Surmounting Unreasonable Situations

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well; it is great to be here today to share with you all yet another interesting topic.

The topic at hand today may seem pretty straight forward however when scrutinized in the deepest sense of it, one can see that it is very intricate. The first part to getting a thorough grasp of any situation we deem unreasonable is to first ask ourselves; by whose perception is this situation being seen as unreasonable? What we may term as being unreasonable, may be seen by someone else as totally reasonable. So there is a question of perception. It is natural for many of you to start to question this point right away saying, “what does he mean by this?”

Usually when faced with an unreasonable situation our first response is to react accordingly with what we deem as “reasonable” and thus shut out anything else that is opposed to our ideology. Speaking from personal experience I must say that the instance we take a moment to reflect and analyze a situation critically not from our perspective but wholistically, we begin to see through the unreasonableness. My Dad has the habit of saying “it is unreasonable to act unreasonably in a situation we think is unreasonable”. Sounds like a pun, but truth be told many people can’t even tell the difference. I know it sounds kind of contradictory to say that situations which we perceive as unreasonable are due to our perception and then few minutes later, tell you that people cannot tell a reasonable situation apart from an unreasonable one.

Allow me dispel this doubt, by citing an example. To an adult it is unreasonable to run around in one’s underwear and roll about in the sand, but to a kid this is fun and in fact you are missing out if you cannot join in. This is a situation of perception due to difference in ideology. Now should the adult spank the kid or try to give the child a sermon about how to be properly dressed at all times, the effects could be counter-productive and even brew hostility. Both parties here are right in their own perspective and trying to sway one from one side to another wouldn’t help much. With time the kid would grow up and also someday understand that he/she cannot expose themselves in public. This example is quite simple and many of us may have other examples which are a lot more complex and probably even more “unreasonable”.

One strong method to surviving unreasonable situations is to “do nothing”. Yea, coming from someone who is an advocate of being productive and active, doing nothing sounds like a bad advice but in a minute we shall see why. Take for instance you are having your bath, and you are covered in lather and suddenly a known lunatic comes into the bathroom and grabs your towel and dashes out. You have two options, jump out of the bathroom naked, covered in lather and give the lunatic a hot pursuit in the attempt to recover your towel, or just remain calm and stay put in the bath. If you decide to take the first course of action of chasing the lunatic, you have just succeeded in making a lunatic out of yourself. People already know the guy with your towel is a lunatic, but seeing you running around naked, covered in lather, they may also draw the conclusion that you are probably insane too. If you choose the second option, you save yourself the embarrassment by refusing to act unreasonably in an unreasonable situation. This you have achieved by actually doing nothing.

So yes, sometimes life or people may throw situations at us which are seemingly unreasonable but our response to such situations show how much we really want to surmount them. Another aspect to unreasonable situations is what I refer to as the “back door” effect. When we deal with people we judge them based on what they say, do and what we think. In some cases we may also try to extrapolate their words or actions in order to try to “figure them out”. Thus naturally if someone bumps into us on the street, we immediately feel, “he/she is rude and lacks courtesy”. If we however try to see through the “back door” which is the underlying and unseen reason why most things happen we may be lucky to see a lot more. A person who bumps into you in a mall, may have been shoved by someone else from behind unknown to you, they may have tripped on someone’s foot, or maybe they were about to fall down from fatigue or an illness and you happened to save the fall but it appears as if they bumped into you. Seeing through the “back door” is just my own way of saying be more compassionate and try to walk a mile in the other person’s shoe before we try to crucify them.

What if they were actually just being rude and disrespectful? Do we also bump into them in retaliation? Do we hurl insults and curses at them? No, these only add to the unreasonableness of the entire situation and it could degenerate into something really nasty in a very short time. Again we do nothing, and just keep moving, and if it was unintentional, usually the person would apologize. If it was intentional, still we are not a victim, we don’t aggravate the situation and thus we surmount the unreasonable.

Thus a brief recap;

  1. Most unreasonable situations are to a large degree associated with our perception.
  2. Try to see through the “back door” for underlying reasons, thus giving the situation a better look.
  3. Be compassionate
  4. Accept the situation
  5. Do not act in an unreasonable manner, if you cannot tell the difference, Do nothing.

In life most things won’t make sense to many people, at least not when they happen at first and usually it takes a lot of time of reflection and even experience in life to be able to deduce lessons from the events in our lives. How can we learn if we obstruct those lessons by constantly acting in a manner that is also unreasonable?

I hope this sheds some light on the subject, till next week do read, reflect and share. Do remember to follow this blog for more.

 

 

Greed 2

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. It’s yet another week for us to share insights on topics which are spiritual, informative and thought provoking. Last week we spoke about Greed, and in order to aid readability I had split the discussion in two. This week we shall try to look at the subject of greed from a deeper perspective, as it relates to the spiritual practitioner on a metaphysical level and how this can be used to strengthen our relationship with the Absolute Truth.

In our dissertation last week, we had the chance to look at greed on a physical and somewhat subtle level and how its effects have taken a toll on us as people and on our planet. To this end it may seem that greed in itself is a vice and nothing much can be gotten from it based on the facts from our first part discussion. It may come as a surprise when I say now to you all that, when greed is refocused and used in the right direction, it is a wonderful virtue in itself. Just before you all get worried about my last statement I must mention for a fact that there are two kinds of greed: greed for material objects and greed for spiritual advancement. The former we have deliberated on to an extent in the first part to this blog, the latter we shall try to develop in this blog.

