Saturday, November 30, 2013

Is there science behind superstition?

Most traditions are time tested and are part of custom because of the knowledge that they are based on. Then some more were added by ignorant beings over the past few centuries. Now its difficult to find the scientific basis of all because science is also limited knowledge. But here are the few which have been explained and understood.

Doctors with MBBS degrees said turmeric was pigment, a colouring agent in food and not required. Turmeric has been used in India for over thousands of years in food, bath, religious rituals etc., Only in the last decade scientists found that it was the greatest anti-oxidant, something that can even fight cancer.

In India, people with janeyu (the thread across body) circled it around their earlobe before answering nature's call. Now, it was not to lift it up or to prevent it from entangling it with something. Scientists did the research and found that when back of the earlobe is pressed then it eases bowel movement. I tried it this morning and it did work. I was surprised.

In India, when people die the near and dear ones are freed of any obligations for the 10 days mourning period. When one of my close relative died and I went to the village and touched the feet of my cousin he said in these days we do not touch. I was perplexed. How are these days different from the other days?

Yesterday, in art of living ashram satsang Gurudev revealed that death brings grief. There is lot of negative energy in and amongst the closest family members. And when you touch them you too can be affected by it. Hence they were freed of any obligations from amongst themselves and others.

Similarly, during birth people are ecstatic, there is uncontrolled joy around. Then too the near and dear ones are excused of any obligations for 10 days. The overjoy can sometimes be detrimental too.

Also, during menstruation cycles in India, ladies are not allowed in kitchen of traditional houses. The custom is there for the ladies to have proper rest for these 3-4 days, sit and knit or do some light work. Because ladies tend to work hard once they start.

Similarly, in olden days when ladies cooked rice there would be lots of starch that overflowed. The hands would get sticky and when they touched the clothes they would be spoiled too. Hence, the custom of not touching clothes without washing hands.

In south India people have been using ground nut oil and gingerly oil for ages. The gingerly oil is also called as nice oil in Tamil. But a scientific research sponsored by some Malaysian companies highlighted the negatives of these oils to prove palm oil as viable alternative. And people switched. Now, they have learnt the game and are coming back.

Then there are extremes like people do not take dairy products for six months in Ethiopia.  It is so unviable for dairy industry to survive there.

In Japan, there is separate sets of utensils/plates for guest and host and they dont mix it. It is also practised in some parts of India.

So, Gurudev recommends that you do your little experiments and find out the scientific basis of these customs before blindly terming them as superstitions. And while you do so be open to the fact that what is proven today can be disproven tomorrow. 

How to erase poverty from mind and earth?

Nature gives you a burden which you can handle. The challenges are there to push the envelope, to help you cross the bridge.

Nature first makes the tail and then puts it on animal. It does not put the elephant's tail on rat. Otherwise, the poor rat cannot even lift it. 

Similarly, when you have problems in life know that it is to refine you. For example, diamond is cut to bring out the shine, gold is beaten to bring out the shape needed for beautiful ornaments, sandalwood is rubbed against stone for the fragrance to appear. 

In the spiritual path you too will be pushed to the limits and beyond to refine you. For example, if you have acquired and strong, overpowering and manipulative character over lifetimes then how does nature bring back humility and humbleness in you. Say, it gives stammer to few people so that they suddenly feel weak and powerless, not able to speak even the common words and shaken to death. It humiliates them to prevent them from humiliating others. You can take any other physical disease or mental ailment and wonder why you have the privilege to host it, and you will realize that it is to bring balance. It is to sync you back into natural rhythms. 

If a secret is bothering you then there is choice of confessing it to the Father (in christian tradition). If that secret does not harm nor good to anyone then you can as well drop it. But if that can hurt and harm others in future in someway or other then you should bring it out in the public. 

You have lack because you deserve it. There is poverty because of ignorance. Poverty could be financial, material, spiritual, anything. It is because you are lethargic. You are lazy. You are not putting efforts to come out of it. 

When art of living ashram was started it was 60 acres of barren land, with only one tree. No crops, no grass, no vegetation, just stones all around. The villages around had thatched roof homes, only one village sarpanch house was cement roof. The land was poor and villages around it were poor. 

Gurudev met with the youths aged 20-30. They would simply while away their time, playing cards, gossiping and drinking and going to bed, a burden on their families. They got some education so they did not want to do agriculture. So Gurdev arranged a meeting with Director of small scale industries from the city. 

There were only two buses in those days which used to ply on kanakapura road. One in morning and one in evening. So the director came with all enthusiasm and discussed more than 225 projects with the youths. But they negated each project saying its not possible. Finally, exasperated they were asked, what job they would like to do. They said either in police or bus conductor. Now, how many of those could you create. 

