A young man went into a telephone booth and dialed a number. When the persons on the other picked the call, the man asked, “Madam, can you give me the job of mowing your lawn?” The woman replied, “I already have someone to mow my lawn.” But the young man insisted: “I will mow your lawn for half the price of the person who does it now.” The woman responded that she was very satisfied with the present employee and there was no need for changing him.
The man persisted and said, “I’ll even sweep your curb and your sidewalk, so on Sunday you will have the prettiest lawn in all in the neighborhood.” Again the woman answered in the negative. With a smile on his face, the little boy replaced the receiver. The telephone booth operator, who was listening to this conversation, walked over to the man and said, “I like your attitude; I like that positive spirit and would like to offer you a job.” The young man replied, “No thanks, I was just checking my performance on the job I already have. I am the one who is working for the lady I was talking to!”
Self appraisal or self examination needs great courage and humility. It presupposes one’s willingness to improve, grow and do better. And it can bring great dividends. It is said that the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.
By Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP on 02-01-2018
Feasting calls for fasting. It is Diwali celebrations, for Indians around the world. Let it be thanks giving, Bakrit or for that matter any celebration, like a wedding in the family, in any civilisation, it always involves over indulgence. We all enjoy feasting, with lots of sweets and deep fried delicacies. Quite a few of us are facing the visible after effects and many more are carrying the invisible menaces. The visible after effects are bloating of belly, acidity and gas. The invisible menace is the toxic residue of oils, grease and sugar. The very next question is whether, there are any counter measures to reduce the side effects? The answer is ‘Yes!’. The answer for feasting is Fasting.
The science behind fasting is simple. Fasting gives our overworked digestive system an opportunity to overhaul or repair itself. It is especially more relevant in our times because of our deteriorating eating habits. In Sanskrit, there is a saying – ‘Langanam parama aushadam.’ Its’ nearest translation is ‘fasting is the best medicine’. Just as poor eating habits cause accumulation of fat deposits and consequent blockage of arteries, resulting in heart diseases, our suppressed emotions form ‘energy blocks’; disturbing the free flow of energy throughout our body. On the days we fast, the digestive energy (agni) is available to dissolve these energy blocks, burn away the excess fat from our bodies and cleanse our system. That’s why we feel light and energetic after a fast.
When we fast, we can do it in a scientific way. It is advisable to select a leisure day. We can select two types of juices and one type of soup. For example, let us select a glass of coconut water with ½ a lime squeezed in to it and fresh orange juice. Take coconut water at 7am, 11am, 3pm and 6pm. Take fresh orange juice at 9am, 1pm and 4pm. Conclude the fasting with homemade warm vegetable soup or warm vegetable broth. This fasting can be done for 1 to 3 days. Drink a lot of water throughout the day. It is also advisable to do some prayers & meditation on the day of fasting. During the fasting, we will be able to feel the cleansing happening in our body. The breath, sweating, urination and bowels will have a strong smell because of the elimination of toxins. Bathing twice or thrice during fasting, facilitates the cleansing. People may experience thick coating of the tongue, bile taste in mouth, slight head ache, but nothing serious. All these are signs that your body is responding to fasting and cleansing is happening. Break the fast on the following day with fruits, bland boiled food.
There are certain conditions. Pregnant women, patients with terminal illness, people under strong medication, kidney failure and people with bleeding ulcers, shall do fasting under an expert doctor’s observation. People for whom cool juices or fruits are not suited, can try warm juices and soup. Fasting is also called ‘Upa-vasa’ in Sanskrit. It means living near to god. Fasting once understood and experienced with an expert naturopath’s advice, is not mere physical experience but a spiritual treat too.
By Dr. Dwaraka Nath on 29-12-2017
In fact, death is such a difficult thing to deal with because it leaves a void. That person is no longer here – he is not going to be seen in the future, all the way down to ‘eternity’. You are not going to see that same person in the same form. That is very disconcerting. All the way to the end; of time you are not going to see that person in that form again. It’s a void we cannot handle. Though that person is gone, the position of my being a son or daughter or spouse remains. That doesn’t go away. Even if he is your ex-husband, still, you are stuck being an ex-wife. That position doesn’t go away. Since the position remains, when the person because of whom you got that position is not there, naturally, all the omissions and commissions will rush to your head. As long as the person was there, you could settle accounts with him or her. Now, that person is not there to settle accounts with anymore. And therefore, your own omissions and commissions come to the surface. “Why did I do this?” “Why did I not do this?” It is called the affliction that comes after the fact and it is unavoidable. Here we ask, why I did not do the right thing, why I did do the wrong thing. This is what really makes a person sad. That sadness is deep because you cannot do anything about it – you are facing a void. Ultimately, that sadness is because you cannot accept a void.
