Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Amazing

Just as I was flipping through Celebrating Silence to write the previous post, I read another post on celebration by Gurudev. The lines which struck me really hard were these :

A poor man celebrates New Year once a year. A rich man celebrates each day. But the richest man celebrates every moment.

How rich are you ? Do you celebrate once a year ? Once a month ? Every day ? If you celebrate every moment, you are the Lord of Creation.

Sri Sri Ravishankar
Weggis, Switzerland
December 27 1995

2008 has been a trying year for us. And all this year, on each festival that we celebrated with such gaiety in the past - Ganesh Chaturti, Gokul Ashtami, Diwali, Navarathri, my mind would go to my problems and dwell on how our home had lost its happiness since we were unable to celebrate as before.

And now this knowledge ! Funny - I've read it so many times before but it hits me so hard on New Years Eve. Something beautiful to ponder on : Am I poor / rich / the richest ?

Certainly I will aspire to be the richest this coming New Year. Thanks Guruji !

Jai Guru Dev,

True Celebration

Let time celebrate your presence. People usually make a wish for the New Year, but this year make no wish. Let the New Year celebrate you. If the New Year wants to bring you nicer things, just let it.

Usually you are lost in celebration. When you let time celebrate you, you are a witness amidst celebration.

The New Year is fortunate because you are living at this time. When you are living for the sake of the world, the world is fortunate. You are not living for yourself, but for the world. Whatever the world needs or wants, you are here for that.

Sri Sri Ravishankar
Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
January 1 1997

(Excerpt from Celebrating Silence) .

A Happy and Peaceful New Year to all my blog readers. May the New Year bring you joy, peace and more opportunities to move towards your Self.

Jai Guru Dev,

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bare Necessities



Been watching the 1967 Disney classic - The Jungle Book with my little niece lately and there is this song I just love - The Bare Necessities .

These are my favorite lines as they take me back to what Guruji says about needs and desires and how the Divine takes care of all our needs.

Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities
Old Mother Nature's recipes
That brings the bare necessities of life

.....

The bare necessities of life will come to you
They'll come to you!

...............

And don't spend your time lookin' around
For something you want that can't be found
When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinkin' about it
I'll tell you something true

The bare necessities of life will come to you

Jai Guru Dev,

Friday, December 26, 2008

This Moment

Little One You woke and cried for Mom
And I came instead
You accepted me and lay your little head on my chest
The tears ebbed and your eyes closed

Dare I move for fear of waking you
Dare I breathe for fear of disturbing your gentle breathing
For those brief moments we breathe as one

Am I your Mom/Dad/Uncle/Friend
Beyond Names and Relations is this moment of ours
All your tantrums are forgiven right now

This very moment - A Tear Contentment Bliss Love Peace Eternity

Jai Guru Dev,

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Being Spiritual

As 2008 winds down, time for some soul searching and perspective. Undoubtedly 2008 has been the most challenging year of my adult life. A crisis that started in Jan this year continues to be the mainstay of all my activities and decisions.

It also marks the lowest point in my participation in Art Of Living activities for the last 7+ years in terms of taking courses or volunteering. The total and complete preoccupation with my situation has made it impossible for me to do any justice to either of the above.

Which led me ponder - Am I being spiritual enough ?

Or rather - What is being spiritual ? For long I have equated my spirituality with the regularity of my daily sadhana, regular long kriyas, satsangs, taking more courses and of course seva. I have been quite regular - or rather life has been very gracious in allowing me to be regular with the first two - without which I have no idea how I would have made it thus far.

It took me a while to get the significance of regular Part II courses - unfortunately I managed to do only 2 of these before life caught up. Satsang - I was just getting to realize the importance of being regular. Seva - a touch and go for me most of the time, but something I did whenever I could. Being with Guruji - 2005 and 2006 offered me so many opportunities to meet Guruji that I was beginning to get used to it .

And then 2007 happened.

Once the nectar has been tasted, staying away from it is P A I N F U L. This has been my direct experience in the last year of not being able to participate more actively in AOL satsangs, courses and seva.

But then what does Part I teach us ? Accept situations as they are !
And why ? Because these situations are going to come in life. What is the point of this knowledge if I cant apply it when it matters the most ?

At some level I have come to realize that one reason I loved participating in the aforementioned activities was the social interaction it offered. Am I missing my Spiritual hang outs :) ?

Another realization for me is that it is super hard to completely give of myself. I have imagined doing this for a loved one, but now being faced with it, I realize I have come up short - quite short.

Perhaps this is the lesson Guruji is teaching me - to accept the situation and be with it completely and not see it as different than any of the other things I would rather be doing right now .

On the positive side I am able to see I am deeper than what I thought I was, more dispassionate, less attracted to pleasure and closer in my heart to Guruji.

Sometimes Being Spiritual is just Being .

Jai Guru Dev,

Friday, December 19, 2008

Who Am I ?


Where do you work ?

A common refrain that inevitably follows the initial customary "Hi/Hello", in the professional world. I've have asked and been asked this question a few hundred times in my life. There was a time when I took pride in this question. Immediately I would blurt out "I work as XYZ for ABZ co" and wait for that look or sigh of admiration from the fellow conversationalist. My biggest fear was being unemployed and the most stressful times were the times of layoffs - a frequent phenomenon in my company in the 2000 - 2005 period in the Bay Area. I prided myself on my work and didn't think much of life outside of it . Constant comparisons with the progress of my friends, colleagues and college mates was my mind's primary occupation.

Along the way came the Part I course, Ashtavakra, Yoga Vasishta, Part II , satsangs, seva. And slowly the belief began to solidify that I was indeed being taken care of. A larger perspective to life began to emerge and a life outside of work, promotions, stock options, office politics, 11 pm coffee breaks began to take shape. Spirituality and my other passion - going back to the academic world - began to take precedence and the feverishness and attachment with my job slowly began to drop.

Today I am jobless (yes - and no I don't feel like a smaller person because of it) and am comfortable seeing it as a phase of life just like the time I was employed. Life is indeed an interesting journey - When I had a job, I lived in constant fear of losing it. Now I have no idea if and when I will get back to work on the same terms as before and I am at peace. Happy I am to have dropped this one strong identification.

My association with the Art Of Living and Guruji are clearly what I value the most. I don't miss work but I do miss the satsangs, courses, being with Guruji a LOT .

Life indeed is a spiritual journey. I play many roles that of a student, professional, family member, friend, colleague. These roles sustain me in a society that demands that one play these roles and accords me a social status based on my degree of success in these roles.

But the most important relationship - that of me with mySelf - independent of what society thinks or says - is what matters in the end.

Jai Gurudev,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thank You

Thank you Pain
For you make me realize pleasure is temporary

Thank you Suffering
For you teach me this world is only you

Thank you Uncertainty
For you make me realize everything is changing

Thank you Confusion
For you teach me there is another way

Thank you Torture
For you make me realize I am not just this body

Thank you Failure
For you make me realize you are but a milestone

Thank you Desire
For you make me realize you are but an empty bowl

Thank you Lust
For you teach me what is really love

Thank you Friendship
For making me realize there is only ONE real friend

Thank you Sleeplessness
For you teach me I was asleep

Thank you Troubled Times
For you center and focus me on the real GOAL

Thank you Guruji
For the knowledge and grace to realize the above

Jai Guru Dev,

Friday, December 5, 2008

Seattle Vigil For Mumbai Victims

Several other Indian organizations partnered with Art Of Living and held a candle light vigil for the Mumbai victims at the Red Square on the University Of Washington (UW) campus in Seattle.