One thing we can all agree on is the fact that when people are greedy, they never seem to get enough of anything, there is the constant want for more. This quest and strive for more all the time, is what usually gets them in problem. Now for a second imagine if that constant want for “more” had its precedence in matters of spirituality. Imagine if instead of wanting to over accumulate money and material possessions at the detriment of even our health, we actually were eager to accumulate information about the Supreme person. Imagine if instead of trying to hoard resources at the expense of people’s lives, we actually began to hoard esoteric delineations about the Supreme Being. The question now is how do we go about this? For a start we need to know what we are after in the first place. Just like those who accumulate wealth, know for certain that their primary objective in life is to amass wealth, the spiritual practitioner should also know and use his greed to the same effect. He has to understand that his entire life’s mission is to amass relevant and practical information about the Supreme Being.

Amassing this information is but the first part to redirecting the greed tendency, because as with material accumulation, once we have it we spend it and then get some more. Similarly, when the spiritual practitioner has understood his goal in life and has begun to use his greed tendency in amassing relevant and applicable information of the Supreme, then he moves to the next stage of actually “spending or using” this information. The satisfaction people get from being greedy is short lived and thus they are in a constant quest for more, but the satisfaction gotten from being  greedy about the topics that pertain to the Supreme being are indescribable and of immense satisfaction. This is so because it is mentioned in the revealed Scriptures such as the Bhagavad-gita that those who are devotees of the Lord derive great pleasure in discussing about the glories and pastimes of the Lord. It is in such a gathering that the spiritual practitioner must develop and exhibit the greed to hear more and more, without limit.

By regularly hearing and reciting the pastimes of the Supreme Being and by exhibiting intense greed to hear more and more on a regular basis, all that which is troublesome to the heart of the spiritual practitioner becomes practically destroyed and loving service to the Supreme Lord is established in his heart. When loving service to the Lord is established in the heart of the spiritual practitioner then he becomes free gradually from all the vices of this material world. For the heart which has the topics of the Lord’s activities as its sitting place cannot hold other nonsensical matters. When the greed to hear more about the Supreme being’s activities intensifies in the heart of the spiritual practitioner, not only does he become free from the dualities of this world, he gradually elevates his consciousness to a state of pure goodness and thus begins to search deeper for the personal aspect of the Supreme Being. During the course of this search and further intense greed to know more about the Lord, he becomes totally absorbed in the contemplation and daily remembrance of the Lord. This is a very high stage in our spiritual quest; when we are totally absorbed in the remembrance of the Lord.

When we cultivate intense spiritual greed, not only do we automatically eradicate material greed but we also bring our consciousness to a higher level where we can understand more esoteric matters about the Supreme Being. We cannot fully understand the esoteric nature of the Lord’s activities if we are still chained to activities such as anger, lust and greed. These vices among others ruin our material and spiritual life together. The spiritual practitioner should thus strive to be among people who have for a goal, developing intense greed for spiritual topics on the Supreme Lord. If the spiritual practitioner fails to take the association of such people and associates with those who are still conditioned by material greed, he puts himself at a risk of gliding back into his previous ways of material greed.

If we truly desire a panacea for the global issue of over accumulation and greed, then we must begin to redirect our greed and use it instead in the work of the Supreme Lord. It is only then we can hope to have a planet that is peaceful and full of resources for our collective use.

I hope this strikes a chord with you all, do read, internalize and share with others. I hope to see you all next week, till then Follow for more.

Greed

Dear esteemed readers,

Welcome to another week of informative blogs, I hope you all are faring well. Today we shall deliberate on a topic which we can all admit is having a negative toll on our relationships, communities, countries and even our planet as a whole. This crucial subject matter is none other than Greed.

At some point in time or another we have either accused someone of being greedy or maybe we have also been called greedy at some time due to certain actions or behaviours we exhibited. When we say someone is greedy what do we actually mean? In general we are saying that the person is not considerate of the feelings of others and cares too much about themselves, that they feel the need to over accumulate resources which could serve a larger number of people, just for themselves. So key words are too self-centered, inconsiderate, and over accumulation.

In the sacred texts of the Bhagavad-Gita it is mentioned that there are three gates leading to hell; lust, anger and greed. One would admit that if a person is lusty, angry and greedy or exhibits these tendencies then it is difficult to deal with them on a deeper level. Without digressing too much, why do people feel the need to over accumulate resources, things, money etc? The answer is because they lack self control and they fail to acknowledge the real owner of these things. It is mentioned in the revealed scriptures that everything we survey on this planet belongs to the Supreme Lord and thus we should take that which is our quota, knowing well to whom they belong. The sticky part in here is that many people fail to realize that we actually do not possess anything and all that we seek to acquire through over accumulation is actually the Supreme Lord’s property. We are but custodians of all we have, and the moment we forget this salient fact we begin to have problems.

Every now and then, we hear over the media of how much debt the planet is plunged into and how much poverty the world is facing, and sometimes I wonder “to whom do we owe this money?” Well I guess it’s more of a rhetorical question because I don’t expect anyone to give me a solid answer. On one hand we cry at the poverty level of many countries and put up banners and ads all over the internet to “raise” money for them, but on the other hand we celebrate a few individuals as the “world’s richest people” and every year we so diligently keep record of their earnings and publish them in the best of media outreach. Please do not get me wrong and feel this is a subtle attack on those who are rich and have made a name for themselves, I am a strong believer in people getting the results of their labour. However what I still do not understand and I guess most of you don’t too, is why a Man, who has so much money that it, is estimated to be practically impossible to spend all in one life time, be so keen on getting more and more?

