Writing as Therapy

Dear readers,

It has been a quite a while since I have been able to share my thoughts on this blog, and I apologize for my long absence. To be honest I don’t really have an excuse, but I do have a reason I can attempt to share. Hopefully it is good enough to crave your indulgence.

Over the last four weeks I have been busy with work, life and my own thoughts. Four weeks ago, I had wanted to share something with you all, but I chose not to after a contemplating for a while. My reason was simple; whatever I had in mind to write about didn’t flick a switch with me. Thus, I decided if what I was writing wasn’t exciting to me then I won’t share it. I know some of you might respond by saying sometimes the ‘not so interesting” blogs end up becoming the super stories. In as much as this is true, I wasn’t really “feeling it” so I shelved it. This feeling went on for weeks and I kept asking myself how to get out of it.

Well last week, it happened naturally since I had to travel for a work-related conference in Chicago. Somehow or another the Airport in Chicago and I have an interesting relationship. I missed my first flight in Chicago, got delayed and went through the process of waiting for many follow up flights. So naturally when I arrived and saw it was the same Airport, I had missed my flight a while back, I kind of felt that perhaps the trip wasn’t going to be fun after all. Anyways I went through with it and I must say I learnt a lot during my time at the conference.  There was a session during the conference that was dedicated to mental health at workplaces and it was both informative and refreshing. The rate of mental health issues has been on the rise in the US, especially when associated with workplace stress. There was a guy who came to share his story with us as a living example of one who had mental health challenges and how with the help of the organization who gave the discourse, he was able to overcome them.

I may not be able to share all what I gathered from the discourse, but I’ll try to weave in some points as I write. One major indication of an offset in mental health is a change in regular activities which may define a person. For example, I exercise everyday in the morning before setting out for work. I rely on body weight and basic exercises such as sit ups, push ups, etc. Now if I were to stop this for an extended period, (this doesn’t include rest days/ cheat days/ bad health, etc.) then it won’t be out of place if my partner were to inquire if all was okay. It would be a huge change if the stop was a long one. Another example will be my spirituality. I pray everyday and engage in mantra meditation before setting out. If I was to go a day without engaging my daily mantra meditation, it would be obvious that something was wrong with me. In other words, we need to know what our purpose driven activities are. These serve as one of the many yardsticks to know if we are sliding down the mental health rail.

Personally, it seems writing has been my chosen medium of expression, and over the years I begin to see that perhaps it was therapy unknown to me. There were times in my life when I had a lot to say about certain irregularities around me, be they spiritual, material or even administrative. During those times I had rubbed some people on the wrong side because they felt that I was “too bold” to challenge their authority. These people in positions of power were autocratic and anyone who dared speak about what they did, how it was done, became an “enemy”. I had my fair share of that madness until I decided I was done with it. Furthermore, if there was one thing that kept me sane and allowed me to remain focused in my duties, it was the fact that I could still speak about what I felt in poetry, prose, allegory or just straight up venting in blogs.

The beauty about this was that those who read my blog and were around me knew the issues I was addressing. I had my opportunity to still speak out with out coming off as “challenging, or uncooperative”. It was a win-win situation. It never bothered me that maybe my writings will get read by those who were a disturbance to administration, because I knew anyone with the mindset of bullying, tyranny, workplace politics, wasn’t someone who read. Until recently I always had something to write about or to share as injustice never slipped pass my gaze. Four weeks ago, I guess most of that changed. For once I didn’t need to address an ill or stand up for something, I saw an anomaly. Is this a sign that the planet earth is now “trouble free”? or is this a sign that I am becoming free of trouble?

Either way I knew that I was getting more centered to the things that mattered to me. I was tearing my hair less about things that were outside my circle of influence.  I have been asking myself lately, is this a new calm or is this an extended period of writer’s block. Coincidentally (if there is a thing as coincidence or just perfect timing), I am also reading the third part of Atlas Shrugged and the description is about Miss Dagny Taggart crash landing in a place that seems almost like an utopia; meeting with all those who were frustrated by the system, who never broke by its pressure and had created a world that gave them all they wanted, most especially peace of mind. I hope as I unravel the mystery of this newfound world by reading more, I can also discover the mystery behind my newfound “calm”. I would like to hope that all these culminate in me being able to put forth unprecedented writings.

Till my next writing, read, share and follow for more, or show some love by buying me a cup of coffee here

Mothers 2

Hello!

Happy belated Mother’s day! Yesterday was Mother’s day (at least in the States), and I know some countries celebrate a week after the US, nevertheless, one thing is certain we all love and adore our Mothers. Last year I wrote a blog about Mothers and those of you who are interested can read it here. The approach was semi-reflective and semi-philosophical. Today I want to do something totally different.

The role of a Mother in our lives, in the society, in spirituality, and as a person, in general, cannot be overemphasized.  Most of us are who we are today because of our Mothers. This is the person we will spend most of our early lives with and in fact she is the first person we meet and know when we come into this world. When I close my eyes and I think of my Mother, I see many people forged into one person. A warrior, an expert Chef, an orator, a master planner, an Economist, a Doctor, a Designer, an event planner, a regional secretary, a leader, a superhero, and I can go on and on. This is only a partial list and I hope to update it as time goes on. lol

There have been times in my life when I have hit “dead ends” and literarily no “light at the end of the tunnel” and I knew that if only I can see her at the end of the tunnel, that was all the light I needed. Externally I am a tough guy, rugged and focused. I owe much of this to my Parents for sure, however since I am writing in honor of Mothers today, I hope my Dad doesn’t get jealous as I mention that I got a lot of survival instinct from Mum. My Dad has taught me how to survive in a different way and on Fathers day I hope I can do justice to explaining that. Today we have many people who want to become Mothers but who have very little clue what it truly means to become one. Yes, I may never know what it means to be a Mother because I am in a Male body, but I know one thing for sure, a Mother is like the Sun, when you see it you know it. You also don’t have to see the Sun in order to confirm it is daybreak. You just know!

