Thursday, May 26, 2011

Give more, Seek less

We all seek happiness and peace. This desire is universal and most of our activities are done in search of happiness and peace. We make friends, read books, watch movies, earn money, spend money, marry, visit places, pray etc. with the hope that it will help us gain happiness. Many of the activities indeed give us happiness but these are momentary and transient. Within no time we start feeling unhappy and empty and crave for the same or better kind of pleasure again.

One of the biggest delusions that we all carry is that happiness lies in getting something. We feel that we are incomplete and that by adding something to ourselves we will become complete and happy forever. Right from childhood, we display this trait of seeking something like a toy or a sweet to be happy. This also leads us to a mistaken belief that our possession is the source of our happiness. We also start believing that an 'exclusive' possession gives higher level of happiness.

A look around us tells us that happiness does not arise out of possessing something. If that were so, the richest people would be the happiest people. Yet, we see that that is not the case. The rich might enjoy comforts but they are always fearful that their wealth will get stolen or taxed. All their time is spent on thinking of ways and means to protect or enhance their wealth. So much that they neglect almost everything else.

Also, once you have something, the mind is busy craving for something else. The mind is always seeking what we "have not" while ignoring / taking for granted what we already have. It is always seeking new conquests and new acquisitions. While we are thus 'seeking' we are feeling restless and anxious. The sense of satisfaction that leads us to happiness is missing.

On the other hand, giving gives great joy to us. When we give, we get the feeling of abundance in us. We are no longer anxious about what we do not have. The satisfaction we get in giving is lasting and leads us to great happiness. The joy that we create in others gets reflected in us. In giving and sharing and serving lies the source of all happiness that we are seeking.

When we give, we get.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Enjoy your present

A class of spiritual aspirants were once asked to list down their most happy moments. People wrote about their happiness on graduating, on marriage, on meeting a long lost friend, a picnic, a game etc. Some even wrote on their anticipated happiness events on awaiting a child, a forthcoming foreign holiday, a new job etc.

All of us follow this practice - looking back with joy and nostalgia or looking forward in pleasure to a planned / unplanned event of joy in our lives. Even for the most well endowed & gifted person, who never has faced a disappointment in life, it seems as though that joy is a past / future event.

Of course, we all do have our joyous moments too when we are conscious of the feeling of bliss and satisfaction. Take for example, winning a game or getting a promotion. At that point of time, we become truly happy and want to share the news as well as the joy with everyone around. And we can't stop smiling.

Most of the time, however, the pleasure of the moment is lost on us. For e.g. if we remember our school days, we sigh and wish we could re-live those years. But whilst in school we were keen to grow up and join college. Similarly, if we think of a holiday, we relish the memories. But whilst in the holiday, worries about safety, security, budget, health etc. were eating our minds...

In reality, every moment is a moment of joy - often realised only too late.

If we can realise this great secret and start appreciating our present moments, our lives would be more fulfilling indeed. Enjoy your present. Bask in gratitude for the things that you have in life. Share with others less privileged. Smile often. Spread the message of joy with everyone around. Think positive. Create lovely memories whilst living joyously.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Purpose of life

Last week a young friend passed away suddenly. He slipped into coma when his blood sugar went down. Despite continuous medical attention and all parameters being normal, he remained in coma and passed away after ailing for a short while.

On hearing about his death, I realised again about the fickleness and uncertainty of life. We all realise this but quickly forget it in the hustle & bustle of everyday life. King Yudhistir was once asked about what surprises him immensely and he replied “Everyday all around us we see death and yet people believe that they will live forever”.

Even knowing that our days are numbered and that we shall give up the ghost sooner or later, we continue to lead lives without worrying about the purpose or our direction. We continue to chase after, and bemoan about, things which do not matter. We aspire for temporary pleasures. We pursue worthless goals. We discuss vague topics. We listen to junk.

We fail to see the presence of God everywhere. We fail to acknowledge His creation. We forget to remember Him. We avoid discussing Him. We turn away from music that praises Him. We do not sincerely worship Him. Nor do we show gratitude for His grace and generosity.

