Monday, August 27, 2007
'Don't say the D-word,' this is how parents react when children talk about death. Its like saying - you-know-who or the one who must not be named in the Harry Potter books.
Death, in almost all cultures, traditions and religions, is a taboo word. When someone dies, children are not allowed to enter that place. They are just kept away. Forget children, elders also avoid this subject. They are either scared or do not want to bring up this topic.
The most logical reason that one says is - why should we think about death or talk about it. Just enjoy life now, just live.
Swami Nithyananda says - only when you know about death, you will know what life is. When you understand death, you will know how to live.
We either shrug off or avoid talking about death. The fact is we believe death is the end of life; death is something that will take away everything from us. Swami Nithyananda says, death is not the end, it is the climax. He says when we understand truly what death is, we start to see death in a totally different light. We see death as something giving, not as something taking away.
Swami Nithyananda quotes a story from Socrates' life. When Socrates was about to be poisoned, people around him saw him to be completely happy. They did not find him perturbed by it at all. Someone asked him, 'are you not scared? You are going to die soon.' Socrates gives a beautiful reply, 'why should I be scared? What can happen? Either I will start living in another body or I will be liberated. Either way, I will not lose anything.'
We always fear death because we believe that it will take away what ever we have. We want to hold on to our name, our status, our desires, our guilts, our pleasures, our sorrows strongly. And we believe that death will take all these things away from us.
Just one realization that all these are as temporary as flowing river, will give us a new insight into death. Just this clutching to what we think as ours makes us think death as a villian.
Only an enlightened master can speak what death is, what exactly is the process of death. Only he can express that experience because he has undergone a conscious process of death. In Life Bliss Program 2 (LBP2), Swami Nithyananda throws light on the process of death. He speaks out of His personal experience of death and takes us through the different body layers that a soul passes through at the process of death.
On a personal note, after going through LBP2, our whole perspective to death and life has undergone a 180 degree shift. After internalizing the deeper truths, we and I am sure many who have done LBP2, see death in its truest form and are no longer scared of it.
This topic is too big to put in one post and we putting it in words is not as experiential as an enlightened master speaking out of his experience... So we leave you with this video by Swami Nithyananda...N!joy!
-- Sri Nithya Arpanananda
Friday, August 24, 2007
When we go back into our past and recollect incidents, we always seem to miss so many things. If you are visiting your native place after a loooong gap of 10 years and see the familiar streets, something cries within you. The feeling hits you strongly that so much has changed, you have grown up and have moved on so much in life. Why does this feeling make us cry? Why do we miss our past so much? Why do we want many things to never come to an end?
It brings us to the most interesting irony of life. We love to see everything as permanent and eternal, although we know everything around is temporary! How true isn't it? We cry when something or somebody close to our hearts is taken away from us. We just take the presence of everyone in our lives for granted and are never prepared to see things otherwise. Even our own lives, we see as permanent. That's why when we hear about accidents or other mishaps, we keep thanking God that it wasn't us. It's going to be our turn sometime anyway, we cannot run away from it, however much we try. So, why not accept it and face it? Even better if we prepare to face it. (Will definitely dedicate a post on "death" and how we can prepare for it. It's a beautiful and deep subject!)
Not seeing things as they are, is what sages called 'Maya' (closest English translation being illusion). In this context, we keep missing the truth every moment and keep fooling ourselves that everything is permanent and ours. Have we ever wondered why this is the case? Why do we see things as permanent and love to see them that way? Why do we see our own lives as eternal?
Swamiji gives an amazing explanation to this: Very deep down, our very being, our true nature, consciousness knows no death. It knows that it is eternal. It is beyond life and death. This is the same Truth elaborated in the Bhagavat Geetha when Krishna says:
nainam chindanti sastrani
nainam dahati pavakah
na cainam kledayanty apo
na sosayati marutah (2-23)
In other words, our true nature is untouched. To put it in Swamiji's words, we are by nature "unclutched". It is our mind that makes all connections and conditionings. Clutching to the past and seeing a future based on the past is all a game of the mind. Let us unclutch and be free!
In these videos (video1, and video2) Swamiji talks beautifully about how our very nature is being unclutched. N!joy!
- Ma Nithyananda Arpana
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Why does patriotism send strong signals of awe and inspiration inside us? Why does one feel respect and admiration for the heroes who died for their country? Let us analyse this in the context of our daily activities.