When I am lost and confused I pray, think and try to focus more on the things I need to do. When I am confused and need direction with things in my life, I turn to my Father for light. His light may be too bright to see and sometimes “heavy” to carry but I know it is what I need to do. In the past as a much younger adult, I’ll break my head about how to make this work, because I wasn’t using all the help at my disposition. Then I figured out a way to help myself; my Mum. She had a way to help me see the light with shades on. So for example, if the lesson I had to learn in life was to lift twenty bricks and walk for 2 hours. My Dad will supply this information but Mum had a way of making me do it. She’ll say you have to lift these bricks for sure, there is no way around it, however, try to see how you can lift it with minimal fatigue.

There have been times when I have dropped some of “my bricks” in life and it all looked dark, but as I mentioned earlier I knew that once I could speak with my Mum (and Dad of course), I could most certainly figure it out. It’s either I have to make new bricks( Dad’s approach) or gather all the broken bricks and use them as fillers for my foundation (Mum’s approach). I hear a lot of people say they have Intelligent parents and I admire their expression. In my case when I say my parents are intelligent, trust me it is not a way of being nice or kind to them, it is not a way of being polite, it is not a way of making them look good, but just plain and simple TRUTH. They are so intelligent that there is no way to BS them in any way form or fashion, they see right through it. This is one of the many factors that has helped me in life.

I know that no matter how hard I may try to BS myself, they will see right through it and tell me as it is. Today I see many Parents trying to be “friends” with their kids and it is all good. My Parents are probably the only people I can call real friends in my life because they see me as I am, know me for who I was, is and will be and they never “sugar-coat” anything to please me. In today’s words they may be called “hard, old-school, tough, etc”, but they know they are my parents FIRST and then my friends. That line has never been blurred. I apologize that I should be talking about just my Mother today but it is so difficult to speak about one without mentioning the other. If there is any one thing I want to really achieve in life, it is to make them proud and happy and say “yes that is my Son”. Nothing else really matters.

If I succeed in becoming a great Son to them, then automatically I will be a great Father to my own kids, I’ll be a great husband to my wife, I’ll be a great leader in my workplace and I’ll be a great devotee of God. One factor to rule them all. ( I coined that from Lord of the rings by the way lol). I cannot really understand the sacrifices my Mother may have made for me, and I may never truly understand her own journey in life that shaped her into the Woman that she is, but I do understand that her presence in my life has shaped me into who I am today. I must admit that I do not always “get it” when my parents guide me but I can promise you that I always do my best to make sure I don’t fall too far off track. There is a phrase that people use to express the rarity and efficiency of things; “they don’t make them like this anymore”. I can say that phrase has never been truer in the case of my Mum (and Parents).

-“Yo! (as my mum fondly calls me), remember the son of who you are!”
– “If you don’t know where you are going, at least remember where you came from”
– “You are free to act as you wish and follow your mind but be ready to bear the consequence of your actions”.
– “As you lay your bed so you lie on it”
– “It is a done deal”
– “Hope and Focus”

These are some of the many sutras(proverbs/adages) that she says to me. The beauty of these one line sentences is that I can literally write an essay on each one. They are deep and packed with immense wisdom. Even my Father will sometimes tease her saying “Hima! can’t you speak without all these proverbs”. Mum is deep and once my Dad told me something and I can never forget this. He said; “You know there are times when I am in a tight situation and I need advice and your mum has never failed with a good one. She is very good at it”. Now knowing my Dad to be the person who leads and gives advice to people, it just made me really appreciate my Mum more.

I am trying to keep this short and sweet but as you can see, my parents greatly influenced me. My success comes from God, my parents and my spiritual mentor, and my setbacks are totally mine. Life is whatever I make of it and that much they make me realize every day. I love you mum and I pray that God in his infinite mercy bless, guide and protect you. May he grant you long life plus the satisfaction to see me reach positive heights that we cannot even imagine.

Have a great week folks! Till next week, read, share and follow for more.

Spiritual Credits!

Hello readers,

Happy President’s Day to you all, I hope you all are taking advantage of this holiday to get ready for the week. I know some people still have to work today, however, if you happen to be among the lucky ones who get a day off work then I guess we can discuss something interesting today.

For those who live in the US, the word credit is something we are all familiar with. As a society that is emphasizing less cash, people are encouraged to “build credit”; basically it means to build credibility, or to prove that you are efficient with paying off debts. When you manage a credit card properly you get points from credit bureaus that ascertain how well you manage the cards and your debts. In order to maintain or even have a great credit score, one has to make sure he has a low revolving utilization on his credit cards, pays off debts on time, and makes payments when due. This is a process that one has to go through if one wants to build good credit. Now one may ask why go through all this? Well, there are certain advantages that come with having a good credit score and one is the ability to make purchases that may be difficult to make without cash.

