Spiritual Stereotypes

Dear readers,

It is a pleasure to be here with you all today, sharing insights on various topics from a metaphysical perspective. I hope you all are faring well. I have been en route travelling hence my late post, kindly excuse me.

Today’s topic is one that drives home with many, especially those of us who have been either lifelong practitioners of some spiritual practices, or at least long time practitioners. I must say this topic was inspired by an incident that occurred a few days back, however before I begin to describe what happened, I felt I give a brief background of my University days. During my sophomore year I was involved in quite a lot of stage acting and as such would have regular rehearsals with other students in our drama group. During this time I was known as the “court jester” as I would always make everyone laugh.

In fact whenever we had meetings, the coordinator would specifically tell me, right after reading the agenda, “Please we have a lot to cover today, don’t make us laugh”. As soon as I replied, the entire crew would reel in laughter. Why am I recalling all of this? So fast forward a couple of years, we all graduate and fate takes every one of us to various parts of the world. I keep in contact with some of my friends from University days and some from my drama group. Somehow or the other many of them also follow my posts on Facebook and my blog, and a few have written to share their sincere appreciation of my blogs and writing. However there was more that they didn’t share, and a few days back I got to know.

So my friend posts a video, which is funny and I comment with a remark. She replies back saying “This is the you that I know. For a while I felt you had become cold because of your religion, since you hardly crack jokes like you used to. I am happy you are still the same person”. I was somewhat surprised and it did trigger a lot of thoughts. First and foremost, back while we were on campus, she and many of my friends who cared to know, were all aware of my faith, religion and practices, so it is not as if they just found out. The question is, what has changed? I decided to look deeply and some thoughts began to fall into place.

First theory: I must have unconsciously passed across an air of being “too spiritual” and probably because my timeline is full of blogs of spiritual subject matters, my friend felt I was no longer the funny guy she knew.

Second theory: She must have assumed that I was overly spiritual because I didn’t keep much contact and also due to the nature of my posts after we graduated.

Third theory: I must have unknowingly become a boring guy and lost all sense of humour because I wanted to come across as a grave student of spirituality.

Fourth theory: Spiritual life has taken its toll on me, and the effects are people see me as boring.

To be fair and unbiased I decided to look at each theory that I had jotted down, with as little bias as possible. In all fairness to her observation I must say that often times many people who follow some spiritual practice usually become “too serious” for their colleagues and it comes as a natural stereotype that most religious people are fanatical about their practice. The first theory might hold some weight, considering the fact that I did keep little contact with my friends from campus days and it is not surprising if they felt that way. The second theory might also hold some weight because my timeline is covered in practically just esoteric/spiritual posts and a few occasional comic posts. Thus it is natural for someone to once again assume that I had become too serious to share a joke. The third theory is one that I’ll like to probably harp on a little bit. Even though I know for certain that it doesn’t describe me, it does actually describe some spiritual practitioners. In our quest to look the part or to be serious students of spiritual life, sometimes we tend to become too strict for our counterparts and as such help them solidify their stereotypes about spiritually inclined people being fanatical. In my case I think what happened was that as soon as I graduated from campus,  I “forgot” to connect more. While on campus I was a lot more conscious of my interaction as the last image I wanted to portray was that I was a recluse because of my religion.

I made friends and people connected with me on various levels not even worrying about what I didn’t eat or what I didn’t do. With time I guess because a large percentage of those around me share the same faith and beliefs, I have probably lost touch with my jovial side. The fourth theory is true for a lot of spiritual practitioners and to an extent true for me. Let me explain. When we live in a spiritual community we come across many people from different walks of life. As such we have to be careful how we interact with others due to differences in our backgrounds and above all keeping in mind the rules and regulation in that community. For someone who is sanguine in temperament, jokes and being chatty is a normal attribute. The general mood of most spiritual communities is that everyone should be Melancholic (emotionally sensitive  and perfectionist introverts), and as such many people either hide their true nature or try to repress it while putting up the “required or expected mood”. In simpler words, people live a double life. One, they show in the spiritual community and another in a setting they feel more comfortable.

I have had personal experiences where I have shared jokes with people but instead of having a laugh, it rubbed them the wrong way. That been said, many spiritual practitioners then take the defensive and as such try to become or adapt the “mood” that is expected. The result is shallow and many people either get fried out or just abandon the process after a while. It is of little wonder why many people do not feel at ease in most spiritual gathering because they feel they cannot be themselves. Now should we allow the fake mood of such a place affect our real temperament and stop of us from being real? No. For how can we claim to be on a path of personal relationship with God or the Supreme, if our actions are all superficial and impersonal?

That been said, to all my friends who were with me during my campus days or who do not share the same spiritual path as I do, I want to say a few words.

“I have changed positively since we last connected or spoke and I am trying to be a better person. I have made considerable progress in my realization of the absolute truth and as such my circle of friends has been influenced. This much has changed about me. However I am still the loving, joke cracking and fun to be with person that you all know, and nothing can change that. If you ever feel the need to connect with me on a personal level, share a joke or catch up on campus days, please feel free to send me a message. I look forward to it.”

Till next week, do share, like and follow for more.

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Tradition and Culture 2

Dear readers,

It is a pleasure to be here again today, sharing with you all yet another inspiring blog. I hope you all are faring well. I sincerely apologize for being a day late, I was overwhelmed with other activities.

As a continuation from last week’s blog, here is the second part. For those of you who missed the first part, please do read it here, so as to get a good background before continuing with this part.

