Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Everything is Auspicious

Today when I opened the blog, I thought I will write something else but just before writing this post, I came across a beautiful article about a boy from a small village with illiterate parents, going to IIT (one of the most reputed engineering colleges around the world) and then joining Google. I immediately started writing this post on this guy. The above description of the boy does not seem very different from many of the IIT aspirants in India. But this boy, Naga Naresh Karuturi, is special because he does not have both his legs and moves in an electric wheel chair. What is so amazing about this guy is his spirit to live an amazing and high-energy life. He met with a freak accident when he was 7 years old and his legs were amputated till his hips.

What caught my attention was his statement, 'God has planned things for me and takes care of me at every step.' He says, 'I feel he plans everything for you. If not for the accident, we would not have moved from the village to Tanuku, a town. There I joined a missionary school, and my father built a house next to the school. Till the tenth standard, I studied in that school. If I had continued in Teeparu (the village), I may not have studied after the 10th. I may have started working as a farmer or someone like that after my studies. I am sure God had other plans for me.'

Even for little things going wrong or not going according to what we wanted/expected, many us get so worried and tensed up. But this dude saw everything that was happening to him as auspicious. Instead of attaching any kind of negativity, this guy took everything as a gift of God, even his physical ____ (the dash because I do not want to use any demeaning word for this guy. He is more physically and mentally fit than many of us).

Paramahamsa Nithyananda says, 'Everything is magalatva, auspicious. When we see everything as auspicious, we start looking at life in a completely different way. When we see everything, whether good or bad, as auspicious, we just flow.'

The problem is we resist what is happening. We complain and crib because we resist what Existence is constantly giving us. It is our expectations that make us see things that happen to us as good or bad. If something goes according to what we wanted, it is good and God is great. When it happens otherwise, it is bad and we ask, 'Where is God?' This is what leads us to go on a roller coaster ride of happiness and sorrow. It is simply because we constantly resist the hand of Existence.

It is like a twig stuck partly on the river bank and dipped partly in a flowing river. It constantly feels the pain because the river is just flowing and trying to take the twig along but the twig holds on to the bank thinking it is safe. Only when the twig leaves the bank and flows with the river, the pain stops.

Our expectations are the bank we are holding on to and the Existence is the river that is constantly flowing. Existence is all-showering and gifting us every single moment. It is upto us to see the auspiciousness of everything that Existence is presenting to us. When we see that, we stop resisting and let go of the ground, we become one with the River Itself and flow along with It.

Once again, hats off to you Naresh. You are a dude.

I leave you with the following video by Paramahamsa Nithyananda on this subject.

(You can read the article about Naresh here.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It's not about miracles!

At Dakshineshwar, the Master conveyed a beautiful and powerful message to the group traveling with Him on the 14 day parivrajaka. It's about miracles.. or rather not about miracles. Normally one would like to associate miracles, mysticism and out of the earth labels to God. They do the same with Masters also. It's our ego that stops us from accepting the fact that enlightened masters can also assume a human form like us, eat like us, walk like us and yet be in a space of higher consciousness. We cannot accept that because we want an "extra-ordinary" tag to be associated, something that our logic cannot comprehend. Only then we say "Yes, He is God!" It is almost like only miracles can prove to us about their divinity.

The Master warned us that by giving importance to miracles, the only thing we do is to create a gap between us and the Master. We create a distance by putting Him on a pedestal. He emphasized that the feeling of being deeply connected with the Master is what matters - building a connection that is based on simplicity and innocence. It should be that of love, not that of respect. The connection with the master He said is like a 'bridge' between us and the divine. And we don't have to do anything, just maintain, nourish and enjoy the deep connection, He will take care of the rest using that bridge!

He quoted two beautiful examples from the Mahabharata to illustrate this point. When the Bhagavat Geeta was being delivered to Arjuna by his best friend, Krishna, Arjuna was loaded with questions and skepticism. When Krishna declared "I am the Supreme, All Pervading, Indestructible etc", Arjuna only had more questions. There was a point when Krishna had to reveal His cosmic form, 'Vishwaroopa' to Arjuna in order to convince him. But immediately after that, Arjuna shuddered, he could not digest that his childhood friend standing in front on him was an embodiment of a vast energy that he couldn't comprehend. All along, he had only related with Krishna as his buddy, his close friend. When he saw His cosmic form, he collapsed. He begged Krishna to get back to His old jovial self, the friend he always knew. For Arjuna, it was only his simple, deep connection with Krishna as his best friend that eventually mattered for his spiritual growth.

