Thursday, December 19, 2013

9. Myths & Matters: Our children must live with us forever


In this series ‘Myths & Matters’ I have been sharing few insights for parents and their grown up children to enhance their relationship there by improve peace of mind. As we progress in the so-called civilization, there are newer issues introduced and one such is the conflict with the grown up children. I am of the view that most of these issues are due to our wrong paradigms and expectations which prevents us from improving our ability to ‘Adjust’ with the our loved ones. In this episode let us evaluate few new paradigms that bring peace in our family. We invariably suffer due to our behaviour, which is the result of our belief. If we need to alter the outcome we need to alter its root cause, which is the intrinsic belief, which resides deep into our being. The only way we can change our actions is by changing our beliefs over a period of time by reeducating our mind. The other name for our belief is ‘superstition’ which needs to be understood before we even attempt to alter our paradigms.   

Beware of Superstition:

I was trying to understand the true meaning of the word ‘superstition’ and found few synonyms as ‘Fallacy’, ‘Delusion’, ‘misconception’, ‘myth’ and the like which means they are not facts but misleading information’s passed on by our predecessors. One such superstition I dealt in previous episodes is “cat crossing is a bad omen”. India is one of the few countries with certain unique values and culture many of them should be nurtured but few of them are no longer valid due to the changes over time. The older the civilization the greater is the ‘Superstition’, which is evident from India & China, which are the oldest civilization known so far. Our life runs mostly on superstition than facts. For some unknown reasons as we travel from the West towards East, slowly the logic is replaced by ‘superstition’; the science is replaced by ‘beliefs’. Education is supposed alleviate ignorance replacing superstition with scientific facts; but it provides unwanted information and ensures the ignorance is retained. I would say, “All learned people are not educated and educated people are not learned”- for example, Sri. Ramakrishna Paramahansa is not educated but learned.

Galileo eyes were poked as he proclaimed that the earth is a globe and sun is at the center of our solar systems. This challenged the ‘superstition’ that time ‘the earth flat and at the center of the solar system. If you are ahead of time and challenge a superstition, you will be crucified or your eyes will be poked! I am going to take the risk of challenging some of these superstitions in this series.

The Myth:

One of the major disappointments for modern parents is their children are not choosing to live with them during their old age or soon after they get married. Even when they are not lamenting about it openly, they sob internally and share it with few of their close associates. I wish to deal with this myth, which robs the happiness of many senior citizens these days particularly when all younger ones has a dream to disappear to US after all their job is done in India. It is one of the social issues that are haunting the modern nuclear families. Unlike the older generations like me born in a family of 14 children, the modern parents have either one or two children and if they also leave them for ever, it hurts them particularly when they need them the most.

One of the superstitions passed on by our previous generations is “Joint Family” – all brother & sister’s families should live together with their parents. This must have had many advantages in economy during the time people mostly lived in villages sharing certain common resources. Some times the family size reaches more than 20 people sharing the same resources leading to lots of inconveniences and compromises. These conservative believes die-hard over time. One of these superstitions led to the modern nuclear family parents to keep their children in tact with them after their marriage although sometimes live in one-room kitchen apartments. One of the mother-in-law’s concerns after their son gets married is the ‘Advice from their daughter-in-law to live separately’. She suspects that her daughter-in-law will hijack her son. The same mother wants her daughter to escape from the nagging of her mother-in-law. The law that is applicable for her daughter is no longer valid for her daughter-in-law as she is somebody else’s daughter you know?

All the happiness of the family disappears the moment a new human being is introduced into the family. It is like the human bodies immune system attacking the foreign particles or parasites entering the body. Is there a solution for this? Definitely I believe so; the only way is re-educating the mind and shifting to new paradigms. The moment the attitude changes, the whole World starts appearing differently. Please read further. Let me caution you that what follows is not an advice to parents only but also for the grown up children as well.

What matters?

Suggested Paradigms for Parents:

Paradigm-1: Closeness does not mean ‘Physical closeness’  

Recently one of our business partners came from Nigeria and stayed in India for a week. While in an informal chat I asked him what is the difference he found between Nigeria and India. He spontaneously said “The closeness in the family and overwhelming hospitality”. As he rightly pointed out, the issue is the “closeness”. Those who have witnessed the “Super singer” program in Vijay TV where the parents sit at the edge of their seats while their grown up children are competing in the singing competition. When their child is eliminated from the rounds they cry profusely like a child. This proves the old adage “Children never grow old in the eyes of their parents”.