Since we all interpret these knowledge differently, it is certain that our tradition is affected and also reflects our interpretation. Some of our interpretations have been influenced by time, some by personal motives and agenda, some by lack of proper spiritual understanding of spiritual matters and others simply by the desire to cheat others.

Every spiritual society tries in one way or another to inculcate in its adepts the benefits of practicing a tradition that is in sync with the true nature of our real self. Since this tradition is the transmission of Knowledge from generation to generation, the goal of a spiritual society is to make sure that this knowledge is available to every one of its adepts in an unadulterated form. This is made possible by teachers, saints, spiritual mentors/masters etc. The second part of tradition and culture is the how the individuals of that tradition and culture apply it to their lives. That is, do they live their tradition and culture? I have had experiences and you may have had too, where we meet someone who identifies with a certain religion or spiritual society and we immediately see that they do not follow what the society they associate with prescribes.

A quick example is, one might see a Hindu, who eats meat and ask “I thought you guys were vegetarian?” Now if the person is sincere, the typical answer is “Oh I’m sorry I am not a strict practitioner”. At least now we know that the deviation is from the practitioner and not from the spiritual society. In the same vein there are many other traditions and culture from the spiritual society that many people do not keep or follow, and because the vast majority of people are not aware of what true spiritual tradition and culture is, no one holds these deviants accountable for their actions. Just like in the example above, if you don’t know that Hindu’s are Vegetarian and you see one eating meat, you cannot tell that he is breaking any principle, because you don’t know. Similarly, if we don’t know those things that constitute real spiritual tradition, how can we tell when we are in front of an imposter or a deviant?

So in other to know what true spiritual culture (transcendental behavior found in the spiritual society) is, we must have a true spiritual tradition (transmission of beliefs that are based on scriptures that are coming directly from the Supreme Being, from generation to generation or better put in a line of disciple succession.) They both go hand in hand. One without the other is incomplete. Now we must be sincere to ourselves and inquire “what is my spiritual tradition and my spiritual culture?” How do I achieve both of these? How does my daily choices and activities affect the manifestation of these two factors in my life? How much progress am I making in realizing these two factors to the fullest? Just before we go further I must say here that by accessing our spiritual tradition and culture we become better in our material tradition and culture. Contrary to what some people might think, that being in tune with our spiritual traditions and culture makes us more impersonal, rather we sees things as they really are.

One who bases his entire life on traditions and cultures that identify with the body sees things in regards to the body. If they have a certain type of body they feel they have to act according to the material traditions and cultures of that body, which may not necessarily be beyond the modes of material nature. Realization of our real tradition and culture makers us become the better refined Human beings we are meant to be, because we actually begin to see things as eternal spirit beings and not as transient bodies who feel that they have to crush every other living being in other to express their culture and tradition. One good example of this is the Slave trade era. As at the time this happened, certain people from a particular tradition and culture felt it was okay to deprive another person of his freedom because they had different traditions and culture. The Colonials thought the Africans where primitive because they did certain things which were different to the way they did and as such they reacted in different ways, one of which is slavery. Today we all know better, and things have moved in a different direction, but come to think of it, if the tradition and culture of those colonials were spiritual, in the real sense of it, then they would naturally have the culture of Love, Peace, Compassion etc.

When you have these qualities, you don’t act in the way they did. So we can see that even though they came with one type of religion, they definitely lacked the basic understanding of that religion. The spiritual tradition of Christianity is “Do unto others as you would them do unto you”, if they understood this tradition and imbibed it as their tradition as opposed to having a tradition based on bodily identification, then history would have been different. The bottom line of this message is that we as spiritual practitioners need to have a deeper understanding of what we really practice, and we also need to hold ourselves accountable for the implementation and application of our spiritual tradition and culture.

Till next week, do read, share and follow for more.

Tradition and Culture 1

Dear readers,

It is a pleasure to be here today, sharing with you all yet another interesting topic as usual. I hope you all are keeping well.

Today we shall be discussing a very important topic, one that affects all of us in various ways. When the words Tradition and Culture are mentioned the first thing that comes to mind is the way of life of people and what values and ideologies they identify with. Of course, it is without doubt that Tradition and Culture expresses a lot about people, and also a lot about a person in particular, and from someone’s tradition and culture we can deduce certain things about him/her. However in today’s blog, my focus is not so much on the dynamics of Tradition and Culture as regards Language, Food, and Dress etc. but about how our spiritual values can become our tradition and culture.

Tradition is the transmission of beliefs and customs from generations to generations while Culture is the social behavior and norms found in human societies. Depending on how we perceive ourselves, we tend to ascribe that to what our culture or tradition is. If we are from Asia, we might say well it is a tradition where I “come from” to dress in a particular way or to eat a certain kind of food. Someone else might say, “Well because I am from North America, it is a tradition for people to act in a certain way or to treat people in a manner which is different from where you are from.” Bottom line is we directly or indirectly link our actions to our tradition and culture. While this is a fact to a large extent, we need to see past this if we desire to get a deeper sense of what tradition is really about.

So again, when we say tradition and culture, the real question is “what tradition and which culture?” The tradition and culture associated with the body is sure to be temporary and diverse but those associated with the soul are eternal and universal. We can see this proof in our everyday life. Take a real life example of a family that moves from one country to another, say Asia to America. While they may still keep certain things like food and even speak their local language at home, they are influenced in one way or another by the “American culture”, and knowingly or unknowingly they tend to adapt to certain things and even substitute certain traditions into theirs. This on the external is knowing as adaptation or social integration, a very important factor for long term stay in a foreign environment.

