Telecast recording of 7/31/2016

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Spirituality and You

Every now and then someone asks me where the best location to learn and evolve spiritually can be found? Well, spiritual growth is not limited to locations. There are countless places and opportunities to evolve spiritually all around you. If your minds and hearts are open, you can learn from everything around you. For the sake of example, consider that many people have the opportunity to go on vacation. Why not combine the vacation with a spiritual retreat in pleasant and beautiful natural surroundings -- a combination that is beneficial to all?  You can have a spiritual experience with nature, and then nature becomes your teacher. Consider the countless examples in nature that humans could emulate: The stability of stone and rock, the flexible firmness of trees that bend but do not break in a storm, the unconditional giving of beauty and fragrance of flowers, the sun that shines on all, on the finest and on the poorest… there is no end to the amount of examples. So nature becomes your teacher. Try to be like the earth, absorbing the many lessons and teachings with joy and bliss. Then carry that in your heart and manifest those qualities in your life.

Others will notice what you have become; they will see the change and be attracted. The best way of influencing those who come in contact with you is by the way you behave and manifest. In this way you become teacher as well as student. You manifest positively and radiate accordingly. If, however, you behave like everyone else, then what is the point of following the spiritual path?

Spirituality is a serious business; it is deep and profound. Do not hide your spirituality; it is the key attribute of life, absolutely the most important thing in life. Instead, feel proud and honored. Be grateful that your life is made better and happier. You are not doing something wrong! Do not hide your belief for fear of negative feedback from the ignorant. Some of you develop a kind of insecurity because you pay too much attention to the opinions of others. On the other hand, some people will ask you questions with the express purpose of starting an argument and even try to ridicule you. You have to learn to be sensitive to the seriousness and genuineness of a question. Do not share what is sacred to you with the profane mind.

Whatever others might do, let them get on with it. You follow your own path; do your own spiritual practice. If you are a vegetarian, be proud that you are not part of the killing. You believe in non-violence. You lead a healthy life, believe in truth and non-violence, in fairness, sharing and caring --- why would you want to hide yourself?

Yet if someone really wants to know, you can explain. There is much ignorance in people, also curiosity … If you explain, others can learn. You do not belong to a secret society; on the contrary, everything is “open plan”. One has to be clear in one’s own mind. The trouble is that when you become different from the crowd you may develop a tendency to feel “guilty”, that you have something to hide.

It is important to develop your self-confidence, your inner sense of security. Hiding often results in the opposite: Unwanted exposure! If you are able to explain properly, able to discuss clearly, then there is no problem. Of course you have to have confidence in your own self and reflect this confidence. When you are able to present yourself, others will appreciate and respect you if they have any sense of fairness.

It happens that others may get scared, because they feel they have lost “control”, and in a way they are right. Suddenly you have become wise and they have “lost” you. In families, one person may move ahead, others are left behind and upset; the same applies in a job situation when someone is smarter, faster, wiser or just more knowledgeable, then others may become afraid of something they are not familiar with. However, that does not mean that you should stop following your own path and your pursuit of happiness. Why should anyone else object? No one has the right to interfere with or to prevent your happiness. Indian thought takes this a step further -- in the spiritual sense: Having regard for the goal of “Ultimate Evolvement”, the great Indian sage and philosopher Tulsidas states: “Dissociate from those who are preventing your spiritual growth, however close they may seem.”

Spirituality is the crown of your life. It is your birthright. It should be the first priority in your life. Atma is of the ultimate importance, it is what you are motivated by, your innermost driving source – although you may not always be aware of it. For THAT you can sacrifice all.

Everything in life has relative value. You have priorities and you are governed by that force in life. Others are dear to you because Atma is dear to you. When you are ill with a fever, a migraine or other pain, you do not really care about anyone else. At that time the most important aspect is you. When you are happy and well you can love everyone; but as soon as something happens to you, nothing is clear to you any longer. That illustrates the importance of Atma. When your Atma comes into question, everything else takes second place, you leave everything behind.