Closeness is a mental process and not physical – living physically together does not guarantee mental closeness. Many husband and wife live together for ages without any sense of love! If the parents truly love their children it is unimportant where their offsprings are living. Let your children live anywhere they want and bless them to explore. In the space age distance does not matter at all as we are electronically connected through Skype and many other media. Talking to them once in a way is better than living in the same house and not talking to each other for months.

Paradigm-2: ‘Nest Leaving’ is a natural process

I was surprised when I saw the birds pushing their little ones out of their nest prompting them to leave. The 5 sensed animals know what is right to their little ones. One popular argument parents put across to me saying, “We are not animals”. There is so much to learn from animals if we are open. The love of the bird is so evident when it keeps itself hungry and feed it’s loved ones throughout the day. The mother bird knows when to stop feeding and drive the little one to find its own food. If it does not do that at the appropriate time, the offsprings would become so dependent on their mother and die after it disappears from this planet one day. Don’t suffocate your children with your love and prevent them from exploring the sky, for which they have born to.

Paradigm-3: Provide a psychological space to children

One of the greatest poet and prophets Khalil Kibran said, “In any building the columns should be sufficiently spaced to support the superstructure – If they are too close there will not any space to move around or alternatively if they are too far away the building will collapse – similarly for any relationship to prosper, each person should leave sufficient psychological space to other. If suffocation happens the relationship will not last”.   

Paradigm-4: Don’t deprive freedom

When we were young we expected lots of freedom from our parents and we never liked when they imposed their choice of dress and the food what they felt we should eat and so on. We pretended that we drank the full glass of milk and poured it in the gutter when they went inside the kitchen!  But when we have grown up children we forget that they will have the same expectations we had as a child. I am not saying like US we have to alienate ourselves in the name of ‘Freedom” but we have to respect the privacy and expectations of each human beings particularly the children – after all we live for their happiness. Every human being has come to this planet for a purpose – A Jesus for redeeming the mankind, Einstein to show the path for modern nuclear science and so on. Similarly we don’t know for what purpose our children have born.
The parents see their grown up children as the toddler they were feeding. When the child gets up and walking the parents have to leave their grip believing that the child will learn to walk; if they would have held its hand to prevent it from falling down the child would not have developed any confidence. Freedom instills responsibility.

Paradigm-5: Avoid dependency

The rationale with which many parents argue saying ‘We sacrificed everything for our children and they are supposed to return when we are old’; there is logic in this argument but when we look after some one and expect return then it becomes ‘Business’. One cannot lower the ‘un-conditional love’ towards their child as business. In fact parent’s love towards their children is a one way traffic and expecting two way is unnatural or against the Dharma of children. Unfortunately when we are old we slowly become like a child again starting the physical, emotional & intellectual dependency all over again, which we had with our parents. In addition if we add economical dependency the things gets worse. If we have to remain sane during our old age we have to take care of our own economical, physical, emotional dependency and transmit love towards our children watching them like a rose flower blossoming. In developed countries the parents have no need of any support from their children and hence freedom for both.

Paradigm-6: No one needed around when we die  

One of the strong expectations of parents is expecting their children at their bedside when they die. Take a moment to look at the fact - when we die we will not know that our soul is leaving this planet and if so how does it matters who is around? One cannot escape from death, which is the only thing we were certain about our future when we have born. If we stop denying this universal truth and accept it then no worry. We did not come to this planet on our will? In the same way someone who took that decision will take us wherever He wants! Then why worry about death? Please remember if you can overcome the fear of death, life will suddenly become very enjoyable. In other words “We need to learn the art of dying before learning the art of living” – the fact is if we learn to die we have already learned to live!

Paradigm-7: Expectation robs peace and joy

Finally a bit of philosophy, which teaches us “How to love & live life”.