Words of wisdom from the local AOL teacher - David Longenecke.

http://dailyuw.com/2008/12/4/vigil-held-mumbai-victims/

Go AOL Seattle ! Go Huskies !

Jai Guru Dev,

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sri Sri Ravishankar in Mumbai


UPDATE : For those that missed the broadcast on Sanskar TV - here is a web link that some kindred soul put up. Watch it while it is still up there.

http://www.pitechniques.com/aol/traumacare/meditationlive.htm

Join us in our quest to create a peaceful, stress-free society.

What : Sri Sri will conduct a special prayer, pranayama and meditation session for all Mumbaikars

Where : Priyadarshini Park & Sports Complex, Nepean Sea Road

When : Dec. 6 at 6:30 pm.


Have Burning Questions ? Click here

The Art of Living Foundation is conducting trauma care and counseling sessions, following the recent terror attacks in Mumbai.

Helpline numbers: +91-9821620948, +91-9967477004, +91-9820612152


Jai Guru Dev,

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Insurance

This post is somewhat on the lines of my earlier post Long Term Investing, but i've been reflecting a lot about what my association with the Art Of Living, daily practice of the Sudarshan Kriya and Guruji have meant to me over the last 7 1/2 odd years and was inspired to write this.

We all buy insurance for various things in life. Home insurance to protect ourselves if god-forbid a catastrophe like a fire should happen. Life insurance to make sure our loved ones have financial security if something were to happen to us. We insure our vehicles such as cars, bikes to ensure that an accident does not leave us with hefty bills.

All this to protect what ? Items that we hold dear to our happiness and peace of mind ? We pay a premium now so that we are protected in the event of an unforeseen event that we don't know about and in fact don't want to have happen to us at any time. Ironically there is an aspect of spirituality here too. We insure to protect something, while knowing at the same time that it won't last forever. Implicitly we acknowledge that nothing will be safe forever.

And life is quite unforeseen isn't it ? As I have experienced too. Life is full of surprises. People get sick - extremely sick at times. Accidents happen. Jobs are lost. I have personally had to use health and auto insurance.

But the greatest insurance to me through life's travails has been my spirituality. Through tough times, traumatic times, unforeseen challenges, physical and mental pain, disappointments - the only thing that had steadfastly stood by my side is my sadhana, satsang, knowledge and the grace of the Guru. The ability to keep my mind sane through tough challenges and keep the faith strong - even smile sometimes through problems - has been the most precious thing to me in the last few years.

I've been reading the papers and often read news of young, highly qualified professionals/ students committing suicide for various reasons - job stress, family problems, a failed love affair, loneliness - and it pains me. Not just because a promising life was cut short, but because he/she did not have the tools and techniques to handle the agony that the situation in life was presenting. Looking around me, i see that it is the need of the moment - a way to handle our stresses and challenges without giving up,or collapsing, or destroying our health - and facing life with equanimity and smilingly.

Now as I face the most challenging (so far) phase of my adult life, I am glad I bought insurance many years ago - the Art Of Living course. It serves me each day, each moment, when I need it - unfailingly. It helps me manage this complex beast called the MIND and calm it down - no matter what. It helps me dispose off the garbage accumulated during the day and be free.

This to me is the REAL Life Insurance. I am grateful for the grace of the Guru that brought me to this precious knowledge when I most needed it. And it is my duty now to reach out to others so they may have these most precious tools when they need it too.

Are you insured ?

Jai Guru Dev,

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Seva Provides Succor


The YES+ folks (youth group of Art Of Living) organized a blood drive yesterday at New English School in Pune. It was a heart warming sight to see so many young collegians, AOL teachers, young professionals trickle in, in groups and donate blood. Irrespective of whether this blood will reach the victims of the Mumbai tragedy, it was very therapeutic to go and donate blood. Somewhere somehow there was a feeling of having done something and the helplessness vanished giving rise to hope and faith.

'The day you feel hopeless, horrible, and worse, on that day get out of your room and ask people, "What can I do you for you ?" That service you have done that day will bring a revolution inside you. It will change your whole gramophone record.'

-Sri Sri Ravishankar

Kudos to the YES+ team in Pune for having acted promptly in this situation.

Are you young at heart ? Do you want to make friends with a bunch of young, cool and hip spiritually aware meditators and socially aware and active youngsters ? And gain the skills to enhance the quality of your life and that of others ?

Take the YES+ course happening in Pune in December :

Dates : Dec 15th - Dec 21st
Venue : Government Polytechnic (Opp E-Square)
Time : 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Contact : 9822082363, 9922053368

Jai Guru Dev,

Grace Unlimited

A beautiful account by 2 Art Of Living teachers recently rescued from the Taj. Their tale of how they turned from victims to being instruments in the most difficult times is a beautiful read. This certainly underscores the importance of the spiritual practices in daily life and in the role of seva and above all the Master's Grace.

Personally for me, reading this story was a reminder of how we are constantly taken care of, in the most difficult of times. As Guruji said in Guru Poornima 2006 "The sign of having a teacher, a master is that you do NOT worry" .

From Vikram Hazra's blog .

Rajita shares her experience


Jai Guru Dev,

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Beloved Mumbai

(Image Courtesy : www.msnbc.com)

The TV reports that the siege has ended, the terrorists have either been captured/killed, the hotel guests either freed or being carried out in body bags, the soldiers and policemen either standing down or being buried.

It almost too surreal. Having worked in Mumbai several years ago and having walked down the very lanes and edifices that have been attacked so brutally by the crazed maniacs who so heartlessly mowed down people like weeds, I am still unable to believe it.

As Dad put it : The rakshasas of the olden days are still alive - they are called terrorists today.

Taj Hotel where I attended training, Metro where I watched movies, CST where I use to alight on my way to the Queen's Necklace.....memories come flooding back. Mumbai has been a victim to terror many times before and this horrible incident too shall fade in time from public memory, but the pain I am feeling right now is unfathomable.

Death spares no one . Usually such incidents in India affect the middle classes and the poor as previous incidents were mostly due to bombs set off in public places. This time the well heeled, Bollywood actors, corporate honchos, tourists, security personnel, the common man mowed down at VT - have all been victims.

Terrorism has no religion. A newspaper reported about how 6 members of a muslim family were mowed down at the VT railway terminus by the devils-in-human-form who were ostensibly doing this for the betterment(sic) of that community in this country.

Mumbai will arise again(it already has) as it has on many previous occasions, politicians will start the blame game, the heroes will be buried, and life will go on. But has anything been really learnt from this incident ?

There have been calls for a core group to handle just terrorism and better infrastructure and training to police. A lot of technology and intelligence will be thrown at this problem.

But as the lessons learnt from 9/11 and Virginia Tech last year tell us, no amount of technology can fathom the depths of evil in the human mind or hatred in ones heart. Only when minds are healed and hearts are won, can this war against evil be won. All the more reason to meditate and bring more people to the path of meditation and service.