We are eternal beings in a transient body and as such our tradition and culture has to reflect our eternal nature and not our transient side. The soul is eternal and will remain long after this current body dies and decays, and as such our tradition and culture should reflect the true nature of the soul and not our bodies. So what is the nature of the soul? It is Eternal, full of knowledge and blissful. Similarly it should have a culture that reflect this nature. The culture of the soul is Truthfulness, Love, and Compassion, just to mention a few. Do not forget, the meaning of culture is the social behavior found in the human society, thus the soul’s culture is the “transcendental behavior found in the spiritual society”. For something to be transcendental, it means it is beyond or above the three modes of material nature namely; goodness, passion and ignorance. Thus the culture of the soul has to reflect attributes that are above these three modes.

Now what is our real tradition? Since tradition is the transmission of beliefs and culture from generation to generation, similarly the tradition of the soul is the transmission of beliefs that are based on scriptures that are coming directly from the Supreme Being, from generation to generation or better put in a line of disciple succession. This will mean automatically that our real tradition is that which has been given to us from the Supreme Lord in a disciple succession. This tradition is none other than the vast ocean of Knowledge coming from the Vedas. This tradition has been handed down by the Lord himself to demigods and down to us. For the uninitiated, all this might sound a little vague so I’ll try to simplify it as much as I can. Every revealed scripture on this planet, be it the Bible, Koran or Bhagavad-Gita has its roots in the Supreme Lord, and as such they represent the basic tradition that we are meant to have. One may then inquire, “If that is the case, then why do they all have different things in them?”

The answer is that the Lord reveals Himself to people according to time, place and circumstances. The Bible was given about 2000+ years ago, while the Gita was spoken about 5000+ years ago, different times and different circumstances, thus the Lord in his infinite intelligence speaks according to the need at hand. Now even though there might be some things that we perceive as differences, we can all agree that the culture of spiritual life is the same. The traditions may differ but the Culture is the same. The tradition is the knowledge that was handed down to us by the Lord at various ages and times, while the Culture is the transcendental behavior found in a spiritual society. So whether one is Christian, Muslim or Hindu, we all share similar cultures. How? Every one of us accepts that in a spiritual society, there should be love, compassion, truthfulness, peace, austerity, cleanliness, prayer, etc. These are tenets of culture present in all forms of religious practice and we all agree with them.

The area we all have tension is in the tradition, which we defined as the transmission of beliefs from generation to generations. It is in the explanation of this tradition that many of us have either misinterpreted or redefined, in ways that now create the tension we experience today.

I’ll keep this brief and expatiate more on this topic next week. Till then do read, share and follow for more.

Teach me, Dear Lord

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. It is a pleasure to be here once again, sharing with you ancient wisdoms for modern day problems.

Today I’ll like to share with you all a prayer that I have written, and it would be my first written prayer for this New Year. From time to time, I like to pray to the Lord in non-scripted prayers that are heart felt. You can find another one here from last year.

Dear Lord, today I come before you as lovingly as I know how to say thank you first and foremost for everything that you have done for me, all that you are doing, and all that you are yet to do, that I am not even aware of. I sometimes get lost in my numerous thoughts of the things I think you should be doing, that I sometimes cannot see those things that you are already doing. Teach me sincere gratitude, Dear Lord.

Dear Lord, today I come before you as dutifully as I know how, to tell you much I am eager to serve you and maybe boast about how much I am serving you. However just as I am about to continue blowing my horns about the things I am supposedly doing for you, I feel a little nudge and see my Guru’s smiling face. As if to show me how insignificant my service is, I begin to remember the numerous services that my Guru rendered to you while physically present on this planet, and all of a sudden I see that my “so called service” is but a spider’s effort compared to his Herculean endeavors. I remember how my Guru spent his last breath doing nothing but your service, in different areas of the world, even though he had to bear many physical, emotional and even political hardships. In that moment I feel ashamed of my pride. Teach me sincere service attitude, Dear Lord.

Dear Lord, today I come before you as meekly as I know how, to say prayers to you both standard and personal. I repeat daily prayers by your great devotees, and also say my only little prayers as best as I can. In all, every time that I call upon your name, I am sincerely grateful that you have somehow or the other given me access to this special “telephone number” of yours, that whenever and wherever I call you, without offences, you will respond. As you know I still battle with the Mind and only by your mercy can I tame him and make him a true friend. Teach me sincere prayers, Dear Lord.

Dear Lord, today I come before you with a broken heart, to show you how much pain I have suffered while trying to find love in the material world. In my futile attempt to become You as the Supreme Lord and enjoyer, I have cultivated relationships and have been heartbroken because I forgot you. Time and time again, you have made me see that you are my true lover and I belong to you. Nevertheless as I try to act and play the role of a lover here in this world, please help me be a lover of your devotees. Bless me that even when I have to become a “lover to your devotee” I will do so knowing that I am only a caretaker and you are the eternal lover. There is nothing impossible for you to do, and I believe that by your grace I can do this better, being more conscious of you. Teach me sincere Love, Dear Lord.

Dear Lord, today I come before you with my short comings, all of which you know so there is no point of me listing them again. Every day I strive to better myself and make some progress in the improvement of my life, in an all-round manner. However, improvement in the material world is like swimming upstream against current and there is no gain saying it can be tough a times. Nevertheless, I have no fear because I have you. My righteousness is like a filthy rag in your presence and only your grace can save me, of this I have no doubt. Teach me sincere improvement, Dear Lord.