One of the expectations that robs our peace of mind and joy is our ‘attachment and expectations’ from our children as they grow. I heard Sri. Sri. Ravishankar once saying, ‘Expectations reduces the joy of life’, if we don’t guard ourselves from this ‘monster’ we end up in misery. I am hearing you whispering ‘what else life is all about?’ Please don’t read me wrong ignoring that I am philosophical. I will cover this concept of ‘Attachment’ in greater details on the topic of Pragmatic Spirituality later. For now let me tell you one simple recipe for peace in life as we grow – Learn to live with ‘detached attachment’ on anything. The moment we tend to ‘possess’ anything the problem starts – this includes our children as well. Remind yourself one day we will have to leave everything and go from here if so what does possession really means. When the mind recognizes this fact we have already learned to let go off everything including our children. They have born through us but “They don’t belong to us”. Remember – you can use what you possess but you cannot take it away when you leave for heavenly abode. What you cannot possess does not belong to you!

Recommendations for the grown up children:

Vedanta as well as psychology proclaims that children who have un-cleared relationship with their parents will never have a peaceful life. Un-cleared here means ‘One has a strained relationship’ with their parents. I come across lots of modern middle-aged people these days who are not in talking terms with their parents since they carry many grudges against them. Let us look at the following rationale:

1.    Parent’s love towards their child is the only pure love next to divine love towards living beings. All else are ‘selfish’ as Swami Vivekananda says. The mother’s love towards their child ever since the embryo nucleates from the sperm is so genuine she cannot think of anything else than her baby. We would have died prematurely if our parents have not looked after us as infant.

2.    When we have animosity with our parents for any reasons we cannot create a future for ourselves as we got stuck in our past. Those who have got stuck in the past have already lost their ability to create a future.

3.    The curse of the parents to their child is the last possible among any relationships. These days many people dump their old parents in the old age home and earn their curse with great ease. This curse will ruin all their happiness in their life. In Kali Yuga the effect of karma has to be served in the same incarnation for short of time.

4.    Your life itself is the alms given by your parents and your lack gratitude reflects your personality. If you can ditch your parents you will ditch anyone – it is the reflection of your character.

5.    Ask your wife whether she is willing to ditch her parents – she will never say yes. If so why your parents are the causality?

Wherever you live, take care of your parents – you need their blessings.  


Sunday, December 8, 2013

What is Karma? - The Essence of Life

Manual for Living Life

I am glad to note the overwhelming responses from you for the new topic on "Pragmatic Spirituality" which I did not expect as the modern mind is more engaged in indulgence and least interested in spirituality. In addition, there is a misconception about each concepts and spirituality is not an exception. I am of the view that spirituality is also a science like physics or chemistry, which has many material values. All of us without any exception have opinion about everything whether it is understood or not which Joel Barker called it as “Paradigms”. In fact for forming opinion, understanding it is not mandatory – In fact one who understands never forms any opinion!! One of the definitions of knowledgeable person is “One who knows what he does not know”.

When we buy a gadget we are given a ‘User manual’, which tells us how to use that gadget without which we cannot take the full benefit of that gadget. Similarly when we have born no one gave us any manual as to ‘How to live life?’ In the absence of this user manual, we keep committing mistakes and suffer till the wisdom dawns on us when we have almost finished our life and left with few overs to score! Unfortunately parents, teachers or society did not teach us how to live life in “Peace”. One thing we were well taught is to chase wealth, power and fame endlessly and pay the price. We always get confused between “Comfort” & “Happiness” as the later is the end objective and the former is the means. Many times we are “Comfortably miserable”. Whether one pursues material or spiritual both these path requires a ‘Use manual’. After getting exposed to few Vedic concepts I tend to feel it is the ‘User manual’ for our life irrespective of which path we undertake. Paradoxically we live in a country of Veda but ignorant of our roots while people from the west know more about our Veda than anyone in our own country.

As you all gave a go ahead let me share more practical concepts in this series which will help you to enhance your effectiveness in material pursuits at the same time ensure peace of mind. In this episode I wish to share the concept of KARMA, which has many connotations and understanding. Let us explore deep into this concept, which help you to focus on whatever you do during your waking hours.

What is Karma?