Sri Sri says :

If every child in the world learns a little bit about all cultures, a little bit about all values, the whole scenario will be different. Then one will not think, 'Only I will go to heaven. Everyone else will go to hell'. This wrong education or lack of education has caused so many problems in the world. A sense of belongingness with the whole world - it doesn't matter what colour or race you are - is that shared value that we are talking about today. Even if one pocket in the world remains ignorant of these shared values, common values, the world will not be a safe place. So we need to address these issues with a lot of patience. It is not a job that we can do overnight, but through education and creating that sense of community, through inspiration and example .

- Sri Sri

We can clearly see the effect of some pockets of the world being used to indoctrinate youth in the name of religion, fooling them into believing that they are somehow better than the others, that they are the chosen martyrs who will achieve God by murdering others. Ironically these are our fellow human beings who are being misguided and used to promote terror.

A time for meditation and prayer, a time to honor the fallen, a time to rededicate oneself to the practice and promotion of human values around us.

Jai Guru Dev,

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sri Sri Condemns Mumbai Terror

Source : www.artofliving.org



Jai Guru Dev,

Thursday, November 27, 2008

An Award :)


I am inspired to join Art of Living, reading this blog. This award is for you.

Kiran just gave me an award :)

Thanks Kiran, much appreciated : All I can say is that your statement above makes the 80 odd posts on this blog over the last year or so - worthwhile !

I'll just dedicate it to my Guru.


Jai Guru Dev,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What Can I Do ?

In the light of the tragedy that is currently underway in Mumbai, it is worth reading and acting on Bawa'a post about such incidents .

http://bawandinesh.name/?p=293

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Hi

Jai Guru Dev,

Your Guru


A few days ago, I was having an argument with a RespectedElder. Things got a little heated. For a while the awareness and knowledge came up saying "Shut Up RR..Shut Up NOW".

Then suddenly in a blinding flash of anger, I said something I would regret for a long time to come.

Pat came the reply.

RespectedElder : Your Guru would never approve of this !

Me: (Eyes Blazing, Nostrils Flaring) : Don't drag my Guru into this !!!

RespectedElder : I WILL . Isn't this what you preach to me all the time ? THIS is the time you need to apply the knowledge He has given you. He WONT be proud of this.

RespectedElder was right. And knows how to GET me too :)

I was just wondering after this altercation : How much I love Guruji that I am willing to defend him against someone I have known all my life and love so much too ?

And how ironical ? Guruji DOES want to be in the middle of such altercations - maybe he creates them too :) ? After all it is in moments of such strife that he wants us to keep the awareness and apply his precious knowledge.

Guru Matru Pita
(Guru is Mother, Guru is Father)
Guru Bandhu Sakha
(Guru is Friend, Guru is Companion)
Tere Charano Me Swami
(At your feet Oh Lord)
Mere Koti Pranaam
(My countless salutations)

Jai Guru Dev,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Long Term Investing

What is good investing ? For a completely finance-challenged person like myself, it would be investing in those things - money, education, possessions, health, relationships that would keep me comfortable in the long term.

Everyone invests for a return. Otherwise there is no point investing.

Good fitness means good health at an older age and less vulnerability to health problems. Having money means that when the rainy day arrives, we are not running helter-skelter to meet our needs and those of our family. Positive relationships would mean having good company and friendships and hopefully help when one needs it. A good education means increasing the probability of getting a good well-paying job.

For how long do these investments keep me company ? No longer than I am in this body. And how long am I going to be able to keep this body ? 1 hour / 1 day / 10 years / 50 years. Do I really know ? There is a finite time limit on the ability of my investments to give me a return.

Ever thought of investing for the real future ?

Sadhana - Sa (forever) - dhana (wealth) : that wealth that stays forever.

The scriptures tell us that the mind is just energy. Physics tells us that energy is never destroyed - just transforms from one state to another. Whether one believes in rebirth or not - it is a living scientific reality around us. How else do you explain a 1 year old infant suffering from an incurable disease or a 90 year old person living a healthier life than someone half his/her age. How does one explain Adi Sankara who united India with his knowledge and attained enlightenment at the age of 21 ? Or a Sri Sri Ravishankar who chanted the Bhagavad Gita at the age of 4 ? Or........

Numerous examples exist in our daily life that tell us of the effect of the mind and the impressions it carries from lifetime to lifetime. Mind - Energy - never destroyed but taking on different bodies from time to time and manifesting those impressions in that body. A cleaner mind with fewer negative impressions = a better and happier life in this body.

So - you are not this body. Your mind never perishes. You - the spirit never die !

Wouldn't you rather carry a cleaner and purer mind with you ? Would you rather not carry the rubbish of this life time on to the next ? In the light of this do not all other investments (though important) seem short term ?

Diversify your portfolio. Invest really long term. Invest in you.

Do the Art Of Living course.

Jai Guru Dev ,

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Karma

Many a times, my mind goes : Why this intense suffering ? No answers.
Karma is the closest explanation.

Karma - 1 word , the effect of several lifetimes. I've been saying this to myself and family members a lot these days - its our karma. A lot of folks have said this to me too. Its your karma.

Karma is an interesting concept. Too complex to understand or start a discussion here but suffice to say that it influences almost everything in life -- good and bad . In times of intense suffering, dwelling on this concept saves the mind in some ways.

Its easy to blame bad times on fate . Meri kismat kharaab hai ! (My bad luck)

The Yoga Vasishta says this beautifully of fate and self-effort :

In this world whatever is gained is gained only by self-effort, when failure is encountered, it is seen that there has been slackness in effort. This is obvious but what is seen as fate is fictitious and is not seen. Self-effort, Rama, is that mental, verbal and physical action which is in accordance with the instructions of a holy person well-versed in the scriptures.

So Karma. In Wisdom For The New Millenium, Guruji describes the 3 types of karma -Prarabdha (begun), Sanchita (piled up), Agaami (not yet come). Guruji says that prarabhdba karma is that which is yielding its effects right now and cannot be changed. Sanchita karma can be burned off, changed by spiritual practices before it becomes manifest.

Despite doing spiritual practices when the suffering becomes too much, sometimes the mind goes How much more prarabdha karma do I have ? :) At least the blame game does not start.

I was wondering - I read the newspaper and it reports how the high and mighty got away in a court case involving an accident just because they were rich. Or how someone innocent was murdered for seemingly no fault of theirs. Of how a mentally retarded child got raped.

For a moment one thinks GOD where were you ? Then it is clear - it was their karma. Cruel though it seems, there is no other explanation.

The same rule applies to me too - just because I think I have been a good person in this life, it does not mean I was a good person in my previous life times too. God knows what atrocities I performed on whom. If I want the murderers of modern society to pay for their deeds and if I rejoice silently when a certain perpetrator of a ghastly car accident involving a BMW was sent to jail, I must be ready to pay my dues as well.

How and Why should I be exempt from my mistakes ?

I sometimes wonder how God can watch the sufferings of all his children. However an omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient God has to be totally fair. He loves all equally and clearly ANYONE who abused their own discrimination/free will MUST be led in the right direction, through the path of misery - towards light.

