The Lotus principle

It is a well known fact that no growth, be it personal, professional, domestic or spiritual, can take place without a “peaceful mind-set”.  A peaceful mind-set is directly related to our behaviour and attitude.  Unfortunately, not many people bother to check and control them.
Lotus principle** Do not interfere in other people’s matter / business.  We usually offer unsolicited advice, irrespective whether our advice is welcomed or whether we are even qualified to offer advice on an issue.  This is often annoying to others.  It does not end there, as we also tend to monitor the implementation of our advice, embarrassing people and brewing negativity against ourselves.
** Do not crave recognition.  This creates an expectation from others and the rule of expectation is that it never gets fulfilled.  So, in the end, we are dejected.
** Do not be jealous of others.  Most people are not happy with what they have and keep craving for more.  The focus is always on what they do not have.  So, they tend to be jealous of other people who appear to be better off.  The cause for jealousy could be anything from looks to intellect, name, fame, riches, house, car, prosperity and position.  We should consciously make an effort to be happy with what we have .  We must realise that what we get in life depends on our individual karma.  We must accept everything that we have as gifts from God and know that He is the best judge in these matters.
Lotus principle** Grasp the best and leave the rest.  All around us, we have a duality of people, things and situations.   The duality is “good” and “bad”.  Generally, our focus is on the bad aspects of people, situations and things, hence we land up grasping only the “bad”.  If we start grasping only the “good” from our surroundings, we would be the happiest people around.  One particular example that often finds mention in spiritual literature is that of the “lotus”  —– how it blooms amidst all the dirt around.  It is aware of all the dirt around it, yet it just absorbs whatever it needs to from the dirt for its own growth.  Similarly, we are surrounded by all kinds of people, but it is entirely up to us to absorb the good for our own growth without constantly trying to change our circumstances.
Pointing out flaws repeatedly acts as negative affirmation in the other person’s mind and instead of changing for the better, the other person feels dejected.  Another outcome of repeated fault-finding could be strained relations and friction.  The other person will avoid our company rather than listen to constant criticism.
——– Sadguru Rameshji.  

Silent night

The true celebration of CHRISTMAS is an invitation to “inner silence”, where we learn to live with opposites.
A Jewish Rabbi, teaching the Talmud to a group of students, asked them what they saw on the page.  All said that they saw the “words ” on it.  None of them had noticed the “white spaces that separated the words”.  Were it not for these spaces, the words would become unintelligible.  What is more, he pointed out, these spaces formed the background and the context I which what was written could be understood.
Christmas paintingGod has been described as a sphere whose circumference is everywhere, but whose centre is nowhere.  We are enfolded by the Spirit and it is the context in which we live our daily lives.  Most of the time, however, our activities are so closely juxtaposed, that like words not separated by spaces in between them, they seem meaningless.  Our proximity to one another as we jostle for space in public transport systems only ends up as our being a juxtaposition of solitudes.
Social networking affords us the opportunity not only to be more connected to others, but more disconnected from the core of our being.  For those who still, somehow, manage to make the time, the spiritual becomes an ‘add-on’ that often fails to load since the basic operating system is out of sync and out of date.
The “spiritual” is embedded in our collective subconscious.  The Christmas story is about our being awakened to its presence, like Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the Magi, who are characterised by their state of wakefulness.
Individuals have always been conscious of the presence of the Divine.  The history of religions reveals that there has been a progressive deepening in the understanding of God’s presence.  It has evolved from God’s presence in nature, controlling its various elements and reflecting his glory in creation to a localised presence in temples of worship.  The celebration of Christmas draws our attention to the fact that God is not only with us but also within us.  We do not have to ‘go into his presence’.  The outward journey to places of worship and pilgrimages to holy place are meant to direct us to the journey inwards where we experience his real presence with us.  It becomes the source, meaning and purpose of everything we say, everything we do.  God is the context in which we live our lives.  The written word begins its existence only when it is placed on a page.  It owes its being to the space that surrounds it.
Creation is the revelation of God’s silence —— the space between the words ——- in which his presence is felt and experienced.  The poet Kabir laughed when he was told that the fish in the ocean were thirsty.  We often thirst for God’s presence, unaware that we are surrounded by it.
Contrary to what we might expect, the true celebration of Christmas is an invitation  to inner silence.  It is a silence in which we recognise our connectedness by being enfolded within it.  The journey into the world of silence is a journey that takes us back from the world of dissipation into wholeness.
By its very nature silence cannot be exploited.  The power of silence is its ability to mediate the irreconcilable.  In the realm of silence, irreconcilable differences can co-exist without tension, because silence is non-judgemental, and differences travel toward one another with no need to swallow or disintegrate or demolish each other.  Silence frees us from the expectation that we can understand and resolve the myriad irreconcilable elements of existence.  Journeying into the ‘womb of silence” in meditation, we discover the capacity for co-existence : we learn to live with opposites.
May the silence of that first Christmas night be the harbinger of peace on earth to all people of goodwill.
————– CHRISTOPHER MENDONCA (Speaking Tree)