If you see carefully, most of our thoughts, words and actions are centered around fulfilling our needs, bodily pleasures and comforts, either directly or indirectly. For many, their food and sleep are very close to their hearts, for others it's their work or salary. Our identity with this body and mind is so strongly engraved in us. All name, fame, money and recognition in society that we are after, all are fuels that keep this so-called body-mind identity alive in us. This stops us from thinking beyond.
At one level above, you do not stop at thinking about just youself, but go to the extent of thinking about other members of your family. Even here, you are thinking about them because they are strongly and directly connected to you rather than an overflowing compassion or love to a fellow human being. If the latter were to be the case, we would have loved any stranger on the street as much as we would 'love' our parents or spouses.
Now, going back to the movie, every time the Indian team scored a goal, a huge wave of applause echoed in the audience, celebration time! Perhaps this is a similar sentiment that becomes alive when we watch a cricket match and literally pray for India's victory. At that time, nothing is more important to us than India winning! A similar, but more serious sentiment happens when we hear about heros like Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh who readily sacrificed their lives for the nation.
In each of these cases, what really happens is a shedding of our body-mind identity for the sake of a bigger identity, for the country. Soldiers who die for their nation are ready to let go of their personal small identity consisting of one or few people, for an identity that binds millions together. In the movie, at first, all players in the national team introduce themselves by saying their name followed by their state. The coach, Shah Rukh Khan gets mad at them for that. He tells them to identify themselves with Team India and asks them to shout their name and 'India'. During this scene, one could feel a gush of pride in the audience. From an individual level, we start to connect as one single nation on the stands of the stadium.
If we go one level deeper, each individual connects to the other at a cosmic level because we cannot escape the fact that we are part of the Whole. Self realization is all about melting the individual identity of body-mind (called Jivatma) for merging with that higher identity (called Paramatma). The individual identity or our 'ego' is an obstacle that blinds us from our real identity, something much deeper and vaster than what we normally perceive. A life led with awareness and the grace of an enlightened Master can simply knock this obstacle and put us face-to-face with who we really are. Only we should be willing and curious for this encounter to happen!
-- Ma Nithyananda Arpana
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Here are some points to ponder, to help us answer that question to ourselves.
1. If your colleague gets a promotion and you get jealous, then you are a slave to your colleague's progress.
2. If you are a happy person today just because of the praises and compliments you got, then you are a slave to those compliments, coz you wouldn't be as happy otherwise.
3. If you can't sleep peacefully because you're scared about an exam the next day, then you are a slave to that fear of exams.
4. If you are constantly worried about what your boss would say about your progress at work, then you are a slave to your boss's opinions.
5. If you lost your cool and started to yell while arguing with your friend or spouse, then you are a slave to your anger.
6. If you are not able to stop smoking or drinking even though you want to quit, then you are a slave to those habits.
7. If you are not at ease if you have not had your morning coffee or newspaper, then you are a slave to the coffee/newspaper.
8. If you are disappointed at having lost in a competition, then you are a slave to the thought of success.
9. If you always keep praying that your business should go well or that your partner should not dump you, then you are a slave to your insecurities.
10. If you are not able to sit for 5 minutes silently with youself because the thoughts are taking you for a fast roller-coaster ride, then you are a slave to the thoughts and inner chatter!
If we are honest to ourselves and ask each of the above questions to us, we will know how much of injustice and slavery we are putting ourselves into.
To be able to be blissful, NO MATTER WHAT is the Ultimate Liberation, the Ultimate Freedom. For this we need to take the bold step into ourselves and decide to break free from the bondages of greed, jealousy, fear, anger and lust. These shackles can never liberate us unless we make a conscious attempt. Let us take the plunge, let us break free.
What is the worst that can happen to us? We lose our life, that's all! Thousands lost their lives to get our Motherland her independence from external bondage. Let us get inspired from them to live our life with courage, confidence and break free from the internal bondages. Let us strive for the Ultimate Liberation, for Enlightenment.
Ma Nithyananda Arpana
The fight was necessary because the very freedom of existence of people was being curbed. When that very freedom is taken away, we feel suffocated. Imagine a person being constantly watched, being put under 100 different rules, being locked in a cell, a dungeon. Thousands were put in cellular jail, in cells hardly few feet by few feet. Living conditions were really pathetic. People were not allowed to speak what they wished to. If they did, they were locked up in prisons.