There seems to be no other way to liberation. For only when the mind gets tired of the games of this world - the suffering, the misery does one move towards God in a real sense.

Not just offer fruits and flowers and dress up on occasions , but TRULY MOVE towards GOD through spiritual practices. A mind totally caught up in objects of this world cannot move towards God. Maybe thats why the need for misery as well. To see the true nature of this world.

Gautama Buddha walked away from his royal life when he saw the misery of this world. Lord Rama went through the same misery until Sage Vasishta taught him about his true nature.

As Guruji says in The Secret Of Secrets - a quote from the Bhagavad Gita :

Anithyam Asuhkam Lokam
(Impermanent and Unhappy is this world)

Imam Prapya Bhajasvamam
(Knowing/Having this attain me).

Without forsaking this world, but inquiring into and knowing the true nature of this world, we are able to move through life easily .

How beautiful ? You really must listen to Guruji's interpretation of this in The Secret Of Secrets - it'll move you to tears as it has me on many occasions. Oh Guruji !

For all this seeking to happen in my life A Guru was necessary. Despite being on the spiritual path, I am in suffering. But I am grateful to have a Guru who holds my hand through it. I am grateful for the Sudarshan Kriya to which I can surrender my miseries at the end of the day.

As is often said in the Art Of Living :

Having a Guru does not mean there will be no storms
It means that no matter what, the boat won't sink .

If I have learnt anything in the various courses (Part I, Advanced, Sahaj, DSN etc) that I have taken in the Art of Living - it is this.

Practice what Guruji has said, have undying faith in HIM and I WILL be free - no matter what karmas.

Dhyanam Moolam Gurur Moorti
Pooja Moolam Guror Padam
Mantra Moolam Gurur Vakyam
Moksha Moolam Guru Krupa

Jai Guru Dev ,

Pranayam Dhyan Shibir - Bangalore with Sri Sri Ravishankar

Bangalore City is blessed :)

http://www.artoflivingbangalore.org/pds.html

Jai Guru Dev,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Getting Away

Image Source : http://majorlycool.com/item/sunset-ride/catid/10

Sometimes when life gets too crazy, I feel like riding into the sunset. Don't care on what : a bicycle, a motorcycle, a car, a horse, camel, a buffalo (nah not really!) ....somewhere, somehow just GO.......

Am I running towards something ? Or away from something ? Myself ?

And then I realize that I cannot run from the situation. And also with my MIND as a permanent - sometimes unwanted - companion, can I really go far ? Don't think so.


Been reading the Yoga Vasishta regularly for a few weeks now and it dwells so beautifully on the secrets and tendencies of the mind. A must read after you meditate - it elevates one to a different level of consciousness. A little secret - some lucky soul reads some pages to Guruji every day - phir meri kya zurrat ki mai na padhoon ?

Yoga Vasishta - not just a book, but a Guru's blessing.

But someday I will take that ride into the sunset and it won't be running away.


Jai Guru Dev,

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chandrayaan Lands


(Image Courtesy : www.space.com)

Yesterday Chandrayaan (Moon Vehicle in Sanskrit), successfully sent a probe to the moon with the Indian tricolor painted on all sides making it the 5th country to have a presence on the moon. The world has received this with a mixture of admiration, support, suspicion and downright derision. Nevertheless this represents a proud moment for all Indians - a country of 1 billion plus representing a sixth of humanity and the world's oldest civilization.

I read several articles on this great event leading from the launch all the way to the probe's impact on the Moon's surface but a couple of them touched me more than others. Not because they reported the event well but because they underscored how easily science and spirituality mix in India.

NY Times Piece :
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/29/opinion/29varadarajan.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

Times Of India :
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Though_probe_crashlanded_tricolour_intact/articleshow/3715205.cms

(ISRO chairman Madhavan Nair said on Friday: ‘‘We have planted the national flag near the Shackelton crater. In the month of Karthikeya, Chandrayaan has been wonderful to us and the Moon has been favorable.)

Astrology cheek-by-jowl with Astronomy :) :) ? A touch of Faith ?

In India the moon has a special significance in life. Every month the full moon day "Poornima" represents something beautiful - Krishna's Birthday,Buddha'a enlightenment, Guru Nanak Jayanti....... The effect of the moon on the mind has been understood by sages and seers since times immemorial.

The west has often struggled with these 2 pillars of modern day society. In the US, concepts such as intelligent design, creationism and Darwin's theory of evolution all fight pitched battles all the way from school board meetings to the US Supreme Court.

In India however, there is seldom any conflict. I grew up in the colony of a primer scientific institute in India and watched my father do his pooja every morning and head to work thereafter. The colony celebrated all festivals in a big way with no conflict whatsoever.

Who is more advanced - the West or India ? May seem like a moot question to most but I'd like to think that advancement of a civilization comes from advancement of its spiritual thought - not just by putting out more gadgetry (sophisticated and necessary though they may be) .

As Guruji Says :

Science and spirituality are like two ways of looking at the creation. Science regards life as matter and spirituality regards even matter as life. Spirituality elevates matter to the level of life, level of divinity and adds a sense of honour. While science brings us material and physical comfort, spirituality gives comfort to our souls. Science cultivates logic and spirituality develops intuition, another faculty of inquiry. Ancient rishis (sages) recognized this interplay between science and spirituality and said true fulfillment in life can come only through gyana (spirituality) and vigyana (science).

.....

The time has come for India to reclaim her rightful place on the world stage. In order for this to occur, we need to become more confident and take pride in our cultural and spiritual roots. The spiritual wisdom, which was her glory in the past, has been almost forgotten and needs to be revived.

Sri Sri Ravishankar

Jai Guru Dev,

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Evil Twins

This one inspired by Rashmin's post.

Lets call them P1 and P2 - the conjoined twins.

P1 is the tail of P2 - a little known fact
The mind wants to run from P1 towards the waiting open arms of P2
P2 wears a strong perfume
The lure of P2 is hard to resist
She woos me assiduously promising me joy
I follow (rather my mind does) salivating
She delivers the fun - for a few seconds
Then smiles and walks away
Leaving me in a dust heap
To face the whiplash of her venomous tail
This lasts a lot longer than the fun
A sip of nectar revealing a pool of poison

Through time I have learnt to recognize that whiff
And run a thousand miles away
Sometimes though I indulge again
And get lashed brutally though knowing well I will
Despite knowing a greater and more permanent joy exists
Why do I let the small mind win ?
Again and Again

Self Effort Self Effort Self Effort
Transcend Transcend Transcend

In a dream I beheld P2 and asked
May I ask thy name ?
"Yes for sure - I am Pleasure and my twin here is Pain"

Jai Guru Dev,

Friday, November 7, 2008

At This Age

Through my troubled times and pain, I sometimes think - This is not an age for me to be stuck like this. I ought to be out - like everyone else - working, traveling, teaching, meeting friends for lunch, skiing, biking, doing advanced courses, living life !

Right.

So Should He.



And She.



And They.



One of my all time favorites by Phil Collins says it all :



One word : Gratitude.

