Unconditional Love

loveunconditionalThe language of the soul begins with love. In the modern era, many of us have forgotten this and hence, we do need to go back to re-learning this law that is the primary law of our being complete wholesome human and humane beings.

We need to learn how to love everyone unconditionally — including our own self. This law can enable us to find the hidden strength and splendour within us and others.  Unfortunately, we have never been taught how to love unconditionally.  Almost all of our loving has been motivated by emotional desires programmed into us at an early age. 

The most natural love that we all experience is that of a mother for her child. Miracles are created through this love. Later, we spend most of our lives trying to define and find ‘love’ in all our relationships.

Most of our love experiences have taught us we must earn or deserve love before we can have it and that others must deserve our love.  This is conditional love. This is not love but a business transaction.  

This is why our well-meaning but unskilled attempts to love usually end up in separation and alienation.  

Parents tell their children they must get a certain number of grades to be loved.  My friend, Anita’s (name changed) son was convinced that he should aim to become a doctor as there were successful doctors on both sides of his family. He tried his best but could not succeed. They kept pushing and prodding him. His self-esteem plummeted to the lowest level as he was just not being able to relate to the subject itself. When his lecturers said he would be rusticated, he took the awful plunge of committing suicide.

The above is of course an extreme case but depression and stress seems to be the name of the game in a world that is craving for love, true love. In the area of parenting, many parents have forgotten that what is required from them is just pure love and not proving a point to anyone.  In fact, the most natural love that we all experience is that of a mother for her child. Miracles are created through this love. Later, we spend most of our lives trying to define and find ‘love’ in all our relationships.

In the Chakra theory, this is the second stage of being. This comprises of the Anahata center that is called the love center and the next center, the Visshudhi, that is both about communication and a sense of abundance.

Love comes with the unconditional acceptance of everyone and everything around us.  And how do we do this?  When your consciousness lives in the love centre, we instantly accept anything that anyone does or anything that happens, but of course, we are still entitled to our likes and dislikes.  For instance, a mother will love her child even though he/she upsets the milk and it smashes on the kitchen floor but would take the next steps of course.   In a situation like this, the mother thinks with love which is why she does not get emotionally upset.  This love is great as it does show us what love truly is. Later, when we begin comparing our child with others, the love diminishes and our child begins to sense this and usually gets into a love center of his/her own.

We can do this only by transcending our security, sensation, and power requirements. For it is only your emotional programming disturbs us when the events outside do not conform with the programming that we have conditioned inside of us.  As these requirements or addictions begin to melt away, we begin to experience everything and everyone around us in a different way.  We view them not in terms of how they meet our needs but in just accepting what is happening around us.

We know that if they are consciously on the path, they will similarly accept your moment-to-moment happenings for this is what helps them grow, too.  And if they are not consciously on the path and become angry, that’s their problem.  The only thing we can do to help them is to set an example of strength and completeness.

We begin to find that you can instantly accept what was previously unacceptable emotionally.  We must understand we really have no choice.

Most of us lead our entire lives trying to change whatever is happening all around us. This has to change if we need to understand what is our control and what is not. This itself can take a lifetime to understand.

This is why one of  the prayers I deeply resonate with is the one of Reinhold Niebuhr who said, “God give me the serenity to accept Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

 

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Symbolism of Vishnu

vishnuimageIn Hinduism, the religion I was born into is full of Gods, each symbolising something quite deep and profound.

Vishnu who is said to have come to each many times is said to be the preserver of this planet just as Brahma is said to be the creator and Shiva the annihilator.

He is identified with four symbols: conch-shell trumpet or shankh, a discus called sudarshana chakra that whirrs around his index finger, a mace or gada and a lotus or padma.

The conch shell trumpet is a tool that announces one’s arrival. Thinking more deeply, it is actually all about communication. Communicating to others the world  about your aspirations and aims. Sudashrhana signifies awaremeness or experience. The mace or Gadha signifies power and the lotus or Padma signifies remaining unspoilt or untainted despite being among murkiness just as a lotus retains its purity despite being in muddy waters.

This principle, like all principles applies at the individual, societal and global levels.

Now, if we think of all of us as having a Vishnu in us, it is clear that to lead a complete and holistic life, we do need to communicate effectively, be aware of all that is happening around us, utilise our inner power and remain untouched by all the negativity around us,

In society again, we need effective communication, awareness, use of power in a positive way and remaining untouched by the murkiness that is bound to be there.

Naturally, this is how the world is also created. It is we who create the world and our world through our actions and thoughts.

