Author Archive | tejvan

The importance of proper breathing

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A good exercise is to focus on breathing with your diaphragm. Feel your whole stomach gently moving. This breathing will also be very good for the health of your body. “Proper breathing” can help reset the natural strength of the body. When we breathe with the muscles around our heart – we are using those muscles which are supposed to be recruited for emergency situations – ‘fight or flight.’ If we are always breathing in this way it is a sign, we are stressed. Breathing from the diaphragm is more conscious, relaxed and peaceful method of breathing.

If we consciously breathe, it will help to quieten the mind.

One more thing we can do is that when we breathe in feel, that we are breathing in peace and divine energy. If you breathe in properly you can feel like you are breathing through every pore of your body. Also, at the start of the exercise, try once or twice to exhale all the breath. As you do this feel like you are emptying your mind of all thoughts allowing a new clarity to enter. Continue Reading →

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The importance of joy in the spiritual life

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Bahir was a very old disciple, but in the evening of his life, he was getting a lot of inspiration from visiting disciples and ashrams around the world.

On one occasion, Bahir visited an Ashram in a beautiful town. They had invited disciples from many other countries to come and participate in a weekend of spiritual activities. During the weekend retreat, the disciples had organised meditations, soulful singing, readings of the Master’s writings and a few meetings to talk about how they could spread their Master’s light.

After the final meditation, the main organiser announced.

“Now we are very lucky to have Bahir today. Bahir has been following the spiritual life for 60 years [cheers from the audience!] and he spent considerable time with the Master in the physical. Now Bahir is kindly going to come up and share a few stories.”

Bahir felt a knot in his stomach; nobody had told him this was on the programme. He didn’t mind speaking to groups of five or six people. But, telling stories to 600+ people was something he definitely had not prepared for. But, before he had time to think and run for cover, his old friend Malin was leading him up to the microphone.

Bahir looked out at the 600 expectant faces, and thought ‘O dear.’

Not knowing what to say Bahir began by sincerely appreciating the energy and enthusiasm of the disciples.

“It has really been a marvellous weekend, and I feel re-energised in my own spiritual life to feel such aspiration and feeling of oneness with the Master’s path.”

“I have truly enjoyed this weekend of spiritual activities but – if there is one thing which would add even more to the weekend – it would be to have a few fun games. As you know, I’m a very old man, but I like games because – at least for a short-time – I can pretend to be a seven-year-old boy again! As you know, our Master definitely appreciated when we had these weekend retreats because he saw how much they helped our spiritual life. But also, he often mentioned the value of having games because they are an opportunity to bring to the fore our childlike qualities. No matter how old we are, if we can participate and enter into the spirit of the games – our anxieties and worries disappear. The Master would often say when the disciples had this kind of innocent joy, it was such a weight off his shoulders.” Continue Reading →

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The importance of cleanliness and tidiness

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Arjun and Cahit were good friends, but living together presented its own unique challenges. Arjun soon realised that in terms of tidiness and cleanliness they had different perspectives. It was a little ironic for Arjun because his mother used to frequently berate him for being messy when he was growing up. Now, rather belatedly, he understood his mother’s perspective and felt a little guilty for his past uncaring attitude. But, with the evangelism of a recent convert, he wasn’t happy if things were a mess in his own house. As a result, he often found himself cleaning up after his friend, but at the same, he resented having to do it. In many ways, Cahit was an excellent friend – kind, dynamic and cheerful. Yet Cahit’s cheerfulness wasn’t always sufficient compensation for Arjun’s frustration at living with this underlying tension.

Arjun was also annoyed with himself for how much it affected his consciousness – he felt he should have greater equanimity in dealing with the situation; he didn’t always deal with it like he would have liked.

Once he mentioned it in passing to a good friend, Sachin.

“Sachin, I really love visiting your house. It has such a good vibration, you can feel the Master’s presence here.”

“Well that’s very kind Arjun. How’s it working out living with Cahit?”

“Fine. Cahit’s a good chap. Only we do seem to have different approaches to cleaning the house.”

Sachin laughed – as if reading between the lines.

“So, who does the cleaning in your house?” asked Sachin.

“Well, we share the cleaning 50-50. Cahit makes a mess. And I clean it up.”

Sachin laughed heartily, though Arjun was a little surprised by his own strength of feeling. It was like something inside had forced its way out and found expression.

Continue Reading →

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Reincarnation

theravada-buddhism

Many years ago there was a spiritual Master who had quite a few disciples. As a general rule, this Master did not believe in showing occult power as he felt the only force which could help transform human nature was divine love, divine concern and divine compassion. However, sometimes the Master would use his intuitive capacities to tell interesting stories and, on occasion, give his disciples hints about their previous incarnation.

However, after a few years, the Master felt even this practice was not helping his disciples, but could cause problems of jealousy and pride. On one occasion, the spiritual Master asked for spiritual questions but to the Master’s disappointment, quite a few disciples were wanting to ask about their past or future incarnation. The Master responded to one of these questions by saying:

“The spiritual life is all about the present moment. It doesn’t matter what we achieved last week, last year – to say nothing of what you might have done in your last incarnation. The important thing is to aspire to be more sincere and soulful in your present spiritual life. Knowing about past incarnations mainly feeds our curiosity. So from now on let us not worry about the past or future but concentrate on the golden opportunity we have in this present moment.”

***

Arjun came to the spiritual path a few years later, and he heard these stories second-hand from other disciples. Yet, he was also intrigued by the subject and inwardly held a desire to know about his past incarnation.