Dear Lord, today I come before you with a long list of my achieved austerities, thinking I can impress you by telling you how many Nirjala Ekadasis I have done, how many Bhisma Pancaka’s I have observed, how many Caturmasya Vratas I have observed and how many rounds of Japa I chant daily while sleeping very little hours. In my futile attempt, my Guru smiles at me and says “How much compassion have you been able to show while doing all these austerities? Has your long list of austerities made you more loving or more critical?” In that moment I get it, and I see that my Guru’s greatest strength was not just his long years of celibacy and austerity, but his loving disposition to everyone who came across him, even those who tried to sabotage his work and tarnish his reputation. Lord, I am not on that level yet, but help me. Teach me sincere compassion, Dear Lord.

Dear Lord, today I come before you with my list of pain and distress, showing you how much I have to endure while trying to serve you. I complain about how people misunderstand me, how they try to misrepresent me and how much I have to deal with just trying to execute my prescribed duties. In that moment I feel as if you were unfair and not seeing all that I do for you, but my Guru shows up again. He smiles and says “Have you forgotten everything that I taught you? Why has such weakness of heart come over you? Does the Lord himself not declare that his devotees never perish? Does his famous song; the Bhagavad gita not promise that he never forgets our endeavors?” I nod in affirmative. “So why are you worried?” Then I remember how much he also had to put up with, but eventually his glories are sung all over the world, and I sigh in relief. Teach me sincere surrender, Dear Lord.

Till next week do read, share and follow for more.

Note: The prayers I share on my website, are not a show of any form of advancement but my sincere meditation on the Lord. The aim and purpose is to inspire us to pray to the Lord more in a way we understand the most. I hope this helps and touches someone out there.

Spitting Upwards

Dear readers,

Thank you for joining in once again this week. I hope you all are faring well. It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another interesting topic.

Today I’ll like to share with you a short story from a collection of stories by His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati Thakur. This story, just like other stories by Maharaja comes with a moral lesson at the end. Those of you familiar with cultures from the Orient will know that it is a common practice to teach people ideals and moral values by telling stories. This is still very much in practices in some countries in Asia and Africa as well. In fact the Mahabharata and Ramayana are great epics that teach us a lot of lessons through wonderful stories.

I’ll begin by telling this short story and giving a little explanation in addition to what His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati Thakur Gosvami has given.

Once there was a kid who was rather spoilt and was always demanding things from his parents. In his usual tantrums, one day he asked his parents to give him the Moon. The Parents knew this was impossible, however to try to please him, they took him up a high rise building to give him a feel of being “closer to the moon”. Seeing that the Moon was still far away from his reach, the young boy began to cry, shout and curse at the Moon and Sky. He said “O foolish sky, why are you holding the Moon up there, don’t you see that I want to play with it? You should immediately let it go. If you do not let go off the Moon so that I can play with it, I shall immediately make you feel the evil consequences of disobeying me”.

As he was swearing and cursing thus, he started spitting upwards at the sky in great disgust, but obviously every drop of his spit fell back to his face.

In his commentary, Srila Bhaktisidhanta explains that “those who prefer to blaspheme the highest order of the spiritual maser and the Vaishnava’s are simply attracting utter disgrace upon themselves”. The key words here are spiritual master, Vaishnava’s and blasphemy. Just before I add to this short commentary I’ll like to remind us of the story of Hanuman who as a baby wanted to eat the Sun, thinking it to be a fruit. In his case, at least he had the power to fly to the Sun and had he not been stopped by Indra, it was certain that he would have achieved his desire. On the other hand the spoilt kid in this story has no power like Hanuman but has deluded himself into thinking he has some ability.

This is the position of those who criticize Vaishnava’s and disobey Guru’s instructions. When one disregards other Vaishnava’s he is said to commit what is known as the mad elephant’s offense. This offense is so dangerous that it destroys his devotional creeper and leaves him bereft of any devotion to the Lord. Yadi vaisnava aparadha ute hati mata/ uparie va chinde tara shukhi jaya pata// (If the maddened elephant of Vaisnava aparadha enters into the devotional garden, the creeper of bhakti will be uprooted and all its leaves will dry up) – Caitanya Caritamrta 2.19.156

To make this worse, if such a devotee disregards the instruction of the Spiritual master; which could range from general like following the regulative principles to specifics like personal orders, then his spiritual life is in jeopardy, his well-being is at stake, and if he doesn’t desist he is sure to meet with utter disgrace like the kid described in the story above. Criticizing Vaishnava’s is bad enough in itself, however worse than that is doing so in order to satisfy one’s selfish materialistic desires, and even worse than this is, to do both of these while simultaneously neglecting the order of the spiritual master.  Another short story to illustrate the negative effect of criticizing Vaishnavas is the story of Ramacandra Puri, who was disowned by his own Guru; Madhavendra Puri when he also criticized him. Ramacandra Puri was the god-brother of Isvara Puri, Lord Caitanya’s guru, however he had one bad quality, he would criticize people and even went as far as criticizing the Lord for overeating and the Lord had to cut his food ration visibly. This was of great disturbance to the assembly of Vaishnava’s so much so that they also reduced their food rations.

One thing we can note here before going too far, is that once your actions become a source of disturbance to Vaishnava’s and you add criticism to that, it is not long before your devotional creeper dies out. The effects are seen visibly on such a person, as they have no taste for spiritual activities and whenever they are around, all they do is criticize other Vaishnavas, despite been with so much faults themselves. When one disobeys the order of the spiritual master, the result is that one begins to criticize and find faults with Vaishnavas, and this offence is said to eventually get to the Lotus feet of Lord Vishnu. How can one who spends his entire time criticizing others have any taste for spiritual practice? How can the pure name of the Lord appear in their Japa?

