Monday, March 31, 2014

All the faces in the world are mirrors

A good story I read
Long ago in a small, far away village, there was place known as the House of 1000 Mirrors.
A small, happy little dog learned of this place and decided to visit. When he arrived, he bounced happily up the stairs to the doorway of the house.
He looked through the doorway with his ears lifted high and his tail wagging as fast as it could. To his great surprise, he found himself staring at 1000 other happy little dogs with their tails wagging just as fast as his. He smiled a great smile, and was answered with 1000 great smiles just as warm and friendly. As he left the House, he thought to himself, "This is a wonderful place. I will come back and visit it often."
In this same village, another little dog, who was not quite as happy as the first one, decided to visit the house. He slowly climbed the stairs and hung his head low as he looked into the door.
When he saw the 1000 unfriendly looking dogs staring back at him, he growled at them and was horrified to see 1000 little dogs growling back at him. As he left, he thought to himself, "That is a horrible place, and I will never go back there again."

All the faces in the world are mirrors. What kind of reflections do you see in the faces of the people you meet?

Friday, March 28, 2014

God the spider

A nice story I read 
 God can even use a simple spider web to build a wall of protection around His children.
During World War II, a US marine was separated from his unit on a Pacific Island. The fighting had been intense, and in the smoke and the crossfire he had lost touch with his comrades.
Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction. Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a high ridge to several small caves in the rock. Quickly he crawled inside one of the caves. Although safe for the moment, he realized that once the enemy soldiers looking for him swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be killed.
As he waited, he prayed, "Lord, if it be your will, please protect me. Whatever your will though, I love you and trust you. Amen."
After praying, he lay quietly listening to the enemy begin to draw close. He thought, "Well, I guess the Lord isn't going to help me out of this one.." Then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave.
As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave.
"Ha, he thought. "What I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent me is a spider web. God does have a sense of humor."
As the enemy drew closer he watched from the darkness of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after another. As they came to his, he got ready to make his last stand. To his amazement, however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on. Suddenly, he realized that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if no one had entered for quite a while. "Lord, forgive me," prayed the young man. "I had forgotten that in you a spider's web is stronger than a brick wall."
We all face times of great trouble. When we do, it is so easy to forget the victories that God would work in our lives, sometimes in the most surprising ways.

Monday, March 24, 2014

What is prayer for?

You must have read the following incident in Mother Teresa’s life. Mother Teresa of Kolkata had a dream. She told her superiors, “I have three pennies and a dream from God to build an orphanage."
"Mother Teresa," her superiors chided gently, "you cannot build an orphanage with three pennies. With three pennies you can’t do anything!"
"I know," she said smiling, "but with God and three pennies I can do anything!"
She did build an orphanage that is well known housing many destitute.
This is often mentioned to stress the point that spiritual energy is so powerful and that all we need to do is turn toward the energy and ask. The Bible says "Ask and you shall receive." God is waiting and all you need to do is ask even a little bit for help, and it will be there. A lot of people either do not ask or turn their backs said Tim Peering So what are we waiting for? Pray intensely with faith and our prayers would be answered.
 Even in Hindu religion before the chanting or recitation of texts on the glories of Gods/Goddesses, a sankalp or a seeking of specific blessings is made for self or others. Just as a child asks its parents, we ask our Father or the Lord to help us in times of need. Again like our parents, our wishes are granted or denied by God for reasons best known to Him.
To me it seems there are a few elements in prayer.
Prayer should be in total faith and with utter devotion. There should be no shred of doubt. This absolute faith and devotion should always be there and not only when we need things. God is not a Santa Claus with a bagful of goodies waiting to give whenever we press the button. In all the cases I have read, God came to the rescue of the devout, not those who turn devout for specific reason at specific times, when the devotee surrenders to God without clinging to other devices for help. The surrender should be total.
I believe where prayer is for a noble cause or for benefitting the needy sufferers without any strings of self interest, God listens to such prayers as Mother Teresa’s for destitute with three pennies in her hand .There was nothing for  herself. When one wishes to give to the lonely, lost and poor and when compassion and love is the driving force, the connection to God is immediately established. He may not help directly but someone at His command would come your way. His ways are inscrutable.
God does not make deals. It is never a quid pro quo.If you donate in cash or kind to Him at places of worship or break 100 coconuts or rotate bodily on the floor of temple expecting something in return, He is not impressed.A golden crown studded with diamonds is not any bigger than a spoon of water or a plantain fruit. It is the attitude, humility, faith, sincerity and love that draw Him to the supplicant.
 We see candidates praying for a win in election and their rivals praying for the opposite result. Is god really interested in these silly demands? When He does not grant our petty wishes after repeated prayers, we indulge in our remonstration that He is blind to our sufferings or deaf to our pleas or heartless to our pitiable condition.
Why do we pray? Is asking for things the only reason for our prayers? Can there be a self less prayer? Is a prayer for the well being of self, children, friends, and family members is wrong? Not at all, prayer is always good in that we become better persons. But God knows what is to be given when, where and to whom? Is He not omniscient and does He need reminder?
My own take on this is that God answers our prayers if they fit with His scheme of things. Otherwise they remain unanswered. If that be so why do our religions and scriptures require us to pray and what are we supposed to ask for in our prayers? To my mind our prayers should be one of adoration of His many divine qualities and expression of gratefulness for the blessings given. There should be no demand even for liberation from the cycle of births and deaths. He knows when to free you from this bondage. Real prayer is communicating with god by singing His praises and leading a virtuous life according to His teachings. Work is worship. Doing the assigned jobs sincerely and well and leading an ethical life is highest form of worship. Prayer is nothing more than leading our life being aware of His presence all the time in all the things we do in our day to day life and being in communion with him