Lenders will feel a lot more comfortable giving you a loan to make a big purchase like a house if they see that you have a proven record of paying debts on time. In our spiritual lives there is also a similar scenario, however, these credits work a little different. While we are here in this world, we engage in many activities. Some are good and some are not so good. When we engage in good deeds we amass pious credits for ourselves and these credits are saved up in our spiritual “credit accounts”. The more pious deed we engage in the more we build our pious credits and the more impious deeds we engage in the more impious credits we engage in. So why does this matter? When we leave this present body at the time of Death, we carry over our pious and impious credits to our next life. Our present life is based on a cumulative of our past lives pious and impious activities. This is where a solid understanding of reincarnation comes in. Even though many people try to negate the credibility of reincarnation, the proof is so evident that ignoring it, is like the ostrich burying its head in sand to avoid a harsh reality.

Spiritual credit is just as important as material credit (if not more important even) because after all said and done, the only thing we are left with at the time of death is the sum total of our activities here in this life. None of our material possessions go with us and often times, they are enjoyed by people who have no clue how much we suffered to amass them. So how does spiritual credit work really? First of all, there are various planetary systems ( higher, middle and lower), Earth is situated in the middle planetary system. The heavenly planets are in the higher planetary system and the hellish planets are in the lower planetary system. Impious deeds result in impious credits that can degrade us to hellish conditions of life (or planets) in another life, while pious deeds can promote us to heavenly planets. Just as one requires a high credit score to purchase a house with a minimum down payment, similarly one requires a high amount of pious deeds to enjoy in certain heavenly planets. The higher the heavenly plane one aspires to go to after death, the higher the pious deeds one may need.

Another way to see this is like a fancy vacation in a five-star hotel on a beautiful island. One can stay in that hotel for as long as one pays for, and the moment one has used up the number of nights paid for, one is asked to leave. Then you go back home, work some more, save up some more and then you decide if you want to visit there again or not. Likewise, when a citizen violates the law of the state, he may be arrested and sentenced to a jail term commensurate to the degree of the infringement committed. When the term is over, he is released back into society. So in our everyday life, we can see a mirror reflection of how the spiritual world works even though it may be represented as a microcosm. Building spiritual credit is simple, as mentioned earlier one just has to perform pious activities. These may include charity, philanthropy, humanitarianism etc. However, the highest form of pious activity one can perform is to engage in the service of God.

Serving God is compared to watering the roots of a plant and automatically the entire tree is nourished. It is also worthy to note that the pious credit that we amass from rendering service to God never depletes, this is because on the path of self-realization and rendering service to God, there is no loss or diminution and a little effort on this path can save one from the greatest type of fear. We spend a lot of time trying to build our material credit but spend very little to no time trying to build our spiritual credit. There are many agencies who claim to be able to fix or repair your material credit score however very few can boast of doing the same to our spiritual credit scores. Human life is meant for inquiries about the self and if we fail to make those inquiries then we are wasting a very valuable gift.

Money, fame, power, prestige and all the fine things of life are great and one can aspire to have them, as long as they serve as a tool to help one serve God better and not for our personal aggrandizement. We should endeavor to build our spiritual credit every day just as we try to build our material credit scores. Till next week, do read, share and follow for more.

Real Independence

Dear readers,

It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all today yet another blog. I hope you all are faring well.

Today I would like to share a few points with you all on a very important topic that we all are quite familiar with. The issue of independence is one we all are conversant with and many of us would like to believe that we are independent in our lives to some extent. Independence can be viewed in many perspectives and light and to various people, it means something different. To a country, it may mean being free from colonizers or people who oppressed them, to a race it could mean emancipation from things that enslave them, and to individuals, it could mean being free to act in a way they like, how they like and when they like.

The nature of independence in this material world is actually not as we would like it to be, because the very moment we think we are independent, material nature has a way of reminding us that we aren’t. It is not unusual that we all crave to be independent in some way or fashion because that is the nature of the soul. The soul is full of knowledge, bliss and it is eternal. It is part and parcel of the Supreme Being and as such has the qualities of the Supreme in minute portions. Thus it is qualitatively one but quantitatively different from the Lord, and as such it exhibits some of its qualities from time to time. The major reason why the soul cannot fully express itself is due to the fact that it is covered by a material body; which is subject to many defects and constraints. The souls being a spiritual spark when placed inside the gross body, is limited in what it can and cannot do.

This limitation is something that can be surmounted if we understand our real constitutional position of being souls and not just material bodies. The material body we have is subject to birth, growth, disease, old age and finally death. Hence there is no question of real independence for something that has so many constraints placed on it. The soul, on the other hand, is not subject to any of these factors and is superior to the body. When we express a need or desire to be independent, it could come either as a genuine urge to be free from the clutches of material nature or as a misdirected use of our free will as living entities. What do I mean? As living entities, despite being part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, we are free to act as we please and do as we choose. However, we are not free from the consequences of such actions or choices. We are responsible and must take into account whatever we do.

One type of independence which I’ll like to refer to as pseudo-independence is to try to Lord over material nature. We all are practically guilty of this, and we strive daily to lord over the material energy in one way, form, or another. Trying to better the living conditions of the material body with the hope of living longer or even forever is an illusion which is born from a misdirected quality of the soul. When we think we can create a safe haven in this world, free from anxiety or lamentation, we are again buying into a false hope. This is because this world is a temporary place and no matter how safe we try to make it, time will eventually take it away from us or us away from it. Without sounding too much like a fatalist, the basic idea is that we genuinely have the ability to desire, and even become truly independent, if we actually understand what real independence is. So what is real independence?

