Shiva living the life of Shava

Morning walk not only rejuvenates my body and prepares it for the day but also a good time to contemplate on the fugacious nature of life. On the way back home today, I crossed a Shiva Temple with Morning prayers filling the air. An amalgamation of sounds: of Counch shell, temple bells and drums. Chanting do have the power to break us free from thoughts. We have to experience it to understand :))

Did you ever mull over the significance of prayers. Be it any religion, prayers are made indispensable. What do they signify? Do they have any importance in shaping our lives? Have heard a lot of people say that, they are trying to awaken or put God to sleep through prayers. Where is this God? Is the God within or without us?

What are we instructed to do? Are we to awaken the GOD within or the idol at the place of worship? Bhagavad Gita says the body is the Kshetram and kshetrajna, the Jiva is inside this Kshetram.  This is to remind us of the Shiva who is living the life of a Shava. These are to prepare us to face the Shakti, which is the Prakriti. We identify not to the Shiva but unfortunately to Shava that Shiva is in.

While the Mother, Shakti bombards us with sensuous things throughout the day. Only Shiva within this body can face her to retract her energy in developing the wisdom. Shakti without Shiva is nothing but cognitive dissonance. But we are living as Shava and aren’t sentinel to our thoughts. Thereby involving with the thought and becoming the thought itself.

Those who came before us understood this quite well. So, they devised these prayers and taught us to chant. The combination of sound waves of a particular frequency is said to enliven the Intellect. You may ask, when shall we stop. They ask us to continue:

  • Till we delve into the meaning of these prayers.
  • Till we start interacting with the world as Shiva.
  • Till we find a meaning to our lives.

I was reading an article named, ‘Abnormal is the new normal’. We tend to live an abnormal life because we do not have the knowledge of living a normal one. We have to question the necessity to move from the conditioned state that we are in?

Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharyas Bhaja Govindam takes us through the journey of a conditioned mind. Okay, why don’t we list a few drawbacks to our identification with the body/Mind?

  • Our bodies are never perfect. We might learn to live with our imperfections but there is a lot of evidence around that shows that we strive for perfection. Statista claims the revenue of the U.S. cosmetic industry is estimated to go up to 62.46 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, is one such example.
  • Old age will draw us of the energy that we have but the mind will still crave for pleasures.
  • Fear of death, losing power, possessions and people around is something we dread each day.
  • Lack of control over the minds makes us vulnerable to uncertainties.
  • Our endless pursuit to seeking happiness from things which we have no control on.

The wisdom of former generation is incomparable. They are communicating to us through these rituals. Let us not pollute it and rob the spirit. They are trying to awaken our spiritual consciousness and reminding us to disown the body consciousness. Become the Shiva which Shivoham (Shiva Aham) is referring to. Whenever we wake up to the world of stimuli, our real identity should be established. And any such interactions will always be fruitful and selfless. We shall then be a True Altruist.

Children growing up between ‘Shoulds’ and ‘Wants’

Our children who are a part of this complex social environment that we built are fraught with emotional frustration. Constantly battling the conflict of ‘Shoulds’ and ‘Wants’.

Have we not unconsciously jailed them under the unwritten norms built on our stereotyped beliefs? Recent article in a Indian English daily read that the Municipal Corporation received around ten thousand applications from Post Graduates for the position of sweeper. Unemployment is all time high. Many Managers, Doctors and Engineers are on the roads, waiting to make a career.

I wonder are we also responsible for this state. Why only blame the government? Society is made up of individuals like us. Did we force our kids to take up what our friends’ kid is studying for? Worse still, are they not under the pressure of keeping up to our constant demands of excelling in what we chose for them.

You may say they lack experience and are yet immature. Can we answer the below questions with a Certain ‘NO’.

Don’t they have a right on their life?

How can we be sure of our choice?

Are our choices not colored by our personal lenses created by our own perceptions?

However, we pay a blind eye and keep imposing our ideas on them. We are also indirectly teaching our kids to conformity and never to question. Too bad, we are teaching our own kids to treat us the same way when we grow old. IMPOSE and NOT TO QUESTION.