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Talk less

There is an old folk tale that tells of a man who was walking along a beach. He heard someone calling him. Surprised he turned around and saw no one except a skull mounted on a post. To his great astonishment, the skull said “I only called you”.
The man asked the skull “It is strange to see you mounted here and yet speak. Can you speak again to clear my doubt?”
“Why not?” the skull replied.
 The man, without waiting to know how it came to be planted there, rushed to the king to tell him of the strange spectacle of a talking skull. The king who was busy in a meeting with courtiers stopped it and hurried with the man to the place where the skull was mounted. The man asked “I have come with the king. Please speak to him as you did to me”
The skull remained stubbornly silent despite his persuasions. Enraged the king ordered that the man be beheaded, and his head mounted on a post adjacent to skull.
After they left leaving the man’s head on the post, the skull asked “why did you talk to king unnecessarily?”
When he asked what in bewilderment, the skull said “I had also talked like you and am in this predicament”
The moral of the story is we all talk needlessly and sometimes get into trouble. Most of the things we talk are already known to others as we are not privy to some exclusive news. We all read the newspapers and watch TV and have information only from such sources. We have no extra knowledge to throw greater light say on a missing plane or the outcome of elections, the down turn in economy, the high scale of corruption or the changes in climate unless professionally involved in them.. Yet we repeat the same news we read or listen to others without shedding any new insight or solutions that are anyway beyond our realm. If at the end of the day when one honestly rewinds all the conversations had and evaluates their necessity, one would find that 90% of it if not spoken would not have mattered. When one falls sick and does not talk to others for a week, has there been any big loss to others? Important information find their way whether one likes it or not.
This does not refer to serious discussions that take place in meetings, seminars or conferences where one must pay acute attention to what is being said and speak only where one can meaningfully contribute to the subject. More often than not people talk concurrently or at tangent.
People are normally uncomfortable with silence unless they are busy with some work. At other times when there are no serious thoughts and when mind is not engaged, the mouth readily takes over. Most of us like to hear our own voice and all of us sing while having shower. So talking unsolicited generally on many things under the sun, more often inane, is an interesting past time.
Young lovers talk sweet nothings and where words have no meanings. It is their hearts that communicate with each other and words just demonstrate their love. When young kids talk, there is no meaning except their fondness. Speak from the hearts if you have something to say. If someone wants to hear you because you know the subject well, speak on what you known where your ideas are clear.
This does not mean there is no place for exchange of pleasantries and one should sit morose even in company. Yes, conversation is a lubricant that keeps friendship working well. But much of the conversations we make are meaningless and irrelevant as many lack listening skills. They are usually space fillers when there is a pause in the conversation.
Great sages, spiritual seekers and Mahatma Gandhi laid great stress on ‘maun’ silence and went about their usual work without talking. Silence gave them the strength both spiritual and physical and freed their minds from the mundane to acquiring insights and wisdom. One can start even with an hour of silence daily and gradually increase. It will surely enable one to attune his mind to his inner self better. The bottom line is to talk less.
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” Unknown