The processes of growth, of developing yourself, the pursuit of happiness and of bliss are like components of a pyramid. With each stage of life your value system changes. Life is a process and priorities change. Life is change and you cannot afford to get stuck. Make it your business to accept change and try to adjust to it in every positive way. That is most important.



Concept of the Guru and the Phases of Time  

From the beginning of human existence the cycles of celestial bodies have always played a large role.  Early man was necessarily attuned to the seasons as well as to the changes of day and night with its recurring phases of light and dark.  Over time the cycles of sun and moon were used to determine time, eventually creating calendars that calculated the cycles of sun or moon thereby providing a concept of time.  In some cultures the calendar was based on the moon phases, later others focused on the cycles of the sun.

The Indian calendar for instance is calculated by the moon phases – 28 days of one cycle are divided into 2 parts – 14 days are called ‘paksh’ one waxing and one waning phase of the moon.

The full moon has a very prominent place in India; each full moon has some spiritual significance and is always considered a positive force, unlike the traditional meaning in the Western world where werewolves and Dracula legends have given the full moon a highly negative connotation of prevailing dark forces.

The full moon of July/August is Guru Purnima. This is the day dedicated to the Guru, the teacher, and preceptor. The term guru literally means “dispeller or remover of darkness”, the one who brings light into your life, removing confusion and ignorance and bringing clarity and knowledge.  You need to learn to recognize the Sat Guru.  However one should avoid negative influences that cause conflict.

The concept of the Guru in India goes back to the beginning of time, to the time of creation.* It is a unique concept, given to the world by India. The relationship between guru and disciple is strictly spiritual and divine, not worldly, not material, quite unlike the relationship to your family and friends.

There are few things in this world which are as distinctive in the human civilization; these are aspects that should be preserved, kept closely guarded and maintained. That is the model of guru. Humans can have a collective guru as well as an individual Guru, preceptor, guide, or teacher. It is a beautiful tradition and it is said that without a Guru  you are like a tree without fruit, a river without water, a field without crops and a garden without flowers - in other words: barren.  That is the purpose and the importance of having a Guru in your life. You are in this body to learn and grow! Your mother is considered your first guru; when you have evolved enough to be ready for the final guru: the Sat Guru, he guides you across the vast ocean of eternity; He is the One to take you to your ultimate destination.  Yet before you are ready for this step, you must go through various “gurus’” training.

Anyone can have an ordinary Guru but to find the Sat Guru is very difficult indeed.  The Sat Guru will only appear when you are qualified and ready for the final steps.  Otherwise you will neither recognize, nor value or benefit from him.  Of course you can also “graduate” from the school of an ordinary guru and join the “University” of the Sat Guru.  There is an Indian proverb: that says: “Drink water only after filtering out any impurities”.

In addition to the moon phases the Indian calendar has some very definite distinctions differing from the western calendar. Vast time segments are divided into yugas as follows, for instance:

 Yugas:  starting with   Satya Yuga - the golden age

                                  Treta Yuga - the silver age

                                  DvaparaYuga - the twilight age

                                  Kali Yuga- the dark age

After the completion of one cycle there is supposed to be dissolution; however, it can happen that there is simply a slide into the next age.  Imagine that one day you wake up and all is changed; people are kind to each other, there is no war, no conflict, no quarrel, no backbiting or criticism, no poverty and all are caring and sharing.  No one suffers from pain or disease; in short, there is no manifestation of any form of negativity. All are happy and that would be the day of Satya Yuga.  Maybe not today, but hope for it! However, when you awaken and you are being shouted at, maybe the pains of arthritis are nudging you – you will know that nothing has changed. Kali Yuga is the worst of all the ages, but importantly, even in KaliYuga you can create your own golden age by following the spiritual path. That privilege is always given. If you follow the spiritual path, applying the teachings imparted by your spiritual Master, that exception is given.  So essentially, it is in your hand to choose; you can create a golden age and the effect of KaliYuga on you will be greatly minimized.

The Guru has his own domain, his own territory. Kali Yuga can come in disguise and pretend to be a disciple, but comes to disturb the golden equilibrium and atmosphere, looking for a victim to derail.  Sometimes Kali Yuga succeeds, but if you are aware, you do not allow the machinations of Kali Yuga to enter.  Those that are affected by KaliYuga will try to subtly attack the Guru by spreading false tales and other derogatory remarks.

