Monday, December 3, 2012

Refreshment For The Mind

Silence is a great therapy for healing the self. If we remain very quiet and concentrate, we save a lot of outward energy, with the result that we act and speak less. When that energy is saved, then we are able to turn inwards and even heal our physical body. On a daily basis, the mind needs to go into a quiet space for refreshment and reflection; in much the same way as the body needs regular breaks for rest and nourishment. Refreshment occurs when the mind is able to recharge itself, that is, to re-energize and to have the strength to remain positive, light and creative. Reflection (looking inwards) is the time we give ourselves to refine our internal understanding of external situations so that our interaction with others is of the highest quality. Through reflection, we can change the way we think, feel and interact. We change the way we are voluntarily and without pain.

Spiritual knowledge without silence is like a bird trying to fly with only one wing.

Silence empowers an individual's capacities and enables the recognition and release of their unique potential. In today's world, silence is as necessary for the mind as oxygen is for the body. We need that spiritual breath that sustains our life in a way that is meaningful and fulfilling.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Poem: These Are My Wishes For You by Sandra Sturtz Hauss

These Are My Wishes For You

Sandra Sturtz Hauss

May you find serenity and tranquility
in a world you may not always understand.

May the pain you have known
and the conflict you have experienced
give you the strength to walk through life
facing each new situation with courage and optimism.

Always know that there are those
whose love and understanding will always be there,
even when you feel most alone.

May a kind word,
a reassuring touch,
and a warm smile
be yours every day of your life,
and may you give these gifts
as well as receive them.

May the teachings of those you admire
become part of you,
so that you may call upon them.

Remember, those whose lives you have touched
and who have touched yours
are always a part of you,
even if the encounters were less than
you would have wished.
It is the content of the encounter
that is more important than its form.

May you not become too concerned
with material matters,
but instead place immeasurable value
on the goodness in your heart.
Find time in each day to see
beauty and love
in the world around you.

Realize that what you feel you lack in one regard
you may be more than compensated for in another.
What you feel you lack in the present
may become one of your strengths in the future.
May you see your future as
one filled with promise and possibility.
Learn to view everything as a worthwhile experience.

May you find enough inner strength
to determine your own worth by yourself,
and not be dependent
on another's judgment of your accomplishments.

May you always feel



Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dealing with Unreasonable People

Unreasonable people pose a great challenge to our practice of forbearance. It is well to remember that we are children of God and so are such difficult people. They are conditioned by their mental impressions even as we are by ours. Says Swami Vivekananda, “Never say any man is hopeless, because he only represents a character, a bundle of habits, which can be checked by new and better ones.” Instead of judging such people as impossible, we need to cultivate a good working relationship with them.

A disciple of Sri Ramakrishna felt disturbed due to a disagreement with someone. When told of it, the Master said, “Try at the outset to talk to him and establish a friendly relationship with him. If you fail in spite of your efforts, then don’t give it another thought. Take refuge in God. Meditate on Him. There is no use in giving up God and feeling depressed from thinking about others.”

Yet successfully dealing with difficult people is not an unrealizable ideal. Holy Mother’s life amply demonstrates the ideal in practice. There was no dearth of unreasonable, insane, and greedy people around her under her care. With her pure mind that was always united with God, she was able to patiently put up with all of them.

The agitation caused by lust and anger

Lust and anger are twin companions. The Bhagavad Gita (16.21) cautions that these two in association with greed form a triple gateway to hell. The agitation caused by lust and anger is the greatest challenge to forbearance. Under their sway, people forget who they are and act in a manner they would not approve of in saner moments. He who is able to withstand the force of lust and anger even while alive is regarded by the Bhagavad Gita (5.23) as a yogi and a happy man. Commenting on this verse, Shridhara Svamin forcefully describes the immensity of the task: “A dead man is able to withstand the urge of passion or anger though his body is embraced by a wailing young woman or burnt by his sons and others. If someone is able to withstand that urge even while alive, he alone is a yogi and a happy man.”

Remaining unaffected by the force of lust and anger is possible only by God’s grace. To be conscious of God’s grace in our lives, we need regular spiritual practice and sincere prayer for detachment from sense objects.

Dualities of life

Life is characterized by pairs of opposites such as pleasure and pain, praise and blame, and success and failure. When we seek one, the other comes in uninvited. In the words of Swami Vivekananda, “Happiness and misery are the obverse and reverse of the same coin; he who takes happiness must take misery also. We have this foolish idea that we can have happiness without misery, and it has taken such possession of us that we have no control over the senses.”

God, the only Reality, is nondual. The world is only apparently real, and dualities are inevitable in it. A spiritual seeker has to discriminate between the Real and the unreal, and choose what is beneficial over what is pleasant. With regularity in spiritual practice he is able to achieve calmness of mind and strength of will, see dualities for what they are, and strive for the highest goal of life. The Bhagavad Gita (2.48) defines yoga as even-mindedness. We become established in this even-mindedness as we grow in devotion to God.