Void is not acceptable because there is no void at all. There is no such thing as a void, as total non-existence. Even at the absence of a thing, or its non-existence, you are conscious of. That I don’t have a pot in my hand, that I have no horns on my head you are conscious of. When you appreciate that, the appreciation implies the presence of you, the presence of an existent conscious being. Therefore, total decimation doesn’t exist at all. Total absence, does not exist. Certain combinations, like a man with horns, also do not exist. A man exists, a horn exists, but the horn of a man does not exist. The man is there, and you are appreciative of the man at a given time, but at the same time, you are also appreciative of the fact that his horn does not exist. Similarly, in my hand there is no pot. My hand exists and the pot exists elsewhere, but on my palm, there is no pot. That absence implies presence, the presence of you, naturally.
No human being, self-conscious human being, can visualize and accept a future decimation. Therefore, there is a love to be. That love to be, YËgÕavalkya says, is because you love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, then why would you love to be? If you hated yourself, you would not love to be. But you do love to be. The love for son, wealth, etc., is all for the sake of the self. Wealth includes home, vehicle, etc., including the contents of the home, like your carpet, your Persian carpet. People have a great value for all these things.
I remember when I once went to meet a swami who was staying in a particular house in Madras. The house was facing east and had two floors, a ground floor and a first floor, or as you say in America, the second floor, where the swami was staying in one room. And there was a covered area where I and another person were waiting to meet the swami. He was in his room and we were waiting, sitting on a carpet—a nice carpet, perhaps a Persian carpet. As we were sitting, one of the employees of the house came and asked us to get up and sit on the chairs. We sat on the chairs. And he rolled up the carpet. I thought that he was taking it to be used for a better purpose, perhaps. But then, he rolled up the carpet and kept it there, right in our presence, in one corner and left. That’s a very interesting thing to me; so naturally, I was not going to keep quiet. The next time he came to where we were sitting, I asked him, “Why did you do this? Why did you just roll up this carpet and keep it in the corner?” He said, “Amma [the lady of the house] is down in the kitchen and asked me to please roll up the carpet and keep it in the corner.” I asked him, “Why?” “Because, now it’s eleven o’clock in the morning, and the sunlight will come and fall on it.” Remember we were in a covered but open area with no window, so the sun would fall straight on the carpet and the colour of the carpet would fade. Really! She is down in the kitchen. Her heart is where? Her heart is in the carpet. Not even in the carpet—in the colour of the carpet. This is how people live their lives—you don’t know where the heart is. It is all over—in all these antiques, in so many things there is a little bit of heart.
By Dr. Dwaraka Nath on 15-11-2017
For bearing Happiness, we need more preparation, because we are always ready for suffering! You want to know if divine vision is frightening, because Arjuna was scared. It can be so, if you are not prepared for it. Even happiness, if it comes to you unexpectedly, will suddenly frighten you. People who won lotteries should know about it. Poverty does not kill so much as wealth does if it floods all of a sudden.
What happened to Arjuna was very sudden. It was not so with Sariputra, Maudgalyan, Bheshma, Buddha and even with Ravana. They had long preparation and practice. People on the path of meditation are not scared of divine vision. But it is so shattering for those who experience without meditation. Because the experience is itself so great, so sudden and so blissful, that it is difficult to bear it. Its suddenness and the excessive joy it brings with it can choke our heart, can even kill us.