According to Indian tradition, the further back you go the more positive the times, whereas according to western concept the Dark Age preceded and all is supposed to be better now.  This is a limited outlook since Western tradition only takes into account a few thousand years.  Indian concept considers many millennia, notwithstanding various cultures’ concepts of dates of civilization and time.  Dating civilization is an inexact and confusing science - no one is sure.                  

 Many spiritual Masters – such as Buddha - have chosen the full moon as the time for annual celebration, rather than celebrating their physical birthdays. Many prefer Guru Purnima – the day of the Guru (spiritual Teacher, Master or guide) falling on the full moon of July/August. This is the day designated for those who are committed to the teachings (often called “disciples/students”) to demonstrate and renew their commitment and love toward their Guru and to follow the spiritual path. It is also a day for the Guru to assess the development of the disciples and the disciples to submit their commitment, as well as to evaluate how far they have come - and more importantly, how much further they have to go - as they integrate the spiritual  path, awareness and practice into their lives as a whole. Key to this reflection and assessment is the concept of responsibility for self and a holistic approach to life, applying the spiritual teaching to everyday life and becoming self-sufficient while assisting fellow travelers on the path. 

When teaching is imparted and knowledge is given, one is supposed to apply these principles and lessons in life. You can liken it to a given key that you are supposed to use wisely, opening the right door, not a wrong one. It is also your responsibility to use the knowledge you have been given the right way. This too requires contemplation and periodic reflection: Guru Purnima provides such an opportunity to reflect and to make positive changes in one’s life.

Many people want to escape reality. This is not a solution. Rather, face the reality of your own truth. It is only by facing your truth that you can face your fear or phobia. When you actually confront your fear, your reality, you will discover that there was nothing to fear to begin with. You have built up conditioning about something you did not know and created your own phobias.

Every day in your life you make a decision. Having been given spiritual knowledge you are more able and equipped to make the right decision, a balanced decision in the sense of what brings true fulfillment to your life.

Then what is the role of the Guru? This has been explained in many spiritual texts … the Guru is the remover of darkness and ignorance, leading you from untruth to truth, from darkness into light and from death to immortality (Asadoma Satagamaya…) toward enlightenment. The Guru gives you the key to open the right door and to take the right decisions. You should reflect upon how far your understanding has developed as a result of such experience and enjoy Guru Purnima in the spirit of positive growth and progress on the path.

There is a story which illustrates the need to observe progress along the path and the role of the Guru:

A Master had been teaching a long-standing disciple the sacred lessons of the Bhagavad-Gita for several years. After all this time it was reasonable to expect that the disciple should implement the teachings in his daily life - live according to the lessons learned. And so, one fine day the Master decided to leave for a long journey. 

Many years had passed when the Master decided to return and visit his disciple.  As he approached the home of his disciple he noticed a lot of activity, children running back and forth and a woman’s voice trying to restore some order. Eventually the Master saw his disciple, unhappy, worried and looking extremely miserable.  Recognizing his Teacher, the man burst into tears. 

“Please calm yourself and tell me whatever happened to you?’ said his Teacher.

“Well, Master, I did try to follow your teachings but what could I do when Maya (illusion) had me so firmly it her grasp?  I now have a wife and twelve children and providing for them all is a real struggle. The responsibility for my family is becoming overwhelming.

The Master asked:  “Do you realize what you have done?  Not only did you make yourself miserable but also the future of your children is in jeopardy – quite apart from the fact that you seem to have forgotten everything I taught you?”  

At this the disciple became rather defensive:  “But Master, what could I do? This is not my fault.  Maya caught me so firmly, it was impossible to get out of Maya’s net.  Now I need money to look after my very large family and I simply do not know how to provide.” 

This was a painful moment for the Master, after all this had been a promising disciple and now he was giving arguments to his Teacher.  The Master decided to stay for a few days to try and help, but when it came time to leave, his disciple still did not understand.  As a last lesson the Master wanted to demonstrate a point and make his disciple realize that he alone was responsible for his predicament. 