If we retrace through Indian history, British sailors were welcomed by Indians in early 1700. They were treated very well by Indians and in return Brithishers also reciprocated warmly. Contrary to what happened later, Britishers and Indians shared a friendly bond. But along the way, something changed. British started taking charge of Indians. They started controlling everything around. They wanted to hold the power. In return of petty profits, Indians too allowed Britishers to take charge initially. That's it. That was all was needed for a 200 year long battle to start off.
This independence was necessary for people to express themselves, to preserve their culture, their heritage, their tradition. This independence was needed before they got eliminated by the pressure of the British regime. The very survival of an Indian was at stake. This independence was needed and finally achieved...
Now let me ask you a question - are we really free? Do we really express what we really are?
The answer is ... NO!
Let us go one level deeper. When we were kids, we expressed ourselves more freely. We just did not care what others would say and we would do things that are unthinkable now. We expressed our freedom in the true sense of freedom. But now, we have carved out an identity based on society. We define ourselves based on what we are in this society. We behave in a certain way when we are in front of our boss, but in a different way when we meet our friends.
What has happened along the way? Why did we stop feeling that sense of freedom, that independence?
The answer is simple; just like the Indians in early 1700, we let someone else take charge of ourselves. We let the society take charge. We let ourselves ruled by the societal pressure. We express what the society wants us to, we talk what is acceptable by the society, we walk the path which the society says is the safest. Each and everything that we do has some relation or the other with the society. Our whole identity is knit by the society.
Also, along the process, we have built a false ego around us, an ego that is powered by the society. The foundation stones of our ego are made up of the society. We do something because we will be placed higher in the society; we talk in a certain way because we will be recognized in the society; we walk a certain path because that we believe that is the path that will keep us on top of everyone.
Clutched in the shackles of society and ego, we have just forgotten our true identity, our true independence - to merge with the Ultimate Consciousness.
This was the only fight of independence that ancient India fought thousands of years ago. Neither violence, nor non-violence but spiritual truths were the only weapons they used. The only independence that they believed was the Ultimate Liberation. Along the way, we have strayed away from this fight.
Our inner self, the life force that runs us, the life force that runs the Universe is getting suffocated and choked due to our own ego. Time has come to start the true battle of independence ...
-- Sri Nithya Arpanananda
Friday, August 10, 2007
However, we have no choice but to admit that science, as of today, has its limitations. For example, until recently it was believed that the Big Bang theory explained the origin of the universe. One day or the other, the question had to come 'what before that?'. Recently, some scientists are suggesting an alternate model called the Big Bounce Theory in an attempt to cover the loopholes of the Big Bang. However, unless we say the Universe always existed, the question about 'what before that?' will always exist.
Whatever we know as science today is built on one basic assumption: 'the observer and the scene observed are different'. You may say, that doesn't make sense. Let me elaborate. Why do you see something as a house, or somebody as being different from you? A sense of identity that you have created with your body makes you think you are different from everything around you isn't it?
The approach to science has been that man first cut himself from the scene because he thought he is different, then saw the plants, animals, planets around him. Then he started to classify these, study them and science originated - one branch for each of the things he put under a category.
Let's call this science of the external world. The flaw here is that the observer was never questioned. The distinct separation of the observer from the scene was taken for granted. This is where the problem lies. This can only lead us to relative findings, not absolute, because the very framework is relative to the observer.
The scientists of the inner world were very thorough. They made no assumptions. They went to the very roots. They questioned the observer first. They asked the question 'What am I?', 'Am I this body?', 'Am I separate from the rest of the world or is it just my projection?'. They went to the root of the problem and were not satisfied with relative findings. These amazing scientists of the inner world cracked the problem to life, existence, God.
Great scientists like Einstein recognized that there is more to science that what we perceive and said 'The end of science is the origin of spirituality'. What this means is that where the science of the external world stops, the science of the inner world begins. Today, top quantum physicists are asking fundamental spiritual questions. Watch the movie What the bleep do we know? to understand what I am saying.
Many of us think that spirituality is subjective and science is absolute. Friend, if you feel that way, you are mistaken. Spirituality talks about the Absolute Truth. That is why Truth is written with a capital 'T'. Whether it was Jesus, Krishna or Buddha, they spoke about the very same Truth. If we see them as different, it is our ignorance. Of course, this Truth can only be experienced not intellectualized using logic. Because once we start using logic, we are once again talking in relative terms. And the Truth is Absolute.