Real independence is knowing first and foremost who we are and then seeking out what our real duty in life is. Sounds simple right? well, in theory, yes, in practice not so much. In theory, many of us may understand that we are not this material body and we are part of a higher self which isn’t subjected to the dictates of this plane. So, if we know that we are actually part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, then the next question is what is our duty? Before looking at what our duty is, it is worthy to note that, when something is described as a part of another thing, it means that both are meant to exist together for them to be fully functional. In this scenario, we the living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, meaning that for us to be fully functional we have to remain in our original state; place, service, etc. The Supreme Lord being self-sufficient doesn’t need us to be complete, rather we need him to be. Since we are distinct individual souls, we are free to act as we please and disregard this basic principle and try to seek happiness and independence on our own, separate from the Lord.

This is one of the reasons why we are on this sojourn in the material world in the first place. On the other hand, should we recognize that our attempt at being independent is bringing us nothing but more entanglement, then we begin to trace our steps back to our original position. In our original state as souls, free from the constraints of this world, our duty is to serve the Lord. Serving the Lord is where our real happiness lies and where our real independence is. No matter how much we try to finesse the situations here, there will always be something to remind us that we are not in our original state. Our present independence away from the Supreme Being can be likened to a fish out of water in a big palace, with lots of money, fine women and wine. As wonderful as all these things are, a fish can only survive perfectly when it is in water. In water, it doesn’t need all these things to be happy and that is where it belongs.

So to experience true independence we all need to engage ourselves in our original duty of service to the Lord in our constitutional position as spirit souls.  I hope this helps someone today. Till next week, read, share and follow for more. 

The intricacy of Material Existence

Dear readers,
I hope you all are faring well. Last week was Janmashtami; the appearance day of Sri Krishna. This is a day that Gaudiya Vaisnava’s, Hindu’s, and all those who adhere to Vaishnavism, celebrate the apparition of God on earth some 5000 plus years ago. To the uninitiated, this is like Christmas to Christians, just that Christians celebrate the birth of the Son of God, while Janmashtami celebrates the appearance day of God on Earth.
The festival had lots of activities meant to make the day sacred and also fun filled. Usually, adepts will observe a dry fast until the time of the Lord’s appearance as a sign to show that they are fully committed both in mind and body, to welcome the Lord. This year’s celebration was particularly interesting for me as I got to spend it in the company of other devotees and also loved ones.

Naturally, when the festival was over, I wanted to write a blog about it, to shed some light on the entire celebration, however, I remembered that I had done a blog on The Lord’s Descent. In that blog, I had explained the reason why God descends to Earth and what his activities are while He is here. Thus, doing another blog on the Lord’s appearance would seem more like a repetition hence I felt I discuss something somewhat different instead.
I feel like now is a perfect time to speak about the nature of the material world in which we live and so dearly call home. The reason has been that we all are in contact with material energy or at least it’s various tentacles in some form or another. The most important attribute of the material energy is that it is a part of God’s energy. Material energy just like the spiritual energy comes from the same source; God, even though they have different functions.

The spiritual energy helps us to connect with the absolute on a metaphysical platform, while the material energy reminds us that we should be connecting with the spiritual platform. To lose sight of this crucial point is to lose focus on what really matters. Too often, I see many people “fighting” about how “bad” the material world is and how “hopeless” it is for a spiritual practitioner to be here. This kind of mentality has led some people to become fatalists, to become impersonalists, and to become overly inimical towards the material energy. Of course, the material energy is not on the same platform as the Spiritual energy and we shouldn’t wallow in it, however, we should not despise it too. In the Isopanisad (one of the shortest Upanishads; a part of the Vedas. There are close to 200 Upanishads), it is mentioned that “only one who can learn the process of nescience and transcendental knowledge side by side can transcend the influence of repeated birth and death and enjoy the full blessings of immortality”.
The verse goes a long way to show us that knowledge of nescience (the material energy) is not a bad thing in itself, however, the application of that knowledge is what could lead to degradation if not properly harnessed.

The ideal or seasoned practitioner of spirituality knows that for one to achieve real success in his/her spiritual journey one would have to be at peace with both energies. When we “despise” something, we fail to learn about it as it should be. In order to learn about the nature of the material energy we would have to go to its source; the Supreme Lord, who mentions in the Bhagavad Gita, that the material energy is but one of his energies. When we understand that the material nature is also trying to serve the Lord, only then do we begin to see properly. The Lord mentions that trying to overcome material nature on our own is futile. Thus, we have to surrender to him and by his grace, we can cross over it. The process of surrendering is accompanied with constant practice and detachment. Constant practice refers to certain “Do’s and Don’ts” that allow us to build the required strength to detach ourselves from the snare and enticement of the material nature. If we do not have a solid resolve to systematically rise above the enticement of the material energy, then sooner or later we will find ourselves in serious trouble. Naturally, one may ask at this point; why is the material energy so intricate?

First is because it is part and parcel of the Lord and as such is difficult to understand and surmount. Second is due to the fact that when factors like Karma interplay with the material energy it becomes really difficult to navigate. Whenever I take a look at some of the events that have occurred in my life, it’s kind of given me an avenue to fully appreciate the power of being consciously connected to a spiritual energy. To be connected to a spiritual energy means to be in sync body, mind, and soul. Our activities have to match our talk and our soul has to shine through our bodies. Spirituality is not a party trick or a weekend retreat, it is a way of life, and as such our lifestyle has to reflect our deepest level of connection to a spiritual energy. Just to be clear for those who may be reading my blog for the first time, there is a difference between spirituality and religiosity.
As long as we live in a material world, we are sure to get a dose of what the material energy is about. We are sure to be influenced or even shaken by the material nature, but what matters most is our inner connection to the absolute via a method of conscious and personal devotion to the Supreme Person. It is through this connection that we can weather the storm of life and also hope to find inner peace and enlightenment. Till next week, read, share and follow for more.

