Ill fate?

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another interesting blog today.

Recently while responding to messages on my social media, I saw a video posted by a friend on my timeline and it basically addressed a very crucial topic about Karma. For those of us who are not familiar with the word Karma; this is the law of cause and effect. That is, for every action there is a reaction. Even though some people have a hard time accepting this law, we cannot negate the fact that it is scientific and thus has a lot more basis to it than just religion or faith.

Sir Isaac Newton postulated one of the laws of motion which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, it is a universal proof to the law of Karma. In real life we will take “motion” to be Action. We as living beings are constantly engaged in one activity or another, and our daily interactions with the modes of material nature (goodness, passion and ignorance), bring about different results from our actions. When we act in the mode of goodness, we are sure to get a reaction that is in the mode of goodness. Similarly when one acts out of ignorance, then there is bound to be some suffering, because darkness is born out of ignorance. For example, a man who is sawing off the branch of a tree that he is sitting on, will definitely fall as soon as the last part of the branch is sawed off.

Now in life sometimes we go through various hurdles, ordeals, and trying times and the natural response is; “why me”? Why am I suffering so much in this life time, when I haven’t done anything to merit it? Why do bad things happen to good people? We curse, tear our clothes and feel so much injustice at Nature, God and everything we know. On the other hand, if we get some big raise at work, buy a brand new car, hit a business deal, make more money or travel to fancy holiday resorts, we never seem to ask “why me”? Rather we say, “It is all as a result of my hard work and effort. I deserve it all?” We can immediately see that there is an imbalance in this type of thought process, where we accept good things as our effort and hard work, but dispel bad things as ill fate or natures plan to punish us. Whenever someone is going through some setback and it is suggested that maybe it is as a result of past impious activities, many take offence at such a statement. Of course, we cannot callously attribute Karma to everything that happens without going through the motions of studying the very present situation. It is also worthy to note that, attributing Karma to peoples misery can be seen as cold and inconsiderate if not done properly, with knowledge and from a  space of compassion.

If our objective be to criticize, mock or humiliate those suffering, then even if we are correct about their suffering been due to Karma, they will not accept it. This is because the intention with which we point things out matters a lot. This is on one side of the spectrum when we have to deal with those who are not very philosophically inclined, or people who might take offence easily to the things we say. On the other side of the spectrum are those who are devotees or followers of a Theistic philosophy where there is a personal relationship with God. These set of people depending on their level of advancement see things differently too.

There is a verse from the Bhagavat Purana that says “My Dear Lord, one who earnestly awaits you to bestow your causeless mercy upon him, while all the while suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds, and offering you respectful obeisance with his heart, soul and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim. (Srimad Bhagavatam 10. 14. 8). This verse is more than just a soothing for those in distress, because it is the absolute truth mentioned in the revealed scriptures. There is a similar passage in the Bible from the beatitudes, “blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5; 3-12). Those who are servants of the Supreme Lord know that whatever trials and tribulation that they are going through in their life is nothing but a means to accelerate their union with the Lord. They know that the Lord being merciful shows his special grace by allowing such trials to show that his devotees will always be glorious in the end.

The devotee rather than curse the Lord, says “Lord thank you for reducing my suffering. I should be suffering a lot more than this, but due to your causeless mercy, you have so kindly reduced my bad karma.” There are many examples of great saints and servants of God who went through a lot of trial and tribulation and at the time, people asked them to curse God and even deny his existence. In the Vedic scriptures we have the Pandavas, who lost everything from their kingdom to their wife, escaped close calls with death on several occasions but eventually were crowned kings in the same kingdom they lost.

Job in the Bible lost everything he had, was inflicted with a terrible skin disease, friends and family left him, but he was fixed in his faith, for he knew that the Lord would never forsake him. In the end not only were his afflictions removed and his body restored to perfect health, but he was also rewarded with 7 times more riches than he had lost. In the Psalm of David (Ps 30) he says …”weeping may endure for a night but Joy cometh in the morning”. So dear spiritual warriors, slowly yet gracefully pick yourselves up by the boot strap, look up to the Lord and know that he is sure to respond to our call.

Till next week, do have a great week ahead. Kindly share, like and follow for more.

