Archive | aphorism

Politics and spirituality

A look at the relationship between politics and spirituality.

As a student I took quite an interest in politics, and became involved on a fringe level. I think the attraction of politics was the idealism of creating a better world, and the intellectual challenge of thinking about issues.

A few years after being a student, I became disillusioned with aspects of life and looked for something completely different. As I became interested in meditation and spirituality, the interest in politics slipped away. The essence of spirituality, as I understand, is to live in the heart – to see what unites us rather than what separates. When discussing politics, it invariably brings forward the ego – feelings of superiority, self-righteousness and frustration. Meditation gives a feeling of inner peace and serenity; after a good meditation, there is a genuine feeling of oneness, and outer differences, such as political differences seem unimportant.

If news came on the TV, and people started arguing about politics, I would reach for the off button as quickly as possible. It seemed futile to have this kind of debate between entrenched opinions. Sometimes, people try to engage me in debate on economics and politics, but I try to evade their questions. Debating politics brings forward the ego, and also there is a sense of futility, if we argue and debate, we rarely change someone’s heart or mind. In fact, it can just create more frustration.

The world is ruled
By human opinion.
Even one opinion
Has the strength
To divide the entire world.

Sri Chinmoy, AP 5,666 Continue Reading →

How to boost self-esteem

eastern-sky-simple

If you struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy, these are some suggestions to gain self confidence and increased self-esteem.

Remember the good, forget the bad

If we are honest with ourselves we will notice that all humans are a mixture of bad qualities and good qualities. However, perhaps out of a sense of false modesty, we are more prone to remember our mistakes and weaknesses. It is this that makes us feel guilty and worthless. But, in this situation, we are doing ourself a disservice; true we have made some mistakes, but, we have also done many good things. We should make a conscious effort to remember our good qualities and selfless actions to others. If we have made mistakes, learn from them, but, don’t allow them to drag you down with feelings of guilt. – Let go and move on.

Detach from criticism

You can’t avoid getting criticised, but, it is up to you whether you let it disturb your peace of mind. It is no one other than yourself who can rob you of inner peace. If you receive criticism, don’t let it disturb your peace of mind. Feel it is criticising only an aspect of your character – an aspect you can easily improve. If the criticism is unjust, pay no attention to it. Just leave it with the other person.

Stop procrastinating

Often feelings of inadequacy occur during periods of great procrastination. Rather than doing anything positive, we just think of all the things we haven’t done. Here it is easy to get into a negative frame of mind, thinking of all the things we should be doing, but haven’t. The cure for this is quite simple. – Stop procrastinating and start to achieve certain targets. As soon as we are actively working towards something we will have much greater self confidence. Continue Reading →

Story: Where is my glass of water? Narada

There is a story from long ago India of a great yogi – Narada – who is requested by the sage Vishnu to fetch him a glass of water from the river. Narada is a highly evolved soul who has shunned the world but never understood the power of ‘maya’ – our enthrallment with the appearances and enchantments of the world – and is about to experience this.

At the river Narada sees a beautiful girl, and captivated by her beauty follows her to her village and requests her father for her hand in marriage. Years go by and Narada has forgotten his original purpose and Vishnu’s request – he is immersed in his human life in the world with his wife and family. One night a terrible storm comes, sweeping away the village and his family in a flood – desperate, Narada remembers his Guru Vishnu and calls out for his help. Vishnu appears before him and asks him:

Narada, where is my glass of water? I am still thirsty.’ The distraught Narada is still grieving though for his family, and does not understand.

‘Where does this pain and suffering come from, Narada?’ asked Vishnu with a smile. ‘I thought you had full knowledge of Maya before you set out to fetch water for me.

You knew all about the spiritual truths and realities. Yet you forgot all about them as soon as you experienced the material world – home, family, children, and village. Your understanding of Maya could have helped you in the tumult of pleasure and pain, but it did not. Such is the spell of Maya, the illusory nature and powerful enchantments of this world.’

The story remains relevant even today, our tendency to easily forget our deeper spiritual nature and purpose as we become absorbed in the human dramas of our lives that resemble, in Shakespeare’s words ‘a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more’. When we become interested in meditation though, there is a remembering of something more, a questing beyond the usual attractions of our lives that have failed to fully satisfy. This is a special time in our journey of self-discovery, an awakening to some deeper realisation. Vishnu has come to us and asks of us…

‘But where is my glass of water?’

 

 

Last Days of Swami Vivekananda

Vivekananda3Swami Vivekananda was a close disciple of the great spiritual Master Sri Ramakrishna. After Ramakrishna’s passing, Vivekananda began a whirlwind of activity. He travelled across India, United States and Europe – giving lectures on Vedenta, philosophy and encouraging dynamic action – especially in India. Towards the end of his short life, his hectic schedule told on his health and he retreated to the Himalayas to spend more time in quiet contemplation.

In his final days, he became aware of his limited time left on earth; he was moved to practise more meditation and contemplate on the deepest spiritual truths.

“I am making ready for death. A great tapasya and meditation has come upon me, and I am making ready for death.” – Belur Math, 1902

As his final days came, Swami Vivekananda, a great Vedantist, reveals how his devotion to Mother Kali increased and he began to be more aware of the world beyond this earth of joy and suffering. Continue Reading →

Single Object of Faith – Sri Ramakrishna

snowdrops

“A man began to sink a well, but having dug down to the depth of twenty cubits he could not find the least trace of the water-spring which was to feed his well. So he desisted from the work and selected another place for the purpose. There he dug deeper than before, but even then he could not find any water. So again he selected another spot and dug still deeper than before, but it was also of no avail. At last in utter disgust he gave up the task altogether. The sum total of the depths of these three wells was little short of a hundred cubits. Had he had the patience to devote even a half of the whole of this labour to his first well, without shifting the site of the well from place to place, he would surely have been successful in getting water. Such is the case with men who continually shift their positions in regard to faith. In order to meet with success we should devote ourselves entirely to a single object of faith, without being doubtful as to its efficacy.”

– The Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna

And death a spur towards immortality – Sri Aurobindo

loweswater

But Savitri answered to almighty Death:
“O dark-browed sophist of the universe
Who veilst the Real with its own Idea,
Hiding with brute objects Nature’s living face,
Masking eternity with thy dance of death,
Thou hast woven the ignorant mind into a screen
And made of Thought error’s purveyor and scribe,
And a false witness of mind’s servant sense.
An aesthete of the sorrow of the world,
Champion of a harsh and sad philosophy
Thou hast used words to shutter out the Light
And called in Truth to vindicate a lie.
A lying reality is falsehood’s crown
And a perverted truth her richest gem.
O Death, thou speakest truth but truth that slays,
I answer to thee with the Truth that saves.
A traveller new-discovering himself,
One made of Matter’s world his starting-point,
He made of Nothingness his living-room
And Night a process of the eternal light
And death a spur towards immortality.

– Sri Aurobindo,

Canto III – The Debate of Love and Death. Page 621

photo: Tejvan, Sri Chinmoy Centre Galleries.

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