Images Courtesy : National Geographic, http://weightofsilence.files.wordpress.com

Jai Guru Dev,

Thursday, November 6, 2008

When The Earth Shook

It was sometime in May in 2002 (i think) in the Bay Area . Someone had told me that Guruji would be in the now torn-down Ricky's Hyatt hotel. I told two close friends of mine I was going and they said they would come along.

Later that evening I came home exhausted from work and decided to skip out. My friends called and asked me why I had not picked them up as discussed. My retort - I am too tired and cant go. C'mon they said - you promised. So i went over with them to the hotel. Interestingly these friends were not part of Art Of Living at that time.

Those were still the days when Guruji was somewhat accessible in the US - unlike the recent Diwali celebrations that saw about 3000 folks turn up.

We went and took our place - almost in the front and Guruji was seated on the podium. People were singing. A famous Indian businessman who was a devotee was in the front talking on his cellphone :) . Guruji was serenely looking around. Here is where I got my second look - just that brief moment - which seemed like eternity.


Then suddenly it happened - a small earthquake happened that shook the room. Just 2-3 seconds and it was over. A loud cheer arose from the crowd of devotees - I did now know I was one at that time - so i just stayed quiet and skeptical.

Then Guruji spoke about how lucky we were on this path - we have everything - the technique, the service, satsang, knowledge and the company of a Master. My small mind then interpreted this as self-promotion.

Then the Q&A started and ended. Someone shouted - Marry me Guruji. Guruji carried on unperturbed.

The evening ended and we all went home.

Looking back I can only think how lucky I was back then. I was not ready for him but he was there lovingly beckoning me to him. Today I thirst for his company and circumstances in life prevent me from meeting him. Ironical ?

Maybe it is because he is always with me and he wants me to know that.

But the longing to be with him only grows day by day.

From a oh-so-beautiful Meera bhajan sung by Lata Mangeshkar :

Payoji Maine :

paayoji maine ram ratan dhan paayo

bastu amolaka di mere satguru,
krpa kari apanayo


janama janama ki punji pai,
jaga
men sabai khovayo


Kharcha na koi chor na lutai
Din din badhat savayo (payo ji maine)

Sat ki naav khevatiya satguru
Bhavsagar taravayo (payo ji maine)

Meera ke prabhu giridhar nagar
Harash harash jas gaayo (payo ji maine)

Paayoji maine ram ratan dhan paayo

Jai Guru Dev,

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ay Zindagi

This one inspired by Rekha's post on faith.

Why is there suffering/pain in a tough situation ?

Sri Sri says "Suffering is a product of limited knowledge"

What limited knowledge ?

The Part I course says " Accept situations and people as they are"

When in pain or suffering, the last thing I want to do is accept. After all who wants pain ? The best solution is to try and escape it and to enable this, the mind is ever willing to :
  • jump into the glorious past
  • jump towards a non-existent future OR
  • take flights of imaginary fancy .
  • keep asking the eternally unanswerable question "Why ?"
None of this helps and muddles the mind even more.

Question to self : Isn't it easier to just accept ?

Another way is resistance.
  • This is NOT happening to me
  • This is not happening to ME.
  • THIS is not happening to me
Another point of the Part I course says "What you resist persists".

When I resist obviously the suffering persists . And what am I resisting ? The flow of life ? I am but a little boat caught up in this ocean of samsara which throws up perfect storms now and then. Of what use is my resistance ?

Question to self : Isn't it easier to not resist, live the knowledge and just BE ?

Guruji says that when we are faced with a storm - to gulp it in its totality and then we realize that there is really no storm .

Reminds me of a beautiful song from the movie Sadma :

Aye Zindagi Gale Lagale
Hum ne bhi
Tere har ik gam ko

Gale se lagaya hai
Hai na ?

Roughly translated :

Oh Life Embrace Me
I've embraced all the suffering you've given me
Haven't I ?

When no knowledge works, faith does ...infinite faith does WORK - especially when the Storm is a long one.

Jai Guru Dev,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Purpose Of Carnatic Music - IMHO


Image Courtesy : http://www.swaralayam.org

I'll start by saying I have no formal training in Carnatic Music. But growing up in a middle class south-indian family leaves you no choice. The ethereal voice of M.S Subbulakshmi chanting Subrabaatham is as ubiquitous as the cock-a-doodle-doo early in the morning.

I grew up listening to the great compositions of Thyagaraaja , Purandaradasa and other great composers rendered by stalwarts of modern day Carnatic Music such as the inimitable MS, Balamurali Krishna , The Bombay Sisters, Radha Jayalakshmi, Unnirishnan and many others. Though many of my family members were trained in Carnatic music, I never showed interest in getting training in this medium - much to the chagrin of my father.

Maybe I never had the patience for the rigorous sadhana that accompanies learning this amazingly complex medium. Maybe my mind wandered too much and experimented too much with reading, sports, extra curricular activities , much like a butterfly that courts a flower only as long as it had sweet nectar to offer. Maybe.....

More recently I have been having rancorous debates with my dad - a big-time carnatic music enthusiast and aficionado and an amateur violinist . He can quickly recognize raagas like most other enthusiasts, easily recall which song was composed by which composer, the life history of the composer....you get the picture. And I cant do any of the above.

Me : Dad, today's singers are too commercial. They don't sing in devotion, only to show their talent and make fame and money.

Dad : They are like any other professional, some are dedicated, some are not.

Me: But Dad, Carnatic music is ALL about the Divine - every word.

Dad : Everything is all about the Divine, are all professionals devoted to their professions.

Me : The composers of yore were saints first and singers only after that. Today's singers are well....just singers.

Dad : Yes

Me : Dad , the purpose of Carnatic music is to take you deep within yourself - in touch with your being. The raagas dont matter, the words dont matter, the singer does not matter.

Dad : But it is the raags, the rendition and the words that take you deep within.

Me : But Dad ......

Sullen Silence . Nobody Wins.

I guess we are both coming to the same truth from different angles.

For my dad, complete appreciation of music means knowing about it as well - the composer, his/her life, the raaga, the variations, the renditions etc.

For me , music is an experience, just closing my eyes and dissolving in the sound. It does not matter what is being sung - A Bollywood number, a gazhal, a bhajan, a carnatic composition. It has to touch me deep within. If so the song has served its purpose. If not...something is missing. I became really aware of this during the deep bhajan satsangs we used to have in the Bay Area.

As Guruji Says : "Singing helps to bring serenity. Singing is simply merging into the sound, floating on its waves with sense of contenment and meditativeness"


Whats your experience like ?

Jai Guru Dev,

Guruji in Dallas

Nice Video .

http://cbs11tv.com/local/Diwali.Festival.of.2.850964.html

Jai Guru Dev,

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy Diwali

(Image Courtesy : http://sneha1967.sulekha.com )

A festival has different flavors - the holidays (fun time) , the shopping for clothes, gifts (fun material time) , family and friends (people time), food (yum time :) ) ,rituals (pooja and prayer time), mythology (story time) and celebrations.

At the core though is the essence of any festival - what it stands for . Diwali is all of the above and also represents the triumph of good over evil - not just in the world, but also within us .

Here is wishing you all the essence and everything else this Diwali !!