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Pseudo Quintessential Spiritualism

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. It is always a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another exciting blog every week.

This week I’ll like to harp on a topic that is quite interesting and a source of concern for neophytes on the path of spiritualism. Often times either by false perception or transferred thoughts of misconstrued idealism, many newbies on the path of spirituality create a utopia of what they seem as the quintessential circle of spiritualist. In their minds and activities they wonder about from faith to faith, religion to religion waiting to find that sphere of the above described spiritualism, all to little or no avail. This reminds me of the famous novel “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, wherein he uses the perfect allegory to pass across the situations of a trouble State and the results therein.

A lot of people new to the path of conscious spirituality, (and I mean one that has for focus the concept of a personal relationship with God), often get caught in the web of differentiating pseudo spiritualists from the real ones. The externals are not an issue, as many people can easily figure their way through this part. The difficulty starts when the philosophy meets practice and practice meets the everyday way of life. It is at this junction the pillars that hold the faith of many start to wobble and eventually collapse. When the exciting “conscious chants” are over and the mind starts its rampage and reality sets in, the new spiritualist begins to wonder what happened to the promise of “eternal high”. When the delicious communion of cruelty free meal is over and the newbie sees that the seasoned practitioners and old timers are not so free from violence in their discussions, his doubts seem to crawl back.

Many newbies will play ostrich at this point and bury their heads in the sand of hero/mentor worship, self-denial, misinterpretation of the philosophy, and “adaptation according to circumstances”. The pseudo spiritualists in such a religion who is but a quintessence of Napoleon from the Animal Farm will usually try to fake the practice of the philosophy with the hope that someday they make it. This may work for a while for some people, for some time for most people but not every time for everyone. Truth be told, many people are not ready for the truth because it disrupts the reality of their ignorance. So what could the truth be? Why is it so difficult for the newbie spiritualist to figure it out? It takes intelligence to be able to separate grain from chaff. As easy as it may sound in real life, many neophytes and even seasoned spiritualists find it difficult to make this separation. The reason could be varied however when the basics are not learned properly, then it is hard to even grab intermediate matters talk less of the advanced stuff.

It is apparently cool and flashy to put up a show of being “woke”, filled with the spirit or being on the platform of spontaneous love of God, however what is not cool is having to deal with the reality that sets in after these imposters see that their charade is not getting them anywhere. Let’s take an example of someone who attends a party of world class swimmers held on a cruise ship. At high sea, the ship starts to sink and then he sees all of the “seasoned swimmers” panicking. Only to find out that they can’t really swim.  There is a mixed feeling of anger, betrayal, and even amusement when such a guest has to witness the pseudo swimmers struggle for their lives in water. The neophyte in spirituality is sure to witness such scenarios at some point in their journey into spirituality. The choice is theirs however what they want to do with such a lesson.

The best recourse will be to take the path seriously, to train body, mind and spirit in the true tenets of whatever spiritual practice they are into. It will be in the interest of this practitioner to look for a real seasoned practitioner that understands the theory and practice of the path they are on. The neophyte must also make sure that the seasoned practitioner lives a life that reflects a balance of both theoretical understanding and practical application. When that is done, then he has to address the most difficult part; himself. Like it or not the larger percentage of work to be done in order to progress in spirituality, is the effort we put in when there is no one looking. Those things that we do when we are alone with our minds and the Lord in our heart.

Amidst this rubble is a few percent of those who are “woke” or say aware of the feeble phantasmagoria presented by these charlatans who parade as God conscious people. This few understand that in every spiritual circle there is bound to be the struggle of light over darkness and both never coexist. This few “woke” individuals know that sometimes there is joy in celebrating small private victories as opposed to the general opinion of making a show of advancement. They understand that spirituality is a silent inner journey where the aim is to go as deep as possible, way beyond the superficial flowery externals; floating on the surface that people confuse as the real thing. We can say they have surmounted the tendency to be distracted by the byproducts of spirituality. As it is with every endeavor that exposes the malignant nature of darkness, these few individuals will face their portion of the soul’s dark night. In their purification the neophyte will be deceived to think of it as tribulations and as such ridicule them. However just like the proverbial phoenix, they eventually rise from the same ashes they were reduced to.

