Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Guruji's quotes at TTC (Dec 2009)

“The entire human race is trying to express love and has not reached anywhere. What is needed is the middle path. Love has to be expressed veiled, then it stays forever. If expressed too much, it doesn’t stay.”

“The strength of a relationship lies in the ability to accommodate rough patches. How well you handle it gives you skills. Otherwise how do you get to know how accommodating, understanding and considerate you are? These virtues come up only when you have rough patches. See the situation as an opportunity on how to adapt, how to be accommodating, understanding and considerate. You should give a shot to excel in exhibiting your character rather than changing the other person.”

"Don’t wait for the best person with the best qualities to be in love. Just love them and bring out the best in them.."

“Transforming craving and aversion into love is dispassion.”

“When a bud breaks, it becomes a flower, when a heart breaks, it becomes divine..Then you focus on yourself.”

“When the world begins to fade, when you are sad, you turn inwards.
When the mind is happy, you find the world beautiful.
Anything beautiful takes us to divinity, reminds us of divinity.”

“My job is to create the temptation to go deep in yourself”

"Meditation is a better form of prayer. Prayer is asking.....Meditation is -I'm willing to listen to you. When people say I am ready to meditate and listen, then God provides everything "

"See life as fresh everyday. Problems make you stronger. Every challenge is an opportunity for you to grow and brings out inner strength, talents and virtues.. " "After knowing this you won't brood, you will just walk" :)
Life is a fine balance between intellect and emotion and using them (where and how) depends on wisdom...:) and Wisdom comes only through Meditation.....

“To feel bad when someone insults you is natural, but to come out of it comes with knowledge.”

“Like the lotus resides in water but still remains free from getting wet, in the same way while living in society one is not to let society enter one’s mind. Birds fly above you that’s ok, but don’t let them build a nest in your head.”

Saturday, December 26, 2009

‘The Art of Living’: Keeping the Faith

I was 12 or 13 years old when I was gifted a book called ' The Art of Living' on Vipassana Meditation by William Hart. I had already done the Transcendental Meditation course and as children my age would do, never practiced it again, though I still remember the mantra I was given!! :)

I must say, that all through this journey called life, spiritual books have found their way into my life.. :) All this talk these days, about attracting things into life, going by that philosophy, maybe I must have wanted them in some previous birth :)))) I have a story for each one entering my life in very interesting and sometimes, not so happy, circumstances. Always making me realize the presence of the divine around, taking care of me! :)

Coming back to the book 'The Art of Living'! It's a beautiful book on Vipassana Meditation with an outline of the basics of Buddhism, short stories and an ‘Intellectual Commentary on Experiential Wisdom.’ I loved reading that book, especially the short stories, every now and then. Must have read it 30-40 times but I never understood parts of the ‘Intellectual Commentary,’ and I wished I could find someone who would explain the meaning of quite a few things the book mentions. In vain!! I found no one near me who could understand it, or for that matter, was willing to read ‘SUCH BOOKS’ at my age :))) Definitely none of my friends, classmates or even elders.

Though I enjoyed the book immensely, I could not relate to all the experiences narrated in the book. However, I did not associate that with any form of disbelief on the writer, or Vipassana or Buddhism, nor did I ever doubt any of the experiences. I always felt there was truth behind those words. I knew that somewhere something in my own experience was lacking that prevented me from understanding the book completely. I always thought I would go to a Vipassana centre someday to experience it myself…

However, instead of Vipassana, something else happened!!! “The BEST thing that could have ever happened”!! After I began practicing meditation regularly, that ‘Intellectual Commentary’ has become an ‘Experiential Reality.’ (An everyday affair) Transformed my life, attitude, thinking and continues to do so.. And now when I read that book, or other books on spiritual experiences, I comprehend a lot more of what they imply.

The Limitation of Words
Words sometimes (or maybe most of the times) fail to reflect experiences. (Try explaining the pain in your head, to someone who has never experienced any pain. Can you find words to express it.....We all want easy answers, but nothing can ever satisfy our highest quest, if it is genuine, except our own experiences. To add, Meditation is not a one day affair, although I have seen and continue to see hundreds of first time phenomena and miracles all around me.

