Inspiration comes easy…

There seems room for celebration in these apparently paradoxical times. Our heroes provide inspiration unlimited, having overcome seemingly impossible odds -consider the following:

Sheena Iyengar, one of the leading experts on “choices” in our increasingly-visual world happens to be blind

One of the greatest composers ever (Beethovan) couldn’t hear his own tunes

StephenHawking inspires us to think of limitless galaxies and dark holes from the confines of a wheelchair

Quite a few great scientists believed in a God; while Mendel, a priest discovered stuff that makes him revered even today as the “father of genetics”

We see spirit triumph over the body – Christopher Reeve, our superman’s body succumbed to an accident, his spirit didn’t; Lance Armstrong won the tour de France after a successful fight with cancer – and declared “it’snotaboutthebike!”

And these are only a sample….so what could be stopping us from reaching greatness?

;

Bad boys?

He’s a bad boy. She’s no good either. After all, they went counter to you. Come to think of it, it’s rather easy these days to get onto your bad list. All they need to do is:

Say something bad about you, your cloths or your beliefs
Or about your god (or godman!)
Or about your family. Or friends. Or your role models
Or about Your city, your country, your tribe,your state
Or about your new car, your top-of-the-line tv or your Mac
Or about your profession
Or about your performance
Or about your house, furnishing or fittings
They may not have liked the gift you bought
Or may not prefer the book you read or the music you like or even your choice of cuisine

So easy to become a bad boy really – no wonder we have so many that it’s hard to keep track of them.

But should we be so efficient at “bad boy”ing folks? Or should we simply embrace fewer things as our own?

And on reflection – is the bad boy count reflecting the world outside or our propensity to hurt so easily inside? And once we know the answer, shouldn’t we do something about it?

Mirroring me on you””

Think about a meeting. Pick anyone – a friend, a colleague, a casual acquaintance (for instance the postman!) or for that matter even an enemy you prefer to remember!

Picture your meeting with him/her. The visuals, the sounds, the feel – everything. What do you remember from the meeting?

Do you remember his hair was starting to thin or grey? Did you think she spoke too fast, or seemed too nervous? Was the meeting fun? Did you get a chance to advice him or her on any aspect at all?

Come back to this moment. I have often noticed that quite a few of my impressions may actually reveal something about me as much as about the other person (so for instance if I was worried about my hair greying (it so happens I am not, as I have given up long ago!), I would recollect the person’s hair detail). If you want that promotion really bad, did you picture him as being very hungry and agitated for it too?

Is this universal? Does it have to be this way, I guess not….

Try awareness for a while. Reflect back to the scene again – Did you see things as they are or are these a projection of your own world (read fears, hopes and such) on the person and environment?And if this so, would you benefit from following the advice ( or be convinced!) you shared with him? If the answer is a honest no, maybe it’s time to try some mindfulness. ( and no you don’t need Buddhist robes for this!).

In your next meeting, pretend you are also a witness( apart from being the actor too). Observe the scene using all senses and if possible the thoughts running in your mind as well. Chances are you will come away with a lot of understanding about yourself. Now that’ll be nice to have? – taking away facts and not projections??….

An independence day adventure at Sahaj Marg

I got a chance to attend one of the SahajMarg festivals – an independence day bhandara in their parlance. For those who don’t know, Sahaj Marg is an unique community which serves to awaken people through their system of raja yoga mediation. An experimental blog on some random thoughts and reflections from my experience…

Observances -1

Thousands of people came together all seeking a moment of aloneness with god

They travelled for thousands of miles only to be still

The master spoke words that led them to silence

The madness of the world outside couldn’t deter them from realizing heaven inside

Volunteers, devotees, leaders – all helping, participating, serving a bigger cause of realizing interconnectedness, interdependence, independence

Reflections – 1

Is it faith that moves them?

Or the positive experiences they have had so far?

Can you be lonely amidst crowds, and fulfilled when alone

If your goal is to be here, now and established within yourself – where can you go, when and with whom?

.. a song for them……..the earth revolves, the devotee resolves, his mind evolves, and thoughts dissolve…..and god’s involved? (poetry over!)