Great truths

Toys and trinkets are ‘easily won’, but the greatest things are ‘greatly bought’.  The top-most place of power is always bought with blood.  You may have the pinnacles, if you have enough blood to pay.  That is the conquest condition of the heights everywhere.  The  chief values in life and character are not blown across our way by vagrant winds.  Great souls have great sorrows.


Great Truths are dearly bought, the common truths,
Such as men give and take from day to day
Come in the common walk of easy life
Blown by the careless wind across our way.
Great truths are greatly won, not found by chance,
Nor wafted on the breath of summer dream,
But grasped in the great struggle of the soul,
Hard buffeting with adverse wind and stream.
But in the day of conflict, fear and grief
When the strong hand of God, put forth in might,
Rakes up the subsoil of the stagnant heart,
And brings the imprisoned truth seed to the light.
Wrung from the troubled spirit, in hard hours
Of weakness, solitude, perchance of pain,
Truth springs like harvest from the well-raked field,
And the soul feels it has not wept in vain.
The capacity for knowing God enlarges, as we are brought by Him into circumstances which oblige us to exercise faith ; so, when difficulties beset our path let us thank God that He is taking trouble with us, and LEAN HARD UPON HIM.
“On all bare heights shall be their pasture” (Isa. 49:9, R. V.)

The power of your thoughts

One of the greatest regrets is not fulfilling the potential of your own mind.  It is like spending an entire lifetime craving something, only to realise too late that it was always with you, in a package you didn’t care to open.  Such is the power of the mind.  It holds within it all possibilities you can imagine.  However, you do need to peel the wrapping and get a singular focus of what you intend to do with that fearsome power, once unleashed.

power of thoughts

Life, it seems, does not follow the path of our desires and strategies as mush as that of our intentions and beliefs.  To know and accept what you desire of the future, attracts that same reality to you.  The late Dr. Dyer put it thus, ” You have to just be.  You have to let go.  You have to allow.”  That then unleashes the power of your mind and makes dreams possible.

We have heard instances of people healing themselves or psyching themselves out of a difficult patch.  Diagnosed with leukemia some years ago, Dr. Dyer claimed to have cured himself with the power of mind.  The coroner’s report reinforced there was not a trace of leukemia in his body.
There are reports of patients given a few weeks to live, going on to outlive their doctors by several years through the power of “positive thinking” on their bodies.  In one case of “multiple disorder personality”, a lady’s split personalities displayed different health symptoms.  One part of the alter ego was “diabetic” while the other was not.  The patient’s blood sugar levels climbed up or down along with her alter-ego change.
Dr. Bruce Lipton, development biologist, explains the “phenomena”.  He says that with the help of our beliefs, we can manipulate the way cells read our genes and DNA.  The mind’s function to create coherence between beliefs and reality.  If you believe something positive or negative, the mind creates that reality for you.  The boy has reserve cells that will replace or heal anything that our attention is focused on.  And so, a negative belief can hurt or kill as much as a positive emotion can heal and revive.
Medical research has shown that two-thirds of all healing is done through the “Placebo effect”  ——- mind and belief of the patient determines response to treatment rather than the actual medicine or surgery.
Interestingly, many people do not realise that “the mind can only think thoughts we allow it to”.  Thoughts are a powerful tool that travel within to our subconscious levels and influence our behaviour.  But, they also travel to the Universe and determine not just the behaviour of others towards us, but also the events that transpire.
If this is the strength of thinking, imagine the power we retain if we can direct our own thoughts and mind !!  The real challenge lies in unravelling the gift of the mind and then harnessing the force thus unleashed.  Try this.  When upset or depressed, identify the cause and tell your mind to put off thinking about the issue for some time.  Meanwhile, indulge in happy thoughts in a disciplined manner, rooting out negativity from your mind.  By the time you get to refocus on your problem, your mind will be a happier place, and the issue, less threatening.
Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu’s four basic virtues ——– reverence for all  of life, natural sincerity, gentleness and supportiveness —– are the best way to ensure that our mind bridges the gap between our thoughts and reality.