A few months later, Arjun was at a meditation function with his Master.

It was a most soulful atmosphere; time seemed to pass effortlessly as if the thin veil between heaven and earth had momentarily lifted. Arjun felt transformed to another state of consciousness where the usual attractions and anxieties of the world lost their lustre, leaving him feeling perfectly calm and inwardly still. It was a rare feeling to be so at peace with the world. Continue Reading →

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Misunderstanding and communication

Hiran and Advik were good friends in the spiritual life but they had different interests and temperaments. As a result, they often saw things from different perspectives.

On one occasion, their Guru gave a short, informal talk on how the Supreme often put people together who had differing personalities. The Guru explained that when we live and work with people of contrasting personalities, it can force us to face up to our own weaknesses. Even if we find it difficult living and working with certain people, it can help us to transform a part of our nature, we would otherwise ignore.

Their Guru also taught that real spirituality is not just seeking peace in meditation, but trying to slowly and steadily transform our human nature. Finally he warned that – rather than trying to avoid difficult people – we should see the potential the situation gives for our own personal growth.

Hiran inwardly smiled; he knew intuitively the Guru’s philosophy was absolutely true – even if, in the heat of daily life, it was a challenge to actually practice. He also wryly smiled as he thought of the different attitude his housemates had to keeping the house tidy!

***

One day, Advik sent Hiran a text message about a new idea which he thought could be a more efficient method to organise the Ashram.

Hiran didn’t know how to respond to this text message because he didn’t think it was a method their Master would have wanted. Their Master was no longer in the body so it wasn’t absolutely clear cut. But, unable to articulate the nuances of the issue and feeling a bit put out, Hiran left it and didn’t reply – though it stayed in his mind and he ruminated on the issue for several weeks. Continue Reading →

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Speaking up

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Many thousands of years ago, there was an Indian spiritual Master who had many devoted disciples. The Master felt the most effective form of teaching was silence. He told his disciples that to really understand his philosophy and teachings it was necessary to silence the mind and listen to the still, inner voice within. However, the Master also found that, out of necessity, he needed to give specific teachings on aspects of his spiritual path.

As books were very rare and expensive, this Master did not write any of his teachings down but relied on speaking informally to disciples. Sometimes his teachings and talks were slightly misinterpreted; two disciples could come out of the same talk and remember very different things! But, fortunately, this Master lived a very long time, and when he felt he was not being understood, he would repeat his philosophy and teachings until it was widely known.

Despite living for a long-time, the Master eventually left the body and his disciples dearly missed the outer presence of their Master; however, by and large, they continued following the Master’s way of life, and the ashram continued in a similar vein to when the Master’s physical presence was outwardly guiding it. Continue Reading →

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Inspired by sleeping disciples

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Hari had been following the spiritual life for many years – when outer circumstance left him in poor physical health. Previously he used to get tremendous joy from running and becoming less active was quite challenging.

With more time on his hands, he took to trying a bit more meditation during the day. After a few weeks perseverance, he felt a real sense of newness and joy in his meditation, and it started to fill the gap left by the end of his outer running. Encouraged by the glimpse of inner joy, he made greater efforts to focus on his meditation. For quite a few months he strived to deepen his concentration and awareness – though, on his own, progress could feel slow.

A few times a year, he travelled with his fellow seekers to a foreign country for a spiritual retreat. It was a mixture of meditation, food, music, plus other spiritual activities.

On one particular holiday, his rhythm of daily practice and japa went out of the window, and he didn’t have the chance to practise his usual meditation exercises.

Yet, despite making relatively feeble efforts and being concerned with some outer problems, in the function room, he started to feel a surge of joy coming from the heart.

No matter what was happening outwardly – formal meditation, plays or music (of differing standards) the joy was the same.

Towards the end of one late evening function, he couldn’t help but notice how many of his fellow brother disciples were fiddling with their phones or falling asleep for the final meditation. Usually, this behaviour would be discouraging and distracting, but on this occasion, the joy of the heart made outer events all but insignificant, like passing birds leaving no mark on the sky.

It was no personal effort or achievement, but felt like the grace of his Master was accentuated by the presence of his brother and sister disciples.

For Hari, it was a valuable lesson – it is easy to be frustrated with outer imperfections, but when you meditate well, all these problems fade into insignificance. It was also a reminder of the importance of the sangha (spiritual community.) Never had such grace been present in his lone meditation. But, even the sleeping disciples seemed to bring forth, with greater intensity, the very tangible presence of his Master.

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Correcting others of their mistakes

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Hari was a good disciple. He led a disciplined life and tried very sincerely to follow his Master’s guidelines. However, he also felt it was his duty to tell his fellow brother and sister disciples if they came up short and did things in the wrong way. When Hari travelled to an ashram in another city, he created a bit of a stir because he told quite a few disciples what they were doing wrong, and it didn’t go down particularly well.

Hari was also prone to periods of mild depression and frustration. He lived the strict spiritual life but felt he wasn’t always getting the joy he should be getting.

After ruminating on these issues for a few weeks, he requested a private interview with his Master where he hoped he would be able to air his grievances about what was happening in his ashram. He was fairly confident the Master would take his point of view.

When Hari went to meet his Master. The Master offered him a blessingful smile which really melted his heart. After a period of soulful silence, the Master began.

“My dear Hari, what I would like from you is for you to be happy. You must feel that in your happiness is your spiritual progress. If you are unhappy and depressed, it is like a dead weight that you are placing on top of yourself, and you will make no progress. Continue Reading →

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