Sunday, March 25, 2012

The power of silence

You might have heard the story of a farmer who lost his watch in the barn. When he failed to find after a search he asked a group of children playing outside the barn to help find out.The children happily went inside the barn and went through the entire stack of hay only to fail in finding the watch. When the farmer was about to give up, a little boy asked to be given another chance. The farmer readily agreed. After a while the little boy came out with the watch in his hand! The happy farmer asked the boy how he succeeded where the rest had failed.
The boy replied, "I did nothing but sit on the ground and listen. In the silence, I heard the ticking of the watch and just looked for it in that direction."

Things that do not readily come to you in normal times or in normal ways readily come to you in silence. The silence gives the mind a greater understanding, an entirely different perspective in the calm that pervades your mind. A peaceful mind possibly can think well than a worked up mind.

I enjoyed these quotes from Nisargadatta Maharaj's book"I am That", published by Acorn Press on pure silence and share them with you

"Whatever you may have to do, watch your mind. Also you must have moments of complete inner peace and quiet, when your mind is absolutely still. If you miss it, you miss the entire thing. If you do not, the silence of the mind will dissolve and absorb all else."

"It has nothing to do with effort. Just turn away, look between the thoughts, rather than at the thoughts. When you happen to walk in a crowd, you do not fight every man you meet, you just find your way between. When you fight, you invite a fight. But when you do not resist, you meet no resistance. When you refuse to play the game, you are out of it."

"No particular thought can be mind's natural state, only silence. Not the idea of silence, but silence itself. When the mind is in its natural state, it reverts to silence spontaneously after every experience, or, rather, every experience happens against the background of silence."

"To go beyond the mind, you must be silent and quiet. Peace and silence, silence and peace - this is the way beyond. Stop asking questions."

"These moments of inner quiet will burn out all obstacles without fail. Don't doubt its efficacy. Try it. Silence is the main factor. In peace and silence you grow. In peace and silence, the skin of the "I" dissolves and the inner and the outer become one."

"Your hope lies in keeping silent in your mind and quiet in your heart. Realized people are very quiet. You must realize yourself as the immovable behind and beyond the movable, the silent witness of all that happens."

It is is striking to see what Jesus had said on silence. "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God." If our hearts are filled with uncharitableness and jealousy, we cannot see God. I can spend hours in church, but I will not see God if my heart is not pure. That is why we need silence. In the silence of the heart God speaks and in the purity of the heart God speaks”.
Silence of our eyes Silence of our ears Silence of our mouths Silence of our minds Silence of our hearts

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The old woman and the kitten

It was a lazy Sunday morning. I thought I heard a giggle and came out to the balcony to see my young daughter of five years smiling. I asked her what made her smile. She pointed out to an old and emaciated woman squatting outside the church across the road for the alms that visitors generally gave.”Yes, what about the old woman?”I asked
“Mom, don’t you see the small kitten in her hand? She is feeding her the loaf of bread she got. Isn’t it nice of her to take care of a tiny kitten?”
What I saw was a sickly old woman with shrunken face in tattered dirty clothes with a skinny cat. I could not see the love and compassion the old beggar woman had for the kitten and in her sharing the measly loaf she got with a hungry feline. It was only the dirt and sickly condition that stood out prominently for me. But my little girl was happily giggling at such a sight. I asked her “What made you smile?”
“Mom,I would love to keep the cat. We can give it milk and every food we eat. But don’t you think how sweet and kind of the beggar woman in parting with what little she had especially when I saw the other beggars drive that cat away from them. It was this that made me happy and smile at both of them.
It hit me then how different our perspectives were for the same sight. What gave me revulsion gave happiness to my little daughter. The manifestation of love shown to a neglected animal by a beggar who was herself poorer than church mouse was a matter for joy and celebration for her. Happiness is not in acquiring material things or experiencing pleasures of senses but in finding joy in ordinary incidents big or small that we come across. Happiness is seeing beyond the superficial, seeing the beauty in God’s creations, appreciating love and kindness displayed to strangers and many such more however insignificant they may be in our scale of mundane values.“Happiness resides not in possessions and not in gold, the feeling of happiness dwells in the soul.”
While all the learning and knowledge are good possessions to have, they do not always help us experience the joy of seeing innocent love and spontaneous kindness shown to the hapless needy or rejoice at simple pleasures that nature in its beauty and bounty offers. It calls for certain awareness. To be aware is different from to know. Mere knowledge is no awareness. It was good lesson that I learnt that morning from my girl. “Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.”(Mary Baker Eddy)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Restraining anger

Do you get angry frequently? It could be for a variety of reasons due to perceived injustice or unfair treatment. There is nothing to worry. It is a natural human trait and you are in good company. Even gods and sages from the mythology are known to exhibit this attribute and some of the incarnations (avatars) are manifestations of God’s deep displeasure and anger with some wicked individuals harassing the innocent. He was fiercest in Narasimhavatar when He appeared in part lion part man form out of a stone pillar to tear Hiranyakasibu for tormenting his son Prahlad, a devotee of the Lord. As Rama He came down to earth to kill various demons harassing His devotees and to slay the mighty Ravana when his misdeeds became intolerable. He even got infuriated and took the bow against the Sealord when he proved a hurdle.Krishnavatar is replete with His destroying evil men in anger including his own uncle Kamsa. Bhagavan says in the Gita verse IV 8 Paritranaya sadhunam that He will come, in every yuga (age) for the upliftment of the good and virtuous, for the destruction of evil and for the reestablishment of the natural law. Don’t you remember Ma Kali with her garland of skulls protruding tongue and angry eyes out to kill the bad and evil?

Unless you are an evolved soul, anger for legitimate reason is a normal response accompanied with a desire to react and if possible punish with words or violence. So long as one is within confines of law, anger does not put one at risk with law enforcing authorities. Excessive anger like grinding one’s teeth, eyes becoming bloodshot, shivering, increased heart beats would mean losing control of oneself and may lead to unhappy situations. Suppressing anger by putting a lid over it is also dangerous. What do we do then?

One must always examine why a man is unjust to you and what actions of yours cause his anger. Without this introspection one can turn blind in rage as the other party. Having done this when someone unfairly hurts by word or action, you must express your disapproval and that you are not happy with his action in unmistakable words without raising your voice or employing harsh words. Your disappointment can be made clear without a thought of revenge. The desire to pay back in the same coin may be tempting but best eschewed. Even this expression of disapproval should be done keeping the surroundings and the possible effect in mind. The response to hurtful words or acts should be on your terms and time and not as expected by other party. There is however no place for cowardice.

All said we cannot control people’s reaction. They will tend to meddle in your affairs and say/do unreasonable things. Where they are minor in nature, it is best to ignore them. Unless, the offense is repetitive and intentional, one should stay away from such people where possible. If you treat their actions with contempt they deserve, much room for anger would not be there. Sharing the instances with very near and dear will bring out a dispassionate feedback and can help in removing angularities in your own personality.

Tantrums hardly help but can make one a laughing stock. By sheer practice one can control anger without submitting oneself to insults. A person in control of his emotions in a dignified way is much sought after and becomes popular.The famous Thirukkural has a few guidelines on restraining anger. Some of them are given below.
1.Anger against the weak is wrong/It is futile against the strong.

2.Off with wrath with anyone/It is the source of sin and pain

3.Is there a foe like harmful ire/Which kills the smile and joyful cheer?

4Thyself to save, from wrath away/If not thyself the wrath will slay

5..Wishes he gains as he wishes/If man refrains from rage vicious

6.Dead are they who are anger-fed/Saints are they from whom wrath has fled.