By following the principles of preservation as shown by Vishu, it is possible to keep our planet wholesome and unsullied,

Let us then understand the principles behind symbolism, in this case of Hinduism and Lord Vishnu. I am certain all religions and philosophies must be having similar symbolisms. Understanding these can only enrich our lives.

Comparisons the bane of life

comparison2“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken”, said Oscar Wilde. Truly, in the foolish game of competitions and comparisons that we play, there is too much grief everywhere for absolutely no reason.

 We all are unique and it is absolutely foolish to compare ourselves with another just like it is foolish to compare one fruit with another.

In fact, my wise aunt told me once, “My dear, never compare yourself. It makes you either vain or bitter.” It was good advice but, like most good advice, it was easy to say but could not be followed.

I belong to a family where many are musically inclined. I grew up in North India while many of my cousins were in the South and were all either learning vocal music or to play an instrument. Now, I too loved music and always longed to sing, just for the joy of it but as most of my seemed to know a lot more than me, I was extremely insecure about even opening my mouth, especially in social events. On another note, I was pretty envious of their situation, especially in the musical arena. “How lucky they are that they have so many opportunities to learn, how wonderful it is that they attend the concerts of stalwarts,” I used to keep thinking. Apart from music, I used to think they were studying in better schools, had better teachers, in fact better everything. It was much later that I realised everyone has their own journey in life and it is foolish to compare my journey with theirs.

 Comparison is general just leaves us feeling like we’re just not measuring up to our own expectations or envious, like my wise aunt said.

In the journey of comparison, we keep feeling we are

Not accomplished enough.

Not attractive enough.

Not disciplined enough.

Not passionate enough.

Not smart enough.

Not wealthy enough.

Not _XXX___ enough

It would indeed help if we realise that

 

  1. Comparisons are always unfair.We typically compare the worst we know of ourselves to the best we presume about others.
  2. Comparisons, by definition, require metrics. Here, we need to know that every good thing cannot be counted (or measured).
  3. Comparisons rob us of precious time.We each get 86,400 seconds each day. And using even one to compare ourself or our accomplishments to another is an utter waste of time
  4. Each of us is too unique to compare fairly. Our gifts and talents and successes and contributions and value are entirely unique to us and our purpose in this world. They can never be properly compared to anyone else.
  5. We have nothing to gain, but a lot to lose.While comparing, we are in danger of losing our pride, our dignity and our passion.
  6. There is no end to the possible number of comparisons.The habit can never be overcome by attaining success. There will also be something—or someone—else to focus on.
  7. Comparisons often result in resentment. Comparison results in resentment towards others and then towards ourselves.

If we must compare, let us set the benchmark as our own selves. Like my grandfather taught and sang to us “Day by day in every way, I shall be better and better and better. So help me God, So help me God”.

Cancer injected with a gift of happiness

happinessI met a young mother full of verve in my colony recently. She knew almost everything about nutrition and health. I asked her if she was a doctor or a nutritionist to which she just shook her head.

After she left, another young woman who was sitting next to us told me her story, which one could call heart wrenching or inspiring, depending on one’s perspective. This lady’s young son was diagnosed with leukemia when he was just ten. After a few rounds of chemo , radiation and the works when she found no improvement, for a while she felt extremely  depressed and went into the “Why me?” kind of thought pattern.

The doctors did not have an answer, her friends did not and she just started praying again and again for guidance.

Serendipitously she met a senior in the ward who told her that all she could do now was to make her son as happy as he could be in the days of his life to make his mind and spirit more robust.

With this began her journey of looking for solutions for a complete life for her son. She began consciously giving him healthy, nutritious food and taking him to see all the events he loved. The boy started taking part in all games and sports in the colony, read a lot of books and made many friends everywhere.

With this, the little boy’s life changed from being only about treatment to one that made him look forward to life.  Life for him and the family started becoming joyous with hope for complete wellness injected in the process.

“I do not know what will happen next but I do hope and pray for as must happiness as is possible for my son. This can happen only if I myself remain as happy as I can be. This is possible only with complete faith that I shall be guided on the right path by the Almighty,” became her mantra in life, which is why she became an inspiration to everyone around her.

After all, this mantra is indeed applicable to all of us.

Gratitude, the mantra of life

gratitudeRecently met an old man who was aged 87 on a morning walk. He was grappling with Parkinsons and had recently lost his wife who had also been grappling with an illness.