Suffering does not scare us so much, because we are used to it. In fact we are always prepared for it. There are so many great people in the world, who can cope with great suffering but are incapable to face situations of flooding happiness. Although we always pray God for happiness, it is granted in measures we are capable of managing. Even in Gita if we try and understand it clearly, we can see in some instances even for Krishna, giving Moksha (the ultimate realization) through killing the wicked was easier. There we have to understand that Krishna was not killing the demons but he was even giving them moksha! We may feel why God should grant Moksha to demons? In reality, we all are angels and demons in the core. Some instances brings out the Angel and some other the demons. With innumerable lives, the soul accumulates the vasana (karma). When the time comes for moksha, some get the path of meditation; other few are made an example in the game of Krishna.
Even for Krishna, giving divine vision and realization with absolute happiness was difficult. It needs the perseverance of the seeker but in the form of demons, but with clean slate of Karma it is easier with the sacrifice in Krishna’s play of life. We shall have deeper analysis in future about the paths, differences, difficulties and solution to be Happy and yet be not scared of Happiness.
By Dr. Dwaraka Nath on 02-11-2017
Not only Krishna, even Mahavira had never been ignorant and imperfect in any of his past lives. It is another thing that Mahavira came to know of it only in his last life. Krishna had always known it; he knew it eternally. Even we are not ignorant and imperfect. Each one of us is all- knowing and each one of us is whole – just we are not aware of it. It is all a matter of remembering, of being aware that we are it. The difference lies in awareness, not in being. For example, the sun is high up in the sky, but all of us here go to deep sleep. The sun will be high up there, but then we will not be aware of it. Then one of us wakes up and knows that sun is shining on him. The sun will be shedding light equally on all those who remain sleep, but they will not be aware of it. And when they awaken will they be right in saying the sun rose with their awakening? No, what would be right for them to say is that the sun was already there, but they woke up to it later. No one neither Mahavira, nor Krishna or you or me – is without light and knowledge. Each one of his whole as he is, it is all a matter of remembering it, waking up to it.
Throughout his existence, in all of his lives, Krishna has been aware that he is whole. So his question of striving for it does not arise. At particular level of his existence, say in his last life, Mahavira comes to know through his efforts and disciplines, that he is not ignorant and imperfect, but knowing and whole. And when he is awakened he also comes to know that this has always been the case, he has always been aware and whole. And what difference does it make if someone comes to know of it a few lives earlier or later? But it makes a difference for those of us who live in time; we are always concerned about time – who comes first and who comes last. But eternally no one is the first and no one is the last. In existence, time is without beginning and without end. So the question of one’s awakening to reality sooner or later does not arise. This question has relevance for those of us who has who believe in time begins and ends. If time has no beginning, then what does it matter if someone awakens two days before me? Or two lives after me?
The measurement of time in seconds, days, and years is imaginary; man has invented it. It is conceptual, utilitarian and comparative, but not a fact. Reality is eternal and immeasurable. And enlightenment and awakening or whatever we call it happens beyond time, in timelessness. It will seem strange to us when we see that the moment of Mahavira’s attainment is the same as the moment of Krishna’s. We will say it is incredible, yet it is the fact. Let us understand it this way. On a piece of paper I draw a circle with a centre. Then I draw a number of lines running from the circumference to the centre (like spokes of a wheel). Right at the circumference there is distance, a gap between any two lines. But this gap goes on shrinking as the lines proceed towards the centre. And as they reach the centre this gap disappears altogether. It is the same with the time. At the circumference of the time there is a gap between Mahavira and Krishna, between Krishna and me, between me and you, but there is no gap what so ever when we arrive at the centre. But since we all live in the time of circumference, and we have no knowledge of its centre, we find it difficult to understand that Mahavira and Krishna arrive there together, at the same place. In the same way time or history forms the circumference while the truth or divinity forms the centre. All distances belong to time and space. At the centre where eternity abides, all distances disappear.
By Dr. Dwaraka Nath on 27-09-2017
Our soul will be free, if we surrender on our own and become an instrument in the hands of existence. Please understand the difference; it is very subtle and great. If a habit or philosophy or religion controls me, over powers me, I become a slave. But what will happen if, I on my own willingly surrender myself to existence, then I become the master. This is a story from the life of Greek sage, Diogenes. Diogenes is passing through a forest, walking fearlessly like a lion. Slave traders see him and are tempted by his powerful physique, because he would fetch a good sum of gold at slave market. Although the slave traders are eight in number, they are afraid to overpower and capture him, seeing powerful looking Diogenes. In fact one who wants to overpower another person is essentially a weak and fear stricken person. Only a fearful person wants to frighten and dominate others just to assuage his own fear. A really fearless person never tries to dominate others. He loves everybody’s freedom as much as he loves his own. So the traders are afraid of Diogenes, but their greed is equally strong. Prepared for a good fight, they surround him from all sides, but Diogenes confounds them in a strange way. Diogenes stands quietly and serenely in his place with no trace of fear or agitation on his face. He asks the slave traders of their intension. He then accepts to go with them without any hesitation. They try to hand cuff him but Diogenes convinces them the absurdity when he himself is willing.