Krishna – and why everyone just loves him…

Ok, this is a replug of my post from a few years earlier. However its refreshed – and more importantly its adorned with a wonderful piece of art by young school-going Richi, the daughter of a wonderful friend who wonders why her daughter seems to favour krishna above anything else as the subject of her art. Read through this post and maybe there’s an answer mam!

Relish this drawing from the little girl  – they capture the spirit of krishna and his wonderous ways more than words ever could.

IMG_20140119_225210

For those who haven’t come across this God yet in the travels of their life, Krishna is a god for everyone. if you are an intellectual, he can teach you the lofty truths of vedanta. If you are emotional and full of feeling, his endearing stories and his very life history (bhagavatam) will talk to your heart. If you are one who revels in the experience of god, he can teach you meditation. And if none of these appeal to you just now, he can teach you a way of living through righteous action (karma yoga).

Philosopher, social worker, friend, warrior monk, king – he is an incredible package – even by Godly standards. Think about picking one gentle man who encompasses the best of harry potter, lao tzu, batman, superman and another 20 such super starts – and you begin to get the idea…

 

Why do we need a god in the first place? Some need it for inspiration, some need it for solace, some need a year-round santa claus to give them gifts, some are lookign desperately for hope and reassurance of a better future, some need an ear to listen to them. Truth spoken  – God means different things to different people – and when a God can relate to each of our needs, he transcends to become a super God in our eyes.

So how do we relate to God?

There are 5 major ways we relate to a God – and based on our need and our evolution, we choose the appropriate one – so proclaim the scriptures.  Each of these ways allows you to build a personal relationship so he can bring you the grace you wish to enjoy –  you can look upon God as your child, a beloved, a dear friend, a master or of course as the all knowing God (capitalized at that!). While many of us may find it difficult to relate to the lord as an absolute entity (try imagining a formless, nameless, attributeless entity named god and you will understand the challenge!), we can with greater success imagine him as an adorable child, a dark-skinned youth with charms to rival any mills-and-boons character, a dear friend and so on. Incredibly, Krishna mythology has different people relating to him through each of these ways – all with equal success. Now, isn’t that special? let’s hear out a few stories to round things off.   

Yasodha (his foster mother) related to him as her child, and by all accounts he was a most mischievous child. There are many, many endearing tales of his pranks – here’s one that also hints at his godliness.  One day he put a lump of sand in his mouth and when she forcibly opened his mouth, legend has it that she saw the entire universe instead of the grains of sand she was seeking to remove. She must have felt blessed and a little disoriented too (we can only imagine that she must have given him a free hand to eat what he wanted post this incident!).

Radha (and the gopis) related to Krishna as their beloved. You’ll find tons of stories (and paintings) detailing this relationship across India. This one is not the typical romeo story though, it has several shades of spiritual meaning in it. For the common man/ woman, there’s one key takeaway – krishna loves Radha that he would do anything for her sake. So if you have a favour to ask of  Krishna (buy a house, score more marks, win an Olympic medal – or is that one too difficult!), you better get radha on your side and she will pleade your case successfully with him!!

As a friend, Krishna stands alone – especially in times of need, tales abound of how he comes to his friend’s need. The only favour he asks in return is true unallyed friendship – which of course in these days of caution, many are loathe to give! India’s inspirational masterpiece – the bhagavad gita are but a conversation he has with a close buddy (Arjuna) where he gently coaxes his friend to achieve greatness – of all things on a battlefield. Think about it – if you were the friend of the commando and in a war – and your friend loses his will and wits – would you stay back and inspire him to fight the war of his life or do a quick abscond. My survey says, 99% would take the latter route – perhaps a reason we aren’t a krishna!

There’s also a story where he is graciousness itself while meeting a childhood friend who has fallen upon hard times and showers grace and abundance on him unasked. The friend’s life is transformed infinitely for the better – as all authentic encounters with Krishna are wont to do. 

