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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Peel off the unnecessary layers to discover yourself!

Unmask yourself. And you will find pure joy, unadulterated bliss, with no expiry date, limitless, in a nano-second.
You are not father, son, husband, brother, sister, mother, wife and daughter. You are not an engineer, doctor, CEO, writer, lawyer, student, gardener, cook, cleaner, pilot, whatever. You and I are not what we yearn for, or toiled, to become. You__and I__are a free spirit. You are because you can breathe. When your breathing stops and someone declares you dead, they will pack you off and cremate or bury you. Kabir, the 15thCentury weaver-poet, describes this so matter-of-factly: “While you are busy perfuming your body with sandalwood, someone else is chopping the wood for your funeral…you forget that when you die, they will truss you up with a rope, just like a common thief, and put you on the pyre to burn…can’t you see that Rama is the only truth says Kabir…” When you are gone, gone too will the engineer or brother or wife or CEO. But what about the energy that powered you? Has it perished and been consecrated like you? Or is it free – and out there in the cosmos!

This is all there is to understanding Life. When you unmask yourself and stand naked, you see the truth. Kabir refers to it as Rama. Shirdi Baba called it Maalik. Jesus called it Father. The truth is that the Self, the atman (in Sanskrit), the soul, is indestructible. When we know this truth, then living becomes so simple. Life acquires an indescribable hue, a beauty that cuts across race, caste, protocol and stays anchored on being human. Khalil Gibran (1883~1931), the Lebanese-American author, has taught this so powerfully: “If a man knew himself, he would know all of mankind. I say if a man loved mankind, he would know something of himself.” To know yourself, therefore, and to become love, capable of loving all, you must unmask yourself. Peel off all your layers. And anchor in the energy that is you. This is where you__and I__and all of humanity will meet and drink from Life’s cup of bliss, together! 

Practice magnanimity: receive, embrace and transform hate into love

Don’t fight anyone, any situation in Life, by struggling, suffering and despairing. Feel deeply, practicing magnanimity, to understand the person, the situation, that is causing you distress. You will eventually prevail with love and compassion, than from fighting and engaging in a battle.
There are so many situations that you__and I__have encountered, and are perhaps even now facing, when people have been unkind to us. When they have schemed against us__in business, in families, at work, in the communities we live in__and have gained an upper hand by embracing falsehood and by using dishonest means. We have been devastated by the unfairness of people’s ways. And have become cold, numb and even turned cynical. We have lost trust in all of humanity perhaps too. We are suffering. Each one of us is. At times, it is not just individuals, but Life itself that has been ‘unfair’. A perfect Life has been thrown asunder by a health challenge or a devastating blow has been dealt to you by death snatching away someone that meant everything to you. You have never quite recovered from that tragedy. You are suffering. In either situation, the one caused by people around you, or the one in which Life dealt with you ‘unfairly’, practice magnanimity. Look at the person or situation deeply. Understand why that person is doing what she is doing. The truth is that a mother-in-law who is causing suffering to her daughter-in-law is actually suffering more. Her actions are actually a manifestation of her suffering. A boss who is trampling on his team member’s self-esteem, causing untold misery on the poor professional, is actually suffering more because of his own Life’s experiences. A rapist who outrages the modesty of a young teenager is actually representative of a mind suffering from a huge inferiority complex and craving for attention and love. The one who causes suffering is already suffering. Know that. And understand that if you respond with wanting to retaliate, avenge, fight, with I-will-teach-you-a-lesson attitude, you will only continue this chain of suffering.
Feeling deeply, practicing magnanimity, is what will break this chain. It may seem difficult and impossible. How can I be magnanimous in the face of deceit, dishonesty and a vulgar display of power, you may ask? I am not Gandhi, I am just a human being, you may argue. The truth is Gandhi was also a human being. A mere mortal. So was Jesus. But they did not suffer like you and I do. They ended their suffering by feeling deeply for those who perpetrated inhuman acts against them. When one side stops fighting, the other side HAS TO come on the path of love, awakening and peace. Hate cannot end hate. A fight cannot end a fight. Feeling can, magnanimity can.
The Buddha taught this to his disciple Rahula thus: “There are four great elements__earth, water, fire and air. Learn from them, Rahula. Whether people pour milk or fragrant liquids, deposit flowers or jewels, or pour urine, excrement, and mucus on the earth, the earth receives them without discrimination. Whether people throw into water things that are pure and pleasant or wash in it things of filth and stench, water quietly receives everything, without feelings of pride, attachment, grievance or being humiliated. Fire has the ability to receive and burn all things, including things of filth and stench, without grieving or feeling humiliated. Air has the ability to receive, carry away, and transform all odors, sweet or foul, without pride, attachment, grievance or feeling humiliated. Why? Because the earth, water, fire and air have the capacity to receive, embrace and transform. The earth can receive excrement and urine because it is immense. It transforms them into flowers, grass, and trees. Water has immense embracing capacity, is ever-flowing, and has the ability to receive and transform whatever it takes in. Fire has immense receptivity and the ability to burn and transform whatever people bring to it. Air has immense embracing capacity and the extraordinary faculty of mobility. If you cultivate your heart so that it is open, you can become immense like the earth, water, fire and air, and can embrace anyone or anything without suffering.”