For those of you with Guruji this Diwali - well lucky you :)

Here is a beautiful article on Diwali by Guruji :

Diwali is lighting :

The lamp of love in one's heart;

The lamp of abundance in one's home;
The lamp of compassion to serve others;
The lamp of Knowledge to dispel darkness

Every lamp that you light is symbolic of a good quality. There are good
qualities in every human being. Some have forbearance, some have love, strength, generosity; others have the ability to accept all as one' own, yet others have a scientific temperament that will uplift humanity; and others have the ability to unite people from all religions. A latent talent is a lamp. When latent talents awaken, that is Diwali. Don't be satisfied with simply lighting one lamp; light a thousand. Eg. If you are a good sevak, don't be satisfied only with that; light the lamp of wisdom in you. Acquire knowledge. If you are interested in acquiring knowledge, don't limit yourself only to that. Take an interest in the creative arts, in dance, music etc.

Do you know why we do aarti? It is so that light of our life always rotates
around the Divine.

Do you know why we burst crackers? We suppress many emotions within ourselves;
cravings, aversions, hatred or too much attachment and we reach bursting point. When there are a lot of worries, people say, "I feel my head is going to burst." If there is a lot of sorrow, people say, "My heart is going to burst." Knowing this experience, the ancient people said that when you see an explosion outside, you feel similar sensations within you as well. Along with the explosion, there is so much light. Similarly by lighting the crackers, when there is an explosion outside, you release the suppressed emotions and become hollow and empty. You become free and are able to celebrate the festival and distribute sweets.

The darkness is dispelled, light has come
into the house, and joy spreads. This is a festival of joy. For the wise man, Diwali is every moment and every day.

Diwali - the Festival of Lights. The streets and buildings are lit up with colorful lights.

The four aspects of Diwali:


1. Lights: symbolizing the spreading of Knowledge.
2. Firecrackers: Watching the firecrackers gives a
relief to the explosive tendencies inside. When the explosion happens outside, the explosion inside is diffused.
3. Gift exchange and distribution of sweets: Sweets
dispel the bitterness and renew the friendship.
4. Feeling abundance: Feeling a sense of abundance brings awareness and gratefulness for what one has.

When this wisdom dawns, it gives rise to celebration.
However, in celebration you may lose your focus or awareness. The ancient Rishis knew this, so to maintain awareness amidst the gaiety of celebration, they brought sacredness and puja to every event.

- H.H.Sri Sri Ravi Shankar



Happy Diwali , Jai Guru Dev,

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Music and Memory

Its quite amazing. I've been observing how music is an an index into my memory. Just a strain or note from a song and the mind floats back into its database called the memory and transports me back suddenly to events in my life that I thought I had forgotten. (hmm..how can I think about something if I have forgotten it ? But I digress.)

Its almost like placing a stylus on record groove - the memory starts playing the song that life sang way back when.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Here are a few songs(not necessarily my most favorite and in no particular order) and the events they take suddenly me back to. (I know we drop the past in the Art Of Living but sometimes this painful indulgence is a little sweet - even if bitter-sweet).

I Just Called To Say I Love You (Stevie Wonder) : I went to an all boys school. At the bottom of the hill was our sister institution - thats right - the all girls school. They used to have a fund raiser each year - called the fancy fete (why they called it that - I don't know) - a highly anticipated event. This song was the number 1 for many years - played as requests from guys to gals.

Papa Kehte Hain Bada Naam Karega : Released right around our Std 10 farewell party (junior high graduation), this song was a super-hit from the Bollywood flick "Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak". Someone sung it at the farewell - as we all stood there with goosebumps - at the threshold of our teen years, suddenly realizing that we would never be school kids again - wondering what lay ahead.

Tujhe Dekha To Yeh Jaana Sanam : A hit from the Bollywood movie Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge . I was alone in Nashik working on a tough project, struggling to make sense of people - situations - life in my early professional years. This song would play on the movie promos on television each night as I snuggled into my hotel bed, glad the day was over, surrendering my pain, confusion and uncertainty to the night, wishing the next daylight would never come.

Ya Devi Sarva Bhuteshu : This a prayer chant glorifying the qualities of the Mother Divine chanted during Navaratri . We had no TV when I was young and I would love listening to this on All India Radio early in the morning.

As Long As You Love Me : A Backstreet Boys hit number released in 1998 as I first set foot on foreign land. Expectation, a foreboding feeling, exuberance, apprehension, obligation, excitement all played in my mind as my friend drove me to work each day blasting this on his car speakers.

Unbrake My Heart : A Toni Braxton hit. Also brings back visions of driving into Cupertino each morning awaiting an interview.

Nahin Samne : A beautiful number from the Bollywood flick - Taal - an A.R Rahman composition. I remember sitting in the passenger seat of my friend's car when this wafted through the speakers. Instinctively my eyes closed and i was quietly humming this song till the very end asking my friend to play it repeatedly until he went :( . Rahman's delicate Sufi touch is soooooo beautiful.

He Nanda Nanda Gopala : A beautiful Vikram bhajan. I had attended satsang for years, never had the guts to lead a bhajan. One day determined to sing, I went to satsang. A bhajan ended...silence....my voice and sweat broke out simultaneously...finally breaking the ice...with myself.

Gita Govindam : Rendition by Unnikrishnan. I was leaving to go buy groceries when my dad played this on the cassette player. I remember stopping in my tracks, taking off my footwear and running back in asking my dad - What did you just play ? Over the years this tape has taken me very deep each time I played it.

Maa : A bhajan collection by Jagjit Singh. First heard it at U's place during an Ashtavakra Gita session. Hey Govind Hey Gopala..will forever be imprinted on my memory. I then discovered that the gazhal king also sang soulful bhajans. I remember meditating so deeply after listening to this one.

Hey Ram Hey Ram : Another Jagjit Singh beauty. Takes me back to the Ashtavakra Gita sessions. Deeply meditative....

Kaisi Hai Yeh Rut : A beautiful Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy number from Dil Chahta Hai rendered by Srinivas. Just goes deep....dunno where.

And So Many More ......

Jai Guru Dev,

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Stood Up and Spoke Out


Today after Long Kriya, about a 100 of us stood up and took an oath to support and implement the goals of the Millenium Development Goals program of the United Nations. What we heard was not new, but for a mind just cleansed and more aware with long kriya, some facts were very hard-hitting :
  • 30 thousand children D I E every day of poverty .
  • 3 thousand youth fall prey to HIV every day .
and many more I cannot readily recollect .

It was a solemn and sincere 10 minutes of standing with our hands raised as we took a pledge. S Bhaiyya administered the oath in his signature sincere yet enthusiastic manner.

Somewhere a sense of deep gratitude arose for everything I have in life and a sense of empathy towards those who don't.

We each pledged to plant a tree, put some money and food aside every day that would be put towards the cause of eradicating hunger and poverty.

We ended with an unusual but interesting slogan :)

I ACCEPT - WE ROCK - LIFE IS A CELEBRATION

Jai Guru Dev,

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

One = Infinity

I never learned Sanskrit properly. I had a chance about 22 years ago during summer break, but I was firm in my belief that the summer holidays were meant for enjoyment and NOT roting. So enjoy I did and blew my chance to dwell deeper into Devavani (Deva = God , Vani = speech/language) - literally "Language of the Gods".