The secret lies not in personal prowess, expertise, erudition nor deceit, but in sincerity that cannot be purchased by anything besides genuine intent and perfect understanding of who and what God really is.

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

Time, Attention and Experience

Dear readers,

It is my pleasure to be able to share with you all once again another interesting blog this week. I hope you all are faring well.

Today I will be sharing with you all some brief insights on a very spiritual topic and hopefully we all can learn a thing or two from it.  Recently I saw a video on Facebook of a young kid that went viral for good reasons. In the video, the kid tells us that whatever we practice we become good at it. If we practice kindness we become good at it, if we practice complaining, we become so good at it that we will complain about anything. I drew a few more lessons besides what he said and tried to extrapolate his ideas to spirituality.

When people join a path of spirituality, generally the idea is to be enlightened or become better persons by cultivating higher values. Thus it is natural that every new practitioner should adopt those practices that enable him/her to become a better spiritualist. In the beginning of our journey we would naturally want to know what to do, what to say, what to eat, what to avoid and what to embrace. We then give time to does things which are favorable and avoid those things which are not. When we give time to something, we invest our energy into it and thus we become versatile in it. The time that we invest into our spiritual lives is directly proportional to the amount of attention we pay to these matters. There is a saying that “whatever we give our time, becomes our experience.” Similarly, the time and attention we give to spiritual matters, translates into our experience in spirituality.

As a martial artists, there is an old saying by traditional Japanese Instructors, that to master a technique, one has to practice it at least 10,000 times. Now many people think the number is just figurative and others actually take it literally. Irrespective of which side we choose to follow, we can at least agree on one fact; in order to master anything we must give it sufficient attention. So naturally this brings me to spirituality. People join the path and initially have the desire to become enlightened or advanced and the process stipulates that they must engage in certain practices. Many people start off with a blast and with time they slow down, for a myriad of reasons. The irony is when we don’t give time to those things which we want to be good at and yet expect to miraculously become good at them.  Life doesn’t work that way and never will. A good example in our gaudiya line is Hari Das Thakur who is celebrated as the Nama-acarya; because he chanted over 300,000 names of the Lord daily.

He certainly gave a lot of time and attention to a practice his chanting and subsequently he gained a lot of experience in it and became renowned for it. So the question then arises; we all claim to want to achieve Love of Godhead, are we giving time and energy to those things that enable to become full lovers of God or are we giving time and energy to those things that enable us to become lovers of the material energy? We claim we want to become pure devotees, or at least that is why we joined the path, are we giving our time and energy to those things that will help us become pure devotees?

We claim we want to go back home back to Godhead, are we engaging in activities that show we are really keen on going back to the spiritual world, or are we giving our time and energy to trivial things that bind us here? We claim we want to serve the Lord in the different mellows when we get back to Him, but are we engaging our time and energy in his service here on earth or are we engaging our time and energy in trivial matters and discouraging others who are trying to serve? These are soul searching questions we need to ask ourselves every day. If we say one thing and cannot match it with our actions then what are we really practicing? At the end of the day, everyone carries their cross, everyone is responsible for the advancement or deviation they make. If we are not engaging our time and energy in those things that make us better Devotees, Christians, Muslims, etc. then let us be kind enough not to distract those who are sincerely trying to make this effort.

There is no doubt that we all are advancing in different rates and pace, however just like driving on the high way, slow vehicles keep right and allow fast vehicles the left lane to move faster. If you know you want to drive slowly in your spiritual life then it is only fair that we allow those who want to move at a quicker rate to do so. In this light it is mentioned that every spiritual practitioner should associate with colleagues of similar interest. An English adage says “show me your friends and I’ll tell you whom you are”. If your association is full of people who criticize, blaspheme, deviate from principles, sooner or later we will give our time and energy to such activities and gain experience in it. If we associate with people who chant the Lord’s name regularly, pray intensely, avoid trivial talks, serve with a proper mind, study the scriptures, then we will also give our time and energy to these things and with time they become our experience.

In summary ask yourself daily, what I am giving my time and energy to, because it will become my experience. If you see it is contrary to what you say you want then change and give less time to those things that slow your progress down. We are the designers of our spiritual lives and we are responsible ultimately.