If one is not satisfied with the little he/she has, even if you give them the whole world they won’t be satisfied. There is a saying that “there is enough for everyone’s need but there is never enough for one person’s greed”. Thus we can see that day in day out the more we put our greed first at the expense of other people’s needs we are making a choice, knowingly or unknowingly. It doesn’t matter how much we try to pretend it is all about “competition, having the winning edge, etc” the fact remains that people will suffer from our choices and actions. The other side to this spectrum is the fact that even though some people feel the need to over accumulate resources etc, you find out that they are never satisfied and are seldom really happy. So you begin to wonder, if you have so much money and you still aren’t satisfied and happiness in its deepest sense is far from your reach then why continue this futile chase? If greed and over accumulation was really fulfilling then the world would be a better place, but we all know this is the opposite today.

Furthermore, there is the subject of conscience that comes into play and I ask when you over accumulate due to greed and lack of self-control and you see people suffering at your expense, don’t you have any sympathy? Nowadays, there is the publicity stunt of trying to give some large sums of money in “charity” by some very rich people, and many people feel well this has to count for something. Of course it does but it that the solution? Every one of these businessmen knows for a fact that the best way to help a man is to teach him how to “fish” and not to feed him with “fish”; meaning teach people how to fend for themselves. If I constantly give you money instead of teaching you how to make yours then you are unconsciously allowing yourself to be at my mercy for as long as I continue. Is this truly “liberating and philanthropic”?

Well without sounding political and passing across the wrong ideas, the message here is we all have to evaluate our position and stance when it comes to our motives, interests, and reasons for accumulating resources. If we begin to see that these resources have been given to us as a tool for our subsistence on this planet and not as a medium for dominance and oppression then maybe we can begin to redirect our greed and focus on our needs. I was hoping to go deeper into this subject matter and try to link it to the spiritual aspect of greed and our duties as spiritual practitioners; however that would make this lengthy so I guess we have a second part coming next week.

Till then, read, internalize, share, and follow for more.

Cheers

Dealing with Pain

Dear readers,

It is a pleasure to be able to once again share very important topics with you all on this forum. I hope you all are faring well.

Today I shall speak on a topic that almost every one of us has had an experience and would like to have someone to share with. To be sincere and honest with you all, handling pain of whatever type or sort is something many people find difficult to deal with, especially when it is emotionally related. There are different types of pains; those from injuries, setbacks, failed projects, unrealistic expectations, relationships, death etc. Of these, those that are most difficult to endure are those which are related to our various relationships.

Whenever there is pain, we have to understand that there is a causative factor and once we can identify the factor we are one step closer to understanding the dynamics of the pain itself. When we lose a family member to death there is usually a lot of mourning and grief. The family members of the departed person feel they have lost something precious and many never completely heal from this experience. Healing from pain although an entire subject in itself, can be achieved when the person in pain has been able to go through the various stages of pain and has reached a level where they apply realized understanding of the situation to soothe their discomfort. In simpler terms, when a dear person is departed from this physical world, we can eventually understand that they have moved on hopefully to a better place where they no longer have to suffer from disease, old age and even death again.

Knowing this helps those who are related to the departed person, handle the grief better. However there are times when the reason we are in pain is not because of someone who has departed but because of our actions. Take for example in a relationship where two people come together to build a loving union, and there are setbacks and they get hurt, the pain both parties go through is inexplicable and usually the hurt can continue for a long time. If they both however apply a realized understanding to the situation then they can mitigate their suffering. In my blog on expectations and reality I addressed a few points about why people get frustrated sometimes and these points also apply to relationships. The solution to pain is not denying the presence of pain or thinking that pain is only present in a particular place or time; it is actually learning in truth the reason for the pain. Sad enough, many of us lie to ourselves about the real truth of the situation.

If a business man fails in a business venture there can be a thousand and one reasons why, and if he is true to himself he corrects the flaws and tries again even harder and better. We all know of how Thomas Edison tried so many times before he got the Light Bulb, this goes to further show that abandoning the path of our endeavor is not a solution. If Thomas Edison had abandoned his endeavor, who knows how we would manage today. Imagine the pain and frustration he had to go through each time he tried and failed, however he was resolute in his decision to make the bulb work and that never changed. What doesn’t kill you they say makes you stronger. Pain in this material world is inevitable, we can only choose how we embrace it and with whom. In life there are times when we laugh and times when we cry, the question is how and with whom we want to cry.

One thing I have noticed is many people learn through pain faster and quicker than through pleasure, and if you look at life critically there are two categories of pain; the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. Usually many people refuse to learn through the pain of discipline until the pain of regret hits them hard in the face. A student who doesn’t have the discipline to study before exams will definitely face the pain of failing the exam, a soldier who doesn’t train before war will definitely bleed more when it arrives, a businessman who doesn’t go through the pain and discipline of managing his finance will face the pain of bankruptcy, the disciple who doesn’t go through the pain of following his spiritual mentors orders will go through the pain of suffering in this material world, and many other examples. When we find ourselves in a painful situation we should ask ourselves certain questions.

  1. How and why is this happening?
  2. Is there anything within my power and influence I can do to make this better?
  3. Can I avoid it in the future completely or is it outside my influence?
  4. Is this pain as result of my actions (past or present)?
  5. Is it my fault (if caused by interaction with others)?
  6. How can I make things better next time?