“The very fact that I had an opportunity to serve my wife is something I was always grateful for,” After a pause, he continued, “I also had a home in which I could take care of her.” I asked him if he missed her now to which he said, “Of course I do but I do know she has moved on to a better world and am therefore thankful for God’s mercy in not subjecting her to more challenges,” he said. As far as his own illness is concerned, he again only thanks God for his mercies in giving him a complete life. “Then and now, my only communication with God is to thank him for all that he has given me,” he said.

I realized more than ever before that it is indeed only gratitude that we should eternally convey to the Almighty no matter whatever the situation that we may be placed in may be. Life is indeed all about perception. We become what we are through our own perception of the world. A challenge becomes an opportunity instead of an obstacle and we then become inspirations not people who are either ignored or pitied.

This is true for all situations in life and like the gentleman said, our world could indeed become a better world with just the simple prayer of thanking and not deriding or asking for anything.

If we all begin thinking like this, the world itself would be a better place where we perceive blessings and not problems.  The more we notice blessings, the more the blessings that are endowed on us. This is the pattern of the Universe.

Maturity with awareness

maturityI recently got a message that talked about what maturity, or what was termed in the message as ‘spiritual’ maturity.

Now, I am a staunch believer of a higher power, whether we call it a higher consciousness, inner power or spirituality. The fact is whatever one may call it we all need to focus on what we need to do.

The fact is any kind of maturity is possible only when we work on our own selves in all areas. We often do not this at all but just focus on the externals, whether it is other people and what they should be doing or see what even we think they should be thinking of us and everything in the world.

The reality is that the more we focus on others, the less work we do on ourselves. This is a simple, logical truth.

No matter how much success we get in the external world, true success is when we are comfortable with where we have reached and what we have attained. This comes only when we know what we are doing and this comes only with complete awareness of our own selves.

Essentially, peace comes only when we seek to please own selves. This does not mean we do not care about others. In fact, when we seek to please own selves we will realise that the more we please others, we will understand it is indeed relationships and understanding others that is the one factor that makes us more complete. Even if there are so called conflicts, we need to think about what these issues are trying to teach us.

After all, we must remember that life itself is all about learning lessons all the time, however old we may be. After all, when we stop learning, we stop living.

Adieu, Louise Hay

louisehayesWhen I came to know recently that Louise Hay, who had brought in the power of affirmations, hope and faith had left us, I started thinking about what she and her book meant to me.

We all know that Louise Hay has inspired millions of people to heal themselves. As far as I am concerned, I too read her book, Heal your life, when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). According to her theory, MS indicates rigidity and lack of flexibility.  In my case, I have always been extremely determined in doing my best in my profession and in all other areas. If one thinks deeply, determination when carried to the extremes does become rigidity as well.  This rigidity usually focussed on the results that I started expecting for my efforts.

Now, I have understood that I need to accept the situation I find myself in and am yes focussed on doing my best but am NOT focussed on the results that I would get.

This brings me to another tenet that I have been taught since childhood, that of the Bhagavad Geeta  which says “Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana, Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani”. When translated it means “To work you have the right, but not to the fruits thereof.”  When applied, it  means that our only concern should be about doing your duty to the best of your ability. Don’t worry about the results of your actions for those are outside of your control.

This when applied in our lives is really complete acceptance of the situation we find ourselves in while continuing to do our best in all the areas we find ourselves in. I tried doing this to the best of my ability and found that this ailment was not so dreadful after all. In all areas, I just did my best and did not expect anything. Soon, Voila, I did find myself completely healed through alternative therapies, primarily acupuncture whether one calls it a cure, a remission or recovery. This indeed is the pattern of the universe. Miracles do happen when we accept and then surrender to the divine will.

As far as Louise Hay is concerned more than the cause she had pointed out, what she had given me was an indelible hope that nothing is incurable and we do have the power to heal ourselves.

The affirmation she suggests for multiple sclerosis that I suppose is applicable to everyone is “By choosing loving, joyous thoughts, I create a loving, joyous world. I am safe and free.”

In my case, I did affirm  all the time and it surely did help me in never feeling depressed in any part of my journey of healing.  This I am sure did have a role to play in my recovery.

Seek and let seek

indianflagWhile wishing everyone a Happy 70th Indian Independence Day, I request everyone to pause and think about what being Indian is to us.

India and Being Indian to me has always been all about accepting and understanding all the cultures this land has been home to.

We have been home to many saints and philosophers and have never stopped learning spiritual lessons all the time.

seekingApart from established religions, India has always honoured the mystic, the seeker, people who wants to have nothing but God in their lives.