Another example: There was once a sage who had attained all the possible spiritual knowledge and mastered all the deep spiritual techniques. But he still felt a void. He wanted to experience a loving relationship with God. He prayed to Vishnu and finally Vishnu blessed him saying that He will be born as his son in his next life. That sage was none other than Yashoda who take care of little Krishna as His mother. She enjoyed every little action as Krishna's mother, bathing Him, feeding Him, teasing Him, chasing Him and playing with Him blissfully.

Once, suddenly she thought "This child is like any other child. He throws tantrums, cries when he is hungry, giggles when you play with him... Is this really Vishnu or have I been fooled?" Krishna immediately understood Yashoda and wanted to reassure her. He showed her the cosmos in His mouth when Yashoda was feeding him. But the minute this happened, she was reminded of her past life and remembered the boon she was granted. She pleaded to Him to be back as that naughty little child of hers. Immediately Krishna covered the veil of Maya over her and she was back as the mother of Krishna.

The Master also told us that just like Krishna, the job of an enlightened master is to draw the veil of Maya on us. He just shrugs away the miracles by not attaching too much importance to them. This He does simply to make sure we do not get diverted to the miracles instead of the Truth. It is no doubt miracles happen with living enlightened masters every minute. But these are miracles to us because our tiny puny intellect cannot comprehend the mysteries of the macro and micro cosmos. Miracles can become an obstacle to our spiritual growth as our energy is dissipated and diverted away from the Truth.

Instead, if we just feel deeply connected with the Master, the very connection can take us to deeper and deeper realms of our own being. A deep connection with the master can be the most beautiful thing that can ever happen to anyone! It is a relationship that transcends all other relationship, a culmination of all our emotions. For all those of us who feel that deep connection with our Masters, let us cherish it and for the rest, taste it and see for yourself the sweetness of this relationship!

In Nithyananda!

Monday, July 21, 2008

The "City" of devotion

Jagannath Puri or just Puri was the first of the places we visited with the Master on our 14 day parivrajaka (wandering). Puri literally means - the City, which goes to say that at the time when this city existed, this was the only city the people knew. This City finds place in all great Masters' biographies like the Great Master (Ramakrishna Paramahamsa), Autobiography of a Yogi (Paramahamsa Yogananda), Lives of Sri Sarada Devi, Sri Chaitanya and Shankaracharya. This is the place of Krishna and the temple is world renowned for its Rath Yatra (the Chariot Festival) when three huge chariots carrying Krishna, His brother - Balarama and His sister - Subhadra, pass through the streets of this City.

This post is not about the city. It is about the beauty of the city which sings and dances like Sri Chaitanya did, in the name of Krishna. The Jagannath Temple that is the center of attraction of this city is a testifies what all masters have always been propagating - intense devotion leads to the Ultimate Truth. Whether it is devotional Masters like Sri Chaitanya and Ramakrishna or intellectual Masters like Shankara, all say - bhakti (devotion) and true love towards the Divine is the simplest way to connect to the Divine.

If you see the main deities of the temple (as shown in the picture), there are no features, i.e. no palms, no feet, no eyes, lips etc. They are just blocks of earth and the all the features have been painted on them. There is a beautiful story related to this. Let me narrate it followed by a very powerful message that the Master spoke about:

There was a king who made a beautiful temple and he wanted to installed the most beautifully sculpted deity of Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra in the temple. He announced it to the public and put a warning that if he is not pleased with the idols, the sculptor will be beheaded. Hearing this not many were willing to come forward. Once an old man came and took the job but he too had a condition, 'I will lock my self up in the sanctum sanctorum for next one month and no one should open the doors, whatever the case may be.' The kind agreed and the work started. People noticed that there were all kinds of loud sounds of rocks falling apart coming from the main room. The ministers patiently waited for 20 days but then they went and told the king that the old man might be destroying the temple. The king opened the door and saw that the old man stopped the sculpting work. He turned to the king and told him, you broke your promise and now I leave the idols in whatever state they are. Saying this the old man merged into the Krishna idol. It was then that the king realized that it was Krishna Himself who came down to break his ego.