If the pain is as a result of a dispute my spiritual mentor usually says we should accept this blame and see it as our fault first and only then can we have a wholistic approach of the situation. As far as we live in this world there is a limit to what we can influence and change, an d whenever nature gives us a test and we fail to learn from it properly and try to escape the pain, it comes back twice as hard.

As spiritual practitioners, we must remember that everything happens for a reason and the closer we are to the inner truths of things the better chances we have at dealing with the external pain. Pain and pleasure are opposite sides of the same coin, we can’t have one without the other and thus a seasoned spiritualists knows that whatever the situation is, he/she uses it as an opportunity to give glory to the Supreme Lord.

I shall allow you all to deliberate on these points and next week I will be back with more. Till then read, revise and follow for more

 

 

A traveler’s notepad

Dear esteemed readers,

I am glad to share with you all once again yet another exciting topic today. I hope you all are faring well.

Last week I had quite an intense week and I was again on the move, traveling and as usual I took some time out to jot down some notes. This time unlike my experience while waiting for a connecting flight, I was actually discussing with the driver and since it was a private hired vehicle it was just the two of us and we had some time to look into various aspects of life. In this blog I have extrapolated the ideas we spoke about into the realms of spirituality, I hope you find a thing or two.

We spoke a lot about the complexity of the human nature and how we can take a deeper insight as to why people act the way they do, and during the discussion something struck me. Here I am speaking with a man who drives people for a living and his job is to take you to wherever you need to go; safe and sound. He is not obliged to have a discussion with you, however if you start one with him like I did and it is engaging enough he was sure to participate. (Sometimes in our spiritual quest we may cross paths with people who have just a relationship of duty with us, yet if we step outside and beyond the boundaries of just duty we can discover things we never thought we would. If we for some reason fail to create relative bonds which are of deep values then we continue to exist on a superficial level).

The driver then went on to reveal a little more about himself and his personal life, telling me how his job kept him on the road for most days of the week and how he had to deal with a lot of “distractions” that came with being on the constant move. He mentioned how once he had engaged in a bitter argument with his wife and he just left and was away for two weeks. I was shocked and asked him what her reaction was. He looked at me and said “well you know”. I asked how long they had been married and he said 8 years plus. ( During the course of our training years as neophytes on the path of spirituality, there are times when the practitioner may find himself falling short of the required qualities and there are times when it seems like he is sure to lose because of the constant setbacks; but that is where the spiritual mentor comes in. He always lends a hand and as such never allows the disciple to completely fall off track, if there is at least the sincerity to continue.)

After a long talk about family life we then began to talk about what motivates or inspires people to do the things they do, and to what extent people go just to achieve their motives. We both saw that beyond the face value attached to people it is rather difficult most times to actually understand what people were thinking or what they really had in mind. It is for a fact that when we interact with people all we have as our barometer is their words. He gave an example saying “for instance when I pick clients up they tell me to get them to a destination at a particular time for reasons such as meetings, conferences etc. I do my best to get them there, now if they really attend meetings or conferences after I drop them off, I have no idea”. (In the course of our spiritual endeavor we will definitely encounter different types of people, those who are on the path strictly for pure spiritual inquiry and those who use the path as a means to achieving their various hidden agendas. Now only time filters out the grain from the chaffs. The question is are we true to ourselves when we take up spirituality or do we just tread the path to fulfill our hidden desires?)

During the course of our discussions he also mentioned how many people destroy valuable social ties and network due to greed, lust, over endeavoring and poor judgment. Even though he claimed not be particularly spiritual his words were simple and honest. He cited examples of people who didn’t appreciate what nature had provided for them and felt there was some green grass on the other side of the fence.  (The endeavoring spiritualist must be sure and careful to guide himself against things that pose as obstacles on his path of spirituality. He must be true to his vows just as he is true to his life, to flip vows around like they were nothing but mere words was as dangerous as playing with the fangs of a serpent, pretending they were mere toys. Once the spiritualist makes a vow to his mentor, even if he later finds out that his mentor is not as “perfect” as he thought, he had the duty of following that vow through.)

When it was about an hour to my destination I needed to make a call and we stopped at a mini mart so I could top up my mobile credit and I wanted a specific amount on the recharge but the attendant didn’t have the exact figure. To be more specific, let’s say I wanted a top up of $2, but the attendant had only recharge vouchers of $1. So I asked her to give me two $1 vouchers as it still added up to the same thing. The driver and I laughed at the incidence and I was surprised why the attendant didn’t suggest this to me and thus make a sale instead of saying they didn’t have. The driver then told me some people usually won’t take it unless it was exactly $2. (In spirituality many people come looking for various things, many don’t even know what they are looking for; some find it and can’t even use it. However often times we don’t always get the things we seek as we think they should be, nature gives us as we deserve and as we need to have in order to learn and grow better.)

I will allow you all contemplate on these nice exchanges I had with the driver, and I hope you all learn a thing a two. Till next week, read, internalize and follow.