My pilot knows

When you are doubtful as to your course, submit your judgment absolutely to God and ask Him to shut against you every door but the right one.

Meanwhile keep on as you are, and consider the absence of indication to be the indication of God’s will that you are on His track ………. As you go down the long corridor, you will find that He has “preceded” you, and locked many doors which you would fain have entered, but, be sure that beyond these there is one which He has “left unlocked”.  Open it and enter, and you will find yourself face to face with a bend of a river of opportunity, broader and deeper than anything you had dared to imagine in your wildest dreams.

God guides us, often by circumstances.  At one moment the way may seem utterly blocked, and then, shortly afterward, some trivial incident occurs, which might not seem much to others, but which to the keen eye of faith speaks volumes.  Sometimes, these thins are repeated in various ways, in answer to prayer.
They are not haphazard results of chance, but the opening up of circumstances in the direction in which we would walk.  And, they begin to multiply as we advance toward our goal, just as the lights do as we near a populous town, when darting through the land by night express.
If you go to Him to be guided, He will guide you, but He will not comfort your distrust or half-trust of Him by showing you the chart of all His purposes concerning you.  He will show you only into a way where, if you go cheerfully and trustfully forward, He will show you on still farther.

stormy weather ship

As moves my fragile bark across the storm-swept sea
Great waves beat o’er her side, as north wind blows
Deep in the darkness hid lie threatening rocks and shoals
But all of these, and more, MY PILOT KNOWS.
Sometimes when dark the night, and every light gone out
I wonder to what port my frail ship goes
Still though the night be long, and restless all my hours
My distant goal, I’m sure, MY PILOT KNOWS.

Design your life

Just start by believing that the obstacle in the path to your life goals can be overcome.  Designing life is about acquiring  a certain skill set that motivates you towards your life goals.  As the late Steve Jobs, had famously said, “Design is a funny word.  Some people think design means how it “looks”.  But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it “works”.  Essentially, it means there’s a lot that you can design about your life.  Whether you are in your 20s, 40s, 60s or 80s —— you can empower yourself to make life changes.
design your lifeIn fact, these days, there’s an entire industry to help you design your life.  You could hire a life coach, join a ‘design your life’ boot-camp or enrol in MIT or Stanford’s ‘Designing Your Life’ course for “bold immediate action”.  ‘Designing Your Life’ teach that passion isn’t an inherent trait, it can be developed.  They believe that instead of thinking you’ll start something when you get to so-and-so point, you can start right now.  And most importantly, no problem can be solved if you think there isn’t any problem.  Be truthful, accept and challenge your fears head on.  It is in this crucial area that most people falter.
Professor David Mindell asks his MIT students to pick an area of life they have difficulty in designing, and start working on it.  “If your desire is to ‘run’ —— go running every week at least three times.  Once you have mastered one challenge, set another”, he says.  Sarod player Amaan Ali Khan says, ” The formula is simple.  Learn to take up challenges, develop personal integrity by keeping the promise and don’t fall into the ‘excuses trap’.  That can be fatal.”
Corporate guru Azim Jamal says,” Your vision is derived from your life purpose.  It is essential to apply a sense of balance in life.  The big stumbling blocks to your life plan can be inconsistency, lack of self-discipline and bad habits.”
For designer Puja Nayyar, designing clothes and designing life require the same skill set.  Be focussed, don’t be confused and you may actually get more than what you desire.  A formatted life can lead to more happiness.
So, how do you make big and small changes in your life plan ?  “We need to ‘doubt our doubts’, live our life with trust and faith.  Don’t be a victim to your self-developed belief system.  Break out of it.  That’s how you can be the designer of your life”, says life coach Warren Stagg.
Without your soul and heart, making a life blueprint will be just another project —– to make it really work, make a diary of your progress.  Says Mana, soul coach,” Life is something new each day.  Allow yourself to receive.  We receive when we hold expansive beliefs, such as, ‘I am improving every day in every way’.  Heart without action is a daydream ; Action without heart is a nightmare”.

Family harmony


Without FAMILY HARMONY, one cannot be genuinely happy in life, be successful and cannot live a life that is worth living.  Complete “family harmony” is the key to happiness, prosperity and success.