One may wonder does this mean if we see a misdemeanor we shouldn’t point it out. Of course, we should not hide under the fact that we shouldn’t criticize Vaisnavas and then begin to act capriciously. We can correct and point out misdemeanors in other Vaishnavas; if that is our duty, if we are their authority in some capacity, if they have solicited our advice, if we are senior to them and if they take instructions from us. If we do not fit into any of these categories we should be careful lest we go trying to correct someone more advanced than us and risk the pitfall of aparadha. May the lord grant us the intelligence to avoid acting like the spoilt kid or like Ramacandra Puri.

May we be so focused on improving ourselves that we have no time to see the faults in others.

Till next week, do share and follow for more.

Birthdays

Dear readers,

Happy belated New Year, for those of you who missed my first blog of the year. I hope you all are faring well. It is a pleasure to be here with you all today.

Today I’ll like to harp on a subject we are all familiar with and one that we all have; birthdays. Mine was a few days ago and I must say I appreciate all those who took out time to wish me well, those who made preparations and cake, and those who bought me gifts. I am forever grateful. Whether we celebrate it or not, each and every one of us has a birthday, or a day we took birth in this material world.  Of course, the setting is different for everyone. Some of us are born into rich families and others into not so rich families, some of us are born as the only child and some are born alongside others or into a family with other children. Irrespective of the way, place, country or time we were born, there is a common denominator in taking birth in this material world; and that is we all came in naked, helpless and crying.

In fact, it is a thing of worry for the Doctors who help deliver us and for our parents when we show up into this world and we do not cry. The Doctors give us a heavy pat on the back, as a shock just in case we are unconscious or have fluids blocking our air ways. Pause for a minute, before we run into what happens after we leave the hospital. How did we get to this point in the first place? By what means did we get the parents that we have at the moment of our birth? Was it by some natural selection? The truth and answer might be difficult for many to grasp nonetheless I shall try to explain it in the simplest way I know how. First and foremost, there is no question of chance when it comes to taking birth and having a new material body. Our current body is a sum total of the activities and desires form our previous body. To get a better grip on this subject matter please kindly read Reincarnation. It will do you a lot of good to click on the link and read that first before continuing if you are new to the concept of reincarnation.

So having a new body in brief is as a result of choices, activities and desires form our previous life time and as such we have been granted a new body to fulfil all our unfulfilled desires and given another chance to try to put an end to the repeated circle of birth and death. In other words, our birthday is but another chance to get it right, especially in the human form of life. In the human body, we have intelligence and we can discriminate between good and bad, and as such we are accountable for everything that we do. Animals on the other hand act out of instinct on four major propensities; eating, sleeping, mating and defending. If we as human beings do not rise above this four tendencies and center our lives on them, then our human form of life which is a very valuable gift is considered no better than that of an animal.

At the time of birth, we are given a name, a country, a race, a religion, an address, etc. we have no say in these things, at least not until we are 18. Some of us never even bother to change them but we spend our entire lives defending them, like we had a say in getting them. We base our entire identification on these false designations, so much so that it becomes the center for division among us all. One may think “I am a white, male who is Christian, or I am a coloured female who is Muslim” , based on what we have been told and labeled. Truth be told we are none of these designations and the earlier we realize and break free from these false identifications the better for us all. Every year that passes, takes us one more year closer to our graves, and whether we like it or not, Death is a universal truth waiting to happen to us all.  If we understand this, or at least try to understand this, then what can we do to salvage the very limited time we have on this planet? We begin by asking questions. Who am I? Where did I come from? Am I this body, or my mind or my ego? Where do I go to after death? At the time of death, what happens to me? These questions would be the basis for a life changing journey for most of us and they will give us a new sense of direction and purpose in our lives. We wonder why our current civilization is so shallow despite our recorded rise in scientific inventions, we wonder why people are so empty on the inside despite having so much externally, we wonder why those who have so little material possessions are usually those with the biggest hearts and not vice versa.

We can put an end to all these wondering and dilemma if we know the answers to these aforementioned questions. So the next time it is your birthday, I am not saying do not celebrate, however in the midst of that “celebration” ask yourself these questions and if the answers do not come, then it is probably time to start making the right enquires in the right direction. Sometimes people feel we spend too much time talking about death and say maybe we should focus more on life and “enjoy it”. What they fail to realise is that we are dying every day, every second, every minute, every hour and on every “birthday”. The final part of us leaving the body is just a culmination of our slow daily death, thus when we are aware of that fact, that the present living state is but a hidden dying reality then the best way to “enjoy life” would be to “live life fully conscious of the fact that today might be the last”.

Till next week, do share and follow my website for more blogs weekly.

Last Year in Perspective

Dear readers,

Happy New Year and compliments of the season. May this New Year bring you the very best in your endeavors and May the grace of the Lord be with you all.

Upon entering this year (2017) I had published a blog on New Year resolutions and I made the following promise to all of you, let us see how well I fared.

This year my commitment to you all is to provide you with as much clarity and information on various topics by giving deeper insights into them. There are a few plans put in place to see this through and as the year goes by they will naturally unfold. Finally, before saying a few words on our topic today, I would like to urge you all to please share this blog space with others, why? We are all morally bound to share whatever helps us with others so that they can also benefit. The content I provide here is not for just a selected few, it is for everyone and the only way everyone can get it, is if we try to put it out there more. So please do encourage friends and family to read, share and subscribe. By subscribing you don’t miss any of the action and interesting stuff. I mean why would you want to miss any new post?