Try responding to a person or situation you are currently grappling with in your Life, with the attitude of the four great elements__earth, water, fire and air. This does not mean that you merely accept, and resign to, a situation that is causing you grief or unhappiness. It means invoking your immense capacity to be magnanimous, to feel deeply, understand and, therefore, transform your current plight into an opportunity for abundant happiness. In fighting, you continue to be unhappy. And suffer. In feeling deeply and embracing with understanding why some people behave the way they do, you become bliss.

You are an ‘avatar’ too … created with a specific Purpose!

The key to intelligent living is to look within and find your Life’s Purpose manifest itself in front of you!
Here, take a break. And think about this calmly. There obviously is a reason why you and I have been created as human beings. Else, we could have been created as the swine that spreads the flu. Why be created as the human who gets that dreaded flu? So, let’s stop cribbing and instead celebrate being human. 
The problem with most of humankind is that we lament being human. We say, justifying our limitations and frailties, ‘After all, I am human’. When we look at our creation from that perspective, we miss seeing the limitless power and potential within us. We are so overwhelmed by stories from history that we fail to see our true Self. We have grown up imagining that we are lesser mortals. For instance, when Krishna was born, so we are told, the prison gates opened and the serpent sheltered the baby as the father crossed the overflowing river in pouring rain. When Jesus was born, again as we have been told, the three Kings were guided by a star in the sky. When Nanak was born, I remember reading this in an Amar Chitra Katha edition, those visiting the child found a halo around the baby’s head. But who recorded what they saw when you and I were born? Who tells the stories of our birth? Therein lies the reason as to why we don’t recognize who we are and what we are truly capable of.
Know that if Mother Teresa’s Life had a Purpose, if Swami Vivekananda’s Life had a Purpose, if the Prophet’s Life had a Purpose, so do our lives__your’s and mine. Swami Sathya Sai Baba says it beautifully,”The difference between you and me is that I know that I am God. And you don’t know, or you refuse to accept, that you are God!” We will start living intelligently when we know that each of us has been created as a human with a specific Purpose. We are ‘avatars‘ too….or ‘messiahs’, if you like.

Simply put, your Life’s Purpose will manifest itself in front of you when you stop searching for God outside of you. Being human is to know that the Godlight is within you. When you find it within, you too will ‘awaken’ to a lifetime of loving, serving and living!

Life’s decree is our reality: live guilt-free

Journey through Life with zero guilt.

You did what you did. It’s over. To carry that guilt in you is like holding on to a glass of water with your arm stretched out. Do this exercise. Fill a tall glass of water to the brim. Hold it in your right hand. Make sure your right arm is stretched. Stay that way for as long as you can. Observe your reactions as the clock ticks away. Within a few minutes your arm starts aching, your face starts twitching and you begin to lose the fun in the game, the exercise! All you can feel is the pain. This is exactly what happens when you carry guilt in you.

In doing what you did, if you caused pain or injury to another person, please do apologize, from your inner recesses. Don’t worry about whether or not the other person is willing to accept your apology. Forgive yourself too. And live with the consequences of your action, whatever they may be, in acceptance, than with guilt.

“No amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of worrying can change the future. Go easy on yourself, for the outcome of all affairs is determined by Allaah’s decree. If something is meant to go elsewhere, it will never come your way, but if it is yours by destiny, from it you cannot flee,” says Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab, (590 BC ~ 644 BC) who was a leading companion and adviser to the Islamic prophet Muhammad who later became the second Muslim Caliph after Muhammad’s death.

Allaah, Jesus or Ram, whosever decree it is, understand that Life has a mind of its own. And Life’s decree is our reality. Replace guilt in each situation with forgiveness__of yourself__and gratitude__to Life, for the experience and the learning. Live guilt-free!