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.

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.

Death 2 (After Death)

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. Last week I had begun a very interesting series on Death, please be sure to check on the part one in order to have a build up to where we are now.

Last week I tried to shed some light on living every day as if it were our last and how this thought process can greatly influence our lives and daily choices. As a progression from there, it is also worthy to say that the only way to have decent thoughts at the time of death is to cultivate decent thoughts while living. As it is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita that whatever state of consciousness one remembers at the time of death, that state he is sure to attain. (BG 8.7)

We cannot spend our lives thinking of all sorts of things and think that at the time of death we can magically cheat nature and suddenly turn out thoughts to God. It doesn’t work that way. A student who spends his time reading books on English cannot walk into an exam for Chemistry and hope to remember his elements, how to balance chemical equations, laws of thermodynamics, etc. This is because he has not given these subject his attention and as such it does not become his experience. Without dwelling on this too much, what actually happens after death, is a big mystery for many of us. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, there is a detailed description of how the soul journeys till he gets another body. I’ll save us that detail here but encourage my readers to read further or request a blog dedicated to that. What I’ll like to focus on, is the question of eternal damnation or eternal bliss.

I write for a vast majority of readers across different religions and as such I know many of you subscribe to many different ideologies of where the soul goes to after it leaves the body. I do not intend to bash anyone’s faith or belief or try to place mine above others, I just wish to say things as they are.  Whether or not you believe in hell or heaven or paradise, one fact is clear across many religions that there is a life after death. The Bible gives countless examples (reincarnation), and so does other scriptures like the Gita. However the Gita gives us a lot more by making us understand that our next body is determined by the sum total of our activities in this body. We get to either progress or regress as the case may be. If we have been able to acquire a lot of pious credits by performing good deeds, we get to enjoy those credits in heaven and when they are exhausted we again come back to this material world. If we have been very nefarious and have so much impious credit from wrong doings, we get to suffer them, then again return. Many people find it difficult to grasp the concept of having to return here, the Bible says “…heaven and Earth shall pass away…” the Gita mentions that  … from the highest planet down to the lowest, are all places of miseries…” Only those who go to the Supreme abode of the Lord do not return here.

Why am I going into all of these? We have to understand that we are responsible for our life here and also after. It is a big misconception to think and believe “You only live once”. If for some reason, you even subscribe to this idea, then why not make the better of this one, what is the loss. However if this doctrine is false, which it can be proven to be scientifically, then we are at a big loss. I have taken the liberty to pull up a few references from the Srimad Bhagavatam of some things that happen to those who lived a life full of misdeeds.

While living one may be proud of one’s body, thinking oneself a very big man, minister, president or even demigod, but whatever one may be, after death this body will turn either into worms, into stool or into ashes. If one kills poor animals to satisfy the temporary whims of this body, one does not know that he will suffer in his next birth, for such a sinful miscreant must go to hell and suffer the results of his actions.
(Srimad Bhagavatam 10:10:10 translation).

Apparently a devotee may grow old, but he is not subjected to the symptoms of defeat experienced by a common man in old age. Consequently, old age does not make a devotee fearful of death, as a common man is fearful of death. When jarā, or old age, takes shelter of a devotee, Kālakanyā diminishes the devotee’s fear. A devotee knows that after death he is going back home, back to Godhead; therefore he has no fear of death. Thus instead of depressing a devotee, advanced age helps him become fearless and thus happy.
(Srimad Bhagavatam 4:27:24purport).

In due course of time, when a pure devotee is completely prepared, all of a sudden the change of body occurs which is commonly called death. And for the pure devotee such a change takes place exactly like lightning, and illumination follows simultaneously. That is to say a devotee simultaneously changes his material body and develops a spiritual body by the will of the Supreme. Even before death, a pure devotee has no material affection, due to his body’s being spiritualized like a red-hot iron in contact with fire.
(Srimad Bhagavatam 1:6:27 purport).

 

If while here on Earth we spend our very limited time gathering enemies, fault finding, committing all kinds of sinful activities, then we are sure to suffer for all of these.