In the best of my ability I have made available one new blog every week, unfailingly. In the space of 21 months we have grown from 0 unique visitors to 2,155 unique visitors, and a total of 93 distinct and inspiring blogs. This has been possible much because of your continued support and feedback. I look forward to more and a better 2018.

At the beginning of the year I had published an article on New Year resolution and how they affect our lives, how to follow through with them etc. Today however, I won’t be doing another New Year resolution blog, rather I want us to take a good look at the year that just ended. Now I know many of you might be thinking, “Well last year wasn’t fair to me in many different areas, so why should I waste my time revising it?” The simple reason is; sometimes in order to be focused on where we are headed it is necessary to remember where we are coming from.

We begin to slip on most of our New Year resolutions not just because we lack resolve, determination or the discipline to follow through, but because we often times forget too soon why we made those resolutions in the first place. This year I made a couple of resolutions, some personal and others general. In other to give better clarity on why we should take time to look back at the just ended year, I will share one of my resolutions for the past year. Often times we make resolutions at the beginning of the Year, that are vague, like “this year I will lose weight”. In as much as this is a positive resolution, if our resolutions are not specific, we may lack the impetus to push it through. I had a rocky time last year in terms of my personal relationships and this had a boomerang effect on my eating, as I sort to nullify my pain by eating a “little” extra. It wasn’t long before I began to notice the extra weight kicking in real fast, I was closing in on 190 pounds. For a guy my height I needed to lose at least 40 pounds of that, if I was going to stay close to the “light”.

When the year started I had made a resolution to keep fit and work out, I exercise regularly however when my relationship hit stormy waters, my resolution to work out also sank. One day looking at myself in the mirror and seeing all the extra weight I said this is not who I am. The weight had to go. Now pain became a motivation instead of a distraction, I cut back on my eating, changed my diet and increased my work out to a daily program. In the space of 6 months, I lost roughly 20 pounds. Today I weigh in at 168-170 pounds and even though I have about 20 more pounds to shed, I can say I have come a long way and the result is not just physically obvious but internally satisfying. Was it easy? Not at all. Did I miss my old eating habit? Initially I did, not any more. How did I overcome the urge to binge on food? By looking back at my old pics with the excess weight and telling myself this is not who I want to be, and by having a mental picture of the shape and form I want to achieve.

In other to make our resolutions work, we need to have a clear picture of what we are striving for, and also have a clear picture of what we are giving up. When this two are in balance, then we can be sure to go through the year with little backslides in our resolutions. Last year (2017) taught me a lot of lessons, and if there is one thing that is certain in 2018, I shall be stepping in with these lessons as my compass and added experience. Just like any other year, I won some of my personal battles and I also lost some. At the end of the day I am at peace with myself knowing that I gave the year my best, I tried to improve myself as much I could in all areas of my life and above all I loved unconditionally. As I lay my head to rest each night, I know that my words and activities are not a source of pain or disturbance to other living beings, be they human or lower in specie.

I am grateful for being able to publish my book, you can grab a copy here (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/753002), I am grateful for all those who have helped me in one way or the other last year, I am grateful for the community I live in, and I am grateful for the gift of life to see yet another year. May this New Year bring us all the good things we desire. Till next week, do read, share and follow for more.

 

Compatibility in Relationships 2

Dear readers,

I’ll like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I pray that this season brings you all good tidings and joy. For those of you who are Christians, I pray that you find time to go deeper into the mood of this season and daily endeavor to be more Christ like.

There is no gain saying that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he came to teach the message of the Supreme Lord; his Father. To as many who follow his teachings dutifully and lovingly, the inner meanings of the Bible are revealed to them. Being Christ like is more of a daily endeavor than a weekly Sunday to Sunday activity. The more our dear Christian brothers inculcate the true mood of the selflessness of Jesus Christ, the more loving Christians we shall have the world over.  I implore you all to try to extend a hand of fellowship and kindness this festive period and avoid been distracted by the constant need to indulge in consumerism.

Last week I commenced a topic on relationships and compatibility, today I will be doing a sequel to it. For those of you who missed it, please click here to have an idea on the subject matter before coming back to read this part. In my previous blog I enumerated the 8 factors that are critical in Vedic Astrology when a long term relationship is to be considered between intending couples. As a recap, these factors are; 1. Natural refinement (Varna), 2. Natural liking between the two individuals (Vashya), 3. Positions and degrees of the constellations (Dina), 4. Intimate physical compatibility and sex (Yoni), 5. Mental compatibility (Grahamaitri), 6.Temperamental compatibility (Gana), 7. Destiny i.e. Wealth, Longevity etc. (Rashi), and 8. Influence of health on couple and future children (Nadi).

In the part 1 of this series, I gave some explanation on the first 4 factors, and today I shall try to discuss the remaining 4 factors. Without further ado, criteria five is the mental compatibility of the intending couples. If couples feel a strong physical attraction but find it difficult to connect mentally then it is only a matter of time before the relationship begins to hit rocks. Such a relationship can be described as sailing troubled waters, no matter how strong the physical attraction may be. This criteria scores 5 points, thus the ideal score will be 5 out of 5, which means the couple can connect very well on a mental level. A zero out of five means there is no connection mentally and this can be very disturbing, in other words for there to be a good compromise they should at least score 2.5 out of the required 5 points. The higher the better. Should they score below average on this criteria then the intending couple have to be careful not to find fault with each other especially when it comes to strategizing, decision making, planning, and other areas that require mental choices, as these are areas they will experience a huge difference.

