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!
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Choose forgiveness to be free

Forgiveness is the best form of offence. It frees you from suffering__caused by the pain inflicted by someone__and helps that someone reflect and repair from whatever they have done unto you. It’s a win-win.

Think deeply and you will agree with my perspective. Often times people hurt us with their actions, thoughts and utterances. They lie on us, they betray our trust in them, they speak ill behind our back, they take away what is rightfully ours and they leave us numbed. None of this feels good. The first, obvious, logical response, in all such situations, is to freak out, scream, kick, demand why, seek to know why were you betrayed…..and eventually, over a period of weeks, the angst morphs into a ‘certain coldness’ and eventually, you stop trusting people. While this may seem a normal and appropriate response in “self-defense” (so that you are not betrayed one more time), the flip side is it will leave you perpetually grieving. And how can you live fully, peacefully, if you are forever in a state of suffering?

Here’s a Zen story that will sensitize you to the perils of carrying the baggage of being ‘unforgiving’! Once there was a monk who asked his disciples to carve out names of the people they cannot forgive on potatoes, one potato for each name. Then the disciples were asked to put all their potatoes in a sack and carry it with them at all times for one week. The longer the time went by, the heavier the potatoes seemed to have become. To make the matter worse, those carved potatoes also started to rot and smell bad. It was such an unpleasant experience for the disciples. At the end of the week, the Master asked, “So, what did you learn?” At once the disciples told the Master that they now realized that holding on to grudges only brought negativity to them. Asked how they should go about correcting it, the youngsters said they should strive their best to forgive everyone that used to cross them and made them angry. The Master then asked, “What if someone crosses you again after you unload this present load of potatoes?” The disciples suddenly felt terrified at the thought of having to start all over again with new potatoes, week after week. “What can we do if there are still other people crossing us? We cannot control what other people do to us!” they confessed. At which point the Master replied, “So far we only discussed the conventional way to approach forgiveness, that is, to strive to forgive. Striving is difficult. In Zen, there is no striving.” Seeing the disciples completely at a loss then, the Master further suggested, “If the negative feelings are the potatoes, what is the sack?” The disciples finally grasped it. “Ah, the sack is something that allows me to hold on to the negativity. It is my inflated sense of self-importance!” replied one of them. And that was the lesson of this story. Once we learn how to let go of the sack, whatever people say or do against us would no longer matter.

In Zen, forgiveness is the conscious decision to get rid of the sack/sense of self-importance altogether, not just the potatoes/negative feelings. With the understanding of Zen, Life suddenly becomes effortless, elegant, and natural. Get rid of the sack, and there will be no more rotten potatoes. Even if we, lesser mortals, as we may erroneously imagine, stop carving potatoes, it is a small, humble beginning. But those of us who believe in a strategic, planned, precise approach to Life, may want to consider forgiveness as a tool and not just a spiritual concept. Former American President Bill Clinton once shared what he learned from Nelson Mandela on forgiveness. In one meeting of the two men, Clinton asked, “I wonder what you must have felt towards your jailers when you were walking out of that prison after those 27 years. Weren’t you angry at them?” “Yes, I was angry. And I was a little afraid,” answered Mandela. “After all, I’ve not been free in so long.” “But,” he added, “when I felt that anger welling up inside me, I realized that if I continue to hate them after I got outside that gate, then they would still have me.” With a smile, Mandela concluded, “I wanted to be free, so I let it go.”


So, for the thinking, strategizing, master-craftsmen and wonderful upwardly-mobile wise women of the modern world, I would say, choose forgiveness to be liberated, to be free. Also consider forgiveness as a form of offence in today’s world. A peaceful resistance to the crude, unethical practices that attempt to derail you, your career and your Life. None of this is my original hypothesis, let me hasten to clarify. Here are the words of Christ found in his teaching in Matthew 5-38-48: “But I say to you , love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute you.” Loving someone who loves you is easy. Loving someone who hates you is difficult. So, whether it is a challenge like an exciting new electronic game (like Angry Birds!) or a form of offence or a tool to freedom, forgiveness makes imminent sense. Only, of course, if you want it to!

Genuine teachers are fellow voyagers – they teach you how to face Life!

When you don’t know what to do, when you feel the most vulnerable, do what gives you inner peace – as long as it won’t hold you hostage in the long run.  
When you go through crisis in Life, or when you start searching for meaning in Life, often times people or practices or movements or communities will come your way. They may have always been there – but it is only through being in a crisis that you may notice them! Just being with such people will give you immense inner peace in the face of all the chaos and turmoil around you. In fact all the anxiety and suffering within you will subside in their presence. And you will want to explore that path, the one that’s helping you anchor within, more. But people around you will warn you that such influences are ‘evil’; they will say that you have lost it or that you will be cheated or that you are headed in the wrong direction. Employ a simple rule of thumb: if you are finding greater inner peace in doing what you are doing, simply do it! I am not championing escapism – through drinking alcohol or doing drugs. I am suggesting exercising a mature, aware choice that helps you gain inner peace.
It is normally through a crisis, or from a sense of listlessness, that the search for the meaning of, and for meaning in, Life begins. This search may lead you to places of worship, to the scriptures, to spiritual Gurus, to a deep study of religion, to practices such as transcendental meditation or yoga, to communities like ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) or to self-help groups that use the scriptures or psychology-based methods and practices for healing and anchoring within. Normally, you end up trying several of these and then choose the one that works for you. And it is not necessary that your choice, your path, may the one chosen for someone else in your same situation. For instance, I know some who became a Buddhist when she wanted to get over her mid-Life career crisis and then decided she needed “no religion” to live her Life. Someone else, a Hindu, in the same situation, found great value in the teachings of Jesus Christ and embraced Christianity. Another person we know, who has a special child, is a devout follower of Swami Sathya Sai Baba. While someone else follows the teachings of Jaggi Vasudev. Each of us has a unique way of making sense of Life. And each person encounters and chooses as catalyst that someone or religion or practice that supports his or her journey the best. Yes the world is full of people who take people for a ride and try to capitalize on their vulnerability. But not all Gurus are crooks and no religion is flawed – just the way religion is practised today is questionable!
But I believe I am blessed. Because I have met only the most wonderful people in Life. Their experiences and their wisdom have contributed to my evolution in no small measure. I have understood that all the scriptures, all the religions, all the teachers and all the Gurus champion the same lesson – Live in the moment and live Life to the fullest! They may speak different languages, they may show different approaches, but the message is the same. So, there really is no problem if you use religion or if you follow a Guru to arrive at that awakening, to learn to live Life without worry and simply be!
The problem arises when you expect others to solve your problems! This is where you get waylaid. This is where the charlatans thrive and operate. This is how your vulnerability is leveraged. No one can solve another’s problems. Every problem, every crisis, every grief, every event of pain and loss has to be faced and gone through in Life. Genuine teachers are fellow voyagers – just like you and me. They have no magical powers. They will not tell you that they can solve your problems. They will only teach you how to deal with a problem. They will help you evolve and mature into a stronger person. In their company, from their teachings, through their grace, you will learn the value of letting go, the power of acceptance and the meaning of just being.
Whoever you choose to guide you, lead you, follow them or embrace such a practice only if it helps you anchor within, with inner peace. Because only when you are peaceful within that you can deal with the chaos and crisis outside!