Dharam ‘paaji’ and the secret of living above this world!

The surest way to stay grounded is to be silent. Not just in the face of emotional and physical provocation, but in terms of making it a daily practice.
Practicing silence periods awakens you to your true Self. This method is called Shubha Mouna Yoga.
Dharmendra in ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana 2’
Picture Courtesy: Internet
Listen to Bollywood legend Dharmendra, now 80, on how silence helped him. In a recent media interview, he’s quoted as saying: “…In 2001, I was alone in America with a back problem. Loneliness was killing me. No one to share sorrows. Guess what? I started talking to myself. Then tanhayee (solitude) started talking to me, ‘You don’t know me. You are afraid of me. You can’t escape me. Remember your childhood dreams of becoming a star? You were on my lap then. I was in the lullabies your mother sang. You didn’t need me in all those years of mahurats, megahits, parties, tamashas. But now you are in my arms again’….”
The benefit of mouna is orgasmic in nature – it has to be experienced. It cannot be explained or described. Your being silent does not require the environment to be quietened by you. It requires only you to remain silent. When you are silent you encounter your God – the ‘one’ within you. When you converse with your God, you understand the truth of your creation. “Then you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free” – Jesus (John 8:32). When you are free, your world looks and feels different; there are no pressures, no worries, no fears. This does not mean problems vanish and challenges cease to exist. It means your problems don’t trouble you and the challenges don’t weigh you down. You live in the same world. But you now know how to live above it.

Reaching this state of evolution requires just 20 minutes of being silent each day to start with. Won’t you give 20 minutes of your time daily to gain control over the remaining 1420 minutes in the day? If you invest in the stock-market or real-estate or mutual funds hoping to get a good return on investment (ROI), you will understand the value in giving 20 and taking back 1420!!! You don’t have to listen to Jesus or to me, but listen to Dharmendra, a man who has lived Life fully, is a very colorful personality, has a glad eye, has married more than once and drinks even today with true Punjabi flourish! For he’s one of those who have discovered the secret of living in this world and yet being above it!

When you embrace your problems, they make you stronger

No problem goes away until you have learnt from it and know how to deal with it.
This is the simple truth we all fail to get. And so, we keep denying problems or keep hoping the problems will go away. Only when we stop denying or wishing our problems away, only when we embrace and welcome our problems with open arms do we find them mellowing down, or easing their stranglehold on our lives. Even so, what happens then is that the problem still remains as it is, where it is, only, our ability to deal with it gets better. When we are able to deal with a situation better, we play the game__in this case, of Life__better. When we play anything well, we experience joy. When there is joy, nothing remains a problem.
The Bible says,”And God said, let there be light; and there was light.” The light that God is referring to is the joy in us. Just as darkness cannot exist in the presence of Light, problems cease to exist in their draconian forms when we experience inner joy and peace. This essentially means that when we are anchored, our problems don’t frighten us, they don’t make us insecure. We then learn to co-exist with our problems.

Let us stop making pimples seem like cancers. Let us un-darken our lives by opening our souls to the Light within. Let us embrace our problems and discover the joy of having them in our lives__and be grateful for the opportunity they give us to learn from them and become better, stronger people.

Thanksgiving must be a daily celebration

Gratitude is magical. But only when we look back and see how far we have come in Life. Only when we look at our now and see what we have despite whatever we don’t have. And only when we look at tomorrow with a sense of hope.
Remember that even the ability to hope is not stemming from our own abilities. It is coming because we are blessed with that sense of hope by creation. I remember this definition of blessing somewhere. It goes somewhat like this: “If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than a million who will not survive the week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of five million people around the world. If you are able to walk around in your country without fear of harassment, arrest or torture of death, you are more blessed than several hundred million people in the world. If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the people in this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy. If your parents are still married and alive, you are very rare.”
How true. It is this spirit that being grateful celebrates. Thanksgiving does not mean waiting for the last weekend of November each year to say your thanks for all that you are blessed with. Thanksgiving must be a daily celebration. Much as we postpone happiness, we postpone gratitude as well. We have in fact made gratitude conditional to happiness. ‘I can be grateful if I am happy’ has become the excuse we subconsciously keep giving ourselves. Remember that Life acts in ways beyond our comprehension. Yet every now and then you will find people who are grateful to Life for the opportunity they have to serve humanity. These are folks who rise above their current realities and problems and look at themselves as solution providers, enablers, who serve because another’s need is more than their own. If Mother Teresa is an ultimate example of selflessness, let us also know that there is a serving saint dormant in each of us. That saint within us will become awakened only when we practice gratitude.
In the Bible, the disciple Paul instructs, “In everything we give thanks.” What he means is that it is impossible to know the outcome of each event in our Life. But if we remain grateful for each moment, each experience that we live through, we will see the larger cosmic design, our Life’s blueprint, emerge. There is a very old Chinese story about a man whose son captured a strong, beautiful, wild horse, and all the neighbors told the man how fortunate he was. The man patiently replied, “I am grateful. We will see.” One day the horse threw the son who broke his leg, and all the neighbors told the man how cursed he was that the son had ever found the horse. Again the man answered, “I am grateful. We will see.” Soon after the son broke his leg, soldiers came to the village and took away all the able-bodied young men, but the son was spared. When the man’s friends told him how lucky the broken leg was, the man would only say, “I am grateful. We will see.”
Gratitude is like this. It is the key for unlocking the mystery of Life. When you practice gratitude with mindfulness, continuously, you will feel its magic liberating you. You will fly free. Unburdened, unshackled, unaffected by whatever circumstance you are placed in. Don’t wait to thank Life. Keep giving always and be thankful for the opportunity to serve. That’s the way to truly be grateful for this Life and this experience!