The sixth criteria is Temperamental compatibility. This criteria scores a solid 6 points and the ideal will be to have 6 out of 6. A compromise will be 3 out of 6 and low will be any score below 3. This criteria deals with the temperament of each of the intending partners. It is basically divided into three parts, the Dev gana, Manushya gana and Rakshasa gana. For those who are not familiar with Sanskrit terminology, in simple language it means, Celestial temperament, Human Temperament, and Demoniac temperament. A suitable match for example will be if each partner is from the same gana that is say Dev gana and Dev gana. A person from Dev gana can have a suitable match with someone from Manushya gana but not with someone from the Rakshasa gana. When couples have very opposing temperaments then quarrels, and fights are almost inevitable and it is only a matter of time before they split ways.

Due to the large points awarded to this criteria it is usually difficult to ignore it, save and except if there is a balance in another criteria on their chart. The seventh criteria is Destiny and this has to do with longevity of the intending couple, wealth, etc. Just like others, this criteria also awards scores for high compatibility. It has a total of 7 points and the average will be to score at least 3.5 to have a good compromise between the intending couple. A score lower than 3.5 means there is incompatibility and a remedy should be sought after. If the couple have low scores in other key areas then the charts have to be analyzed in detail. Scoring lower than the average of 3.5 in this criteria means there will be issues in areas such as longevity of both partners, issues with having kids, unhappiness and dissatisfaction just to mention a few. In modern times many people take this system of Vedic astrology for granted and I can tell you quite frankly from personal experience, that the results can be devastating if ignored.
If the overall score of the match is 15 or less out of 36 then the fault of the seventh criteria is highlighted, if the score is above 20 then the positive effects are highlighted.

Last but not least is the eight criteria is the influence of health on the intending couple and possibly their kids. There are generally three divisions of the Nadi criteria, and the best match is to avoid someone who has the same Nadi as one’s self. Marrying someone with the same Nadi can lead to health issues of the partners, having children who are weak or sickly, trouble marriage life, decrease in affection between the couple, just to mention a few.

In a situation where the Man and woman have the same zodiac moon sign, then the fault which arises from incompatibility of their 8th criteria (influence of health), can be ignored. Family life is an aspect of human existence where many of us will spend practically half of our lives, thus it is pertinent that we are very careful when making this big decision. One wrong move can leave us impacted for life. I hope this helps someone out there. No doubt this is just a tip of the ice berg and in order to take full advantage of this knowledge one has to take the time to make a proper chart before committing to a relationship.

Till next week, do read, share and follow for more.

Compatibility in Relationships 1

Dear Readers,

I hope you all are faring well. I am glad to be able to share with you all yet another interesting topic this week. Today I shall be speaking on a topic that many of us have had some encounter with, either directly or indirectly; compatibility in relationships.

One major factor that plays a huge role in determining how we choose our life partners is how compatible we are with them. This naturally brings us to the topic of Astrology and Numerology. The study and mastery of Astrology and Numerology could be a lifelong pursuit and as such we find that in our present day and time, we have few people who really have a mastery of these sciences. One thing we can all agree to is that, whenever we have to get into a relationship we all try to get some information to see how compatible we are with our to-be partners.

One way we do this is by consulting Astrology to see how compatible we are. In Vedic astrology, we have 8 parameters used in determining compatibility. They are as follows: 1. Natural refinement (Varna), 2. Natural liking between the two individuals (Vashya), 3. Positions and degrees of the constellations (Dina), 4. Intimate physical compatibility and sex (Yoni), 5. Mental compatibility (Grahamaitri), 6.Temperamental compatibility (Gana), 7. Destiny i.e. Wealth, Longevity etc. (Rashi), and 8. Influence of health on couple and future children (Nadi).  I must crave your indulgence with the translations of the 8 aforementioned criteria, as it is somewhat difficult to get the exact Sanskrit to English words and meaning.  Each criteria scores points and the points increase in order of their appearance. The first criteria is 1 point and it increases to 8 points on the last criteria. In as much as I do not want to overwhelm you with the technical details it is also beneficial to have a little background information on the various aspects before I begin to elaborate on them.

The “ideal” or perfect couple will be those who have a perfect score of 36 (summation of all points), I do not know if such people exist however in my own experience I am yet to see such a match. A minimum of at least 18 points is necessary for couples to live and work together, although they would have to compromise and put in a lot of work. Needless to say, the higher the point score, the more chances of the marriage been successful. This is not an excuse to act capriciously just because one has a high compatibility score. Every marriage needs attention, love, sacrifice, etc. and irrespective of the score these factors should be incorporated into the marriage.

The first criteria which is the Family Background and class, carries 1 point. It deals with the nature and spiritual refinement of the family where each partner was born. As one can notice, this is not very important, should there be an incompatibility, and it is just 1 point. If compatible, it is desirable.  If there is an incompatibility, it means the partners should be ready to compromise on the behavior of each other, which they may have acquired due to been born in a certain family background. Next is the Natural affection or liking between the two persons who are trying to establish a relationship. This criteria carries 2 points. So the score could be full 2 points which is most desirable or just 1 out of 2, or zero. Should the score be zero, then each partner should try to work on their appeal to each other, like keeping their body fit and attractive.