For a few years the word "Dehant" has been popping up quite often in my head. Literally and colloquially it means "Death" and is used in a respectful manner to describe someone's passing - as opposed to "Maut", the more common term.

Breaking it up, we find it is is actually a compound ("Deh" = Body, "Ant" = End). In other words "Death = End Of the Body" .

I was wondering why it was necessary to emphasize the body so much. Isn't death the end of everything ? Not so say the scriptures - The Bhagavad Gita, The Yoga Vasishta, Vedanta.

Guruji says that death is just like a long sleep from which we don't get up.

Deh-Ant : If it is only the body that ends, what does NOT end ? The mind - with all its impressions - good and bad. The undying spirit that we all are !

I was astounded at how much meaning a simple, single word could express !! Just one word captures the very essence of philosophy, the scriptures, the very meaning of LIFE.

Its so interesting - we spend so much money, time and effort on caring for, obsessing over and lusting at this perishable bag of bones and flesh that is going to be either burnt to ashes, buried 6 feet under or fed to the vultures. And so little or no time over nourishing that which is eternal, undying - the spirit. People spend thousands on clothes, perfumes, gym memberships, beauty salons , eating out etc., but crib when you ask them to spend a few dollars/rupees/currency of your choice on doing the Art Of Living course.

Ah when will they understand ?

Guruji explains why chanting is so much more powerful in Sanskrit. He says that the mind is very old and so is the Sanskrit language. These chants thus have a powerful effect on the mind when chanted correctly .

I have to learn SANSKRIT someday !

Jai Guru Dev,

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bliss 2008 : Sri Sri Ravishankar in the US

Looks like its raining blessings in the USA . Guruji Sri Sri Ravishankar is going to be touring the US and there are so many beautiful opportunities to meet HIM .

http://events.artofliving.org/

And if you are REALLY lucky, you can celebrate DIWALI with HIM. Just imagine - the depths of silence exploding into eruptions of Joy !



Diwali Advanced Course :
http://secure.artofliving.org/course_details.aspx?course_id=3485

Mahalaxmi Puja :
http://secure.artofliving.org/event_details.aspx?event_id=1897

Are you the lucky ONE ? Self Effort Brings Grace !!

Jai Guru Dev,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Smiling Through

It was during Guru Poornima 2006 - my first and only so far - with Guruji . In a huge hall at the San Matep Expo Center, CA. We were all participants in the "Yoga and Meditation Seminar" (also called PDS in India), being led by none other than Sri Sri Ravishankar.

About 300 of us were twisted like pretzels in a difficult pose - grunting, sweating and breathing at the same time, when Guruji's soft ethereal voice wafted over the microphone "Smiling In a Difficult Pose Is Yoga" .

Boom..crash...flash of lightning...the whole town visible from a hilltop.....Aho !

Suddenly it was so clear what He was saying - If you can smile through tough times in life, you have attained that state called Yoga. This was the MOST amazing definition of Yoga I had ever heard in my life.

The essence of the Bhagavad Gita says the same thing. Krishna exorts Arjuna to fire the arrow, but from a state of calmness. In the midst of what would have been a world war in those days, when Arjuna was in the most tumultous of times in his life, Krishna asked him to be centered and do his duty - no matter how difficult.

Guruji says this very directly too - The sign of success is your SMILE.



Ah - that elusive SMILE :) :) . Every week, at Long Kriya, the teacher asks us to do the same thing again and again - S M I L E. At times I feel like...Grr...just get on with the pranayams already, but its clear that the goal of Art Of Living is not just to teach folks a few asanas and breathing techniques - it is to bring back that lost smile on people's faces.

Especially on faces like mine that look perenially like :( .

And this smile has to be from within - not the polite smile that masks the agony from within - not the "Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho, Kya Gam Hai Jisko Chupa Rahe Ho" Smile, but the SMILE of the BEING ! The SMILE that shines through the clouds of darkness, misery, desires, failures, setbacks. The SMILE that makes others forget that they are in misery .

And after all who is not subject to miserable events ? Krishna had his uncle plotting his murder before he was even born and was hounded by him for years. Guruji's own mother Amma fell a victim to cancer when Guruji was about to address thousands at a satsang hundreds of miles away. Buddha had to leave his family and kingdom and walk away to attain nirvana. Jesus was nailed to the cross for showing people the path of love. The difference between these noble souls and us : The SMILE never went away even in these tough situations. These situations were just events to them, not problems.

When Will I really SMILE ? Well until then as they say in the Art Of Living "Fake It Till You Make It" !!

" You sell you happiness for peanuts! You sell your smile for pennies! I tell you, it's not worth it. The entire world is not worth your smile. Even if you are made the king or the emperor of the world, it's not worth giving away your smile. " - Sri Sri Ravishankar
Oh Gurudev, you have so much to give - am I ready to receive ? How much will I receive in this lifetime ? The Yoga Vasishta says "Self Effort" .


Jai Guru Dev,

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Is Life.... ?

Is Life Worth Living ? It depends upon the liver - so goes the old adage / joke !


I've been reading Yoga Vasishta for about 2 months now after meditating and a question comes up often : Why this foolish creation? Why the pain and suffering? Why the avatars ? Why the dualities ? Why the roller-coaster ride of pleasure and pain ? Whats the point of this creation if all is anyway ONE ?

If just ONE consciousness exists then why can't just 1 consciousness BE ?

Why create these individual small minds, let them make mistakes, gain bad karma, then provide a Guru to show them the path, allow them to suffer on it and then finally go back to where you were anyways - in the Self ?

What has been achieved ?

Why is the wave allowed to be separate from the ocean ?

Agar Duniya Aisi Hai to Aisi Yeh Duniya Kyon Hai ? (from a lovely song from the movie Saath Saath, I think) .

Are folks like Sage Vasishta, Krishna, Guruji and others exempt from pain and samsara ? Were they always enlightened ? If I am God, then why am I not like them, why do I have to suffer a million births before getting to where they are ?

Just occurred to me that whenever these questions came up in my mind, the quality of life wasn't that great. Disappointments, hardships, unfulfilled desires, a sacrifice to be made, pain...whatever be the reason, my mind was never at rest. When I was happy, my mind never questions anything, I am just floating in the bliss of that moment !!!!!!!!!!

Guruji has simple answers for this : Wonder About It ! God Loves Fun !

Haan Guruji .....Par Yeh Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahin Guruji !!!

More sadhana, satsang, knowledge, seva...........now only if life allowed me to fully soak in all these...sigh.....Accept the situation as is.

Jai Guru Dev,

Thursday, October 2, 2008

For Those Missing Guruji ..........

Missing Guruji badly ? Yeah I know...Me Too :(

So very much right now. Its Navarathri and everybody who is somebody or nobody is in the Bangalore Ashram and I can't go.

Well I have to just feel his presence and well....watch youtube videos.

Here are a couple of beautiful ones I found from Navarathri 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Smile if you can :)

2004 :



2006 :



2007 :


Jai Guru Dev,

Saturday, September 27, 2008

An Interesting Life

Swami Maheshgiri is known as one of the power-teachers of AOL . Dad took a course with him last year and was impressed with his enthusiasm and powerful style. I just came across this link about his life prior to and after meeting Guruji - nice reading .

http://www.maheshgiriji.net/maheshauto1.html

Jai Guru Dev,

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sarhadein

A few days ago, i was taking a walk on my apartment complex . I passed by a bush of flowers that folks from the apartment pick everyday for pooja offerings. A new building recently came up nearby and the bush has grown over the dividing wall into the other side.