 

 

 

 

The Importance of regulated spiritual practices

Dear readers,

It is a pleasure to share with you all yet another interesting topic. I hope you all are faring well.
This week for a change I felt we take a break from the Love series and discuss something else. The love series is definitely a topic to revisit and with time we shall do so. Like I always say, there is a lot to talk about but we have very limited time and thus we have to manage accordingly. The topic at hand is the importance of regulated spiritual practice.
When the word regulated comes to mind, many people may begin to see rules and regulations and are not so “inspired”, because generally people want to be “free”. More so,when we place spiritual practice next to the word regulated it becomes even harder for many to follow. So how can we encourage people to try to adapt some regulated spiritual practices according to their faith and religion?
First and foremost, people have to understand the reason why they have to engage in such practices. If you do not know the “why” of what you do, soon you will be searching for alternatives, because the conviction is not solid enough. The ultimate reason for engaging in regulated spiritual practices is to attain the Supreme Being. For us to attain the Supreme Being we have to be able to serve him with love and devotion, and this is best when done spontaneously, without ulterior motives. However before we rise to the level of spontaneous spiritual practices imbued with love and devotion, we have to go step by step through a series of regulated spiritual practices. So what are some of these regulated spiritual practices? I must say they differ according to faith and religion.
For instance, regulated spiritual practice for a catholic will be; rise in the morning, freshen up by taking a bath, attend the morning mass, during day recite the rosary and after work hopefully, one attends the evening mass. Along side with these, the practitioner should observe the lent fast, pray to the saints and observe days ascribed to them, go for confessions and be actively involved in the church activities. Muslims have a different line of practices and in fact one cannot call himself a muslim if he doesn’t observe the five pillars of Islam; Observing ramadan, doing namaz daily, going to hajj at least once in a life time, etc. For gaudiya Vaisnavas, rising early before sunrise, offering prayers to one’s spiritual mentor, chanting or reciting a fixed number of the Lord’s name daily, residing in a sacred place, reading the scriptures, engaging in daily worship of the Lord’s form, etc.
In brief, one can see that all these practices have one sole purpose irrespective of the religion and that is constantly remember the Supreme Being day in day out. The only way to remember someone constantly is to always talk about the person and always call him/her. Thus wether by praying on the rosary, the japa mala or the tasbhi,the goal is to remember the Lord. One may wonder so if I dutifully follow these practices according to my faith, does this guarantee that I can become spiritually advanced? The answer is Yes, provided that the aim is to please the Lord and provided one keeps away from offenses and sin. Initially every spiritual practitioner who is new to a spiritual path, may find it somewhat difficult to keep up with these practices, and some may even quit, backslide or “bloop”.
However with time, practice and determination the new practitioner soon masters these regulated practices and rises to a level where he does all these activities not because he is told to do them, but because he derives inner spiritual bliss from doing them. It is at this point he begins his journey into the amazing world of spontaneous spiritual practice imbued with love and devotion. Some people may still argue about the importance of having a regulated spiritual practice and keeping to it, and even go as far as saying that “God doesn’t need all these things and all he wants is love”. Fair enough, they are correct to an extent, but the question is how can you love someone you don’t know, someone you don’t talk about or even speak with (in prayer, which is also a part of regulated spiritual practice), or someone you visit once a week be it in church, mosque or temple?
Regulated spiritual practice is the “training” we need to become “professionals” in the matter of spirituality. Just like we marvel at how a famous footballer dribbles the ball past many defenders and scores a goal, we must also remember that he must have gone through a lot of training and practice, even beyond the required minimum before he achieves such level of perfection. You don’t become a professional footballer by just loving the game and go to the field once a week. However, if one submits himself to a coach, and goes through a regulated series of training then one may aspire to become a professional footballer. Similarly, if one hopes to advance on the path of spirituality one has to go to a spiritual mentor, and apply himself to regulated spiritual practices.
One amazing yet funny fact in thinking that one doesn’t need to follow any regulated spiritual practice and yet still become advanced is that, we insist that people get trained in physical matters that can often be seen, yet we object for training in spiritual matters that elude our physical understanding. No one will allow a “quack doctor” who is self trained, with no history of study or practice under a qualified tutor, to operate on them. Then why do we lower the standards in spirituality which requires even more attention to detail.
I shall let you all reflect on these matters and next week we shall take it up a notch. Till then read, reflect, and follow for more.

NB: The photo used is not mine, so all credits go to the owner.