The Master went to an old tree and hugging the tree firmly he sobbed and cried. The disciple heard the lamenting and approached his Teacher: “Whatever is the matter Master?” and the Teacher replied: “My son, I am helpless; this tree has caught me so completely and will not let me go…”

“What - I don’t understand you Master, you are such a wise man; how can you blame the tree?  You are the one who is holding on to the tree, just let go and you will be free.”

The Master looked at his disciple and said:  “That is exactly what I want to tell you. You alone are responsible for your situation and only you can free yourself – after you have taken care of your family now.”

It should be understood that in life the Sat Guru will give you the key to open the right door along the path.  It is imperative that you take responsibility for your progress, whether He is physically with you or not in times of decision making on life’s journey.

The Guru relationship is a concept which can also become confused.  In the western world, especially in the United States, courses are being advertised that after six weeks training you can obtain a “guru certificate”.  A rather different course takes place in India, when after twelve years of learning, the Guru says “not yet ready”, you will face another twelve years of tapasya, of practice and penance. The kind of western qualification is out of the question. In some countries “anything goes” and the impact is felt throughout the world. The prestigious magazine TIME produced a positive article about yoga a few years ago.  Surprisingly, only after this article appeared many people in India started doing yoga, although yoga and meditation have existed for thousands of years and had always been an integral part of Vedic life.  Only after the article it became something like fashion. Today you will find yogic instructions on every TV channel in India.  Yet all this only took place after the approval by Time Magazine. People were not aware but rather caught in a kind of slavery of mind. ”Slave” mentality is an insidious aspect of a mind enslaved by stereotypes and limitations. It takes a long time to escape from mental slavery, where you have no creativity or innovation.  You may serve while the master is present, but as soon as the master is gone, you fall back into the old habits.  The saying “When the cat is away, the mice will play” sums it up nicely.

While caught in slave mentality it takes a long time to reach emancipation and freedom. People have programmed themselves to have no mind of their own.  If you do not have the mind to create and think for yourself you are a slave.  You can also be slave to your own desires, to the lowest level of your mind and body.  Slavery comes in many different forms.  Yet you want freedom and emancipation from your own bondage, to be a prisoner no longer.

This is where he Sat Guru can break down your cycle of conditioning and negative programming.  This can lead to intense re-examination and change which is vital in the dark age that most of this world is caught up in.  If you are on the path and seeking enlightenment you must listen to the Sat Guru.  The concept of the Guru is such that you grow, learn and experience your divine being, you experience a different pulse, the energy of spiritual vibration when you are tuned to that higher energy.

To illustrate the need for surrender to such higher energy, personified by the Sat Guru it is helpful to recount the story of the great Tibetan yogi Milarepa:

A long time ago, in the 11th century there lived a young man in Tibet by the name of Jetsun Thöpaga.  His parents were prosperous and he and younger his sister Peta could look forward to a promising future. However, nothing can be taken for granted and by the time Thöpaga was 7 years old his father fell ill and died.  His aunt and uncle, previously the poor relations, became the guardians of the children and administrators of the estate.

Let it be said that this turn of events resulted in abject misery and ill treatment for the widow and her children.  Not only were their lands usurped, but the fatherless family was reduced to going hungry and wearing rags for many years. 

Thöpaga grew and by the time he had grown to be a youth he had had enough of the manipulations and lies of his aunt and uncle. With his mother’s encouragement he decided that something had to be done to avenge his father’s legacy and the thought of becoming a black magician occurred to him as a most appealing solution. In due course he found a suitable master of the dark arts and Thöpaga  became his most adept student, wreaking havoc on his enemies by his ‘specialty’ of creating fierce hailstorms which brought total destruction to the fields of his relatives.  This worked all very nicely for some time.  However, Thöpaga could not tune out his conscience; he was keenly aware of the law of compensation, the law of karma.  He knew that one day he would have to pay dearly for the misery he had caused. 

After agonizing contemplation, he knew that in order to be relieved of this debt, he would have to find a master who could free him from guilt and deliver him from the karmic repercussions of his ill deeds.