Passing by I heard someone remark - look our plant has grown over to the other side - they get the fruits - er - flowers of our labor now .

My mind went back to several years ago when as a child I watched my family and the neighbor jostle over a big mango tree that was just over the border separating our 3 houses. The roots lay firmly in the neighbor's garden but the heavy branches grew over to our side resulting in a lot of friendly and sometimes not-so-friendly arguments between the 2 neighbors about who the mangoes really belonged to.

I also suddenly remembered a song composed by the lyricist Javed Akhtar , for the Bollywood flick, Refugee . They go something like :

पंछी नदियाँ पवन के झोके
(panchi nadiyaan pavan ke jhoke)

कोई सरहद ना इन्हे रोकें
(
Koi sarhad na inhe rokein)

सरहदें इंसानों के लिए है
(
Sarhadein Insaano ke liye hain)

सोचो तुमने और मैंने क्या पाया इंसान होके
(socho tumne aur maine kya paya insaan hoke)


A rough near-literal translation would go :

Birds, Lakes, Breeze
No obstacles (borders) stop these
Borders are for humans
Think what you and me have gained by being human

Add Trees to Birds, Lakes, Breeze...

What if we all gave up our pettiness and shared freely with our fellow beings ?
School children sharing their lunch with hungry friends, toys with needy kids, teens mingling freely with others and avoiding the cruel group ism that disfranchises a few, adults helping others find jobs and succeed in them, society looking out for the have-nots . Small steps with a profound impact on society and its ills.

What a wonderful world this would be, What a wonderful world this would be !

I realized why Guruji's vision of a world with Human Values is so important. He said at the US Art Of Living Silver Jubilee function : "Technology has made the world a global village, Human values will make it a Global Family" .

All the more important why its important for me and you to bring more folks to the wonderful Art Of Living programs that make this process a lot more easier and natural.

Jai Guru Dev,

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kya Cool Hai Guru


Read Dinesh Bhaiyya's ETHEREAL post at http://bawandinesh.name/?p=346

Jai Guru Dev,

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Beauty Lies ...


(Image Courtesy : http://shreeguru.rkphotoworks.com)

We've been watching Guruji's video commentary on the Shiva Sutras the last few weeks just before Long Kriya. The commentary is in Hindi. Each tape is a new revelation, a new simple technique to unlock the mind . This time he talked about "Thark KuThark ViThark" .

HE started by saying "Beauty Lies in the eyes of the beholder". Suddenly a closed door in my mind got unlocked. So far I had interpreted this knowledge as meaning that each individual had their own concept of beauty and that an object or person that did not seem beautiful to person X might actually seem very beautiful to person Y.

But what Guruji was saying here was that "Beauty Lies Within". We are Beauty and what we see (behold) outside is simply a reflection of that beauty.

I mean WOW !

I've heard this in different ways before but never as an interpretation of "Beauty Lies in The Eyes Of The Beholder" .

Guruji often says that if we see something beautiful like a flower, we should then withdraw our attention from the flower to the beautiful feeling of beauty arising within . It became clear why HE was saying this after today's kriya.

On my way home, I was then wondering why I don't see everything as beautiful - the way Guruji does .

Simple Answer : I am not Guruji :)

Complicated Answer : I am seeing everything through the confused, contorted filter of my mind, my senses, my cravings and aversions, desires and biases and until these filters are removed, the REAL beauty of a person / situation WILL not shine through .

Sathyam Shivam Sundaram !

I guess thats why Guruji says Punah Punaha - More Seva - Sadhana - Satsang - Part II courses , Knowledge !

Aho...Oh Guruji Tussi Great Ho !

Jai Guru Dev,

Saturday, September 20, 2008

ROCK ON Amol !



Jai Guru Dev,

Friday, September 19, 2008

That First Look

It was Guru Poornima 2001 at Lake Tahoe, CA , USA. A few of us who had recently completed Part I (then known as the Basic Course) were driving up to meet Sri Sri Ravishankar - the founder of the Art Of Living Foundation. My thoughts were varied as we drove up.

I was not yet a devotee. I had only just finished my course. I had no clue or direct experience of AOL as an organization. It was the July 4th long weekend and all my friends were out traveling / celebrating .

I vaguely remember my sharing at the end of the Basic Course -....ramblings....more ramblings....teacher says ' say 1 thing' ....I say: "This is going to be an important part of my life from now on" .

Well it was important enough for me to say "No" to my friends on a long weekend and join a bunch of singing, ecstatic folks driving 5 hours north up to Lake Tahoe to see someone, I knew nothing about .

When I look back I realize, this pull was irresistible, I had no other choice.

We were accompanied by people that were mostly strong devotees. Occasionally they would ride along for a small part of the journey and sing bhajans or talk knowledge or discuss Guru stories. All this was strange to me.

Finally we reached the beautiful South Lake Tahoe and drove along to the resort where Sri Sri was conducting an advanced course. We parked and started walking towards the venue when IT happened.

A frail looking man with flowing hair and a beard was walking towards a car parked in front of the venue. Accompanying him were about 10 swamis - evident from their shaven heads and saffron robes. Those were the days when Sri Sri was still relatively accessible in the US. He walked to the waiting cars and waited for the swamis to take their seats first . I still distinctly remember him saying "Banni....Koothkoli.....Koothkoli" (Kannada for 'Please come - be seated').

As he passed me, I waited and stood still not quite knowing what the appropriate response ought to be. I was not yet in love - just saw Him for the first time - respect I did have - not really sure . Thus spake my mind as He passed me and gave me - the look - and as I bowed - walked on .





"Banni ...Koothkoli.....Koothkoli"....the cars were filled up and He was gone . Little did I realize then that the LOOK would change my life forever.

My next opportunity to see him was at satsang that evening - my first satsang with HIM. The room was abuzz....Divya, John and other old-timers rocking the satsang, folks in the room seated with eyes closed, folks at the edge swaying in a trance....all strange yet strangely comfortable and acceptable. 'J' and I were asked to sit close to the stage which we did...and after a while we left. We had decided to only stay for that day (looking back I feel like a fool) .

As soon as we left the room, we looked at each other and said the same thing " I still don't think he is God or anything :)" . Looking back I always smile broadly.

Looks :

A devotee , NR , now in the Bay Area, tells me of his look. Guruji arrived for satsang in the Bangalore Ashram and passing him , gave him the look. Since that moment, NR did not smoke or drink or while his weekends getting drunk with friends. His life changed and he is an AOL teacher today .

Someone shared something beautiful about their "look" today - so beautiful and true : His look was more loving than a mother's, more concerned than a father's ,more intimate than a partner's and more caring than a friend's. I could not have said it any better.

Over the years there were many more such looks - each one a definitive milestone on the path of grace and growth . More about them in later posts.

Did you have a look that influenced/changed your life ? Please share it in the comments.

Jai Guru Dev,