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Forgive to see the difference

We frequently complain of difficulty in forgiving and forgetting. This set me thinking about forgiving. Whether it is easy to forgive or not depends on the mental makeup of the individuals. Nearly everyone has been hurt at some stage or the other by the words or deeds of others. It can be one of our own close relatives, friends, colleagues or utter strangers. The level and intensity of hurt may vary. While these can leave one in anger and bitterness, it is only us who suffer finally if we do not practice forgiveness. But one thing we can be sure of that the person who forgives is no more troubled in mind and can have a good night’s sleep. Nursing the hurt and constantly turning in the mind adds only to the misery. “A spark will die of itself if it falls where there is not a blade of grass. Similarly he who has earned the mantle of peace cannot be harmed by evil.” Forgiving brings peace and fosters other positive traits like’ humility, solidarity and gratitude.’ The act of letting go of resentment and the urge for tit for tat can actually let us lead a happy life. ”Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing at someone else: you are the one who gets burned.” Buddha Life becomes a lot easier if one learns to accept an apology not really given.
Do we not forgive our children or spouse for the hurt they cause more easily than we forgive a stranger or even a friend? Why do we distinguish then in the act of forgiving? Is there a trace of selfishness or expectation in forgiving the dear and near? Ponder over the reason to get a better perspective.
Acharya Vidyananda says “The Sanskrit word for forgiveness, kshama, may be traced back to the elements of Ksha and ma, which indicate a knot and a negation respectively.Kshama thus suggests that we must refrain from tying up our minds in knots of resentment Forgiveness is a sign of courage and fortitude; it is not to be confused with the resignation of cowardice.”
While it is conceded that to ordinary people it is difficult to forgive when an extreme injustice or hurt has been caused, it should not be difficult to practice this where the hurts are imaginary or minor in nature. To be always on the lookout for possible hurt will render one friendless. Forgiving doesn’t mean you forget the incident or deny the responsibility of the person who caused the hurt. Forgiving is just excusing the other person of the hurt caused without lessening the wrong. By practicing it in a manner that it becomes our second nature,we would find ourselves free from bitterness and surrounded by friends
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” Mark Twain

Monday, March 3, 2014

What are your three best wishes?

Dream lofty for dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil. James Allen
I had asked a good friend of mine what her three best wishes for her life would be if genii were to ask her. She could not readily answer and I think she bought time from me by telling that let the genii ask me first. Ask the question yourself now. Most of us do not have a ready and clear wish list. We haven’t prioritized them even if we had one. If you had missed your bus, you may wish that another one to come soon. I am not talking about such petty wishes. We are not often in a position to spell out what we want in our lives. We haven’t thought about them. Perhaps it would be nice to write down our wishes, say twenty  and then scan them to prioritize them. Like a child we should not ask for a jar full of candies. We must seek the best. Many of the wishes we had jotted down would be deleted on a second look and some new ones instead may find place. Review daily for a week till you finally settle for three.
Our first task should be to know what we want from our life. There should be a purpose in it. Otherwise we are like a rudderless ship moving in unchartered seas. I read success in anything, even in life,’ isn’t the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.’
 “All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim: have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.’
Let us now spell out our best three wishes initially before we set out accomplishing them

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Let us look up

I read this some where and wish to share with you
If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.
 The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkably nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.
A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.
 Many of us are like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is look up.
Though God is omnipresent yet the common practice is to look up at sky as we know instinctively God is somewhere beyond the Skies. "Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, but Faith looks up!"