And who can forget the the dramatic incident where he alone among the numerous wise men at court steps up to save his friend Draupadi during a shameful episode where her husbands gamble her away to their cousins – who attempt to disrobe her. Everytime I read this one, i feel this is where feminism started as a movement, and rightly so!

Krishna somehow seems to have a tender heart, high intellect and awesome brawn – and all of this he readily employs for those who need them. And in this time of a needy human populace, no wonder he is a such a popular God. There’s a fascinating story of two folks – a king and an old lady (who has but a cow to call her own) – who pray regularly to Krishna. The King prayed for – well  more – more power, more fame, more riches (he was like most of us!), while the old lady prayed for krishna’s grace. One day – lo and behold – Krishna showered his blessings on them.  The king got an expanded kingdom and retired happily for the night (the next day of course he could resume his request for just a little bit more again!) while the old lady’s cow died. “How could you do this, my lord” asked a perplexed (and one can imagine very angry) minister to Krishna. Krishna answers– “All the king wanted was more material riches so I gave him that. It’s going to take him eons to outgrow his fascination for the riches and ask for eternity. The lady though – she has almost reached the land of bliss but her attachment to the cow is preventing her from taking the final jump to godliness – and hence I took that away. Now she truly is with me”. The lady we understand is now above gracing us with her benevolence, the king of course is now back on earth (possibly suited and booted too) and was last heard asking Krishna for a jaguar XJ or atleast a beemer. We haven’t heard back from the cow yet….

On that note, here’s bidding adieu to this post. Krishna’s birthday is celebrated across the world as a momentous day, the day when God descended on earth in a human form. Women paint little feet inviting this wonderful, wise and fun God into their homes.  Let’s pray that his teachings, his form and his very life (called lilas) bring us serenity, a smile and  profound grace into our lives. 

Another meditation on the source of all things..

Sometimes, a man just wakes up and puts his pen on paper (or his fingers on a computer these days) and starts writing. He has no goal and definitely no expectation of a reward – be it monetary, fame or power. Many a time, he doesn’t even consider himself a writer, and he would be hard pressed to answer from where this urge to write sprung from – indeed he would say the writing just happened as opposed to him being the writer. And when this happens – we may witness the outpouring of some pristine prose. This emergent prose belongs not to the author. Indeed, it does not belong to this world. It comes from within, from a space that is far deeper and is called variedly by many names including “benediction”, “presence” and “god”.

Those who witness the beauty of such prose forget themselves for a minute. They are enthralled and for that brief minute transformed into a connoisseur of life. A glimpse is often enough to send a man in search of his destiny attempting to savour more of this delectable experience. Such fortunate men and women can be recognized by their “ illumination and joyous” countenance – though they may be clad in the robe of a business man, fashioned as an artist or bathed in saffron like the renunciant.

Sometimes, the “specialness” of such prose is not in its structure but in its “timeliness”. It may not read well, and it may not engage the mind. However for the person who needs it, its message strikes home – it is just what the “doctor above” has ordered to restore the physical, emotional and spiritual health of his beloved child on earth.

Occasionally, it’ comes not as the written word but as a compassionate word spoken to a friend in need. Many a time, the benevolence is more subtle than a word –  it takes the form of a thought for a loved one. It can also manifest in other forms – in the guise of a shoulder we can lean on or a stranger strangely sensitive to our needs. When we are part of such a phenomenon, it is good to recognize it for what it is – we have witnessed not an addition to the burgeoning world of transactions, but have had a glimpse into what makes a man human.

Some forms of course are always bewitching – even the basest man cannot afford to be not moved by this. Think of a star filled sky, the immensity and the blueness of the ocean, the attractiveness of an infant, the affability of a very elderly person and the absolute stillness of the monk. In these, you can always find solace and maybe if you look deeply enough even answers to existential questions.  

Let’s take the moment to say a prayer and a few words of gratitude –for the people, the things and the experiences that have been part of our journey. The spirit of the gayatri mantra (which came forth through sage vishwamitra – an exceptional seer who is revered for his wisdom and “never give up” attitude) which beseeches the sun to illuminate the world and uplift it to a godly state of effulgence is an appropriate one to remember at this time.