Black Panther; a spiritual perspective from the Ramayana

Dear readers,
I hope you are having a great day, it is a pleasure to be able to share with you all another blog today.
Many of you might have seen the movie Balck Panther which came out February this year and I know this is somewhat “late” nonetheless I felt I share some things which struck me about it. The movie had various open and hidden messages and I guess depending on what you are searching for, we cannot miss them. Seeing the global performance as the 9th highest grossing film of all time with a whopping sum of $1.34 Billion, I knew there had to be more to it than just the action.
Let us start from the very obvious one; the ritual combat between King T’challa and M’baku for the throne. Right after T’challa accepts the challenge, M’baku responds by saying “glory to Hanuman”. For those who know who Hanuman is, there isn’t much to be said but for those who don’t, I guess a little introduction is necessary. Hanuman is the son of the Wind-god born with half Man and half Monkey features. He is very powerful and helped Lord Rama (avatar of Vishnu) conquer Ravana in his attempt to retrieve his wife who was kidnapped by the latter. It is worthy to note that the Jabari tribe worshiped an “ape-god” from whom M’baku got his superhuman strength. Thus, it comes as no surprise when he gives glory to Hanuman whom he worships just before combat.
Also, just like the Epic Ramayana, when there was a dispute between Bali and Sugriva as to who would ascend the throne, Sugriva seeks refuge in the forest in fear of Bali after their misunderstanding. Similarly, in the Black Panther, M’baku’s tribe also leaves for the mountains after his clash with the King. Killmonger the villain of this story challenges king T’Challa to a ritual combat and wins, with this short victory he usurps the throne leaving the king for dead. The King is found in a river by someone from the Jabari tribe (who worship the monkey god). The king makes an allegiance with the head of the Ape warrior in order to get back his throne.
This is almost parallel to the Ramayan because Lord Rama loses his kingdom (gets banished) and then sought the help of an ape warrior (Sugriva) in order to get back his throne. In the Black Panther, King T’challa depends a lot on his sister Shuri, who is in charge of his weapons and self-defense mechanisms. In the Ramayana, Laxmana who is Lord Rama’s brother is a formidable fighter and was known to have taken out many great warriors during the war at Lank but most especially Indrajit the son of Ravana. Now one may wonder what the connection here is. Indrajit was said to have been blessed with so many Astras like the Brahmastra, Vaisnavastra, and Pasupatastra just to mention a few. Defeating someone with so many weapons would require a person of superior power.
In the battle at Lanka, Laxman was knocked out into a coma that left him almost lifeless and he was revived by a special herb the sanjivani, which was brought by Hanuman. In the Black Panther, when T’challa was thrown off the cliff by the Killmonger and left for dead, he was also revived by the heart-shaped plant which had special powers and could infuse whoever took it with superhuman strength and the power of the panther god. During the war at Lanka, Ravana’s brother Vibhisana leaves his brother’s camp and decides to join Rama’s camp, he then gives a lot of information about Ravana which helps Rama to eventually kill him. In the Black Panther, we see a parallel with the CIA agent Everett Ross who although working with the US government to investigate Wakanda and their Vibranium resource, eventually joins forces with T’Cahlla and gives him information about Killmonger. Agent Ross is also seen to have helped the warriors of Wakanda, take out those who were commissioned with supplying arms from Wakanda to the rest of the world. Just like Vibhisan, he switched sides and was quite helpful.
In the Ramayana, the killings and war are all about rescuing and regaining Sita; who is Lord Rama’s wife and the most valuable person in the Epic. She is none different from the goddess of fortune and as such having her makes one the richest person. Although the comparison is not equal from a spiritual perspective, however, we can see that the most valuable item that is been fought for is the Vibranium; which is the strongest metal and has a large variety of uses. This has made Wakanda a very rich and advanced nation. Thus, we see the battle to Lord over this precious item. Besides all these interesting similarities, the Black Panther is also laden with lessons just like the Ramayana and I’ll share a few.
A true warrior or Ksatriya would rather die than accept defeat or be humiliated, and we see this spirit in Killmonger who after he was stabbed in a fight with T’challa, had the option of been healed with the Technology in Wakanda but chose to die instead, knowing that recovery only meant a lifetime in prison for treason. He replies with the statement that he should be buried in the sea with his Ancestors who knew that death was better than bondage. It is also interesting to see how Lord Rama and King T’Challa; who were both superhuman, at some point in their lives hit rock bottom. They were without a Kingdom, they had lost practically everything but they survived because they had a few loyal friends and family around them.
In life, we would all hit rock bottom at some point and our recovery or ascent from there would be greatly influenced by those we surround ourselves with. Just as King T’Challa’s father said; “A King must surround himself with people he can trust”. Rama had Laxman by his side and then added the company of Hanuman, these two people were totally loyal to Rama. We see the Black Panther have his Sister and Fiancee, both of whom were also most loyal to him. Likewise, as we journey through life, we must also have people we can trust and have faith in. These people will be very beneficial in helping us whenever we hit our lowest points.
I hope you all enjoy this little comparison of the Ramayana and Black Panther, till next week do read, share and follow for more.

Racism; a skin disease.

Dear readers,

It is a great to be able to share with you all today yet another interesting blog. I hope you all are faring well.