I usually tell devotees who know me personally that when death comes, we cannot choose who comes to see us or not. Now imagine you are on your death bed and all those around you are people you have treated badly, do you think you can have the mental peace to even focus on God in that physical state of being with guilt lashing out at you? My spiritual Mentor would say, treat everyone around you as if you were going to live and die with them, because we most likely will. In my next blog I shall try to bring to light the matter of appreciating people who have passed versus appreciating people who are living.

Do follow for more.

PS. Photo credit not mine.

Death 1 ( The Moment)

Dear readers,

It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all today yet another blog. I hope you all are faring well. Today’s topic as many of you can see already is one we all avoid and have created a taboo around its discussion, however the last three days I have been a firsthand witness to a devotee who left his body and barely a day after got news of another young lady who also passed on.

In this light I felt it is only naturally that I speak about the most dreaded topic; death and dying. Before I commence my dissertation on this matter at hand, I’ll like to say maybe just maybe once in a while we should all get to witness someone leave their body. Why? It puts everything in your life in perspective. I happened to be in the room where a senior devotee passed away recently and often times we get to read certain descriptions from the Bhagavatam about what happens at the time of death and sometimes some people brush it aside as exaggeration or just stuff that may not happen to us. I can tell you that many might be in for a shock when their time arrives.

In 2005, about 12 years ago, I lost my Spiritual Mentor to some terminal illness and I saw how his body transformed in the last few months, but I also saw how what was in his heart became more magnified.  I need to say I have a lot of thoughts right now flying through my head so please bear with me if they do not seem to align or flow. I think right now, better than passing across some congruent thought pattern is my intense desire to pass across some real talk about life and death. One thing sure and certain is: we are all going to die, no one is making it out of here alive. I am sorry if this is too blunt but the earlier we know that it is sure to happen the better. The most striking part is that we have no clue when, where or how it will happen. Yet most of us live as if we have a contract signed with God as to how long we shall live, and go about life as if we were immortals.

So what is death? I guess you all already know. It is the physical termination of the physical body and the transmigration of the life force, soul or consciousness in that body to another (Bhagavad Gita 2:13). Now whether you believe in reincarnation or not that is another topic. (To know more about reincarnation, please click on the link). So what exactly happens at the time of death? At the time of death, one is enveloped by the sum total of his life’s thought process (Srimad Bhagavatam 3:30:18 purport). That is whatever we have given the most attention to in our lives becomes our primary thought at the time of death. If your life was spent chasing money, affluence, God, etc., at the time of death these thought become your primary thought. Why? Whatever we study for is what we recollect in an examination, and death is life’s final exam.

In life we all worry about many things which in real perspective are not worth worrying about. My spiritual mentor in his final days gives a two hour lecture on the subject; “Die before dying”, the summary of that lecture was to live every day truly as if it were our last. We hear this every time, some of us practice it maybe for a week or two then done. Truth be told everyday on this planet is actually our last, because we have no clue when that day is. Die before dying is putting first things first and seeing how these thigs affect us. An example of putting first things first is as follows; suppose today was your last day and all your family members were gathered around you, what would be the priority in your thoughts? Would it matter what dress you wore? Would it matter what someone else was wearing? Would it matter what race those who came to see you were? Would it matter what your bank statement was? Would it matter what car your friend’s drove in to come see you? Of course none of that would matter. The only thing that would matter would be to share as much love as possible, ask for forgiveness and focus our minds on the Lord’s pastimes as we prepare to make the transition. So if this right here is a simulation of what our last day could look like, now take a look at your current daily activities and ask yourself, am I truly living with the consciousness of one conscious of death or am I just going through life as if I were immortal? I have divided this topic into parts in other to be able to get everything I intend to say out properly. This is because if I cramp everything into one blog, so many things will just fly over our heads. I do not wish that for any one of you.

Usually when people hear those who are spiritual practitioners speak about death and the ephemeral nature of life, they often think we are fatalists and do not know how to “enjoy” life. They ask “Why worry so much about death? Why not worry about life and living now?” Well we do think about life and because we think about life we know is it temporary. We know that life is meant to prepare us for that transition, and that true living is having a life that reflects this mentality on a daily basis. We enjoy life with the consciousness of being the servant of God and as such we accept everything knowing fully well to whom they belong. To the degree something helps us remember that we are eternal souls in a temporary world, to that degree do we accept it.

