Friday, February 26, 2010

Not mine, not mine

There was once a jobless poverty stricken man. He lived a difficult life on the charity of others and had little to call his own. He had very few friends. One day a friend offered him a tip to invest in a particular share in the stock market which was quoting at a very low price. So, this guy went around and borrowed some money and invested. Very soon the share price reached dizzy levels and he sold it to make a tidy profit after repaying the loan. Often after that he consulted his friend and made investments in the stock markets and in less than a year, he could call himself rich owning a nice house, car and a good holding of shares.

After that he became a regular in the stock markets. He spent his days watching the movements of share prices and his nights in luxury. There came a time when the value of his share holding reached a very high level and he was delirious with joy. Some time after that, the sub prime crisis erupted and the markets started crashing. He was optimistic and was hoping for the prices to recover. However, it kept going down each day making him desperate and miserable. On some days there would be a slight improvement and he would smile but then the prices would fall and he would frown.

In many ways, his happiness or sorrow seemed to be directly linked to the share prices. He had forgotten that he was once a pauper with nothing of his own. Now he felt that he was losing something.

In many ways we are like this man. A lot of us have days when we feel miserable. It could be triggered by a variety of causes like loss of something or someone precious, break up of a relationship, failure in something that we attempted to do, being unfairly treated by someone etc. When such a time comes, we react in a varied ways. Some of us go into a shell and refuse to communicate, some sob their hearts out, some find solace in sharing their misery with some trusted person, some drown their sorrows by resorting to artificial supplements like wine etc.

When we came into this world we came all alone with no possession and even when we leave this world it will be likewise. We will not be taking our wealth, our relations, our ambitions etc. with us. Everything emerges and dissolves in this earth. Our true happiness does not and should not depend on external matter / events. Ignorance is the root cause of all misery. If we think about it in a dispassionate manner nothing should really make us sad.

The mourning / celebration etc. are all a result of our minds. When we think something nice has happened or is going to happen, we feel happy and vice versa. So, our 'thinking' is really responsible for our state of mind. In other words, we can program our minds to think that everything is fine as it is. We need not worry, fret or fume about things. We can position ourselves as mere witness to the drama unfolding. We can choose to remain uninvolved and blissful.

We should think that we own nothing and that nothing belongs to us. We should keep repeating in our minds the mantra "Not mine, not mine" in order to slowly and steadily disassociate ourselves with everything. This will insulate us from sorrow without preventing us from enjoying what is available. We should treat life like how we go to an entertainment park. We should be aware that we are here for a short time and should learn to live life blissfully without clinging to it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Control yourself !!

We are surrounded by temptations all the time. Our minds get attracted to things that we see, smell, hear etc. Each one of us has our weaknesses and we inevitably succumb to it. Our senses seem to control us and our minds rather than us being in control. We thus lead lives as slaves to our senses. All our actions and thoughts seem to revolve around these temptations and we end up doing many silly and regrettable things to live and re-live the experience.

We sometimes do detestable things when our mind is weak and not fully in control. We become provoked or angry and say harsh words or become violent. Relationships that are built and nurtured over a long time are broken in a fit of momentary madness. We lie and cheat to get sense gratification. We break the trust of those around us. We waste our lives chasing things that would never satisfy us completely or add value to our lives. It is almost like trying to extinguish a fire by pouring fuel.

Most of us do not have a will power so strong that we can give up our secret desires. If we think about it, these desires have arisen in us only due to our encouragement and our experiences. Over time and life times, these become hard coded tendencies and habits which are difficult to break. Even if realise the issue intellectually, we may not take the steps necessary to overcome it. Some of us could be in a denial mode and never acknowledge the problem.

Lord Krishna, in His parting advice to beloved devotee and friend Uddhava, said "Control your speech, mind, organs and the impure intellect with the purified intellect. Then you will no more return to the world". He further said that for the person who has not controlled his mind, speech and intellect, the good work done in the form of vows, charity and austerities leak out as water flows out from an unbaked jar.

Unless we have a control over ourselves, our emotions, our thoughts, our desires and our passions how can we succeed in our ventures? We can achieve this control only by firm resolve and strong discipline. If we can visualise the benefits and imagine our new improved personality without the baggage of temptations, we would find it easier to strengthen our mind. We could also seek external help and facilitation from someone we trust to help us in the process. Hypnosis, meditation and yoga can also work wonders.

Control yourself and enjoy success.

"A learned man's knowledge will be of no avail if he does not have control over his tongue" - Kabir

"Non-control of senses is the path of ruin. Control of the senses is the path of prosperity. A man of self-control can move freely." - Chanakya

"Without controlling ourselves, we can never hope to control others" - Vishwanath Seshadri

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Did you pray today?

What is a prayer? When people say they pray what exactly do they do?

I haven't done a research on this and what I write here is more an introspection and a reflection than anything else. As I understand, most people try to connect with their preferred Deity when they pray. They use this as an occasion to thank the Almighty for blessings received, seek support for resolution of problems and ask for specific desires to be fulfilled.

When we pray, we remember our Lord and acknowledge His supremacy. Some people pray by chanting His names or singing songs in praise of Him. Over time various elaborate processes have been created for conduct during prayer. The simplest prayer is one wherein the eyes are closed, the hands are held together and the mind is focused on the Lord. Of course, there are people who pray with their eyes wide open and lips sealed. One can pray at any location or occasion. Any format is acceptable to Him.

Lord Krishna, in the Bhagvad Gita, says that four types of people pray - the distressed, the seeker of boons, the seeker of knowledge and the wise. While all of these people are on the right path and are dear to Him, it is the wise person who prays without any desires who is the dearest to the Lord.

So, what should one pray for? Asking for material things is pointless because it is short lived. Also, the human mind is such that it never gets satisfied. So, one tends to keep asking for more and more. Moreover, like children, we sometimes ask / crave for things which are not good for us. Our minds are not so evolved as to ask for the rights things and the things that are in our interest.

If one believes that there is an Almighty who is our creator, who is fair & just, who knows everything and who cares & loves all his children, do we need to ask for anything? Does He not know what is good for us and give it to us without our asking? Does He not care for our spiritual and emotional growth and plans our lives accordingly?

Yet, there is something that is beyond even His control. This is our mind and our actions. If at all we should seek anything, it should be a pure mind which is grateful for His grace & mercies. We should also seek His grace to ensure that we never stray from the path of the righteous and always do actions which are right. For without His grace, we can get bewildered and confused and do things which we may regret or repent later.

Most of us pray. Some do this as a matter of routine every day while some pray occasionally. If we truly believe in Him, we should be praying every moment of our lives. Irrespective of what happens to us, we should remember Him. We should especially pray when we good things happens to us for that is the time when we naturally tend to get carried away and forget Him. When we tune our minds in this manner, we can say our mind is one with Him.

Our bodies will die one day but when our hearts are filled with His thoughts and prayers, we merge with the Supreme Lord. So, pray every day and every moment.

"A prayer is not a 'spare wheel' that you pull out when you are in trouble; It is a 'steering wheel' that directs you in the right path throughout your life" - Anonymous