Better late than never: Go Home!

Don’t agonize over the external environments that tempt or torment you. Instead go home – to the sacred space within yourself!
Don’t seek solace in the material stuff__your salary, your car, your apartment, your smart phone, your office desk, your visa status and such__which tantalizes you. In fact, even companionship has become materialistic, opportunistic. We met someone who doesn’t want to get married because she’s not sure he’s the right guy, and despite courting him for seven years, she doesn’t want to let him go either because she’s not sure if she will find the right person any time soon! The papers some time ago reported of a Chennai couple’s quest for the sperm of an IIT-ian (a premier engineering school in India) in their effort to ensure that their in-vitro procedure begets them a “brilliant, intellectual” progeny! A lot of humanity is obsessed with these fringe benefits of Life. People are also petrified of ‘what-if’ scenarios. A friend, while he hates the job he is in, does not want to quit it because he is worried that he may not be able to pay his mortgage dues if he moves to a job that he loves because the pay may be less! Many of us are like these people. We swim on the surface and get trapped in the “never-ending waves of desire” or unmet expectations or drown ourselves in wasteful emotions like sorrow, jealousy and therefore endure Life__suffering endlessly.
Life’s to be enjoyed not suffered. Also, Life is never at the surface, where the waves operate. Deep down, the ocean is always calm and beautiful. Life’s never in the external elements that we crave for. Real Life is what we experience from within. Therefore the advice that you go home. Go within, where you will find an ocean of peace, abundant energy and boundless bliss. The road to this home will appear when you stop doing and start being. Stop existing and start living. The Bible says, “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Mathew 7:7). But Osho, the Master asks, ‘when was the door locked for it to be opened?’ He declares that it was always open. And he says the tragedy with all of us is that we keep knocking at an always-open door and keep complaining that no one’s there to open it for us! This is Osho’s way of reminding us that we are foolishly obsessed and engaged with all the material, impermanent aspects of Life. He says the door to joy opens inwards, where, our own private space__our sanctum sanctorum, unpolluted, unaffected__awaits us. The Buddha has said, “Go home to the island within yourself. There is a safe island of Self inside. Every time you suffer, every time you are lost, you go back to your true home. Nobody can take that true home away from you.” This was the ultimate teaching the Buddha gave to his disciples when he was eighty years old and on the verge of passing away.
Your true home is within yourself. When you arrive there, fear, insecurity, desire, lust and such crippling emotions evaporate. This is a home that will not be taken away by your bank, because you couldn’t pay your mortgage dues! This is a home where you will not want anything, anymore! And once home, you will wish you had come here, much, much earlier. Am reminded of the 1970 classic by John Denver (enjoy it here ) whose lines go: “….And driving down the road, I get a feelin’, that I should have been home yesterday, yesterday…Country Roads, take me home, To the place I belong, Country Roads, take me home…Better late, than never: Go home!