Family harmony means that there is an atmosphere of absolute peace, relaxation, unconditional love, fearlessness, understanding, freedom of expression.
Although the responsibility for creating such harmony lies on every member of the family, the initiative is expected from the elders of the family.  Parents should neither talk negative about their children nor abuse or hurt their feelings, as depressed feelings often impede the progress of children.  Conversations between parents and children should not always be “teaching” conversations, but “learning” conversations as well.
A six-point formula (A, B, C, D, E, F) can work wonders for complete “family harmony”.
*ACCEPTANCE : Accept every family member as they are without any complaint or comparison.  Every soul who comes to a family comes with a distinct attitude, behaviour, knowledge, karma and experience.  Comparison with another soul is neither appropriate nor desirable.
 * BE A CHILD & NOT A GROWNUP :  A child is always in an “egoless state”, is happy without any reason, forgets quarrels, does not carry any impressions (good or bad) in his/her mind and is always in a relaxed state of mind.
* CONFLICT AVOIDANCE : Every family member should try to avoid conflicts and quarrels.  A winner in an argument is actually a “loser”, because even if he wins an argument, he loses the harmony of relationship.
* DIL (heart) & NOT DIMAAG (head) :  The heart is always in a mode of compassion, love and giving, but the head is full of jealousy, hatred, ego and revenge.  Never allow your head to rule your head.
* EXPECT LESS : Expectation is the major cause for anger, irritation, frustration, disappointment and depression.  Reduce expectations from family members and you will be happy all the time.
FORGET & FORGIVE :  Every member should develop the habit of forgetting past quarrels, seeking forgiveness and forgiving others (irrespective of who was right and who was wrong).  Carrying the dead load of past incidents without forgiving takes away the happiness of the present.
——————.  Sadguru Rameshji.

You are the masterpiece

Here is a poem aspiring to be something what it is not :
“Looking to the future is something that is often done
What will the coming years bring except for great fun ?
How will the times change, what kind of person will I become ?
This is a question often asked, I’ve contemplated it some.
To be respected, live happily, and be an example to all,
I want to bring a smile to everyone, the big or the small.”  
The aspiration expressed in this poem is the aspiration that often springs in our hearts.  While most of us try our best to fulfil our ambitions, often we don’t succeed.  Many of us feel miserable and then the failure becomes a suffering.  We start finding fault with ourselves, we feel incomplete.
zen gardenThe constant feeling of being incomplete is the root cause of all misery.  We spend our entire lives trying to become something we are not.  We do all kinds of thins to reach somewhere ——– what we assume is our goal.  This goal has nothing to do with our inner reality, because this goal does not originate out of our understanding of reality but from confusion and tension.
In reality, we are the seed that needs to flower.  We are supposed to become what we are in our essence or potentiality.  In that sense, WE ARE PERFECT AS WE ARE, because we originate from the whole.  the Upanishads declare : This is the whole.  That is the whole.  From the whole springs the whole.  Take the whole from the whole and only the whole remains.
Meditation on this SUTRA can liberate us from all our anguish and misery.  This ‘wholeness’ is not something that will happen in future, nor is it something to be achieved.  This wholeness is pulsating within us right now, in the present moment. ——– The future never really comes.  It is only a mental imagination functioning as conditioning.  Meditation helps us become aware upanishad1of this ‘conditioning’, and is also the key and witnessing our being without any divisions is the ‘realisation’.
In one of his discourses on Zen, Osho says : You are carrying a masterpiece hidden within you, but you are standing in the way.  Just move aside, then the masterpiece will be revealed.  EVERYONE IS A MASTERPIECE, because God never gives birth to anything less than that.  Everyone carries that masterpiece hidden for many lives, not knowing who they are.  Often, they keep trying to become someone.  Drop the idea of becoming someone, because you are already a masterpiece.  You cannot be improved.  You have only to come to it, to know it, to realise it.  God Himself has created you —— YOU CANNOT BE IMPROVED.”
All we need to do is to settle in our witnessing consciousness and let the flower of Godliness bloom.  It happens by itself, as the Zen Mystics declare :
“Sitting silently
Doing nothing
The spring comes
And the grass grows by itself.”  
——- Swami Chaitanya Keerti.