Today I felt I harp on a subject matter that has been a delicate one ever since Man knew what his body looked like, one that has divided us all and caused some of the most horrific events in the history of Man’s existence on this planet. It is none other than racism; or should I say “skin disease”. Why do I call it the “skin disease”? Well soon enough we will find out. Before I start out allow me to indulge you in a little incidence that happened recently on Facebook.

This was a couple of day’s right after the Royal Wedding and a Facebook friend of mine; let’s call him Mark (not his real name), had shared a picture of the couple. A friend of his, a woman according to her profile, commented saying the wedding was a waste of money etc. I replied asking if she felt the same about Kate’s wedding or was it just because a person of colour (Meghan) was involved? In the series of replies that will follow our discussion she said “All black people are so conscious about their body colour…” I responded by asking her if she had interviewed every single black person on this planet before coming to such a conclusion. Later on she said “it was her opinion” not something based on any facts. Need I mention here that when she made the statement categorizing all black people, my Facebook friend Mark, liked it but didn’t comment.

As the discussion went on and I started to call her out for making such a general statement about people of colour, Mark replies to one of my comments saying “hey we are not this body, so play nice”. For those who do not understand what that means; basically Mark and I share a similar faith of Vaishnavism and we as most spiritual groups too believe that; the body is just a vehicle to the soul. The soul is the real essence in the body and as such one should not become attached to the body, rather one should focus on liberating the soul. This is a philosophy I have learnt, and I have been practicing since I was a kid. So Mark telling me this was somewhat like preaching to the choir. What I found surprising was, why he didn’t say this to his friend when she made an outright statement about people of colour? Yet he somehow found it necessary to tell me; who was just asking the lady in question as to how she came to such a conclusion.

In reply to his statement I asked him, why he didn’t correct his friend and how come he kept quiet until I made my statement. I asked him if he just consciously omitted it or it was just his “body” taking sides. (Mark and the Lady both happen to be Caucasians). I tried to comment on the post but noticed it was taken down, I check and yes you guess right Mark had “unfriend” me on Facebook. It was both funny and sad at the same time. It was funny because Mark is a guy who is in his 60’s if I am not mistaken and to see someone so “mature” act like that was really funny, on the other hand it showed the state of mind of Mark. He would rather unfriend someone who pointed out a gross statement made about people of colour instead of correcting the person who made the statement. On the brighter side, I was happy as I had one less bias person to deal with, on the other hand I was sad as I wish I could have impacted him better to help him.

What do we draw from all of this? I am not here to tell you that racism exists, you already know that. If you don’t then, maybe you haven’t witnessed it and to this I say bless your heart or maybe you are transcendental to things of this nature. What I really want to bring to our attention is that even those who practice one of the most philosophical religions on this planet, with the highest dissertation of the temporary nature of the body, can still be racists. In other words, your religion doesn’t make you a good person. You make yourself good/bad by your conscious actions. If Mark, my Facebook friend who has been practicing a religion that preaches the superior nature of the Soul to the body, can still be bias about the body then we can all see that bodily identification is a real “Skin disease”. To see another living being as black, white, red, yellow etc., is to see poorly. Those who cannot see past the hair, complexion or shape of a person are those inflicted deeply with the skin disease of bodily identification.

If you are not comfortable in your own body then it is certain that you will try to find fault about the body of other people. However when one knows that the body is just a vehicle that carries the soul in this material world, then he comes to the level of real knowledge and real vision. Hellen Keller once said; actual disability is to have sight but lack vision. The same can be said about those of us who still judge, relate and associate with people based on their body. I don’t care if you are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Pagan, Atheist, Agnostic, etc. if you cannot get the basic idea that we are more than the physical body and as such making differences based on the body is a low mentality, then I think you might need to re-evaluate what you practice. People will hide behind many garbs to deceive others about their real stance but for how long can you do that.

Now reality flash: will racism stop? I don’t think so. For as far as we have a material body many people will continue to identify with it. At best we can help them see, but not let their nonsense become ours. Till next week do stay connected. Read, like, share and follow for more.

Ill fate?

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another interesting blog today.

Recently while responding to messages on my social media, I saw a video posted by a friend on my timeline and it basically addressed a very crucial topic about Karma. For those of us who are not familiar with the word Karma; this is the law of cause and effect. That is, for every action there is a reaction. Even though some people have a hard time accepting this law, we cannot negate the fact that it is scientific and thus has a lot more basis to it than just religion or faith.

Sir Isaac Newton postulated one of the laws of motion which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, it is a universal proof to the law of Karma. In real life we will take “motion” to be Action. We as living beings are constantly engaged in one activity or another, and our daily interactions with the modes of material nature (goodness, passion and ignorance), bring about different results from our actions. When we act in the mode of goodness, we are sure to get a reaction that is in the mode of goodness. Similarly when one acts out of ignorance, then there is bound to be some suffering, because darkness is born out of ignorance. For example, a man who is sawing off the branch of a tree that he is sitting on, will definitely fall as soon as the last part of the branch is sawed off.

Now in life sometimes we go through various hurdles, ordeals, and trying times and the natural response is; “why me”? Why am I suffering so much in this life time, when I haven’t done anything to merit it? Why do bad things happen to good people? We curse, tear our clothes and feel so much injustice at Nature, God and everything we know. On the other hand, if we get some big raise at work, buy a brand new car, hit a business deal, make more money or travel to fancy holiday resorts, we never seem to ask “why me”? Rather we say, “It is all as a result of my hard work and effort. I deserve it all?” We can immediately see that there is an imbalance in this type of thought process, where we accept good things as our effort and hard work, but dispel bad things as ill fate or natures plan to punish us. Whenever someone is going through some setback and it is suggested that maybe it is as a result of past impious activities, many take offence at such a statement. Of course, we cannot callously attribute Karma to everything that happens without going through the motions of studying the very present situation. It is also worthy to note that, attributing Karma to peoples misery can be seen as cold and inconsiderate if not done properly, with knowledge and from a  space of compassion.