In India, spirituality and religion are part of everyday life. In no other country, perhaps, will you see a sadhu (a renounced ascetic or a practitioner of yoga) walking on the street with just a blanket and his rosary as his possessions without attracting any attention. India is home to all the major religions of the world, thriving in harmony since centuries.

It is perhaps only here that one can see people making the symbol of a cross while going across a church, giving a chadar (blanket) to a mosque and then proceeding to a temple to pay obeisance at a temple while singing the gurbani (hymn) of the Sikhs and/or a Buddhist chant to complete the process of reaching out to the Divine.

Why just organised religion? Even minstrels of all kinds are always honoured in this land. In fact, even became insane for the love of God is considered a valid path like those shown for instance by the Bauls.  The word Baul comes from the Sanskrit “Batul,” which means mad, or “afflicted by the wind disease.”  The Bauls are India’s wandering minstrels of West Bengal, whose song and dance reflect the joy, love and longing for mystical union with the Divine.

This is true Indian freedom. Freedom to pursue the path you wish to while respecting all who follow their path. For in India, it is the act of worship is the thing that matters not the names and symbols.

This is indeed the true strength of India. It is not just ‘live and let live’ but ‘seek and let seek’.

 

The three sieves

There are many oft repeated tales that we all need to keep telling ourselves to lead a life that does not harm others and our own selves also.

socratesIn the times of social media and exchange of excessive information exchange, this is indeed what is happening to most of us all around. The three sieves of Socrates indeed guide us to understand the principles we ought to apply. .

Socrates had many students. One day, he took his students to go outside. When they were passing a village, there was a man running near Socrates, almost out of his breath, : “Socrates I have to tell you something about your friend who…”

Socrates : “Hold on”,

“About the story you’re about to tell me, did you put it through the three sieves?”

The man asked : “What are three sieves?”

“First sieve, did you examine what you were about to tell me if it is true?”

The man scratched his head and replied : “Well… I just overheard about it from others”.

“Oh, then there comes the second sieves, sieves of good. Is it something good what you’re about to tell me?”

“Ehm… maybe it’s the contrary?”

“The third sieves, is it necessary to tell me what you’re so excited about?”

“Well, Socrates…I don’t think it is necessary”.

Socrates smiled, “Well, if the story you’re about to tell me isn’t true, good and necessary, just forget it and don’t bother me with it”.

This is perhaps why people like Socrates rose to the highest level of humanity as he could focus his energies on only those things that mattered and just ignore those things that either had no relevance or substance to move further on the right path.

Let us try and apply these very principles in these days of TRPs and trying to prove ourselves right in each and every area of life. This would be good for us and by extension for the world.

Reprogram and deaddict yourself

livingfreeMany of us may think addiction is only about substance abuse either smoking, drinking or using drugs. This is actually not true and complete at all. Addiction could be about anything. One may be addicted to sweets, situations or even people. Now, there is nothing wrong with either the people or things we are addicted to. It is our attitude that needs to change.

How do we do this? One thing we could explore is to see how the addiction makes us act mechanically like a robot. I know a friend of mine who would blindly keep eating sweets although she had been diagnosed with diabetes. This of course created problems but she could just not stop. To change the pattern of tests and retests, she had to reprogram herself. Slowly she did begin changing her behaviour and life did begin to change.

The same is true even of emotional needs. Many of us are addicted to other people’s opinion of us. This is surely not necessary and logical. We could be happy when compliments are given but not make it an addiction. To change the old programming, choose one or two short, pithy reprogramming phrases that counteract specific demands.  Thus to counteract the demand for approval and /or compliments, the phrase “I don’t need approval/compliments” would be appropriate.

Similarly for a situation when one is addicted to never making mistakes, we could say, “I don’t have to reject myself if I make mistakes” would help. We could reprogram by replaying the scene and re-experiencing our emotions.  We could get in touch with the suffering your addictions have caused us and with a determination to get free.

Some simple steps we could use are

  1. Close your eyes. Take ten deep, rapid breaths. Tense the  muscles. Build up all the emotional energy we can.
  2. Reprogram with intensity and power.
  3. Repeat your reprogramming phrases with gut-level determination until we feel that they have become part of us.
  4. Put yourself back in the same scene — this time with the new programming in operation.
  5. Reaffirm the new programming by visualizing yourself responding to the situation with new positive responses and feelings based on your new programming. Reaffirm that you can be free of old programming — free to be how you really want to be in order to enjoy all of your life.

With this, let our energy build for a drive toward freedom.

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