The simplest meaning of the word “KARMA” is "ACTION" or activity - the essence of life. When we were in the womb of the mother when the sperm took the shape of a living being the "Activity" started right at that moment by the way of cell multiplying into various organs and later the heart started beating on its own. As Swami Vivekananda once said, “If the wrist watch functions in a pre-determined way, there is a designer who designed it that way; if you believe that there is a designer for a wrist watch, there must be one who made this most complex universe”. The planets are in a continuous motion as the atoms in the subatomic levels. The scientist says, that if the atom becomes static, the material will disintegrate. Hence the creation manifest in many forms of life, which has one common phenomenon, which is “Activity” – which is in constant flux of motion. All living organisms are destined to ‘act’ as long as it is alive. Inaction is the epitome of ‘death’. Have you ever seen a fish without motion? Lord Krishna advises Arjuna when he was in a hysterical state in the Kurukshetra that “You have no escape from action as long as you breathe”.

 These actions continue till we are alive. When we came to this physical World which mankind called it as "birth" we immediately started breathing unconsciously, which was absent while we were in the womb. If the newborn child is not breathing, the doctors hold it upside down and give a pat on the back! I don't know how we survived without breathing while we were in the womb floating in water! Ever since the birth the activity continues playing as a toddler, studying as a student and various other Activities there after. Veda calls these actions or activities as "Karma". In our adult life all activities are directed towards only one motive and that is "Making money" with a belief that some day we will be happy. For peace of mind through spiritual understanding one needs to know the effect of karma and with what frame of mind we need to indulge.

Types of Karma?

The actions we undertake belong to three types of Karma and they are "NITHYA KARMA", "NAIMITHYA KARMA" and "NISHIDDHA KARMA".

NITHYA KARMA as the name implies are the daily chors such as brushing our teeth, taking bath, eating our food, sleeping etc. which one has to do all the time till we are alive. These are looking like mundane but they are helping us to keep us physically healthy, as our body is the temple in which the divine essence resides. By looking after the temple we are keeping the sanctum of the deity.

NAIMITHYA KARMA is the activity we perform to give happiness to our fellow human beings such as helping others, attending social functions such as marriage or visiting some one when they are suffering due to illness or bereavement etc. Many of us are very weak in this department and resent spending our time seeing someone in hospital or attend marriage when invited. When we invite someone for a wedding we are very eager to see the people around during the occasion as that gives immense happiness. Similarly when we go through tough time in life, we expect our friends and relatives to enquire about it, which gives solace during distress. Alas! What a contradictory expectations – what we want is never extended to others! But someone invites us we think that our absence won't make a difference. This thinking is like the story where everyone poured water in the tank when the king requested each citizen to pour milk for feeding poor children. Each one thought that his cup of water would not be noticed when everyone would pour milk. Eventually the king found tank full of water!

NISHIDDHA KARMA is the activities we are not supposed to do which injures the other living beings or disrupt the social arrangement such as taking bribe, hurting someone, causing nuisance in public, gossiping etc. In Kaliyuga most of the activities belong to this category unfortunately. We will discuss how these karma lead to the outcome in the topics below.

We are always engaged in one of these Karmas during our waking hours and while we are sleeping the mind projects the effects of these Karma in some forms.

What is the effect of Karma?

Veda proclaims that every action leaves an impression in our being in the sub-conscious mind, which is referred as "VASANA" - the nearest English word for VASANA is ‘smell’. The reason why Veda refers this, as VASANA as it is like the fragrance of the flower, which permeates through the air – our Vasana’s permeate through our attitudes and actions. We can recognize the smell although cannot see it similar to recognizing the attitude of the person. As Sukhbodananda once said, “if you carry a jasmine flower in your pocket it's smell can be recognized even when others cannot see it”. Similarly, the VASANAS of a person can be recognized by their behavior. We are able to know intuitively the intention of the other person by merely listening to them. Our personality is the some total of our VASANAS.

How VASANA is formed?

The VASANA encrustations happen by the process described here. All starts with the quality of thought, which leads to actions that ends as VASANA and the cycle repeats. This could be observed in the criminals who once become a theief they remain as they are in spite of their punishments. The moment they are out of jail they repeat the same crime once again helplessly. If we have to improve the quality of our VASANAS we need to guard our thoughts. You may ask how thoughts are controlled? Human beings are empowered with “Rationale” to evaluate the implications of our actions. Using this intellectual faculty one can choose their destiny.

What is the effect of VASANAS?