Ancient scriptures of India like the Upanishads is a thorough documentation of all the scientific experiments and study done in the inner world. It gives us techniques to crack the mysteries of life and contain nothing but the Truth. Unfortunately, there is so much of misconception about these scriptures, many think these books promote religious fanaticism, or it contains mythological stories. No way, these wonderful books contain just pure knowledge about Existence, about the very fundamental question 'Who am I?'.
Anybody who has been truly touched by Swami Nithyananda has experienced at least one glimpse of this Truth. What happens in this space when the boundaries disappear is simply beyond words. As mystics put it, it is Sat-Chit-Ananda (Truth-Awareness-Bliss). Swamiji has proven to us that it is not just the mystics, but you and I can experience it. Ofcourse, when one experiences it all the time, he becomes enlightened! Let us start with at least a glimpse, you never know, enlightenment may be around the corner!
-- Ma Nithyananda Arpana
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Colleague1 (frowning): What's wrong with this?
Colleague2 : Yeah man. Why does it go off without anything happening at all?
Colleague1 (getting irritated): Could someone shut this thing? It is just too irritating.
Even after a few minutes, the alarm did not stop ringing...
Colleague2 (frustrated): Man, let's get out of here. Just can't stay here any longer...
Many of us have faced situations where we get very irritated at small or no incidents at all. We go to a shopping complex and sometimes get bugged seeing hoards of people moving aimlessly or so we think.
When we board a crowded bus with each one narrating his/her story to the other at the top of their voices, we simply cannot take it. We just want get out of that bus as soon as possible. The sounds of so many people, the chaos in the bus is just too much for us to be calm and patient.
Let me give you one more situation. Those of you who have written exams would have experienced the eery silence in the exam hall. This silence can also be shattering and we think 'why is this place so quiet'. Next moment, in this silence if someone starts tapping his foot or clicking his pen, again irritation starts to creep in us.
In all the above situations, if we notice, we are actually not even the subject, i.e. the crowd in the bus is not talking to us or about us, the hundreds of people in the shopping mall are not even bothered about us, the fire alarm is no way related us and we don't even know the student who is tapping his foot in the exam hall.
If that is the case, why do we take them so personally on ourself? Why do we get so irritated?
A simple answer: we are not at peace within ourselves. We are not comfortable with ourselves. There is so much of chaos in us that a small external event is enough to irritate us. We just cannot tolerate anything. For example, the days when you had an argument with your colleague or boss, you are in a terrible mood and in such a scenario even a slight external disturbance is enough to pull the trigger. Isn't it?
Internally there is chaos going on. There is so much inner chaoas and a small trigger can cause it to just spill outside. All that is needed is a small vent in the form of an external disturbance.
Swami Nithyananda quotes an incident from his life:
When I was in
He said, “Swamiji, I have a problem. I don’t sleep well at night because I live in an area where there are plenty of street dogs. Every night they start barking, and keep barking till sunrise. I am already a very light sleeper, and I simply can’t get any rest because of this noise.”
I told him, “Go home and try this tonight. When you hear the barking, just drop the anger, the negative feelings that rise up in you. Just listen to the barking sound without resisting. Tell yourself that the dogs are barking, that’s all. Don’t allow yourself to react. The problem is not the barking, but your resistance to it.”
The man went back tried what Itold him. After a few days he came back to me and reported, “Swamiji, I tried dropping my resistance as you said. Instead of thinking, ‘How dare those stupid dogs spoil my sleep!’ I tried changing my thoughts gradually:
‘The dogs are barking. It is spoiling my sleep.…’
‘The dogs are barking…’
‘Some animals are creating some sounds…’
By the time I came to that sentence, I think I fell asleep. Anyway, I’ve been having excellent sleep all these days. Thank you Swamiji!”It is because of our resistance to the disturbance that it is a disturbance in the first place. As Swamiji says, a disturbance is a disturbance as long as we allow it to be; just tune into the disturbance and it will stop to disturb us.
A large percent of our energy is wasted due to this internal disturbance. Meditation acts as a catalyst to convert that disturbance into peace. When we are at peace with ourselves, we are not bothered by the chaos outside us. If there is a disturbance, it is possible to just tune into it, like the above incident.