Love 301

Dear readers,
Welcome to another exciting and informative week, I hope you all are faring well. A couple of weeks ago we undertook a very special task of trying to analytically understand what love is, in its pure state. This endeavor gave birth to two love series; 101 and 201. I shall discuss certain points here, assuming that you have read the first and second part. If you haven’t, please make it a point of duty to read them so that you can easily follow the trend and line of thought.
Today we shall take yet another quality of love and try to elaborate on it. This week the quality of non-enviousness is our subject matter. When we say love is free from envy, what exactly do we mean? Once again, do we mean that those who profess love to one another should not exhibit any sign of envy if they see their beloved with someone else? Well this is freedom from envy in its most physical or gross form. We shall however look at what it means for love to be free from envy at a rather subtle level. Envy is a feeling of discontent or resentful longing, aroused by someone else’s possession, qualities..etc.
As I mentioned earlier on, in its gross form we can conveniently say no one wants a lover who is envious of his/her progress. It would be counterproductive to have a lover who is envious of you, when he/she is supposed to celebrate your achievements with you, rather than loath over them. In Love 101, we defined love as that which gives pleasure or satisfaction to the Supreme Lord’s senses, and we gave a reason why this is the highest definition of love we can come across. In that light we also saw that we cannot experience real love if we do not operate on a level pure enough to receive real love. Thus in 201 we discussed how real love is experienced when we understand who we really are, that is; our real self. Understanding our real self; the soul, is but a step into experiencing real love. For love to be experienced there has to be a lover and the beloved. In this case the Supreme Lord is the beloved and we are the lovers.
The sum and substance of our lives here on this planet is to cultivate love for him and to experience that love to its fullest. However how can we love someone we are envious of?
Now some of you might be taken aback, saying “but I am not envious of God, why should I?” Well consciously, we may not be, but unconsciously we are trying to compete with him in one way or the other. How? By trying to Lord over the very environment that he has created for us, by trying to become enjoyers of the world instead of Him, and by trying to enjoy everything without Him. Yes, this may still sound esoteric to some of you, while some of you may already begin to grasp what I mean. Nevertheless I shall discuss further. In our futile attempt to become “Lords” in this world which is ephemeral, we have lost sight of the simple understanding of what Love is; giving satisfaction to the Supreme Lord. Thus all that we do, the goal is to give pleasure to ourselves, and because of this we would sometimes even become hostile to anything that comes in between us and our so-called “enjoyment” even if it is God. A quick example to illustrate this.
Have you ever wondered how difficult it is to give $20 for a religious cause but easily spend over $200 in a spa? Have you ever caught yourself consciously being sad or disturbed when you were told to observe a religious act, even when you knew it was for your own benefit? Have you ever indulged in pre-marital intercourse, even when almost every scripture says we should deny the pleasures of the flesh and seek higher pleasures? Have you ever wondered why Man is so keen on making robots that are very humanoid? An attempt to replicate what God has already done, and possibly the closest they will ever get. I can go on and on.
Truth be told, we have the tendency to want to enjoy everything in our sight and survey because we are actually envious of the supreme position of God. Many wonder, why should He get everything? When we are envious of other people’s achievement and progress, it is also an indication of how less we have learnt to love. Instead of celebrating the progress of others we try to thwart their efforts by creating stumbling blocks to make their lives difficult. If we can do this to fellow Men who have but a few achievements, imagine how we actually treat the Supreme Lord. The reason why the envy towards God seems ” subtle” is because unlike envy to other people, we cannot see it physically. No one knows all the plans we make to “out do” the laws of nature, which by the way are God’s laws. We make so much arrangement to defy these laws and even alter them if possible, why, because we are envious.
Even though great Scientist like Planck and Einstein have all said that Science without God is a waste of time, many pseudo scientist’s today, are all trying to “outwit” God. However in time, the most subtle and powerful force of the Supreme Lord; Time, gets them all. The envy we exhibit towards the Supreme Lord even though subtle in most cases, and done unconsciously, is still very much present. It takes a very clear understanding to see it. This understanding comes only from proper knowledge of the real self. If by now you are still not convinced that we are actually envious of the Supreme Lord’s qualities then let us a take a quick look at some interesting points. The Supreme Lord is thus called because He possesses six opulences or qualities in full. He is the most opulent, strongest, most renounced, wisest, most beautiful and most famous. Man can have one of these or maybe two to a large extent but not to the fullest. The world’s strongest Man is not the world’s richest Man, and Mr. Universe who may be the world’s most handsome doesn’t have the wealth of the richest man or the renunciation of the most renounced Man. So in one form or another we are trying to compete with qualities of the Lord, this is our envy.
In the study of revealed scriptures we are made to understand that even certain vices can be dovetailed in the Lord’s service, we can use anger by being angry at our deviations, we can use greed by being very eager to hear about the wonderful pastimes of the Lord and so on. However envy is one we must try to rid ourselves of.
I am really trying to keep this at a readable length and avoid making it too long, but there is just so much to say and so little space. Till next week, Do read, reflect, internalize these points and follow for more.

Love 201

Dear esteemed readers,
Kindly accept my warmest greetings. I hope you all are faring well.
Last week we introduced a very important topic and I had promised more, therefore this week I shall try to develop further one at a time some of the qualities of Love cited in the Bible.
Love is free from pride : At first glance this looks pretty much self explanatory, and one would say of course no one wants to be in love with someone who is proud and/or arrogant. Everyone will at least desire to have someone who is humble and simple. When we take a closer look however we can understand the concept a little more, because we then have a better definition of the word pride.
When we look at pride from the perspective of ego, then we can analyze the topic even better. There is no gain saying that when ego gets in the way, relationships strain and if relationships must thrive then we have to curtail our ego. The question is what is this ego? Ego is defined as a person’s sense of self esteem or self importance. So whatever we deem as our true self determines our ego. So what is the “true self”? If our ego is defined by importance based on the body then we have false ego or pride, if however our ego is defined by importance placed on the soul the we have real ego. Thus the answer is the soul is our true self.
If we make the mistake of identifying the body as the self then not only do we jeopardize our chances of experiencing real love but we also shackle ourselves to an identity that is false and keeps us prisoners of this body. Just incase you are somewhat confused by all this new information let us take a quick recap; love is free from pride, and pride can be also referred to as ego. Ego is divided into two; real and false, and since ego is a person’s sense of self importance, the importance of a false self cannot really be important. This means if our self importance or esteem which is our ego is defined by our temporary bodies instead of our soul which is eternal then we have false ego, and this type of ego prevents us from experiencing real love.
When the Bible says love is free from pride, it wants us to see that real love is free from false ego or identification with an ego that is defined by the body. So if real love is free from bodily identification, naturally one would wonder what we would call the mirage we have today which is mistaken as love, because it is based mostly on the body. People confess love when they can give some satisfaction to their bodies, so naturally to most people love is about two “bodies”. This however doesn’t reflect what the scriptures describe as Love. So if real love is defined by our real ego which is the true self, which is our soul, then how can we experience that love?
This is the question no one is asking, and the one we should all actually be asking more. There are two parts to this answer; one is easy to grasp with our limited mind but the other is beyond our scope of understanding and esoteric. Infact the second is not just esoteric but the very essence of true spirituality. For the sake of general comprehension we shall look at the first part to the answer. The way to experience real love with our true self or our souls is to understand the very essence of what our soul really is. We cannot love anyone until and unless we truly love ourselves, now loving ourselves isn’t just about taking care of our bodies, or accepting our body as it is. Loving ourselves is taking time to find out more about the soul, its origin, the reason why it is now here, its nature, its original residence etc. when we find out more about the soul which is our true self, then we can actually see if our activities here and now are helpful to our true self. What do I mean? We cant claim to love ourselves truly if we are constantly engaged in activities which bring continuous entanglement to the soul. If we are not “feeding” the soul with the food of the soul, just as we feed the body with food for the body then we do not truly love ourselves. This is but the first part of the answer to the question; how to experience real love with our true self.
Now because we have people who are not operating on this level, there is less and less love in our communities, families, churches, mosques, temples, offices, countries etc. Everyone is operating on love defined by pride, or false ego or false identification with the false self. Thus we are constantly feeling “empty” inside because that vacuum is there and nothing but real love experienced by our true self can fill it up.
I would let you all reflect on these points and next week we shall delve more into the subject. Till then read, reflect and follow for more.