The Hindu philosophy believes in reincarnation, which means that our soul will manifest in different life form after the death of our body and this will continue till it is liberated and merges with the divine essence. It is said, that this repetition of birth and death is the function of accumulation of VASANAS. The state of Nirvana is when there is zero balance of VASANA in our being which is the precondition for merging with divine which ceases the reincarnations. All those who are pursuing spirituality are aiming to find a way of purgating their VASANA so that they can get enlightened.

What is the application of Karma in material Life?

1.     Don’t resent actions and that is all you have in your life.
2.     Ensure that you don’t indulge in “Nishiddha Karma”
3.     Understand your role in the society and ensure that you don’t miss your “Naimithya Karma” – you will enjoy it.
4.     Carry out all activities with a “Devotion” to lord as you are carrying out His intentions.
5.     Be passionate about the actions and it will make a mark.
6.     Don’t have selfish motives in all your actions as it accumulates “Vasana”
7.     At least do one “Act” a day that makes someone happy and smile.
8.     Remember – “Vasana” will endlessly bring you back to this planet till you purgate them.
9.     Vasana purgation will happen only when you act without any expectations!
10.  What does this mean? We will see in the next episode.

May Lord bless you.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pragmatic Spirituality - Money is the Future

The state of Human beings now

Many of my blog followers have requested me to write some topics connected to the essence of Veda in a simple way, which a common man can put to use. I titled this topic as “Pragmatic Spirituality” as it can be applied in our day-to-day life to improve its quality. In the name of civilization human race has lost ‘Peace’ which is the essence and purpose of life. Veda proclaims that our true nature is “Ananda” which means ‘happiness’. But we see an average modern man is always like a taught rubber band for some unknown reasons. There is a syndrome called “Zikernic Effect” after the name of the Russian psychoanalyst who explained this. This syndrome explains the state of the modern human beings who are always in a state of incompleteness and keen to complete some pending actions hoping that they will be happy there after. This never happens as Dr. Richard Carlson said “Your inbox will never be empty” and always there are actions pending in our life. 

Learning from the great masters ever since I had the privilege to get exposed to the subject of Veda I have been constantly attempting to alter my normal state of being, which by default used to be ‘Miserable’. Just like thermometer, if there were a ‘happiness meter’, which could measure your happiness level it will indicate that most of us are always in the RED zone of misery in spite of what we possess or achieve. Earlier I used to invent reasons to be un-happy while everything is going well, by His grace. With the application of the approach in this series I have converted myself as a person who is, by default, happy most of the time.

Even any situation tumbles me I swing back like a karate champion to my ‘peaceful’ state; if I can do it, why not you? Are you ready? Since you have read this far that in itself shows you are already spiritually initiated irrespective of any religion or caste. By the way what I am covering here is nothing to do with any religious belief but a science if you may wish to call it, which you will agree in due course. The reason I titled this series, as “Pragmatic Spirituality” is it converts the abstract Vedic knowledge into a ‘cook book’ application rules, which you can practice like learning to ride a bicycle. You may fall down a few times, but if you persevere you will get there.

“Veda” – The life saver:

Veda is the essence of our culture and tradition but long forgotten as it is “out of fashion to talk about spirituality”. It is reserved for old age when you have nothing else to do. Very strangely we ruin our entire life in pursuit of wealth as the famous adage says, “We sacrifice our health for wealth and spend all it to get back our health”. Let us examine the role of money in bringing happiness into our life.

Strangely, we never respect what we already have and give importance to what we don’t have! Rajneesh once said, only when you have headache we recognize that we have something called head. We often take our relationship granted when all is well and cry when the person has departed. Rajneesh says, ‘we cry due to the unfinished relationship with that soul’; if we have lived our life fully well with that person we will never cry and say good-bye to them.

One commodity, which is missing in the developed world, is peace or else why 30% people in the US are consuming sleeping pills and spend maximum of their earning with the ‘Psychoanalysts’? It is increasingly becoming evident that ‘Happiness is not hiding in material wealth’. The modern society has mixed up with ‘happiness’ and ‘money’ without realizing that there is no cause and effect relationship between them. I am not recommending you to stop earning money; but all that I am appealing to you is ‘Money has no power to give you happiness’.