The third criteria is the synchronization of their constellations which generally translates into daily dealings and happiness together. If they score full 3 points then it is most desirable, if they score less or nothing then each partner should try to spend more time with the other to make up for differences. The fourth criteria is Intimate Physical compatibility and sex. There is no gain saying that this is one factor that has put a lot of marriages and union to the test and eventually ended many. If the score is 4 out of 4 then it is most desirable. Should the score be less than 2 out of 4 then there will be issues with sexual satisfaction, and even issues with conceiving or having children. Sometimes as spiritual practitioners we tend to ignore this factor, because we feel that by been incompatible on this level then automatically one would make advancement spiritually. This is a huge misconception. If both partners are not on the same page when it comes to sexual satisfaction, then they end up living a life that doesn’t really express their real nature or level of advancement.

Even though one may argue that the essence of marriage life for serious spiritual practitioners is to willingly give up sex life by constant detachment, if this detachment is not commensurate with our level of spiritual advancement, there will be problems, anger, unfulfilled desires, frustration, cheating, infidelity and worse case broken marriages. Another interesting factor is when one partner is on a different level of sexual renunciation from the other. If one partner has less inclination towards intimacy and sex while the other is more inclined, this imbalance could also cause friction between the partners. Often times, one partner will always be less satisfied, and if not addressed there could be a downwards spiral from there. In other to be able to conceive and have children the sexual compatibility should also be at least 2 out of 4, otherwise bearing kids becomes an issue too. This criteria cannot be overemphasized and unless the relationship is one that is platonic or of business nature, the intending couple should make sure they score well on this criteria.
We often see the opposite in our spiritual society, where for fear of being ridiculed or for fear of been seen as “fallen” people our intending couples tend to shy away from discussing this part of their relationship. Without harping too long on this subject, I feel that intending couples should discuss this criteria with as much seriousness as they discuss finance.

I’ll have to pause here for this week’s blog and next week I shall elaborate on the other four criteria in the Vedic compatibility system. Till next week, do read, share and follow for more.

Surrender

Dear Readers,

I hope you all are faring well. It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all once again yet another interesting blog this week. My blog today is a rather reflective one and I hope we all can draw some insight from it as I share.

I had a rather long weekend as I was really trying to be on top of things I had to do and things I needed to do. Needless to say, I like to get things organized mentally so I can physically roll into the execution with less hassle. In the midst of this process the computer that I was using at the moment decided to give up on me. I spent almost 8 hours on Saturday and even more hours on Sunday trying to see if I could salvage the situation. I also had an acquaintance who is Tech savvy try to assist me, it just ended up wasting his time too.

I needed to do something quick. In the process of trying to fix the Computer I lost almost everything I had on it. I downloaded a recovery app, to see if I could recover things from the hard drive only for the app to ask me for payment after “recovering” items I couldn’t even identify. I couldn’t tell if it was just a scam to get me to pay or if it was genuinely retrieving info. Feeling tired and frustrated, I felt why not try another app, and another app, until I finally got one that retrieved some lost files. I decided to rest my case and see if something else could be done to save the situation. Time was already lost and that could never be gotten back.

While we were trying to see how best to “save” the computer, we were getting obviously tired, frustrated, and losing more time. I had loads of things to do, that weren’t getting done, all in a bid to save money. You may wonder how? I felt instead of buying a new computer why not use this one (which obviously is not in a good state). Now I am losing time, rest, and productivity, so what did I get out of all of this?

I always try to see what lessons can be learnt from any situation that I am in. Instead of ranting to everyone about how tough my life has become, I try to see if I can simplify things myself, especially if it is a complication that I have created. Then it hit me crystal clear. My experience over the weekend is exactly how we are in the material world. The modes of material nature are constantly defeating us in our attempt to lord over it. Instead of seeing that it is a futile effort, we keep thinking maybe if I do this and that it would get better. Just like I was thinking maybe if I try this app or that app, or this fix technique etc. The real solution is right before us; which is to surrender to the one who is in charge of the material existence.

My computer can be used as an allegory to explain the situation in this material world. The more we try to fix it, the more we get entangled in it and lose time and energy. Unlike my computer scenario, where I lost some hours, in life we lose years of our existence and by the time we realize that we have been fighting a lost battle, old age has already kicked in. Now old age is not a bad thing in itself because if we had utilized the years prior diligently then we have nothing to worry about. Where old age becomes an issue is when we know deep down ourselves that we haven’t really given time and attention to cultivating higher consciousness in our prime time, and as such in our old age we find ourselves deficit of the required knowledge and experience, to go through the onslaught of material nature. So likewise in the allegory been used, because I didn’t take the necessary steps to get a working computer on time, now in a later time (which can be compared to old age), I find myself wanting and in serious need to get things done in such a small time frame or window opportunity.

We see this every time with people who feel, spiritual life is meant for old people and refuse to pay attention to or give their attention to matters that relate to the soul or self-realization. Then as they grow older they suddenly see that all that they thought was real and cool, isn’t as it seems anymore and that the most important thing they could have invested in or given real attention; the soul, has been neglected and then they panic in response. The usual reaction is to suddenly try to catch up for all the “lost time” but then the body is no longer as strong, the mind is there, family is not as supportive etc. Just like the adage says “a stitch in time saves nine”; in our spiritual lives a step in the right direction, on time saves us 9 lifetimes.

We can start now, and surrender to the process, or procrastinate and come back 9 lifetimes or more to fix it. Of course we all know that everyone will surrender according to their level of realization and the Supreme Lord will definitely reciprocate accordingly and he has promised, the clarion call however is to avoid the late entry.  I have now seen that sometimes even if we think surrendering is expensive (just like I thought getting a good working computer was expensive), surrendering to a working process saves us a lot more in the long run. Ultimately we find out that it is cheaper, to actually pay the price now than try to find some “simpler and cheaper route”.

Surrender is necessary to advance and we all have to in one way or another.

Till next week do follow for more.