right here.

Last night I dreamt I was in a garden with many shrubs and trees. There were many strangers in this garden but as I got close to them they turned into people I have known for years. No one recognized me - they ignored me. Everytime I approached someone they deliberately walked away from me. How rude. It upset me and I felt saddened. I knew they should not be behaving this way but they did anyway. All of a…

Illusion of Destiny

It is said that "Eventually we shape our own destiny." The statement places destiny somewhere in the future. Since time is a figment of my imagination destiny is not in the future. Destiny at most is what life is at this moment. Making the best use of this moment makes me true to my life purpose and so to myself. No one has made my life what it is - it is so, independent of anyone else. I make the conscious choice to be. What is happening around me, with me, to me, because of me is for those unconscious moments when I lose touch with myself. When I am one with myself then I simply am and it is a moment of immeasurable joy.

There can be no projected destiny. There are just present life experiences to enjoy. Any impact I may have had belongs to the world of illusion. I am untouched by it all. When I have let go of the illusion there remains the awareness of a Stillness. From that Stillness arises more experiences - the difference is that the experiences now take on a new meanin…

Friends - Updated (originally posted in October 2009)

I have been blessed with some wonderful and true friends over the years. There is a depth to our friendship that goes beyond time and space. They are always there for me and everytime we connect it is as if no time has passed and no physical distance was ever there.

I have found that there are some very distinct characteristics to a true friendship. Here they are:

1. There is never any misunderstanding between friends.
This quality comes from
2. A complete acceptance of one another the way each one is.

3. Friends are imperfect human beings who do not need to put on a false appearance between themselves. Imperfections are shown and are accepted. Age, nationality, language, color, interests are immaterial between friends.

4. Friends pick up where they left off as if they have been with each other in the interim. There is very little catching up to do in the realm of the spirit.

5. A friend can tell you what they think about you in any given situation and it is possible to accept the harshest c…

Bliss is here.

"After every happiness comes misery; they may be far apart or near. The more advanced the soul, the more quickly does one follow the other. What we want is neither happiness nor misery. Both make us forget our true nature; both are chains--one iron, one gold; behind both is the Atman, who knows neither happiness nor misery. These are states, and states must ever change; but the nature of the Atman (Soul, Spirit, Self) is bliss, peace, unchanging. We have not to get it, we have it; only wash away the dross and see it." Swami Vivekananda

Pain and pleasure are not real. This was a very difficult concept for me for many years. I feel pleasure, I feel pain. I cannot accept that they do not exist. No one wants misery but imagine not being happy - but that means being miserable - or a zombie. It took me a long time to understand that having neither misery nor happiness means being stable in mind. It means welcoming both joy and tragedy as passing circumstances. I need to welcome bot…

Fear of Death - transformed.

In the world but not of it. That was difficult. To have a family and a society, to provide for oneself and the family, to be safe and healthy one must be involved in the matters of the world. To be successful in the world required me to be part of it. Seems I had misinterpreted the meaning of success. Accomplishing a goal or purpose defines success. I had intertwined success with name and fame and also with pre-determined standards set by others. When I set myself up in competition with others I became part of the world. This wanting to be better than someone else pulled me in and I lost my uniqueness and so my own identity. Competition with myself - doing the best that I am capable of keeps me in the world and keeps me within myself. It helps me to go deeper into my infinite wisdom and get in touch with the Universe at large without becoming a slave to the world outside.

The moment this wisdom became apparent the world became a fun place. I have no control over outside circumstances.…

Speaking the truth.

Speaking the truth is a noble quality. It is an essential element of a spirit based life. Yet there are times when we hesitate to speak the truth. It could be because the truth would be unkind or harsh and hurtful to another or because the truth could hurt the person speaking it. What then? What takes precedence? Is one justified in lying then? What determines this decision?

All through life this had been a burning question for me. Are there certain conditions under which lying is acceptable? Each time the answer came up as a No. Does that mean I do not lie? Not at all - I do - sometimes. What a terrible position to be in. Compromising with my own sense of values is painful. What kept me from always telling the truth is conflict. Confrontations made me uncomfortable. I felt being argumentative was dis-respectful. A value I learnt as a child. No one told me what was more important. Being disrespectful was a visible move away from a learnt value while lying could be hidden even if it wa…

Selfless Action - a mindset.

I read about the 43 year old woman in Iran awaiting the death penalty by stoning. What she may or may not have done is immaterial. My question is how is it possible for mankind to be so cruel? How do we justify picking up a stone with the intent to kill another defenseless person? Whether it is murder or capital punishment - whatever the intention - do we have the right to take another life simply because we judged them and found them wanting - in our perspective? How we love to wield our power over another. How many of us who sit in judgment of others truly have the wisdom to determine absolute right from wrong? Much of what used to be wrong at one time is right today. What is wrong within the borders of one country is right just across it. What is wrong in my mind is right in another's.