Till next week, please do watch out for the part two of this series. Follow for more.

Ps. Photo credit not mine.

Karma Yoga

I am delighted to be able to share with you all yet another interesting topic this week. Last week I released my book in eBook format across various eBook platforms. Below is a link with which you can access and purchase it. I’ll love to get feedbacks, suggestions for a possible future revised edition. Happy reading!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/753002

Today I’ll like to harp on a subject which I find interesting and very informative as well; Karma Yoga. Before elaborating on this subject I’ll like to give a brief introduction to the word Yoga. Yoga means to connect with the absolute, and as such there are various forms of Yoga. Different forms of Yoga have different requirements and practices. We have Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, etc. What is popularly referred to Yoga today, is but a branch of Yoga called Astanga yoga or The Yoga of Postures and breathing techniques.

In other words, Astanga yoga would mean the yoga which helps us connect with the Absolute through the process of postures and breathing techniques. Our focus today however is on Karma Yoga. So what Is Karma? We must have heard of the word so many times and people are quick to quote this word when someone gets a repercussion for an action they performed.  We have three types of Karma; karma, Akarma and Vikarma viz action, inaction and prohibited action. These three types or forms of karma basically show us how intricate karma is. This is to also clarify the popular misconception that Karma only means repercussion. Of course Karma means the principle of cause and effect or like Newton’s Law which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

There is more to Karma though, than just cause and effect. This basic principle however shall be used here to explain or give some insight into what Karma yoga is all about. So if Karma is the principle of cause and effect, and Yoga means to connect with the absolute, so Karma Yoga should mean in simple words; connecting with the absolute through the principle of cause and effect. How can this be done? If every action we take or engage in is sure to bring us a reaction then how can we act in such a way that our actions bring us closer to the Supreme destination? By engaging in Karma Yoga. When we perform any type of action we are sure to be bound by the reactions of that action, whether positive or negative. The positive results bring us pious credits which we can enjoy this life time or in another life time, while the negative results bring us impious credits which we have to suffer this life time or another.

Either way we are bound by the fruits of our actions. Now many people may wonder what is wrong in enjoying the positive or pious credits from good deeds that I do. The simple answer is, in as much as positive actions are advocated, if they are done separately from the Supreme i.e. not in Yoga, then we are sure to be tied to the results of such good deeds. Good deeds tie us to the circle or repeated birth and death because in as much as we have some credit to enjoy or suffer we have to always take birth in the material world to experience these results. It is like a criminal who gets parole for good behavior then goes out to commit crime and he is sent back to prison to again suffer his punishment. So what does Karma Yoga offer? Karma yoga offers a means or a process by which we can engage in our daily activities and even in activities which may bind us to positive results and yet be free from those results.

This is achieved by offering the activity we engage in to the Supreme Lord or surrendering the results for the Lord’s enjoyment. A typical example would be working for the Lord. In the unavoidable discharge of one’s daily activities, we will see that we have to work to maintain the body.  The process of working can be very binding if one is not careful, because we encounter a lot of things in the process. Those who are merchants have to lie in order to make a profit, people have to scheme and plan much to the loss of others in order to make gains, innocent living organisms are killed knowingly or unknowingly as we commute to our places of work every day, etc.

If the goal of our work is to give pleasure to our senses and to enjoy the results then we are sure to face the reactions for all the things we do, such as the examples given above, because we are responsible. However if we simply work with the understanding that we are doing our work for the satisfaction of the Lord and show this by actively dovetailing our work with the Lord as the center, through donations of the fruits of our actions, then the Lord is sure to protect us from the intricacies and results of our actions or Karma. In as much as this is a good means to gradually rise to the platform of total absorption in the Lord’s service, one should not think that this is a viable means to engage in various sorts of negative activities and think that by giving the fruits to the Lord in sacrifice or donation that one is immediately free from the results of that activity. That is to say, Karma yoga is not a consensus for capricious activities. This naturally brings us one of the types of Karma which is prohibited action. We should not engage in prohibited activities and expect the lord to protect us.

When one knows what is real action or Karma, when one knows what is inaction and what actions are to be avoided then he is the real knower of things. Till next week do read share and follow for more. Hopefully I will develop this subject further next week.