Break free of suffering

Among the most powerful human desires is to be free of suffering.  Any form of distress — whether from our body, mind, relationships or from elsewhere ——is disrupting.  Most people respond to suffering in three different ways.  Some will seek complete relief from pain and will focus their attention on their suffering, discuss it with all, search for cures and visit one healer after another.  Pursuing relief becomes their sole aim of life.  As a result, when one symptom heals, the mind starts ruminating about other problems or invents new symptoms.  These people are always preoccupied with problems and are unable to evolve.
sufferingThe second category are those who feel hopeless and think they can’t do anything to change their suffering, They, therefore, passively accept their pain.  They think they live in a restricted world and are resigned to accepting negative emotions about their own self and of people around them.  As a result, most suffer from depression and other psychological disorders.
Then there are people who have a masochistic way of dealing with sufferings.  They embrace pain to show their moral superiority and derive self-esteem by acting as martyrs.  Such people either refuse to take healing or create situations where therapeutic attempts fail miserably.
All the three patterns increase our pain because our attention is focussed only on suffering.  Our mind remains preoccupied with negativity.  This approach increases our problems rather than leading us towards resolution.  Instead, we need to question our perspective and develop a new one.
How one perceives suffering determines its intensity and our consequent healing response.  Life histories of everyone including sages, prophets and reincarnations of God contain traumatic experiences.
Let’s learn lessons from this.  First, it is important to understand that some suffering is an inevitable part of life.  No matter what we do or don’t do, some traumatic experience will happen to us and we can never be immune to them.  Whenever we are in suffering paintingagony, we search for miraculous cures.  Often the healing that reality offers to us falls short of a miracle.  This increases our suffering.  One should, therefore, stop daydreaming about a pain-free existence and be realistic.
And if we have to encounter agony, let’s face and overcome it.  Change perspectives, build resilience and develop coping skills, undergo therapeutic measures.  You can follow spiritual practices and take a stand.
If we allow ourselves to be defined by this pain by resigning passively to it, or fighting fixatedly, we will lose the battle because we will begin to regard the pain as our central experience.  Suffering is merely a part of our experiences, and doesn’t constitute our core Self.  If we identify too closely with suffering, we get cut off from the Self and live  a false existence.
During his last days, Ramakrishna Paramhansa was diagnosed with throat cancer and found it hard to eat and drink.  His disciples told him to ask God to relieve his pain.  He replied, “I don’t need to depend on this body ; I can eat through your bodies because I’m connected to you.”
The best antidote for pain and suffering is to develop a higher perspective.  An outlook that enables us to focus our attention beyond the trivial limits of our body, mental identifications, egocentric goals, intense emotions and intimate relationships widens the self.  When the ego-self transcends these boundaries, pain recedes.
——– Pulkit Sharma (clinical psychologist)

Transcend duality

Life is full of “dualities” like good and bad, pleasure and sorrow, love and hate, friend and enemy.  In fact we experience life through these extremities.  While animal live a life of instincts, we have the capability to choose activity as dictated by our mind.  This choice gives rise to fluctuating life conditions and we continuously shuttle between extremities.  In other words, our life can be defined as a set of “experiences of dualities.”
In the BHAGWAD GITA, Krishna advocates DVANDA-ATITAA  —— a life beyond dualities.  He explains that a person who is neither perturbed by sorrow, nor excited in pleasure, completely devoid of materialistic attachments, fear and anger becomes STHITA–PRAGNYA, a Self-realised person of the ultimate wisdom and truth.  Duality is the nature of the mind that is perpetually busy using the present moment to think of the past or to dream of the future.  Our existence of the present moment gets affected by the state and time placement of the mind.  This gives rise to duality.  If there is no mind, there is no duality and we live only in the present moment, the real existence.  This is called “middle path”.  In all of our daily activities, our body and mind are never in sync.  It is as if we have two people —— a thinking person and an acting person —— inside a single body.  It leads to lack of coherence between body and mind in all our external manifestations.  Consequently, we never live in totality and fail to give our best to the present.

transcend duality

One way to live in the present moment is to remain fully engrossed and involved in activities in the present, so that the mind is ignored completely. and becomes non-functional, and thus we become the activity itself.  Many singers, painters, dancers, musicians and artistes transcend mind during their professional engagements and practices.

Mind is like a flowing stream of thoughts, pertaining to the past and the future.  Our association and clinging to any of these thoughts affects our present moment.  There should be a sense of detachment and aloofness from these thoughts, which is called SAKSHI or witnessing.  It is like a person sitting still on the banks and just watching the river flow.  If you remain indifferent to the thoughts and become a SAKSHI, the strength and intensity of the rising thoughts reduces, and finally, a complete void is created.
The heart represents the qualities of compassion, selflessness, empathy and dedication.  These are qualities of true human nature.  Enlightened souls like Krishna, Buddha, Christ and Muhammad were full of these qualities.  As a result, their mind was subordinated to the heart and their activities were dedicated to others and society at large.  These enlightened persons had transcended duality.
We are all blessed with mind faculty, which is a powerful tool to be used for our spiritual growth.  However, we become subordinated to our mind and start living a life full of miseries.  We should realise our internal potential of Godhood, and use our mind as a vehicle to explore this truth, rather than succumbing to its power of duality and wasting our life in miseries.
——- Abhimanyu Pati (The Speaking Tree)