He had heard of Marpa, the Translator and of this teacher’s reputation of being an enlightened Lama.  So he set off to find Lama Marpa and to ask for the teachings of how to make up for his life of causing death and destruction, offering willingness and resolve to devote himself to a life of Truth.

Marpa and his wife Demema took Jetsun Thöpaga in and Marpa promised to teach him - eventually.  However, the Lama proved to be a very hard task master and started the former sorcerer of by making him build a house.  When almost finished, Marpa inspected the site and told his disciple:  “No good, oh Master of the Black Arts, knock it down again and take the stones to where you found them.”

Jetsun was troubled… but he had to do as the Master instructed.  Barely finished with this task, Marpa proclaimed: “I still need this house, now go and build me a decent house.”

Again, shaking his head in resignation, our former sorcerer set to work and started building another house. 

Yes, and again Marpa checked the progress of this house:  “Can’t you do anything right? This is all wrong, tear it down and take the stones to where you found them!”

“Master, my hands a bleeding and I have sores on my back from carrying the stones, I cannot go on…”

“Well, you have no choice, if you want my teachings you had better get on with it.  You can see my wife and she will give you a salve to put on your back – and then when you are done, you must build me a house that is fit for me and my family, not the shacks you were creating so far.”

Thöpaga had had enough. “This is not a teacher, he thought, “this is a cruel sadist, he takes delight in creating misery, he promises to teach me and never does. I will have none of this any longer”.  He poured out his troubles to Demema, Marpa’s wife, who promised to help him. So he left, with a forged letter of introduction to another Teacher, a former disciple of Marpa’s who instructed Jetsun in meditation. It was only when it became apparent that the new disciple was not making any progress, that Thöpaga confessed the forgery of the letter.  His new Teacher made it clear to him that he had to go back to Marpa and impressed upon the renegade pupil that there was none more qualified as a Teacher than Marpa the Translator.

 Jetsun did return and finally he received initiation from Marpa.  Thereafter, having completed many years of hardship and austerities the former Black Arts Wizard, now called Milarepa, (the one who wears white cotton) attained the state of complete enlightenment. The cave where Milarepa meditated, living on nothing but nettle tea, which gave his skin a green color (as seen is some paintings), have been preserved to this day.

The lesson that speaks from this example is that a human being has no idea - cannot begin to fathom – the mystery of God’s working.  Only a true Master can evaluate the conditioning of a person’s mind and what it takes to overcome, to break it. 



* Narayan – the God concept was the first Guru, Guru also refers to Supreme Being.


Maintaining Confidence 

You may have heard about the practice of ‘Ganga Asnan’, taking a dip in the Ganga.  When people go to Rishikesh dipping into the Ganga will give a feeling of being renewed, uplifted, purified and sanctified.  Similarly, most of you have been doing a kind of Ganga Asnan by ‘dipping’ into the sacred knowledge. It is important to remember the knowledge you have been given and to implement it in your daily life that you may feel the energy and the knowledge continually.

There are two types of knowledge: there is the living knowledge and then there is information knowledge which people carry. The latter is more common.  Moreover, those who have a lot of information carry the burden of knowledge if they fail to apply, implement or experience the knowledge of that information.  Then there are those who apply true knowledge in their lives, thereby implementing living and fulfilling knowledge.  You can only benefit when you implement the true knowledge in your daily lives. 

You need to remember the knowledge that has been given, and implement its essence in your daily lives.  In addition you need to have a conviction of your own path and carry the confidence that what you are doing is right, what you are practicing is right and good for you - for your body, mind and soul.  Do not let anyone confuse you or misguide you, or create doubt within you by all kinds of nasty, negative and offensively demeaning remarks, questioning your commitment to the spiritual path and challenging your new and healthy lifestyle.  “Why are you doing this, why are you following this Indian ‘thing’, why are you following that strange yoga and meditation, that vegetarian diet?”  People who say such things are actually only demonstrating their profound ignorance.  Anyone of true intelligence would think and inquire, would try to find out before making such comments.  No matter how important such people might be within their own field, no matter how many degrees they may have, they are caught in “learned ignorance”.   