Money – The new Paradigm

In this issue let me deal with ‘Money’ as the topic. Recently I happened to listen to a debate whether money is “Past” or “Future”. For those who don’t have money, it is the “future” and for those who have it is “Past”. But Veda says that whether you have money or not still you can inculcate the state of mind of both at your will. Ramakrishna Paramahansa was believed to have kept gold in one hand and mud in another and dropped both of them in the Yamuna River. For a common man he was “Mad” and they moved him to asylum. The pity is “the common man chasing wealth appears to be mad in the eyes of an enlightened person and vice versa”. The madness depends on what state one looks at the other. 

For the vast majority of us, ‘Money is the future’ – in fact we spend our whole life in pursuit of money with a hope that ‘One day we will be happy’ after having enough bank balance. Strangely we chase it in spite of what wealth we have and the game never ends. In fact there is only one purpose of life for many and that is earning money. Looking at the past life of people like Michel Jackson, Marlin Monroe and the similar celebrities like Elvis Presley who had all that they wanted in their material life but finally killed themselves. It seems that the other side of the material wealth is “Emptiness” because it is not all that is easy to kill oneself unless he or she losses all hope in life. The biggest disappointment for these people might have been they expected some sort of great happiness and found none.

Paradigm of Power

In the corporate life we came across people like Steve Jobs who made all wealth and power in their little span of time called life. Strangely they were expelled from the very institution they have built fondly. Now there is news that the board of Microsoft is preparing to expel its founder Bill Gates as he is giving away all his wealth to the poor. We find many people who earned maximum in their life suddenly become philanthropic and wanted to give away what they earned to the needy. It is strange to notice this feeling that dawns on those who saw the other side of the wealth. If they feel hording gives happiness, why they do the reverse of it? Why these people finally finding it is empty on the other side of the material pursuits; while the common man is mad after money?

Money is ‘Past’ or ‘Future’

There are people seeking enlightenment like Buddha sitting in Himalayan caves alone in peace and solitude while the common man feeling lonely in the crowded market place!! Gautama relinquished all the ephemeral pleasures, which he was enjoying till he was 29 and suddenly found emptiness in them. It is not all that is easy for any human being to throw away pleasures of a kingdom and walk out like a beggar. For Buddha “Money is the past” and for a common man “Money is the future” – it is the attitude towards money and nothing to do what we have. Happiness comes not out ‘what we have’ but from ‘what we think we have’.

The two paradigms “Money is the future” and “Money is the past” has different driving forces in our behaviour. If we agree, “Money is the future” we become mad after it and go all out to amass wealth and die one day like a street dog without seeing the other pleasures of life. If we agree the Vedic message that “Money is the Past” it has less influence on us. Let me explain little more in detail. One of the famous adage says, “You are as rich as much you can spend” – which means although one may have million dollar he can eat only two or three chapattis and not hundred at a time. In this context the money is treated as “Past”. This paradigm gives you a notional feeling that you are rich. This happiness is coming out of the feeling that ‘Others don’t have’ and hence you are happy.

An anecdote:

There was an occasion when Toyota organized a meet for all “Lexus” car owners during the initial days they have launched when the car was very exclusive. Each owner who came to the meet thought that there might be only 5 or 10 cars there, but to their surprise there were thousands of Lexus parked in the lot and they found even difficult to locate their car!! This has disappointed them as so many of the people have the same car what they possessed. This shows that our happiness is not coming from what we have – but what others don’t have!! Don’t you think that this is a sadistic pleasure?


In summary, if you go by the paradigm “Money is the future” one become a mad goose who chases the happiness through wealth. If you choose “Money is the Past” the wealth looses its ability to make them happy. The best way to live peaceful life is to understand that there is no cause and effect relationship between money and happiness. Veda says that “Material possessions can never give you happiness” as happiness is the state of the being already. All that is needed is turn to your true nature and instantly you will be happy.
Swami Maharishi Mahesh Yogi once said that “Human beings saying that they are not happy is like fish saying it is thirsty – all that the fish has to do is open its mouth and allow the water to go into its being.” He says that we have to make up our mind to be happy and not to seek from material wealth.

Kindly click the icon "No comments" below to add your views and comments about this post. Your feedback is invaluable for me to continue this effort.

Be Happy from this moment and forever! God bless you.



Mind the Mind! Essence of Spirituality

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