It is our blindness towards Oneness that makes it possible for us to be this way. Imagine watching your mother being lashed ninety nine times in public. Is that painful to imagine? Why then is it…

The joy of Friendship

I have always wondered where my naivete about people and friendship stems from. Not that I think I am wrong in believing that everyone is trustworthy, just that I have been told this is my weakness. The other day a third of our classmates from high school had a reunion in the city where we were raised in India. Most of us had been together in school since we were seven. We are all now in our early fifties and this reunion was after 37 years of finishing high school. Those of us who could not be there were just as excited about this mini reunion as the ones who did meet.

That was where I learned to trust. School friends and friends in the neighborhood where I was raised have been my friends for life. It is because we got to know one another before we got to cultivate our ego personas. We touched each others souls because that was when we only knew how to connect with our spirits. Once our egos become our identity it is difficult to connect and make new true friends in large numbers. Eve…

God Realization

Realizing God - that is considered the purpose of human life by many. What is realizing God really? Who is God? Where is He? Why do I need to realize Him? After everything I have to go through on a daily basis to survive and for the upkeep of the family when am I going to make time to realize God? So many questions and few if any constructive answers. It is easier to continue to live life and forget about God Realization.

God Realization is a way of life. It does not require us to know the answers to any of the questions that come up. All that is necessary is the urge to take the first step. Inquiry. The questions are necessary - the answers are already known to each of us. We need to put our little self aside and reach into ourselves to reveal the Truth. It is the putting aside of the ego that is by far the most difficult.

As a child the urge is faint because we have only recently lost touch with God and have found our little selves and are hungry to know more about it. We see flashes …

Living in the NOW

Why is it that when a member of a family dies those left behind are left feeling orphaned? Why is it that when one does not win the lottery one feels despondent? Why is it that when one loses a job one becomes desperate? Why do we panic when a child does not pick up the phone when you call him? If happiness is a state of mind why then is it so hard for us not to be greatly affected by these extraneous factors?

The secret to happiness does lie outside us - that is why. The secret to happiness is tied in with time. For as long as we are a slave to time we will not be able to find that inner happiness. Since we live in the world and have to live by the clock that is ticking on the wall or on our wrists we have to value time. What we forget is that the clock and watches all around are also only showing us time NOW. Why then do we persist on keeping our mind's busy with the past and the future? That is the time that is outside - the past and the future are what takes away the power of …

Death

Imagine a hale and hearty person having a fun time with friends and family - the last thing on anyone's mind is death. But suddenly he is gone. His heart stopped beating. What happened to this person? He was here and now he is gone. That is all the one's left behind know. His wife, children, grand children, relatives and friends are left wondering how and why this happened and how life is going to be from this moment forward. At first there will be much to do to deal with the formalities but then there will be this void that will pronounce his absence with a lot more force. With time we will all adjust to one less person in our midst and cope with the loss - each in our own way. All of this I understand. I have seen it happen and have dealt with it first hand in the past and will deal with it again. The question that I am confronted with this time is - where did this angel of a man go? He was my uncle - my father's brother. I had the privilege of spending some great times …

Authenticity

The knowledge is often not enough. Intelligence is a strong aspect of the human mind but often fails to help us practice what we know. Reading books, listening to lectures, meditating, and even talking about subjects spiritual does not make one spiritual. The knowledge may all be there but living a spiritual life full of virtue may still be difficult. As an outsider looking in this is difficult to understand. How can a person who is talking about God, chanting God's name, meditating, praying, attending sermons still be afraid to trust others or even stoop to gossiping, lying and cheating? Where is the disconnect? When we are not in touch with the real 'I' we cannot live the life that the intellect believes is possible.

Imagine going into an office of a person of authority and seeing a display of an elaborate altar right in the office and then imagine the officer asking for a bribe to do what he is being paid to do. Not uncommon. Imagine going for a religious function and h…

Walking to Wisdom

Now I have gone and done it. With my heart racing and face flushing I signed up for a 5K walk to be held on June 12th. My first Walk for a cause ever. I am not sure I can do this. I am still huffing and puffing as I walk 2 miles in about 35 minutes each day. That is a poor pace and I know it. I am aiming at bringing that down to a mile every 15 minutes and increasing each day by at least a tenth of a mile to get to as close to walking 5K as I can by d-day. I had initially responded with a 'Maybe' to join then this new friend I have who is a personal trainer and is helping me achieve my fitness goals pushed me over. "Say yes - and I will join your cause too." Oh,oh - my first thought was, "Stupid girl - why did you have to mention the walk to the one person who was going to push you to do it?" I got my answer while the question was forming in my mind, "Because you want to do this but have no self confidence that you can." The real I truly wanted to…