Love 101

Dear readers,
Welcome to another week of informative transformation with topics that are worth deliberating. I hope you all are faring well and had a lovely week.
In my last article, I had mentioned that this week we shall take a look at the great word Love. This is one word many of us use, have used, or at least hear people using every now and then. Last week people from various parts of the world celebrated a day that is supposed to celebrate “love”. I cannot however vouch for the substance of the so-called love people celebrate that day.
So what is this Love? There are many definitions of the word love, many as a result of a particular perspective of an individual. We shall look at a few definitions of the word love, and then try to look at a definition of love from a perspective that is un-influenced by our human desires.
The dictionary defines love as a “strong feeling of affection” or a great interest and pleasure in something. This definition however places a lot of emphasis on the physical aspect of love, especially as it is understood by most people. To define love however by saying it is a feeling or interest is to limit its real function. The Bible gives a little glimpse to what love is like in its unadulterated state. In 1Corinthians, the characteristics of love is given: patient, kind, free from envy, not boastful, not proud; that is free from pride or false ego, does not dishonour others, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no records of wrongs, does not delight in evil, rejoices in truth, always protects, always trusts,always hopes and always perseveres.
Some of us might have seen this verse before and some even know it by heart, but what most people do not realize, is that this here, is a very high definition of love way beyond what we know or express today.
Today we say we love someone as long as; we can use them, manipulate them, if they honour us, and we definitely keep record of their wrong doings because then we can justify why we do not “love” them anymore when the time comes. We can see it is a far cry from what real love is truly about. Love according to gaudiya vaisnava’s is ” that which gives pleasure to the Supreme Lord’s senses”. In other words love is that which is gives satisfaction to God. In my humble opinion, it is difficult to find a better definition. Why? It is absolute and without flaw. Even the Bible says ” for God so loved the world, that he sent his son…” He gave himself as a token of love, however in the usual selfish ways of Man, instead of appreciating that love, they killed him. Jesus further went on to express this love by being totally submissive to the will of God, even in his darkest hour. This is the definition of love; to give pleasure to God.
Those who are adherents of the gaudiya vaisnava philosophy would understand that the gopis are the manifestation of such undying and selfless love to God. They desire nothing for themselves but to please God. This attitude is totally in line with the qualities of love given in 1Corinthians. The only thing is, in the Bible we do not get a vivid description of how to put this love in practice. Fast forward to our present day, we have totally usurped the real meaning of love and taken the liberty to link it with romance and sex. So when someone says ” I love you” today, invariably we hear ” I want to be intimate with you”. We may pretend that actually not everyone has this kind of motive in mind and some people really love deeply, but the real question is; can they genuinely say that their love is totally selfless and expects nothing in return. That they will give themselves to their lovers body, mind and soul 100% and wont even ask for a single favor in return?
In this light we have stories like Romeo and Juliet who “died” for love, and most times I ask did they really die for love? While studying Shakespeare back in high school it sounded really fascinating but over the years with deeper study of the scriptures, I ask what right does any man or woman have to end a life they don’t have? We have all been given this life by God as a gift and it is for a purpose thus to put an end to it would be ungrateful and also selfish. You can only end a life if you can restore it back,something which is impossible for the modern man today. Therefore those who hide under the canopy of “love” to commit suicide are no where near the name lovers. For the first person we owe the most love in our lives is He who gave us life, and if we end that life he gave us without his sanction then we are selfish. Selfish because we want things to go the way we want and if we cant have it, we would rather die.
While some may read this and feel it is rather “harsh” and “unromantic”, the real question is, what is romantic about taking a life you didn’t create in the first place, just to prove that you have a high level of “lust” for someone? Taking one’s life doesn’t reflect hope and perseverance, both of which are characteristics of Love, as mentioned above.
From another dimension we look at marriages which ought to be a holy union of a man and woman in the presence of God, and nowadays it seems from the onset everyone has a list of things they expect the other to fulfill. In fact, it is a prerequisite these days to discuss your expectations with your partners before marrying them. It is supposedly thought to bring things to the light and to see how best you both can help each other. Now while this could have genuine advantages, it shows how “selfless” we really are. That in one of the greatest institution of “love” today, we are told to make sure our partners can fulfill our expectations, otherwise do not commit to it. So how is this love, how is this selfless? This is self-seeking in every way.
The response to this will be ” hey we gatto to be real man, we all have needs, so where is the harm if two people who “love” each other want to fulfill them together?” Well there is no harm, as long as they don’t term it “love” give it another name, maybe business relationship. (Lol) the truth is as soon as we say what can you do for me, or I expect you to do ABC for me, the it is not Love.
I shall draw the curtain here for this segment,next week we shall discuss more about love. Till then read, internalize and follow for more.