Next time you get irritated, just see why it is happening.. is it really external?? Or is it internal?
-- Sri Nithya Arpanananda
Saturday, August 4, 2007
2 days ago he got a job offer that he is happy with. Now he has signed the new contract, has already informed his ex-boss, everyone is happy, including himself. Celebrations also done!
Before I started writing this blog, I was just chatting with him and we had a rather interesting conversation. Here is the uneditted chat excerpt:
Yours truly: so how are u feeling man? abt the new job? :)
Friend: am happy, one big prob solved, parents are of course happy.. but one thing i noticed is suddenly i dont have anything to worry abt.. so kinda feel.. empty.. amazed how much i used to worry abt the job..
Yours truly: LOL.. are u missing your worries ;)?
Friend: thts wht... yesterday and today not much work.. so i actually got bored. no expecting calls or emails, no tension whts gonna happen next.. no worry of how to break news to boss. so now i cudnt help but think.. so wht am i gonna worry abt next? :)
Some of our previous posts were about how to handle worries. This is a different problem of how to handle "no worries". This leads us to a very relevant question "Why do we love our worries?"
As Swamiji says, our worries make us feel we are important. It defines our identity. We like to worry about our work, children, their studies, home etc. because these are the few parameters that define us. If I were to ask you "tell me more about yourself", what would you say? Perhaps "I am Mr. XYZ, son of ABC and PQR, working in MNC, living in the USA, I love my BMW..."
Imagine you remove these parameters from your life, we feel as though the ground on which we have been standing is removed. We feel we are nobody. We have clutched so tight onto our so-called identity that we feel baseless when we do not think about these things. To put it simply, our ego is boosted when we worry!
I am told that when people reach their 50's, when their children are married and well settled, they feel a sense of emptiness. They have all along worried about getting their children educated and married, suddenly when it's all done, they feel a void. Some fill this void by next worrying about grandchildren and their education etc.. till they leave this body one day. Some of them take this opportunity to ask "Surely, my identity cannot be these external things, I am deep down something else, let me explore".
Worry clouds us and gives us an illusion of a false identity, which we hold onto very tightly. To see beyond, to experience the vibrant silence, our true nature is what meditation or any spiritual contemplation helps us towards. It is all about experiencing that beautiful space inside. Only the brave ones explore, the others give excuses and postpone. If you are ready for the jump, why not take the leap and see for yourself? Trust me, you will not regret it!
-- Ma Nithyananda Arpana
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Most often than not, all of us do various things without even being aware of what we are doing. Our physical body is probably doing whatever it needs to but we are not there in totality. We drink a cup of tea without even knowing what is going into our system. We are busy in our own world, the dream world, the fantasy world.
Even if we are not with someone with whom we talk, even if we are alone and drinking a cup of tea, we are least bothered about tea. We call it a tea-break but just think about it. Is it really a tea-break?
What do we mean by a break? We would ideally like to relax ourselves, our body and mind. But what do we do? When we are doing something as simple as walking to the canteen, we are constantly thinking about work. Our stress and worry which was at the office desk are being carried by us as we are walking, as we are drinking that cup of tea and as we are going back to the desk.
So where have we taken a break? Swami Nithyananda says - when we wake up, our mind is already in office; when we are at office, our mind is already at lunch break; when we are in the lunch break, our mind is already thinking about 5pm and when we are back at home, our mind is already thinking about office...
Our mind is never there where we are. In our previous post, we gave you three techniques. When we apply those techqniques, we start to build an awareness about whatever we are doing. When we start living in the present moment, with our mind and body together, we start to see a complete relaxation happening automatically. We do not need any other kind of relaxation, even our work becomes a relaxation (more on this in another post...)..
When we are aware of our mind and body, we start to enjoy every single act. When we are drinking a cup of tea, we enjoy the very drinking. When we have a plate of food with full awareness, we enjoy every bite of it. The same goes with work.
What else can be relaxation? Conventionally, when we say we want to relax, we mean we want to enjoy being completely stress free, being completely thoughtless. This is exactly what meditation helps us to do. It helps us to be in the present moment and enjoy every second. How easy to relax, isn't it?
Just by being aware of what we are doing, just by bringing our mind and body together, we eat when we are eating, we drink when we are drinking, we work when we are working. The entire day becomes a relaxed extended break!
- Sri Nithya Arpanananda