Trying to degrade another’s belief and lifestyle without knowing anything about it is called prejudice.  Consider the meaning of the term prejudice:  judgment before knowledge; the intent to judge something or someone before knowing anything about it - or even trying to find out.

You have to have confidence and know how to reply. For instance: ‘I do not interfere in and question your drinking and eating habits, in your way of socializing, why do want to bother with mine.  You take care of your own life and I do the same.’ 

You have to be strong to respond to people and have confidence in your own beliefs and not to become timid or scared or worse, to become embarrassed.  What are you embarrassed about?  Ask yourself. 

Those who question and criticize are the ignorant ones; they have not tasted the fruit, they do not know what they are actually missing.  On the other hand, you have gone through collective lifestyles and you have moved on; you are engaged in higher pursuit and higher fulfillment. You have left the old habits behind because you found something better.

Some people might say that this or that is not part of their culture, tradition or religion, is not whatever they have normally been able to relate to or identify with. Such people should really examine their statements.  For instance, what does it mean that something is not American? America is a land of immigrants and natives with vast cultural differences - so, which one applies?  People who make such ignorant statements based on country, race or creed have been the cause of untold suffering in the world, as documented in persecutions and wars.

Truth comes from all sides; if you only want to validate your own limited knowledge, then you cannot claim the sun, the water or the rain; they do not belong to any one group or nation.  People have a habit of making their world very small by being intolerant of anything outside. You can identify with a particular nation or you can identify yourself as a child of Mother Earth instead; she is the Greater Mother of all.  However, humans have divided Mother Earth into countless parcels with borders, different languages and limitation of movement for earth’s inhabitants. So all is divided, the earth is divided and you are divided, your heart, your mind are divided and the results can be disastrous.  Mother Earth is offering you the best and whatever is the best, try to integrate that into your life.

There is a story that illustrates the repercussions of limited vision in the fight for seva, service to the Master. Seva is very important: without seva you cannot ‘clean’ or purify yourself, as the first stage to receive the knowledge. You cannot come near the great Master.  This is the story of such a situation.

One Guru had two disciples. Both disciples wanted to serve the Master, do cooking, washing, cleaning and all the other household chores as seva for the Guru.  Unfortunately this did not work out as smoothly as one would have hoped for.  These two guru-brothers did not seem to be able to agree on anything and the days were filled with their constant quarreling. 

This had been going on for some time and finally the Guru had had enough.  “Look here you two, I know you are dedicated and want to do seva, but to quarrel about seva is really not very nice, it is contrary to very spirit of seva.  Seva should be done with a happy heart and always in a sense of cooperation, not rivalry or competition.  This quarreling has to stop.  I have decided to divide the seva – who does what - so that hopefully there will be peace here at the ashram. “

So it was decided down to basic chores:  you do breakfast, you do lunch, you do supper, you take care of the laundry, and you clean the rooms; all was divided.   Finally all sevas had been allocated.  Only one seva was left: who would massage Guruji’s feet?  Both wanted this special seva.

Guruji saw another argument coming and he said: “Fine, you can each take care of one leg.”  After some hesitation, that seemed to be agreeable to both disciples.

For some time this arrangement seemed to work smoothly; each man had his particular assigned seva and there was peace – of sorts.  The day came, however,

that the disciple responsible for the left leg had to go on an errand.  In the meantime, the remaining disciple, busy massaging the right foot, saw an opportunity to vent his dislike of his guru-brother, and, finding an iron bar nearby, he gave the left leg a good smack resulting in a huge bruise.  Guruji, in meditation at that time, did not really notice very much.  However, in short order, the left-leg-disciple returned and seeing what had been done in his absence, became so enraged that when he spotted a hammer nearby, filled with revenge, he let loose on right-leg-disciple’s ‘seva’ . . .

What can you call this example? Torture by disciples?

But that is exactly what humans are doing to Mother Earth: we pollute, we abuse, rape and torture our Mother Earth and generally do everything wrong, not concerned about the impact.  Pollution travels from one area to another, often affecting pristine protected areas.  We may think that someone else is responsible, yet we may have planted the seed, not understanding how pollution travels.  We do not realize how interconnected and mutually dependent we are. 