Toxic social environments would not bring out their best.  Imagine how a child would grow up to be in such environment. Let us give a freehand and then guide them. They will put everything in what they believe and our support would only encourage them to reach their highest potential. Have we not heard the saying ‘Truth can be tolerated only if you discover it yourself’. If you want them to believe in your idea, have them identify with it. Lets not force it on them.

We have to guide them but it is incorrect to stop them from making a choice. In fact, we should be able to see what our kids are good at and motivate them to realize their dreams. A Sachin and A Messi would never be born if their parents failed to be their guides.

Children should be taught to make decisions keeping the ‘PRESENT’ in mind. This will allow them to create their reality and react to it better. Self-Awareness is what I am referring to. Quite a number research in this area. Be that be from Gestalt approach or to today’s Ellen Langers research on Mindfulness. All point us to BEING MINDFUL.

Is it not our responsibility in teaching our children to be receptive to stress. Also,Empowering them to make a choice between ‘Should’ and ‘Want’ will only better the relationship that we share with them.

Teach them to Meditate, to quieten the noise in their head. Harvard Research also second that. Please read their article ‘Mindfulness can Literally Change Your Brain. Link attached.

https://hbr.org/2015/01/mindfulness-can-literally-change-your-brain

Lets shoulder the responsibility in raising a moral child. I think this is the best contribution that we could do to build a Sane and a Safe Society for the kids tomorrow.

Be a Goal Getter than a Goal Setter

We have all tasted failure. In spite of having a brilliant goal in mind, there were times when I couldn’t bring it to life. Only upon reflection, understood I lacked some of the very important ingredients to the recipe called Success.

It is a natural instinct to desire success. To succeed we need to take care of the following…

What I lacked primarily is focused thinking. I was more identifying with the final outcome. Alas, Self-fulfilling prophecy would have worked beautifully only had I focused at the journey than the outcome alone.

We could harness all our mental energy towards a desired goal, if we could do focussed thinking. Good example is laser, being a weak source of energy can still drill a hole in a diamond when focused.

Set clear immediate goals to realize the big picture, whether they are weekly, monthly or daily. Plan to reach these within time allotted.

What stops us from achieving our goal is the thought that’ I know it all’. Thereby there would be no learning and we tend to become stagnant. Only an immature mind would make such statement. I feel there is so much to learn here that one life wouldn’t be enough.

A mature mind is always ready to listen. Isn’t there a saying that you learn more when you listen? Everything around, I believe can teach you something good or bad. We just need to be smart to pick the ones we need.

Be sure to spend time in the company of experts .We can end up getting some good insights in our research.

Experimenting always helps. Charles Kettering said’ All human developments, no matter what form it takes, must be outside the rules; otherwise we would never have anything new.’ So do not be afraid to tread the unusual path.

Success or failure both in business and life should be attributed to our Mental Attitudes than to our Mental Capacities. Since we are all blessed with the same mental abilities, we can reach great heights if we believe.

Hard work Hard work and Hard work. Take any success story; you will see huge sacrifices that have lead to their success. Shortcuts will only make us obsolete.

Last but not the least, timely meeting of the milestones set by us will help us see through the journey.

If you look at the workflow below, one leads to another towards your goal.

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Year on Year, I see my 1st year Grad students, all full of energy wanting to get A+ in their subjects. But with each passing semester the determination gets lost somewhere. Self-Determination Theory explains how to overcome this. It is about a healthy way to connecting to both our intrinsic and extrinsic motives towards effectively achieving our goals

Of course, failures do happen. There is nothing to be dejected about. If we haven’t failed we haven’t learnt. It’s good to reflect upon our past mistakes but should abstain from staying there. We might risk the goal itself if we tend to look into the past too much.

Most people often fret over the results, but how you handle it matter just as much. This is where positive thinking would do us good. Every action is bound to have some results. Don’t superimpose your happiness on that. Indentifying self with success or failure will only make you anxious. It’s okay to fail but that should make us more focused to reach that goal in mind.

If we reflect upon our scriptures, they also have the same thing to say.