The Master commented, 'Lets see the truth from this story. It was the king's ego to build the most beautiful temple with the most beautiful idols. It was not out of devotion or love that he was doing it. It was purely out of his ego, to show to the world; that's all. Later he understood his mistake and become a Krishna devotee himself. This temple stands now purely on true devotion. It is not the external beauty that matters but it is the intensity of devotion that is important. The three idols in the sanctum sanctorum are unfinished and they may not be as "beautiful" as other Krishna idols in other temples but this temple gets thousands of devotees. It is based on pure devotion and love to God, not the external looks. That is what we have to assimilate from this place.'

Friday, July 11, 2008

Forgiveness - a Golden Quality

Today it is July 11 or 7/11, as it is called in India. On this fateful day, the bustling city of Mumbai was attacked with seven bombs and hundreds of people died. I was reading an article related to the aftermaths of these bombings and the last few statements of the article moved me. This article tells the story of a son who went searching for his father's body after the bombings. After some investigations, he found that a poor construction laborer had falsely claimed the body hoping that he will get the compensation. The laborer even cremated the body according to Hindu rites. The son was heartbroken that he couldn't see his father's body but he was happy that he atleast got to perform the last rites with his father's ashes. What was most touching was, when police wanted to arrest the laborer for false claims, the son refused to lodge any complaint and forgave the poor laborer.

Forgiveness is beautiful quality, which is rarely found. We are not talking about forgiveness with ego; we are talking about forgiving completely without any ego at all. Most of the times, if somebody does something, we do forgive but with ego. We put ourselves at a higher pedestal and look down upon the other person as a wrong-doer and then forgive him. And why do we do that? Just to instill guilt in the other person and hence, boost our ego.

Here we are talking about forgiving completely and freeing the other person of any guilt. When something happens to us, the first thing we do is to either accuse others around us or blame the situation. We constantly build negativity inside us about other people who have hurt us. Forgiving wholeheartedly only relieves us from that negativity. It just removes any kind of negative energy blocks that we may have accumulated in us.

Another important point is whenever such incident happens where we think we are hurt, we think the person is at fault for our suffering. Most of the times, it is not the person who has hurt but it our own expectations as to how the other person should have acted or behaved, bring us that suffering. So who are we to throw our anger on others or spew out negative words and blame others? We see people keep that anger and negativity towards the other person for years together, sometimes even till their death.

During the first level meditation courses, Life Bliss Program 1, our Master takes us through a beautiful gratitude meditation where we offer gratitude to everyone, even our enemies and forgive if anyone has done any thing to us. I have seen people breaking down during this meditation. People find it the most relieving meditation. All the built-in negativities towards others which we have suppressed overtime just evaporate with these two - forgiveness and gratitude.

When we forgive whole heartedly and replace that it with love and gratitude, we are transforming and our transformation transform people around us. That is Paramahamsa Nithyananda's message - transformation of humanity through personal transformation.

(You can read the article here.)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Acceptance - that is the key.

Warning: This post could be a spoiler for those who haven't yet watched the movie - Kungfu Panda :)

Last week, we watched the latest cartoon movie in town - Kungfu Panda after hearing some good reviews about. This is not a review of the movie :) but let me just narrate the gist of the movie so that I can get to my point ... So there is this panda, Poh, who wants to become a Kungfu warrior but he is burly, fat etc. etc. Around the same time, a selection is going for the Dragon warrior who will be given a Dragon Scroll. This is supposed to contain the most powerful thing a fighter can have and one who possesses the Scroll and reads whats in it, he becomes the most powerful Kungfu Warrior to defeat the bad guys. This Panda, who does not know ABCs of Kungfu is selected instead of his own Kungfu idols Tiger, Monkey, Serpent etc.

And when Poh, the Panda reads the scroll, theres nothing in there to read; its blank. After an interesting twist in the story (which you must see), he opens the scroll again and sees something - his own reflection.

