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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Yoga of devotion (Bhakti Yoga)

When I read the holy Quran for the first time, what drew my attention the most was the concept of total unquestioning surrender. Surrender to God or some supreme power is something you can find in almost every religion. Even the supposedly atheist Buddhism stipulates surrender to Buddha as a prerequisite to accepting Buddhism (“Buddham saranam gachchami”).

In Bhagavad Geetha, Krishna says

Always think about me. Always be my devotee. Always surrender to me. If you do that, I will take care of your welfare and safety. 

I don’t expect anything from you other than total surrender. Whatever you offer to me – be it a flower or a fruit or even a leaf or mere drop of water – I accept it as long as it is offered with purity of mind and total surrender. 

So, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you practice, offer all that to me (i.e. do them for my pleasure). Even if you abandon all other paths, I will protect you from all miseries. Do not be afraid

Here, Krishna can be replaced by any other God or Supreme Being.

PS: For those of you who probably find it difficult to accept the concept of God, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that many a times the results of faith do not necessarily depend on the existence or otherwise of the object of faith. Besides, Krishna never said, “don’t do anything but just depend on me”. He said “keep doing what you need to, but offer that to me and take solace that I will take care of you”.

(Selected verses from chapter 9 and 18 of Bhagavad Geetha adapted suitably)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Path is not really important. But …

Imagine that there is a hill and you would like to have a view of the surrounding from the top of the hill. If you are energetic, you may climb the hill. Or you can take an uphill path that ultimately takes you to the top. You can ride on a mule and make your journey easy. Or if you can afford, you can even take a chopper and reach the top almost without effort.

But did you notice something? No matter how you reached the top, the view from the top is one and the same!

The saints, prophets, monks and rishis of every religion – whether it is Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or ancient Indian – all reached the same top, some through faith and devotion, some through meditation and some through intellectual enquiry. All of them had a glimpse of the same view no matter how they reached there. The path they took is just a matter of suitability and convenience. 

So don’t give too much of emphasis on the path you take. Choose what is suitable to you, the one you can afford, the one you are comfortable with. If you are sincere enough, you will ultimately reach the same top no matter the path.

But watch out. You may come across people on your way, people who have never reached the top, who don’t know the path, but who merely pretend to have known, have reached, and take you on a long trip round and round the hill, never ever reaching the top!.

Friday, August 19, 2016

New videos on Yoga

Watch these two new videos on Yoga  by guest speaker Dr.Lavanya Rao M.B.B.S, D.O.M.S., M.S.

1. Can Yoga be scientifically studied ?

2. Brain science behind Yoga


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Can you play a string less guitar?

Probably you think it is absurd – playing a guitar without strings?! Not really. Let me tell you a small story.

Once an opponent challenged Buddha whether he can be as happy as the great King Bimbisar, who was wealthy, had all power and comforts, whereas Buddha had nothing except for a begging bowl.

In return, Buddha asked the man whether the said king can remain happily for a week, few days or even a day doing nothing physically, mentally. Buddha declared that he can easily do that. The essence of Buddha’s words is that happiness is not really in worldly pleasures or comforts, not even by being engaged in bodily or mental activities. It is something beyond.

If you have ever tried to remain all alone, not interacting with anyone, not reading or writing, nor watching anything, not even thinking, even for a day – you probably would realize how impossible it is. You can’t get pleasure without physical/mental involvement – without tweaking the cords of body and mind.

But believe me, it is not just Buddha, but you too can experience immense bliss incomparable to physical/mental pleasures – you too can play string less guitar!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Yoga of action

Many a times we fail in our well intended efforts to do something and we get put off. Sometimes the setback discourages us so much that we hesitate to make any more efforts. In this context, following well known words of Krishna in Bhagavad Gaeta may be kept in mind.
“Your jurisdiction is restricted to making best efforts. The results are not always under your control. So, never get put off by the failures and cease from making further efforts.

None can totally abstain from action even if she/he wishes to. The inherent natural instincts force one to keep doing something. So indulge in necessary actions, while keeping yourself detached from success or failure. 

Even if you have reached a stage where you don’t need to do anything, you still have to keep doing right things at least for the sake of setting an example for other people who may otherwise resort to inaction or wrong action. If that happens, you will be guilty of misleading them.

So, always keep doing what needs to be done, being detached from success as well as failure. And that balanced approach is ‘Yoga of action’"

(selected verses from chapters 2 and 3 of Bhagavad geetha, adapted suitably)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Right approach to education

We often see many people around us who cling to false beliefs that give them short term peace of mind, but misery in the long term. The question is – do we need to tell them what is ‘right’ so that they avoid ensuing misery?

Educating the ignorant is necessary but we need to be cautious to ensure that the advice is taken in the right spirit and it really helps them.

I remember an old story where a group of monkeys gather around a heap of red seeds on a cold winter night, hoping that the red seeds would warm them up, the way glowing embers do. It never happens that way. A small bird sitting on a nearby tree, that was watching the foolishness of the monkeys, tries to advise them on their folly. The monkeys ignore the bird’s advice and kill the poor creature for questioning their intelligence. But they too die due to exposure to severe cold conditions since the red seeds don’t help them in any way.

If the monkeys had heeded to the bird’s advice, they could have saved their lives. The fault of the bird is that it was giving advice to ones who are unprepared to accept it. Secondly, the bird was merely pointing out the mistake without suggesting any alternative.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Balance is the key

Life is full of uncertainties, full of problems. One way to get around this situation is to improve the circumstances by minimizing uncertainties and reducing the problems to the extent possible. All our achievements, innovations revolve around this approach. This approach has a global effect and helps humanity as a whole.
However, the main catch in this approach is that no matter how much we toil, the uncertainties don’t completely vanish nor our problems. So it is a continuous struggle between nature verses human endeavors. Added to this, more we minimize uncertainties and problems, more we get sensitive to even traces of them. So, our problems continue.

The other approach is to train our minds in such a way that we become indifferent to these problems and we develop equanimity. In such a state, no matter the uncertainties or problems, they don’t affect us at all. This is the approach taken by Buddhism.

Even this approach has shortcomings. Firstly, this approach is totally individual centered. It has no global effect. An individual who can train the mind in such a way, can escape the hardships; but what about those who cannot? The majority of humanity would continue to reel down under uncertainty and misery. We remain passive spectators to all suffering and uncertainties, and there is no moving forward.

What is needed is a balance between these two approaches – keep improving the situations in the best interest of all as well as ourselves, while trying to keep the mind calm and unperturbed.