If our objective be to criticize, mock or humiliate those suffering, then even if we are correct about their suffering been due to Karma, they will not accept it. This is because the intention with which we point things out matters a lot. This is on one side of the spectrum when we have to deal with those who are not very philosophically inclined, or people who might take offence easily to the things we say. On the other side of the spectrum are those who are devotees or followers of a Theistic philosophy where there is a personal relationship with God. These set of people depending on their level of advancement see things differently too.

There is a verse from the Bhagavat Purana that says “My Dear Lord, one who earnestly awaits you to bestow your causeless mercy upon him, while all the while suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds, and offering you respectful obeisance with his heart, soul and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim. (Srimad Bhagavatam 10. 14. 8). This verse is more than just a soothing for those in distress, because it is the absolute truth mentioned in the revealed scriptures. There is a similar passage in the Bible from the beatitudes, “blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5; 3-12). Those who are servants of the Supreme Lord know that whatever trials and tribulation that they are going through in their life is nothing but a means to accelerate their union with the Lord. They know that the Lord being merciful shows his special grace by allowing such trials to show that his devotees will always be glorious in the end.

The devotee rather than curse the Lord, says “Lord thank you for reducing my suffering. I should be suffering a lot more than this, but due to your causeless mercy, you have so kindly reduced my bad karma.” There are many examples of great saints and servants of God who went through a lot of trial and tribulation and at the time, people asked them to curse God and even deny his existence. In the Vedic scriptures we have the Pandavas, who lost everything from their kingdom to their wife, escaped close calls with death on several occasions but eventually were crowned kings in the same kingdom they lost.

Job in the Bible lost everything he had, was inflicted with a terrible skin disease, friends and family left him, but he was fixed in his faith, for he knew that the Lord would never forsake him. In the end not only were his afflictions removed and his body restored to perfect health, but he was also rewarded with 7 times more riches than he had lost. In the Psalm of David (Ps 30) he says …”weeping may endure for a night but Joy cometh in the morning”. So dear spiritual warriors, slowly yet gracefully pick yourselves up by the boot strap, look up to the Lord and know that he is sure to respond to our call.

Till next week, do have a great week ahead. Kindly share, like and follow for more.

Pseudo Quintessential Spiritualism

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. It is always a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another exciting blog every week.

This week I’ll like to harp on a topic that is quite interesting and a source of concern for neophytes on the path of spiritualism. Often times either by false perception or transferred thoughts of misconstrued idealism, many newbies on the path of spirituality create a utopia of what they seem as the quintessential circle of spiritualist. In their minds and activities they wonder about from faith to faith, religion to religion waiting to find that sphere of the above described spiritualism, all to little or no avail. This reminds me of the famous novel “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, wherein he uses the perfect allegory to pass across the situations of a trouble State and the results therein.

A lot of people new to the path of conscious spirituality, (and I mean one that has for focus the concept of a personal relationship with God), often get caught in the web of differentiating pseudo spiritualists from the real ones. The externals are not an issue, as many people can easily figure their way through this part. The difficulty starts when the philosophy meets practice and practice meets the everyday way of life. It is at this junction the pillars that hold the faith of many start to wobble and eventually collapse. When the exciting “conscious chants” are over and the mind starts its rampage and reality sets in, the new spiritualist begins to wonder what happened to the promise of “eternal high”. When the delicious communion of cruelty free meal is over and the newbie sees that the seasoned practitioners and old timers are not so free from violence in their discussions, his doubts seem to crawl back.

Many newbies will play ostrich at this point and bury their heads in the sand of hero/mentor worship, self-denial, misinterpretation of the philosophy, and “adaptation according to circumstances”. The pseudo spiritualists in such a religion who is but a quintessence of Napoleon from the Animal Farm will usually try to fake the practice of the philosophy with the hope that someday they make it. This may work for a while for some people, for some time for most people but not every time for everyone. Truth be told, many people are not ready for the truth because it disrupts the reality of their ignorance. So what could the truth be? Why is it so difficult for the newbie spiritualist to figure it out? It takes intelligence to be able to separate grain from chaff. As easy as it may sound in real life, many neophytes and even seasoned spiritualists find it difficult to make this separation. The reason could be varied however when the basics are not learned properly, then it is hard to even grab intermediate matters talk less of the advanced stuff.

It is apparently cool and flashy to put up a show of being “woke”, filled with the spirit or being on the platform of spontaneous love of God, however what is not cool is having to deal with the reality that sets in after these imposters see that their charade is not getting them anywhere. Let’s take an example of someone who attends a party of world class swimmers held on a cruise ship. At high sea, the ship starts to sink and then he sees all of the “seasoned swimmers” panicking. Only to find out that they can’t really swim.  There is a mixed feeling of anger, betrayal, and even amusement when such a guest has to witness the pseudo swimmers struggle for their lives in water. The neophyte in spirituality is sure to witness such scenarios at some point in their journey into spirituality. The choice is theirs however what they want to do with such a lesson.