Wake up. Waste not a moment. Focus all your senses and mind onto Him. Feel blissful and be blessed. Discover the true meaning of your life. Achieve the true purpose of your life. Reach out to Him before death robs you of this opportunity.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Three C's to avoid

Peace of mind is something that we all crave for. We cannot achieve this state without putting effort. After all, peace of mind is not something that can be procured by spending money or by force. The mind needs to be balanced and in equilibrium before it can reach that state. For the mind to be balanced, we have several 'dos' and 'don’ts' to follow. Given below are three 'don’ts' which go a long way to achieve that state. They are described as the three Cs.

Criticizing: The first C is criticizing. It is one of the most natural talents that we all have. Our minds seem to be tuned to find fault and spot blemishes. Many a times, we see problems where none exist. It is as if our minds have the uncanny knack of identifying a problem. At the same time, our tongues are eager to let others know of our 'superiority' in being able to articulate those problems. When we criticize thus, unnecessarily, we are unknowingly building resistance as well as enemies. These lead to unwarranted arguments and attempts to prove a point. Moreover, our minds which get clouded in negativity refuse to let us reach the state of equilibrium.

Complaining: The other C is similar to the first C and yet more damaging. Complaining is taking criticism to a higher level and almost results in condemning others. As long as it is constructive in nature and comes with intent to resolve and rectify, it is still bearable. What takes the cake is complaining which sounds like whining. It is other extreme of appreciating. It creates a huge negative whirlpool from which we are unable to extricate ourselves. We also carry the feelings of hurt and annoyance in our minds which prevents us from experiencing bliss.

Comparing: Another C which we seem to be unable to avoid is the comparison bug. It is almost like a virus which is in the air. Many of us are comparing all the time - ourselves with those around us. It could be about anything - wealth, friends, physique, job, dogs, appliances etc. It gives us momentary pleasure when we see others in a worse situation than us and also give us sleepless nights when we see others enjoying more than us. Comparison is a never ending maze where people get lost and unable to recover their bearings. It is a method of inventing joy / sorrow out of nothing.

These three Cs are best avoided and conscious efforts taken to prevent ourselves from getting entrapped here. It would be a good idea to ask one of our close spiritual friends to help us in the process. If someone were to remind us each time we use these Cs, it will help us tremendously in making course corrections. Over time, we might become habituated to completely avoid them and progress towards the much coveted state of peace in our minds.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beauty of Character

Many years ago, as a young bachelor, I had an animated conversation with a group of friends on marriage and the process of selecting a bride. Most of us, enamoured by reading love stories and seeing movies with similar themes had felt that falling in love with a beautiful person is the best way forward. Some of us also had a notion that beauty and goodness of character are directly related. There was only one person in our group who had a strong different view point.

He said physical beauty has nothing to do with character. Character depends on ones up-bringing and innate nature. Physical attractiveness has more to do with state of health, fitness and youth rather than with character. Given a choice, he said, he would go for a person with character as a life partner rather than a person with physical beauty.

There was wisdom in my friend’s thoughts. The problem with physical beauty is that it fades with time. One has to put in huge efforts to delay the inevitable process of aging and consequent impact on health and beauty. All efforts in this direction only give temporary benefits or results.

To build a solid foundation of trust and love, the most important ingredient is character. It is next to impossible to think of a long term relationship with anyone whose character is acutely flawed even though the person is exceptionally beautiful or even talented. At best, such relationship can be termed as fragile or opportunistic and it can never be solid.

It goes without saying that no one is perfect and each of us has our blemishes in character. Marriage is a great institution to gradually evolve into a better person. It is here that one learns all about supporting and adjusting with each other. It teaches us on the importance and value of differences and on accepting the same. A marriage will be robust and permanent when the partners have beauty of character (BOC). Higher the level of BOC, the better and more stable is the marriage.

BOC is relevant for all kinds of relationships and not only for marriage. One would love to be, work, play and interact with people who have BOC. Such people are always in demand and are ever popular. Success seems to be at their beck and call. Their faces always radiates with joy and peace. Life seems to be extra-kind to people with BOC.

Cultivate your BOC. Embrace a life of values.