Learn to live unsoiled by the world

Don’t be distracted by what’s around you. Look within and discover the way to live unsoiled!           
There are enough and more temptations and distractions out there. And we are not talking about materialistic objects of desire alone. Or of ruinous addictions like alcohol, tobacco or drugs either. While these are deterrents to intelligent living, most certainly, what we need to be wary off are the myriad ways in which we get dragged into banal situations on a daily basis. Think deeply about this. How often in a day do you worry about a future event __ someone’s terminal illness and impending passing, a child’s graduation, someone’s wedding or loans to be repaid? How often in a day do you grieve over the past __ having experienced someone wrongly, an irreconcilable loss, a mistake you made or a hurt you caused someone? How often do you lose your patience or temper or both daily __ on a child or spouse or subordinate or with just someone on the street? Each of these episodes takes us away from living. Every time we worry about the future or fret over the past or get dragged into anger spells, every single time, we die a death.
The ultimate goal and measure of success of intelligent living is notto change your external environment and make it incapable of causing you worry or making you feel guilty or angry. It is about engineering your inner space and insulating yourself from the vagaries of the world. This is what the Bible says ‘living in the world but not of it’ and what the Bhagavad Gita advises – ‘of living in this world but being above it’. The Buddha enlightens us, making this perspective simpler and easier to hold, using the metaphor of the lotus, “As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world, having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world.”

Strive to be like the lotus. The lotus grows often in a dirty pond but rises above it and lives spreading its beauty by keeping itself ‘above the muck’, remaining unsoiled. You too must avoid letting yourself be dragged into the petty squabbles and muck of everyday Life. And live, unsoiled, in bliss! 

If you want rain, carry your umbrella

Keeping your faith in times when everything is going the way you have intended them to is easy. Obviously it is a lot more challenging to keep the faith in times of stress, self-doubt, pain and suffering.
There’s a simple way in which you can overcome this challenge. And that way requires you to ask yourself: 1. What are the most precious things in Life that you still have and treasure? 2. How often have you been let down by Life for you to give up your faith now? 3. Define ‘let down’: Does ‘let down’ (to you) mean not getting what you want while still getting everything that you need? 4. By giving up on your faith, do you think you can solve your problems? When you sit calmly and answer these questions to yourself, in the context of your own Life situation, your faith will be restored.
Faith here does not refer to a God or a religion or a belief in an external entity. Faith really means the ability to trust Life, which gave you the gift of this lifetime, without your asking for it, to take care of you and help you to reach the shore despite your treacherous and turbulent circumstances. Faith also means refusing to get trapped in the imagery of your current circumstance but to believe that every dark night will be followed by a beautiful dawn. 
Here’s a story that illustrates this the best. There was once a small village, which was suffering from a severe drought. The crops were dying, and the villagers and their animals had very little water to drink. One day, to try to find a solution to the drought, the village priest called the villagers to gather at the village square to pray together for rain. He told them to bring along a token of their faith, so the prayer would be done in sincere faith. And so, the villagers gathered at the square bringing with them tokens of their faith. Some brought the Bible while others carried small crosses as tokens of faith. Others brought the Holy Quran and still others carried the Bhagavad Gita. They all prayed aloud with great faith and hope. Sure enough, within a few moments it began to rain. The whole crowd was overjoyed and danced happily. The priest noticed that among the joyous crowd was a nine-year-old boy, the only one holding open an umbrella as a token of his faith. The priest admired this little boy who had brought an umbrella in total faith that his prayers would be heard and that it would rain.

Learn from, and live inspired by, the little boy! What token of your faith are you willing to show Life today? 

Awaken the saint within with gratitude

Gratitude is magical. But only when we look back and see how far we have come in Life. Only when we look at our NOW and see what we have despite whatever we don’t have. And only when we look at tomorrow with a sense of hope.
Remember that even the ability to hope is not stemming from our own abilities. It is coming because we are blessed with that sense of hope by creation. I remember this definition of blessing somewhere. It goes somewhat like this: “If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than a million who will not survive the week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of five million people around the world. If you are able to walk around in your country without fear of harassment, arrest or torture of death, you are more blessed than several hundred million people in the world. If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the people in this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy. If your parents are still married and alive, you are very rare.” How true. It is this spirit that gratitude, or thanksgiving, celebrates.
Thanksgiving does not mean waiting for the last weekend of November each year to say your thanks for all that you are blessed with. Thanksgiving must be a daily celebration. Much as we postpone happiness, we postpone gratitude as well. We have in fact made gratitude conditional to our wants being met. I can be grateful if I get what I want, has become the excuse we subconsciously keep giving ourselves.
Remember that Life acts in ways beyond our comprehension. Yet every now and then you will find people who are grateful to Life for the opportunity they have to serve humanity. These are folks who rise above their current realities and problems and look at themselves as solution providers, enablers, who serve because another’s need is more than their own. If Mother Teresa is an ultimate example of selflessness, let us also know that there is a serving saint dormant in each of us. That saint within us will become awakened only when we practice gratitude. In the Bible, the disciple Paul instructs, “In everything we give thanks.” What he means is that it is impossible to know the outcome of each event in our Life. But if we remain grateful for each moment, each experience that we live through, we will find ourselves being happy and peaceful with whatever is.