It is the small, ignorant mind and mentality that defines ‘I and mine’ versus ‘you and yours’.  Remember the old adage: consider the source, when you hear comments made attacking your positive lifestyle.  Do not feel embarrassed or put down, but give them a fitting and very firm reply, for if you do not, you can become a target for further insults and attacks.  It has to be set right instantly.  Your new lifestyle is something very precious and you cannot allow it to be ridiculed.  If another does not have the capability to comprehend the benefits and joy you derive, it does not give them license to deprive you.  If someone else cannot enjoy your silence, it does not give them the right to disturb yours.

The belief in yourself that what you are doing is wholesome and right is most important, for if you are filled with insecurities, you can be defeated easily.  It is up to you not to allow anyone to confuse you, or to create doubt.  When you are sure of yourself people will either love you – or they will leave you alone.

You need to know what is important for your own development, for your own growth and fulfillment. What you are doing is not harming or hurting anyone at all: on the contrary you want to help others by sharing your joy and happiness. It is very important to have confidence in your own convictions. 

Take the example of a cow: she crops the grass and transports it half chewed into the rumen, her first stomach, where it is softened and stored.  In the second stomach, the reticulum, it is further softened and from there it returns to the mouth to be chewed again in small ‘cuds’ then swallowed again, and deposited in the third stomach, the omasum, for further processing to be passed finally into the fourth stomach, the abomasum where the actual digestion takes place.  Only from here can the nutrients be sent into the system to nourish and energize the body of the cow. 

The cow’s digestive process is an excellent analogy to the ‘digestion’ of knowledge for the human being.  We hear the message, the teaching,  and we might ‘ruminate’ about its deeper meaning, contemplating further by retrieving the message and mulling things over, just like ‘chewing the cud’.  Finally we may come to the point of being able to ‘absorb’ the precious teaching, making it our own and thereby implementing it into our daily lives.  It may be helpful to give this cow meditation some thought, and when you see or meet a cow you can consider it a Teacher too.

On that basis, nothing is lost and nothing is wasted; the knowledge implanted is never lost. You may forget for a while, but it is not lost, merely stored in your mental archives. You can use it as you need it. Whenever you focus on the Teacher, the connection is established instantly and the knowledge will come to you.

Remember your teachings and your given tasks and try not to be influenced by negative outer forces, remarks or attitudes.  Instead, radiate your positive spiritual energy like a flower radiates fragrance.  Walk like a lion, full of confidence and security.  A lion needs no confirmation from anyone or anything; he knows exactly who and what he is.



Recycling your Life

Sometimes people express confusion about how to chant a mantra, devotional song or a prayer. Actually there are three correct stages of chanting:

 1. Chanting out loud;

2. Just moving lips and tongue;

3. Only with your breath. 

Although all methods are effective, focusing on your breath while repeating a mantra is especially helpful when the mind is disturbed. Loud chanting can actually help calm a disturbed mind. The repetitive sound will create vibrations within the mind and activate the energy in Sahasrara Chakra on the top of the head thereby triggering different energies in the body.

In India there is endless freedom to practice religious and spiritual rituals according to your understanding and choice – some may worship Siva, Krishna, Brahma, Durga, Hanuman - it is a very wide selection of choices.

There are also people who do not worship in form but choose the formless God – no one is bound to follow a particular discipline. Worship is conducted according to your own temperament and your own ability to relate to the subject of your devotion.  There is great freedom as well as great responsibility.  You try to use those energies to enhance your own growth and level of understanding.

Example: You are someone who is a devotee of Krishna and you want to attain Krishna Consciousness.  How do you achieve this?  How do you elevate yourself to that level?  Do you want to bring Krishna down to your level or do you want to uplift yourself?  Various methods and approaches are available - one of the effective ways is to have a Mansic Puja, a mental worship where your entire consciousness is focused on the image of the deity or the Master, thereby creating a connection to that Being.

To clarify this principle on the very mundane level: if someone likes tea for instance, you may invite that person for tea. Again you have created a connection.  If you want to invite someone, you focus on that person’s interests.