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We really don’t want to pile up all those negative thoughts. We have enough evidences of go-getters around us. Hard work and perseverance have helped them reach their goals. So, lets stay positive and get what we want in life.

Emotions and their play on the Troubled Minds

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Indriyani Pramathini Haranti Prasabham

Troubled senses snatch away the mind of even a wise man.

We all know what emotions do to our Mind and Body but we don’t do anything about it. From size zero to a happy mind, we crave but we just don’t do what is necessary. Why? Why? If we look at Science for an answer, it tells us that these are habits which are difficult to break. Habits are unconsciously driven to save energy. New ones only form by repetitions, creating a new nerve network in the brain. But when we are agitated, cornered or puzzled we often go back to our old habits. We also need to reason the necessity to shed those old habits. Look at few addicts who abstain from drugs at rehab but end up going back to their old habits as soon as they return. That is why reasoning is very important. This is where Science fails to answer. 21-Day Myth. Even at a professional set-up, few habits often put us in a bad light. If a manager gets really angry; he might be able to make a conscious effort to fake a smile but his body language gives it up. Now that tells us that working on the brim will not get us results.

If we go a little deeper, people are nothing but a mix of emotions, traits and habits. Mixed in certain proportions creates our unique personality.

Let us imagine a society controlled by our instincts alone. Can such a society survive? For obvious reasons, it will fall apart. So, we were conditioned to think in a way which does not challenge the societal norms. Basic emotions are very primitive and not under conscious control. However, few complex emotions like guilt and envy are bred by us into our kids. Every time we compare kids to somebody; putting them down when they open up to us are all shaping these complex emotions in them. And then we tell them they aren’t good emotions to keep. We build them and instruct them not to indulge in. We don’t even tell them how to not be in their company. Maybe we don’t know it ourselves. Accepting the child for what he/she is, will breed confidence in him/her. This will allow them to shape their goals better. I was reading an article in Deccan chronicle about a child named Binney been abandoned as he was suffering from Down’s syndrome. Parents are well off but they are ashamed of the kid. Will it not surprise you when you read about a software engineer having fought to adopt the baby while his own parents have disowned him? We live in a society such.

Even emotions such as joy which is essential or what we work for, also looks far-sighted. Bhagavad Gita says Dukka-Samyoga-Viyogam Yoga-Samjnitam. Severance of ties from sorrow is Yogam. Our ancestors have compared our Mind to a baby. If the baby picks up the phone, our commanding words will not work on the baby. We coax it to calmness by giving it a glittering toy and then the baby would give back the phone. The same way, the mind needs to be engaged in a changeless state to drop those emotions. Bhagavad Gita calls such a person as Sthithapragnya.

Arjuna who has fought several battles fell short of courage to wage the war. Maybe we aren’t engaging in a battle externally but internally our mind is battling conflicts all the time. That is no less than the Kurukshetra itself. My Guru often reminds us of the Kurukshetra within and propels us to destroy the vices before they sprout. Emotional Intelligence should no longer remain as a rare specimen. It is the need of the hour. Bhagavad Gita does the same in a more holistic approach.

Happy Makara Sankranti

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Today is Makara Sankranti. We do have set rituals that accompany these festivals. Do we understand the essence of these festivals or is it too mechanical in nature? Do we have an answer for our kids who would like to know its significance?

 We celebrated Bhogi yesterday at our apartment having a bonfire. Kids just loved it. These festivals indeed bring us all together as a family to mark its importance but the essence of it is lost somewhere. What will our future generations carry forward when the soul of the festival is forgotten? When the spirit is lost, importance also faints. Maybe that is why kids like to be confined in the four walls and play video games than to be on the roof flying kites.

My grandmother once said while you burn old things on bhogi. Do remember to also discard your vices along with the things in the fire. She said this does not only mark a new season but also a new beginning to inculcating good thoughts. It stayed with me. Every time I celebrate it, it reminds me to start afresh at all levels.

Sankranti is the movement of the Sun from Dhanu Rashi into Makara. It sets the completion of harvesting days and calls for an elaborate 4 day celebration. One of the days is marked to recall the role played by the animals in harvesting and in our lives. Forget about paying respects, we indulge in betting on cock fights, bull fights, elephant mela etc etc. We torture them more than respecting them.