Diogenes walks at their head as if a king is marching with his retinue. He looks so charismatic that wherever he goes all eyes are turned on him. Pointing to his captors, Diogenes tells the spectators, “What are you looking for? They are all my slaves. Although they are not in chains yet, they cannot run away from me. They are fond to me.” The merchants are really crestfallen. At slave market, manager announces, “Here is a great slave for sale; whosoever has enough gold can bid for him.” Diogenes first shouts at the manager, “Shut up, if you don’t know how to sell a master.” Then he says to the bidders, “Here is a master for sale, whosoever could afford a master should bid for him.” His radiance is of a person who surrendered to existence, not of a slave.
If we are forced against our will to be n instrument, if it is not our own choice, then we are certainly a slave and our individuality is killed. But Krishna does not ask Arjuna to be such a slavish instrument. Krishna wants Arjuna to understand the reality and to flow with the stream of existence. It is foolish to fight the river of life and try to swim upstream. He says to Arjuna, “Leave yourself in the hands of life, of existence, and you will be fulfilled.” If we surrender with full understanding and joy, then our individuality, instead of being crippled, attains to full flowering fruition. Then we are our own master. Then there is no better way of proclaiming our mastery than the way of surrender. Let us try and understand, if I surrender it means that I am my own master. No slave surrenders, he is just overpowered and captured. For the first time Arjuna’s individuality attains full flowering, and it happens effortlessly and naturally when he realized the reality. He surrenders, not a slave. Gandhi understood the Gita, which is the reason he was never a slave to British even when jailed. Because he surrendered, like Arjuna, to the existence. Let us understand Krishna to understand Gita.
By Dr. Dwaraka Nath on 04-08-2017
There was a boy who found a terrapin, more commonly known as a turtle. He started to examine it but the turtle pulled in its head and closed its shell like a vice. The boy was upset and he picked up a stick to try to pry it open. The boy’s uncle saw him struggling and remarked,
“No Johnny, that’s not the way! In fact, you may kill the turtle but you’ll not get it to open up with a stick.” The uncle took the turtle in into the house and set it near the fireplace. It wasn’t but a few minutes until it began to get warm. Then the turtle pushed out its head, then stretched out its legs and began to crawl.
“Turtles are like that,” said the uncle,”and people, too. You can’t force them into anything.” Be they turtles or people, if you first warm them up with some real kindness, more than likely, they will do what you want them to do.” “A drop of honey attracts a thousand bees.” “A drop of vinegar repels all bees.”
By Dr. Dwaraka Nath on 19-07-2017
I do not why, but this situation happens with me on the occasion of most festivals. This time it was the festival of Holi. Like many other people in our region, family members go to the place where lot of woods are placed to be lit in a particular mahurat of ‘Holika Dahan’. Our family has an additional tradition of visiting this place twice on the same day. Once in the morning to make some special offerings as a part of ‘Thandi Pooja’ or ‘Cold form Worship’ in front of wooden logs, that are just placed as a heap, and then in the evening when the heap is burned. This time we could not go in the morning, as my wife was not well. We went to the place of ‘Holika Dahan’ in the evening only, to perform both the parts of worship together. Somewhere, deep inside my mind the guilt of breaking a long established family tradition kept rolling. I kept telling to me, that it is ok, the situation is due to a genuine reason, but my other part kept pressing me to think otherwise.
I become this kind of split personality especially on the festivals. I start carrying the guilt that if I miss a ritual, God will punish me. I also have another part of me, which has been recently developed, that is a complete atheist. This part tells me to stop all this nonsense and be a sensible person and tells me to stop dramatizing things like this. Don’t know if it is the habit of repeating same things for years that brings this kind of internal conflict or these traditions do have some meaning.