You are what you do


A common question asked of people in social circles, especially when people are meeting each other for the first time, is, “What do you do?” A normal answer to the question would be to say that “I am an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer or entrepreneur or musician or actor or politician.” Given the myriad new vocations available to people, it would hardly surprise anyone to receive a reply that says, “I am a movement therapist or a sound engineer or survival coach or garbage expert.”

So, is that all that people do? Work?

No. Not really. A large mass of people actually worry. A lot others fear. Several more suffer. Which explains why, there is so much suffering, so much disease, so much anxiety and so little peace, love and humanity in the world!

Think about it. How beautiful it will be if we actually heard any of the following answers to that question__what do you do?__:

  • I serve
  • I spread cheer and happiness
  • I champion peace
  • I care
  • I love

Ironically, in an increasingly, wildly, virally, connected world, while the distances between continents are shrinking, the distances between people are only growing. When people are so busy worrying and suffering, running a rat race to earn a living, where is the time they have to live, let alone serve, care and love?

But it is possible to live, serve, care and love. Mother Teresa taught the world how this was possible through her Life and her work. I remember a 1989 interview that she gave TIME magazine’s Edward Desmond. Desmond had asked Mother some unusual questions. And she answered with remarkable candor and love. Her answers serve as her key teachable points of view. Here are some excerpts relevant even today and, more so, in the context we are discussing.

TIME: Does the fact that you are a woman make your message more understandable?

Mother Teresa:I never think like that.

TIME: But don’t you think the world responds better to a mother?

Mother Teresa:People are responding not because of me, but because of what we’re doing. Before, people were speaking much about the poor, but now more and more people are speaking to the poor. That’s the great difference. The work has created this.

TIME: Humble as you are, it must be an extraordinary thing to be a vehicle of God’s grace in the world.

Mother Teresa:But it is His work. I think God wants to show His greatness by using nothingness.

TIME: You are nothingness?

Mother Teresa:I’m very sure of that.

TIME: You feel you have no special qualities?

Mother Teresa:I don’t think so. I don’t claim anything of the work. It’s His work. I’m like a little pencil in His hand. That’s all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it. The pencil has only to be allowed to be used. In human terms, the success of our work should not have happened, no? That is a sign that it’s His work, and that He is using others as instruments – all our Sisters. None of us could produce this. Yet see what He has done.

TIME: Is materialism in the West a serious problem?

Mother Teresa:I don’t know. I have so many things to think about. I pray lots about that, but I am not occupied by that. Take our congregation for example, we have very little, so we have nothing to be preoccupied with. The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are. Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not a mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. This is the only fan in the whole house. It doesn’t matter how hot it is, and it is for the guests. But we are perfectly happy.

TIME: How do you find rich people then?

Mother Teresa:I find the rich much poorer. Sometimes they are more lonely inside. They are never satisfied. They always need something more. I don’t say all of them are like that. Everybody is not the same. I find that (kind of) poverty hard to remove. The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.

TIME: What are your plans for the future?

Mother Teresa:I just take one day. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not come. We have only today to love Jesus.

Mother Teresa’s answers actually awaken us to a whole new opportunity spectrum, a new possibility. Which is, to be an instrument in Life’s hand, to serve a higher purpose, to touch another Life and make a difference. If you take stock of the amount of time you spend worrying about and berating your circumstances or fearing yet-to-be-born consequences, you will discover just how much of your Life you have wasted and continue to waste. If you are feeling an emptiness suffocate you, it is because what you do day in day out has stopped being meaningful. Being a bread-winner and provider is not the only thing you are both capable of and created on this planet for. There’s more you can do. The spirit of Mother Teresa’s Life can guide you if you want it to. You don’t always have to invest an entire lifetime serving others. But you can make your lifetime meaningful by devoting some of your time daily or weekly or even monthly, to eradicating the hunger for love and understanding in your circle of influence. Instead of being obsessed with earning, providing for and protecting your flock, you can spread your wings, embrace a few causes close to your heart and offer yourself and your time to create value among them.  

Then you will find your response to the “What do you do?” question far more answer-worthy. This is how you learn to love Life and live it fully. This was the message and spirit of Mother Teresa’s Life. This Women’s Day, celebrate that spirit. Do create value, do touch a Life, do wipe a tear, do feed a hungry soul, do educate a child, do smile at a stranger__do make a difference. Because, remember, you are what you do. If you worry, you will be worry. If you suffer, you will be the suffering. If you love, you will be the love. And if you deliver happiness, you will be happy!