The best recourse will be to take the path seriously, to train body, mind and spirit in the true tenets of whatever spiritual practice they are into. It will be in the interest of this practitioner to look for a real seasoned practitioner that understands the theory and practice of the path they are on. The neophyte must also make sure that the seasoned practitioner lives a life that reflects a balance of both theoretical understanding and practical application. When that is done, then he has to address the most difficult part; himself. Like it or not the larger percentage of work to be done in order to progress in spirituality, is the effort we put in when there is no one looking. Those things that we do when we are alone with our minds and the Lord in our heart.

Amidst this rubble is a few percent of those who are “woke” or say aware of the feeble phantasmagoria presented by these charlatans who parade as God conscious people. This few understand that in every spiritual circle there is bound to be the struggle of light over darkness and both never coexist. This few “woke” individuals know that sometimes there is joy in celebrating small private victories as opposed to the general opinion of making a show of advancement. They understand that spirituality is a silent inner journey where the aim is to go as deep as possible, way beyond the superficial flowery externals; floating on the surface that people confuse as the real thing. We can say they have surmounted the tendency to be distracted by the byproducts of spirituality. As it is with every endeavor that exposes the malignant nature of darkness, these few individuals will face their portion of the soul’s dark night. In their purification the neophyte will be deceived to think of it as tribulations and as such ridicule them. However just like the proverbial phoenix, they eventually rise from the same ashes they were reduced to.

The secret lies not in personal prowess, expertise, erudition nor deceit, but in sincerity that cannot be purchased by anything besides genuine intent and perfect understanding of who and what God really is.

Till next week, do read, share and follow for more.

Time, Attention and Experience

Dear readers,

It is my pleasure to be able to share with you all once again another interesting blog this week. I hope you all are faring well.

Today I will be sharing with you all some brief insights on a very spiritual topic and hopefully we all can learn a thing or two from it.  Recently I saw a video on Facebook of a young kid that went viral for good reasons. In the video, the kid tells us that whatever we practice we become good at it. If we practice kindness we become good at it, if we practice complaining, we become so good at it that we will complain about anything. I drew a few more lessons besides what he said and tried to extrapolate his ideas to spirituality.

When people join a path of spirituality, generally the idea is to be enlightened or become better persons by cultivating higher values. Thus it is natural that every new practitioner should adopt those practices that enable him/her to become a better spiritualist. In the beginning of our journey we would naturally want to know what to do, what to say, what to eat, what to avoid and what to embrace. We then give time to does things which are favorable and avoid those things which are not. When we give time to something, we invest our energy into it and thus we become versatile in it. The time that we invest into our spiritual lives is directly proportional to the amount of attention we pay to these matters. There is a saying that “whatever we give our time, becomes our experience.” Similarly, the time and attention we give to spiritual matters, translates into our experience in spirituality.

As a martial artists, there is an old saying by traditional Japanese Instructors, that to master a technique, one has to practice it at least 10,000 times. Now many people think the number is just figurative and others actually take it literally. Irrespective of which side we choose to follow, we can at least agree on one fact; in order to master anything we must give it sufficient attention. So naturally this brings me to spirituality. People join the path and initially have the desire to become enlightened or advanced and the process stipulates that they must engage in certain practices. Many people start off with a blast and with time they slow down, for a myriad of reasons. The irony is when we don’t give time to those things which we want to be good at and yet expect to miraculously become good at them.  Life doesn’t work that way and never will. A good example in our gaudiya line is Hari Das Thakur who is celebrated as the Nama-acarya; because he chanted over 300,000 names of the Lord daily.

He certainly gave a lot of time and attention to a practice his chanting and subsequently he gained a lot of experience in it and became renowned for it. So the question then arises; we all claim to want to achieve Love of Godhead, are we giving time and energy to those things that enable to become full lovers of God or are we giving time and energy to those things that enable us to become lovers of the material energy? We claim we want to become pure devotees, or at least that is why we joined the path, are we giving our time and energy to those things that will help us become pure devotees?

We claim we want to go back home back to Godhead, are we engaging in activities that show we are really keen on going back to the spiritual world, or are we giving our time and energy to trivial things that bind us here? We claim we want to serve the Lord in the different mellows when we get back to Him, but are we engaging our time and energy in his service here on earth or are we engaging our time and energy in trivial matters and discouraging others who are trying to serve? These are soul searching questions we need to ask ourselves every day. If we say one thing and cannot match it with our actions then what are we really practicing? At the end of the day, everyone carries their cross, everyone is responsible for the advancement or deviation they make. If we are not engaging our time and energy in those things that make us better Devotees, Christians, Muslims, etc. then let us be kind enough not to distract those who are sincerely trying to make this effort.

There is no doubt that we all are advancing in different rates and pace, however just like driving on the high way, slow vehicles keep right and allow fast vehicles the left lane to move faster. If you know you want to drive slowly in your spiritual life then it is only fair that we allow those who want to move at a quicker rate to do so. In this light it is mentioned that every spiritual practitioner should associate with colleagues of similar interest. An English adage says “show me your friends and I’ll tell you whom you are”. If your association is full of people who criticize, blaspheme, deviate from principles, sooner or later we will give our time and energy to such activities and gain experience in it. If we associate with people who chant the Lord’s name regularly, pray intensely, avoid trivial talks, serve with a proper mind, study the scriptures, then we will also give our time and energy to these things and with time they become our experience.

In summary ask yourself daily, what I am giving my time and energy to, because it will become my experience. If you see it is contrary to what you say you want then change and give less time to those things that slow your progress down. We are the designers of our spiritual lives and we are responsible ultimately.

Till next week, do read, share and follow for more.