I think that many of you may have experienced this kind of conflict, especially while following the religious customs. Sometimes you convince yourself, by saying that it is a matter of personal beliefs and individual feelings. Some other times, some attempts are made by some people to explain the rituals giving some strange type of logic. Anyway, the point I want to make is, if we are ready to debate the strange rituals. In the name of symbolism of remembering an ancient story, we keep doing things year after year that may not be relevant now. Burning huge amount of crucial resource of wood on the day of ‘Holi’ is beyond any explanation in current days. Similar things we do on other festivals also. In my opinion the best way of enjoying a festival is to share resources between different classes of people rather than wasting them. Today, I complete my ‘Holi’ celebrations, by sharing these feelings with you. Let us expand the word ‘HOLI’ as (H)appiness (O)f (LI)fe.
By Dr. Dwaraka Nath on 11-03-2015
No two people can come so close to each other that the thought of “I” and “thou” cannot come in between them. It is impossible. Only two non-persons, non egos, can achieve this unity and oneness. And since God is a non-person, a devotee can be one with him the day he ceases to be a person, an ego. As long as a devotee remains a separate entity, fusion with God is impossible. God is not an entity as a devotee is. God’s being is like non-being; his presence is like an absence. This aspect of God is significant! And this needs to be understood in the correct sense.
We the devotees have always asked why God does not manifest himself. We forget that if he becomes manifest, meeting with him in the sense of fusion, unity, oneness, will be impossible. Such fusion is possible only with the un manifest. Devotees have always said to God, “Where are you hiding? Why don’t you manifest yourself? ” This is an utterly wrong question. If God really becomes manifest, then great wall will rise up between the seeker & the sought, and oneness will be simply impossible.
Because God is un-manifest, a merger with God is possible. Because he is invisible and infinite like the sky, the devotee can drown himself in his being, which is good as non-being. God is visible nowhere and also is everywhere. If he becomes visible, union will be impossible.
If there is any obstruction in the way of meeting and merging, it is from the side of devotee, not from God.
By Dr. Dwaraka Nath on 27-10-2014
Let us understand how a Sthitaprajna compares with a devotee, a bakta. A Sthitaprajna is one who has ceased to be a devotee and become bhagwan (God). And a devotee is one who is on his way to becoming God. So while a devotee is a one who is on the path, a Sthitaprajna is one who is already arrived. In other words, devotion is the path and steadied intelligence or wisdom is the destination. One who has arrived at the goal is called Sthitaprajna, and a traveler to this goal is called devotee. There is a lot in common between a devotee and a man of settled intelligence, because there is just a distance between the two. The difference is one of journey and destination. The aspirations and expectations of a devotee turn into the achievement of the enlightened, the awakened one- and also goes beyond. And so long as a devotee does not become God himself, he will be thirsty, he will face discontentment too.
About the distance, no matter how intimate an embrace is, a subtle separation remains between lovers. This distance can disappear only when two lovers disappear as egos and merge into each other and become totally one. Either in devotee & God or between lovers, this distance will otherwise be a distance. Whether it is a distance of an inch or of million miles, even if we reduce the distance to a thousandth part of an inch, it remains a distance nonetheless. So a devotee cannot be fully satisfied even if he remains locked in God’s embrace. He can be fulfilled only when he disappears as a devotee and becomes God himself.
The problem is that unless we become one with the beloved, not physically but spiritually, at the level of love/ devotion, of being- there is no way for us to be satisfied and happy. This is the hardest thing to achieve.
This is not going to happen if two lovers remain tied to each other or a devotee is tied to the God. And the irony is, the nearer they are to each other, the greater their disillusionment and misery. When there was a distance between them they had hoped for heavenly happiness and joy that would come when they become closer to each other. But when they are really close, even closest to eachother, they feel disillusioned, almost cheated by their own hopes. This can be witnessed in this world among the lovers and also in devotees. The love of person to another or of devotee to God should be devoid of ego. Otherwise the aspirations are running in one direction and the efforts in another, and so frustration is inevitable. We who long to be one with God, nothing should come in between them, not even or to put it correctly not specifically the thought of “I” and “thou”.
Let us think into this seriously to understand the ultimate reality!