You have False Ego! 1

Dear readers,

It is great to be here once again sharing with you all interesting insights on various esoteric subjects. In roughly two weeks my book will be available on various eBook platforms and I look forward to sharing my work with you all. In all of this I am excited yet humbled at the grace of God in my life. I’ll put up links to various platforms where my book can be purchased as soon as it is released, if you haven’t gotten a pre-order, do so now to take advantage of the special discount.

Without further ado, today let’s talk about something most of us must have heard at some point in time, either from a friend or someone who feels the need to “instruct us”. To begin with, what is the Ego? The basic definition is “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. Psychoanalysis takes the meaning a step further by saying ego is the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious, and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. In Metaphysics ego is described as a conscious thinking subject.

Since we are looking things from a metaphysical perspective we will be working more with the third description, as what we have to discuss is beyond the scope of the first two. In spiritual circles we usually talk more about the real ego, which is the self or the soul. We make allusions to the real ego as the real self because it is distinct from the gross body and connection to this ego awakens our real identity. Often times there is a mix between the two ego’s; the real and the false ego. People who are very much on the bodily platform take the false ego; the body and its designations to be the real ego; the soul. They make plans and arrangements in life based on what they perceive from the false ego and thus fall time without number into a pool of distress and disappointment. Those who identify the false ego as the real ego, usually define ego from the physical perspective of the first definition.

To them, ego is that which supports their self-esteem or self-importance. Anything that goes against this is seen as a detriment to their ego and the response could be defensive whenever people see their ego threatened. However to tie our very core value or importance to things that relate to our physical bodies is to limit the true meaning of the real ego. When we feel our ego needs a car, house, money etc. to survive we are actually operating on the level of the first definition which is totally physical. The second definition says it (the ego) mediates between the conscious and the unconscious… Here we see an attempt to ascribe something more to the ego. Somehow or the other, people must have seen through practical experience that you can still maintain a good level of self-esteem without depending on external appraisal. This means that the ego is beyond the external. The only confusion here is that we can see that Psychoanalysis doesn’t have the name for the real ego and doesn’t really know where to place it and thus says it is between the conscious and unconscious. They know it is more than the physical but are not entirely sure if it is spiritual.

Metaphysics tries to solve this dilemma by saying it is the conscious thinking subject. What does this mean? For the body to exist or be alive there has to be consciousness, a very important factor. The present of consciousness in a body is what determines if it is dead or alive. Beyond consciousness there is the subject (the real self) that is responsible for this “thinking or thoughts”. Automatically Metaphysics separates the mind from the ego by saying it is the “thinking subject”. The Mind is the playground for our thoughts and as such it cannot be the ego. So if the mind is the playground for our thoughts and the ego is consciousness, this means it is more and superior to the mind. More so, because the ego is described as the thinking subject naturally we can see where the “I and Me” concept truly lies.  The thinking is done by a subject (the ego), and our thoughts are filled with objects of the senses which are also the object of the subjects thinking. Simply put, the ego (subject) is responsible for our thought process (object) to the degree that it sees itself as real or false.

So how do we differentiate real from false ego? Real ego means understanding the soul or the self to be higher than the mind and body. It means understanding that we are infinitesimal spiritual sparks fully cognizant, blissful and eternal. False ego on the other hand is based on the bodily identifications, which is taking the body to be the self. It is built on the premise that whatever we are is based on the external identifications of the body that we can see. It says there is nothing higher than the self and as such gratification of the senses of the body is the highest goal of life. Not only is this thinking erroneous it is also detrimental to the awakening of our real self. Living by such philosophy deprives the spiritual practitioner the chance to connect to something deeper; the soul or real ego.

There is a more practical approach to this delineation here and due to space I’ll present that in a sequel to this, next week. In that sequel I’ll try to help you see the application and also misapplication of the real and false ego. I’ll also help us identify situations whereby people can misconstrue the real meaning of the word ego so as to be politically correct or just to make others feel less important. I’ll also help us see how we can tune in to our real ego without becoming naïve or losing self-esteem.

Till then do read, share and follow for more.

PS: Photo credit, not mine.