Krishna devotees may sit in meditation, drawing an image in their minds whereby they visualize Krishna sitting in front of them.  A further stage in the mansic puja is:

  •  visualizing washing the feet of Krishna with water;
  •  taking flowers and fruit as offering;
  •  applying chandan to the feet and;

Thereafter people may ask for blessings, surrendering body and mind to Krishna.

Asking for His presence in your life through the practice of Mansic Puja – inner meditation - is relatively easy because you are doing something; you are engaging in a particular act.  If you are not doing anything, that makes it much more difficult; you need to engage your mind in some form of interaction.  Having established that, meditation becomes easy.

If you are fortunate enough to come into contact with a living Master or Teacher, this is the easiest and most effective meditation.  You do not have to create the scene; He/She is already there.  All you have to do is to replay in your mind that which has already been experienced.  It is the easiest form of meditative practice – it is very effective and it can be done at any time.

When you replay all that, what happens then?  Is it just a fantasy of mind?  Let me explain this principle once again.  Let us say that you recall some incident in your life and some unpleasant thought is recalled. Instantly you become very angry. Then you recall and replay the situation in your mind. Maybe you think that you should have acted or replied differently, or you may feel that you have been mistreated, unjustly criticized or insulted by somebody.  Whichever way, instantly there is a very strong emotional and even physical reaction: your blood pressure shoots up, you become tense, your heart is racing, your breath is fast and irregular - your entire body is affected.

By the same principle, when you replay the nice and beautiful aspects of your life’s experiences, this is bound to create a positive outcome of thoughts, feelings and vibrations, making you feel wonderful.

Many people ask how they can be happy.  Actually, it is very easy to be happy; everybody has had happy events and moments in life. It is up to you to recall and replay those instances.  You can re-visit those occasions and when you do, you will see the results. Even while you focus on the happy, nice and positive aspects, the negative moments may also be lurking nearby. They are part of your life too.  In that case you need to learn how to avoid those pitfalls and remain focused on your happy path.

The point is that your life has a lot of answers.  It can serve as your teacher, but you have to find the teachings.  It is a bit like going into the forest and learning to pick the right mushrooms, avoiding the inedible and poisonous ones.  Not everything that is ‘green’ is safe.  This is something you have to learn.

There is also a way of looking back to moments in your life in order  to understand how you can recycle your unhappy experiences.    What was bad and what was good?  Something appearing as negative can actually be quite helpful.  How can you ‘recycle’ your mind so that you can benefit from all experiences?  Each incident you are presented with is an opportunity to examine yourself, the situation in question and the other person involved. Why did this happen to you, how can this benefit you or enrich your life?  Getting stuck in one particular incident can prevent you from being able to move further. 

All the rich experiences of your past should make you wiser; learn to let go of dislikes and emotions and of negative thought patterns. Instead, learn to look at the benefits of your experiences.  Learn to be your life’s accountant.  Set up a balance sheet for your life; analyze the costs and benefits of all experiences.

Take the example of a businessman in charge of a factory.  He would make a list of all the costs involved in running his company as well as a list of benefits he might reap.  If the costs should outweigh the benefits, it is reasonable to assume that he would think carefully, considering whether or not to close the business.

However, an exception to justify running at a loss could be if your efforts were to serve a higher purpose. Nowadays it is quite difficult to maintain traditions based on humanitarian and spiritual grounds. Yet sometimes you just have to do that for the greater good. In such circumstances cost and benefit factors do not really apply.

Another aspect to consider is the balance sheet of your spiritual aspirations.  What benefits do you receive through your association with a spiritual Master or Teacher and what does it cost you – seva, giving up bad habits of body and mind, controlling and balancing emotions and surrendering your ego?  Try to work on that balance sheet.

Essentially it is all a question of using your own resources which you do have within yourself, but you are not aware of your own inner bounty. You need to become aware of this gift.  If you do not make an effort to discover the real prize you actually have right there within you, how can you realize what you have?  You have what you need most readily available but you are denying the very gift you already have..                                                 

By tuning in through spiritual practices you can understand yourself and benefit in this recycling process.