What the movie tried to convey was that one need not have anything special to become powerful. All we have to realize that we are special in our own way and we are powerful. All we need is the strong intention of what we want to do and trust in us. Thats all! The Panda used to compare itself with the Tiger, Monkey etc. for his Kungfu skills but when he realized that he is unique in his own way, there was no stopping.

Its a simple but powerful message that is put in a beautiful way in this movie. Every moment we compare ourselves with others in terms of what we don't have. This creates a gap in us which are trying to fill constantly. We forget our strengths; we forget that we are unique in our own way and we don't need anything other than our own trust in ourselves and the strong intention to do and get what we want. We live in fantasies created by us.

This applies for the case of enlightenment also. Paramahamsa Nithyananda says, 'Even for enlightenment, you look at enlightened masters and create you own comparisons and fantasies as to what and how it should be. All you have to realize is that you are already enlightened. When I say this, you don't accept it because you have created your own mental picture and idea about enlightenment. Drop them, accept yourself completely and you will see the Ultimate.'

We are constantly looking for something, either a mantra or meditation technique or whatever, on the Scroll that will take us to the Ultimate but we do not see ourselves in it. Nithyananda says, 'all you have to do is relax completely and you will see You.'

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Intense Yearning: The basic Ingredient

What makes a Parivrajaka different from just another conducted trip? The mystics and sages who wander in the quest for truth certainly don't treat their journey as just a sight-seeing pleasure trip. So, what's the necessary ingredient that makes a Parivrajaka what it is?

Intense yearning or seeking for the Truth This was one of the main messages, or should I say, the message of the Varanasi Trip - intense yearning for the Ultimate.

At each and every place, the Master kept drilling this single point into us. He said, 'The two things that are important during parivrajaka (wandering) are intense yearning for the Truth and intense excitement.'

All the enlightened masters, whether they wandered or not, had the intense yearning to find out the Ultimate Truth. That is what makes them so different from any other person. They would do anything to find the Truth. The Master gave various examples of how all enlightened masters had this single emotion in common before they got enlightened.

At Bodh Gaya, the Master narrated the story of Buddha's life which showed the intensity with which He was yearning for enlightenment. Buddha was weak and feeble and was almost dying without food for many years in His pursuit for the Truth. One day, while He was lying down almost dead, a lady offers Him a handful of food. After eating that, with whatever energy He got from that food, He sat up with no other thought but knowing the Truth. With burning determination to seek the truth, He made a vow to Himself, 'Idam aasanam sushyate shareeram', which means 'Let my body dry up and wither away but I will not get up from this position till I get enlightened.' That was the intention which came out with such force, intensity and strength that He got enlightened immediately.

In Dakshineswar, the Master narrated similar incidents from Ramakrishna's life. He used to rub His face on the ground, hurt Himself and cry to Goddess Kali, if at the end of the day, He found that He hadn't yet realized the Divine. Ramakrishna used to say, we cry for so many things in life. But one day, just one day, 24 hours if we genuinely cry to see Her (the Divine Mother), she will appear!

The Master also talked about His own experiences; how He was immersed in one single thought - enlightenment; how He was unperturbed by whatever people said, whatever society thought; how only one thing mattered to Him - enlightenment.

At one point towards the end of the trip, with regards to enlightenment, the Master said, 'Even if you meditate for 24 hours, without the intensity of yearning for the Ultimate, you will go nowhere. But if the intensity is so strong that even a tornado cannot push you away if you were sitting in the middle with the resolve of seeking the truth, then even if you do not meditate, you will see the Truth.'

He also gave us another analogy: If a person's head is on fire, will he be thinking of anything else but to ran to a nearby pond and cool it? His FULL attention and intensity is to put off that fire first. He would do anything for that! Just like that, the sole focus of our lives should be that of seeking the Truth.

His concluding beautiful words of the trip were: This trip need not end here. All you need to do is to maintain that intensity even after the trip and you will see that this trip never ends! He also reminded us that the very intensity will show us the path. So, whenever we a low or a dip in the intensity for the truth, let us remember these great inspiring words and pull ourselves back. Let the fire of seeking be alive in each of us, guiding us forward...