The Cure for Restlessness
Most people say they are unable to close their eyes and relax even for a few moments. The absence of a person or thing that we love or want can definitely make us restless and feel lonely, but imagine, if that’s the restlessness in and around us, where we cannot sit with ourselves for some time, why would people want to be with restless people like us?
We are all energy transmitters, so it’s very important to see what kind of energy we are emitting.. :)

Not to say, that there are no restless moments, but mindfulness, the very awareness that we are restless, works to bring us out of it. The very moment we become aware of it, we begin to break the cycle and understand that ‘being alone’ and ‘being lonely’ are two completely different perspectives. In simple words, just a conversion!! The ability to experience the difference, may come after a period of practicing mindfulness or meditation, or can happen in a fraction of a second. :)

All is ‘Energy’
The quantum physicist and the saint say the same thing – All is ‘Energy.’ The former talks from a scientific and experimental perspective and the latter from an experiential perspective! Feeling the vibrations, electricity and energy in and around him! While there is no change in the temperament of the quantum physicist when he makes this proclamation, a true saint’s mere presence reflects the bliss, radiance and resplendence that comes from experiencing reality as it is!

Remembering Celine Dion’s song –
‘….When you wanted the most, there’s no easy way out,
When you’re ready to go, and your heart’s left in doubt,
Don’t give up on your faith,
Love (I call it the highest possible manifestation of energy) comes to those who believe it,
And ‘That’s the way it is’!! :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Childhood Memories :)

Sharing memories of the past...
Ancestral home in Pune
My grandfather was a staunch follower of Jainism, with all the rigidities it entails. We had a temple, a separate room on the second floor of our ancestral house in Pune, full of very old antique Jain idols, some more than 2500 years old, made from panchdhatu (five metals). The day would begin with all temple rituals, bathing and anointing the idols with sandalwood paste, silver vark and roses, chanting, pooja, aarti etc.. My grandpa would spend almost 2-2.5 hours in the mandir and all of us (grandkids:)) would hang around him, wanting to share the duties, very enthusiastically. The room would be full of the fragrance of chandan, roses and incense sticks and a very peaceful and divine atmosphere permeated the room. This was my schedule for summer holidays each year till my grandfather passed away. Now the idols are in a temple my grandfather got built near Pune.

Plus he had an extensive library at home, full of religious and spiritual books, and huge paintings of our Tirthankaras (five kids of my size at that time would fit each of those paintings ;) Being very young I always enjoyed seeing all the pictures of the various Gods and Goddesses and our Tirthankaras, those who are said to have attained Nirvana (the word rings a bell, doesn’t it!!:) Stories with grandpa were always about religion, gods and associated things. To add, he had studied law in England and had been actively associated with the freedom movement. He made my grandma study after they got married and encouraged that all the children in the family studied well at a time when Marwari families were just involved with grain, money lending, jewellery and oil businesses, and children, especially girls, were hardly encouraged to study :)

Hell and Moksha
As a kid (the 5-10 years old period) the most interesting book for me from my grandpa’s collection was a small book which had pictures of hell.. :))) In that you could see people being boiled in oil, made to lie on beds of thorns and nails, throats being slit, and lots of well..... The memories have dimmed now but I wondered whether it was true and would ask my grandfather, 'Where is this place and why are people sent here'? And he would point out that if we did wrong actions (he would list a few things) we would be sent there. Don’t know why, but I was never scared of the pictures or the fact that I would have to see hell, maybe I was too confident that I never did or would do anything wrong. :)

Jainism has typical concepts about heaven, hell, paap, punya, moksha, nirvana and a lot more…I would ask him what 'Moksha' was – “It’s a place from where we don't come back again to this world,” he would say.(freedom from birth n death). And my innocent questions would continue - How do we go there? Can we see the place? Is it on some other planet? He passed away before I was mature enough to really understand and learn what he had studied and learnt in so much of detail for the most part of the 84 odd years that he lived. Maybe today he would have given me his experiential perspective, which I was too young to understand then.

My Learnings
I feel the things I was exposed to at a very young age, have been instrumental in shaping my attitude towards religion and spirituality. I am neither in favour nor against idol worship, because now I look at it from another angle. I feel the very process of idol worship, decorations, and chanting combined together is simply a way of being in the ‘present.’ The idols are made so beautiful and attractive (like in Durga Puja), that your mind doesn’t wander. The absence of any other thoughts! How many of those doing idol worship are able to do it, that’s the key. One can do away with all the ritualistic aspects and still explore the divinity in the present moment…
Not to say that I have met people, who are extremely ritualistic but the deep moral values of forgiveness, compassion and love are not at all reflected in the way they conduct themselves in society. Maybe it’s just about our capacity of learning..

Faith and Doubt
The level of doubting and skepticism about spirituality, spiritual people, personal beliefs and a higher power guiding our actions has always been very low with me…. :) I am able to easily accept the fact that people can have faith in a guru, a particular place of worship and even a piece of stone and have seen numerous miracles simply based on faith. However, I also feel the strength of our faith depends on how strongly our inner voice guides us and how much of it we are able to hear. Dependent on the intensity of our quest for the truth!

I also believe that "If one has a pure heart, one is sure to attract the best, wherever one is! And people with negative or evil tendencies will not even be able to come near" :)