The thin line between Religion and Institution

OllowDear readers,

I am glad to share with you all today another interesting topic, one that many of us have to deal with on a regular basis. I hope you all are faring well.
In one way or another, many of us subscribe to one faith or another and we may also refer to it as a religion if we please. We pray in a certain fashion, fast on certain days, worship in a certain mode and even dress in specific ways. Over and above all, we try to follow the precepts of our religions as best as we can or as we should. This in itself is laudable and we try to instill these very morals in those we are responsible for.
Over the years and for centuries, religion has affected the lives of many people, positively and negatively. We may choose to ignore some of the real and glaring facts however burying our heads in sand doesn’t make the problem disappear, rather we must look at it decisively and take action adequately.
An institution on the other hand is a body founded for a specific purpose, be it social, business or even spiritual. One interesting feature about an institution which we may already know is that it survives on bureaucracy; a system where by decision is taken by some selected members and not by everyone. In itself, it can function and survive quite well, however when intertwined with religion the dynamics isn’t always the best. Let us look at some very practical examples, today Islam has spread the world over with a large number of followers through various means such as jihad, conversions, members having many wives and offsprings and thus growing strong also from inside out. Every country has a its own chief Imam and they act mainly as guides in the country. There is no main or central body that gives laws for all muslims the world over, because the Quran is their centre of reference. Even though they may disagree on some of the interpretations given by different sects of the faith, the general idea is when there is a disagreement or opposing views on an idea, they all turn to the Quran.
In terms of growth, we all must agree they have been successful. (Please note that when I speak of Islam and muslims I in no way include the radicals who hurt people in the name of religion, I speak only of those who follow their religion peacefully).
Christianity has also spread through out the world by various means such as the crusaders, colonialism, conversions, evangelism and above all the ability of every church to operate as an individual unit, separate and distinct from every other church in the world. Now we all know the catholics still operate a system where the vatican is the governing body for all catholics, however we also must honestly admit that the pentecostals have risen and grown more that the catholics because they have a greater filed of operation with less intrusions from an institution that creates laws which may or may not necessarily be applicable in every field. What do I mean? For example, Joel Osteen as a pastor runs his church and all affiliates according to a system he feels best, and similarly T.D Jakes naturally does the same. The only thing they both have in common is they preach from the Bible and proclaim Jesus, but there is no institution or body whatsoever that controls them, gives them laws or tries to meddle with their internal affairs. Now in as much as central coordination has some advantages, in religious matters and at least in Christianity, churches have risen more because every pastor has a large autonomy on how he runs his church. Are they successful? Yes!
We may define success by various parameters but when it comes to outreach and members, we must give kudos to our Christian brothers.
In this light if those who practice gaudiya vaisnavism want to have a huge impact on the world, they must first start by de-institutionalizing the religion. When bureaucracy mixes with religion, you have a system that is almost similar to dictatorship, because those in the administrative part of the religion may and often misuse their power. In a normal religious circle, advancement should be judged by how much a person has lived his life in total surrender to God’s will and instructions, in a religion that is institutionalized, often times advancement or progress is judged by how soon one can climb the socio-spiritual ladder, and how many positions you have.
Local leaders who manage centers do not have any autonomy because at anytime, someone sitting at a place thousands of meters away probably in another continent can pass a law that totally disrupts the local preaching. A local preacher may find himself subject to the laws and dictate of a leader who is high on the institutional ladder but junior in spirituality, because in the light of things position has a heavier weight than spiritual advancement, thus he is bound to comply. Someone may argue to the effect that administration in itself is not a hindrance to the advancement of any religion and in fact helps it grow. In this regard need I mention that in almost all major religious texts of Islam, Christianity and Hinduism, none of the great saints and prophets ever felt the need to establish a religious body governed by circular administration. Jesus didn’t build a church talk less of put anyone as a general overseer neither did Caitanya Mahaprabhu establish any Temple, and install anyone as president. Rather all the past saints advised people to grow spiritually and thence encourage others to grow following their example.
If religion must grow truly in its pure and undiluted form, it has to do so without the interference of circular management. If a religion must spread rapidly, then the preachers must believe they are part of the religion and are accountable for their preaching endeavors and not subject to “powers that be”. When preachers feel encroached on and incapacitated in using their own discretion and judgement in matters that concern their local preaching, they gradually begin to hold back and with time they don’t give their best any more. Why should they anyway, when one man or a group of people can over turn it all in a blink of an eye.
As usual I shall give you all sometime to soak this up and we shall deliberate more on this matter latter. It is four days to valentine and I wanted to do something on Love but I guess I shall postpone that till next week.
Till then do read, internalize and follow this blog space for more amazing articles. You don’t want to miss anything.