So Gurudev started YLTP (youth leadership training programme). It was 3 months regime then. And the youths were grilled and brought out of their lazyness and bad habits. Many of those youths are entrepreneurs now. They work as well as they have created employment for others. Now, all the houses around ashram are made of cement. Economy is flourishing. 

If you shake off laziness from your life then you can do wonders. 
One of the tea vendors from Gujarat is now a prime ministerial candidate, a chief minister of state in India. 
The founder of The New India Express was selling vegetables and bananas in his early days. He took Ms Indira Gandhi heads on. 

So, poor is poor because of liquor or laziness and not because of nature or God. God has given enough options and stories of people rising from bottom of pyramid to reach the top of it.  Where are you today?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Should you bother to impress? What is Upanayan?

Why do you need to impress friends? They are anyway your friends so why spend energy impressing them. If you try to impress them they would likely to get jealous. In jealousy they would do you harm , more than good.

Why do you need to impress strangers? They don't matter to you.

So in either case you are at loss. So WHY IMPRESS?

It is important to be in knowledge. Do soul searching once in a while. Do not bother to question self too much and everyday. Once in a while if you ask "who am i?" its okay, not everyday.

Everyday has to be balance between the spiritual kindling and worldly actions.

Everyday you need to meditate and read/listen some knowledge. Some ashtavakra geeta or patanjalai yoga sutra or some yoga vashista. Some knowledge. You know, post death only knowledge goes with you, everything else is burnt and lost here.

Just like a child who goes to sleep but on waking up remembers the poem she learnt last night. You too go into a long sleep when you die. You go on vacation on the other side. In between births. Its not instantaneous that you die and get into another body. It takes time. That time is spent on other side.

Death is like going in a sleeper coach. In a train in which you doze off and when you get up , you are at different place in another time, in another life.

When you are born you do get the good karmas as well as bad karmas of your parents and ancestors. If your ancestors have created some property you do get them, in the same way they pass on some pitra dosha to you also. The way to overcome pitra dosha is through chanting OM NAMAH SHIVAYE and doing some charity for the poorest, doing some kind acts in the society.

If you like being on this path then you must spread the knowledge.

In Upanaya, you get closer to your self. You come closer. You are given three strings of thread. They are your responsibilities towards

  1. Your parents
  2. Your Teacher/s
  3. Society
Once you complete the responsibility then you throw the thread and go into sanyas, the free state. But till then, you are in service. You chant Gayatri mantra three times a day to purify yourself and your environment. 

Heard and retold from yesterdays satsang at Art of living ashram on kanakapura road in bangalore in the presence of master +Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Why so much pain in your life?

Once Gurudev ( +Sri Sri Ravi Shankar  ) met an ancient rishi (saint) who used to simply praise. ANyone and everyone who went to him would only get praise. Gurudev asked him, why dont you give holistic feedback, also talk about their shortcomings and help them improve?

You know what the saint said.

The pain in his life will tell him about his mistakes. 

Similarly, Gurudev also gives long rope to people around him who cheat, lie or are simply lethargic. After a while they come back and fall on his feet and beg pardon, which he has anyways already given.

You know the biggest characteristic that stops your growth is LETHARGY. You laziness. If you overcome that than dynamism comes in your worldly outer life.

You need dynamism (DSN) as well as deep and peaceful inner silence (part 2 / advance course) happening through your day.

If you keep complaining about rising prices, inflation and do nothing about it then you are dud. If you take action as simple as growing coriander in small earthen pot in your balcony then you have contributed towards resolving a seemingly impossible problem.

You can also crops/vegetables if 5/10 of you got  together. When Gurudev went to Sri Lanka post war, he saw resolute tamil refugees who were growing pumpkins and bananas around their tent using the waste water coming from their daily use as manure. They were resourceful and we need to be inspired from them.

In any situation, do not lose hope.  You are beyond gunas (qualities) that you see in others. Those qualities make you feel inferior or superior. Some are rich in money and some rich in spirituality but are they seeing the difference. NO. Its you who distinguishes from them, separates from them and loses sight of life. Don't be jealous. Meditate.

Life is only ONE. There is only ONE moon for whole world, ONE sun, ONE earth. ONE life. Honor and respect the life force.

Meditation gives you vision of your true self. The flowing, inseparable self in which you have the ultimate sense of belonging. Through which you shine through. Through which your doubts disappear and FAITH re-affirms.

LIVE life NOW, in this moment

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