 Sankranti in Sanskrit is derived from the word Sankramana meaning commencement of movement. Now “Movement”, that’s an interesting word. Isn’t it? Anything that has life has a beginning and an end. Gita says Jatasya hi Dhruvo Mrutyh,Druvam Janma Mrutyascha. Movement takes place in Space. Now Space is still. So, we can say movement is supported by stillness.

Numerous Planets are hung in that space revolving around that one Sun which makes life possible. Gita says like the Sun that illumines the whole universe, there is only one Atman that illumines the entire field of physical activity (ref:Chapter 13, shlok 33). Movement, however it be, can only be enjoyed by the One who has experienced the stillness of his being. Would you want to disagree on this? If the movements in our lives are unfavourable, we experience lopsidedness. Latest study shows one in every 10 Indians are depressed (ref: article,Times of India dtd 29th March 2015 read”One in 10 Indians depressed and do not ignore the subtle symptoms”). Depression,stress and anxiety are no longer foreign to us. Trying to calm our mind and disciplining it for an hour or so each day will help us to create a balance. Else, we might be forced to get introduced to stillness as we grow old. We should befriend the stillness when we have control on the movement.

We are taught to pay respect to the Sun who contributed to our existence on this planet on Sankranti. Is it not necessary to pay attention to the SELF which is the source of our existence?  Ponder on it.

His Symbols and Our Interpretations

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The world is full of symbols. However you decode them so is your life. Spirituality is not free of concepts. Now is there a right way of decoding it. Have we ever questioned this to ourselves? What we do in the name of religion is it the right way to reach the Ultimate reality “The God”? Or are we doing it according to our beliefs and convenience?

Are we the one to show the light to the One who lightens our whole World inside out?

Are we the one to feed the One who feeds the whole World?

Are we the one to quench the thirst of the One who fills the rivers and water bodies?

Are these not symbols to understand the sookshmaarth. Are we not literally translating and thereby failing to understand the deep meaning of the symbols. Bhagavet Gita shlok 26 in Chapter 9 says

Patram Pushpam Palam Toyam

Yo Me Bhaktya Prayacchati

Tad Aham Bhaktyupahrtam

Ashnami Prayatatmanah

Literal Translation is: He who offers me a leaf, flower, fruit or water with love/devotion. I accept that offering of such pure hearted souls.

We call God the ultimate truth for a reason. He is not like us entangled in the gunas .He is beyond it and equating him to the beings obsessed over the sensory objects is CRIMINAL.

Gita says Ishwara sarva bhutanam Hrd-dese rjuna Tisthatithe If God is in everything then why would he ask for anything from here. There is nothing that is not him in this universe. Then what is he intending to communicate by this verse. That is where Tatva Jnanis like Shankaracharya, to name one has defined this beautifully.

Patram—the Leaf, our wavering MIND

Pushpam—-the flower, our blossomed Intellect

Phalam—-the fruit, our fruits of actions (both levels: physical and mental)

Thoyam—the water, our Chittam

He is asking us to surrender that wavering mind, intellect, karma phalam and chittam to him. Since you are a part of the supreme Reality, he is asking us to connect to him. Now that makes sense, if you do not get the leaf, fruits or water it is okay. But you are in control of your subtle body and that is what you can offer to him.

So, the symbol or concepts that were brought to existence is to remind us of our Real Identity. When we light the lamp, it is to remind us to shun that ignorance and to bring knowledge or light to be one with the Truth. When we offer water, it is to remind us that as water takes the form of the vessel it is in. So can your chittam take the form of GOD(devoid of thoughts..Silence is his language). Offering flowers symbolises the Buddhi devoid of Aham Aakaram.

If we revisit our practices to understanding God, we might end up understanding Us. The only reason we all look up to “he” is to attain peace and to silence that blabbering head. We can do that and that is what Vyasa Maharishi is trying to teach us in this Divine conversation between Krishna (Consciousness) and Arjuna (Mind).