Thoughts in motion

Hello readers,

I hope you all had a great week. It’s been a week since I last wrote and I know a good deal of you must have missed my blog. I do apologize to those who came but found no content to read. Last week came with its own set of lessons and all I can say is I am grateful.

My partner and I had a road trip right after a festival of chariot and even though we have done the same route many times before, this time the challenges were different. I  have learnt so much in the last week that I feel obliged to share it with all of you. To be honest, sometimes we may be in a very trying situation with a lot of learning opportunities but if we fail to immerse ourselves into the experience given, we will not be able to fully grasp the message being conveyed.

In the face of disappointment, we are quick to judge, blame, and even give up. This is what I refer to as the “reactionary attitude”. Something goes bad, we act accordingly. There is no time for reflection, or time for us to evaluate the situation and then come up with a strategy. Over the weekend I can remember being in a situation whereby my partner and I had some not so good feedback and in the moment because I was carried away by her disposition to the situation, I also lost track of mine. My thinking ability had temporarily shut down and I was at the mercy of my subconscious memory. I was going through the physical motions of moving but my mind and heart were not in proper unison.

Another scenario had presented where I needed to exercise tranquility and remove myself from whatever was happening. I had being able to control my emotions and not act on impulse and the end results was great. It goes without saying that to whom much is given much is expected. Anytime we fall short in a situation we need to ask ourselves; are we utilizing all the resources we have in order to win this war over matter and the mind. It seems to me that we are in a constant tussle between matter and spirit. At some point we are in tune with our energies and spirit is in control, and at other times we allow our base tendencies to take over.

The struggle is real as a common phrase goes. We have to daily make choices that all add up into weekly choices, monthly choices, yearly choices and lifetime choices. We are a sum and substance of all the choices we have made over time in our lives. Whether we agree to this fact or not, it is a bitter pill to swallow. How do we convince someone going through a difficult time that they are in that situation due to choices they have made. The truth is we don’t. A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion and as such most people learn by repeated and failed experience. There is the popular phrase “experience is the best teacher”. I used to quote that a lot as a teenager and once my Dad said to me “not in every case. In some cases only fools learn by experience. A first class human being (or intelligent person) learns by hearing from authorities on a subject matter or by the experience of others.”

I have always reflected on his phrase. There are some things I have been through a couple times and I ask myself; am I being a first class human in this situation or a third class human being. (This is someone who even though he has lived an experience still doesn’t learn and repeats the same mistake). There are other times when I have an experience once and I vow to myself never again to relive it. In effect what am I saying; life does get to us most of the time. The other part when we think we are outsmarting life, it is just a break. I don’t want to sound pessimistic or come off as one dealing with issues, I just wanted to share these random thoughts that were circulating in my head.

Another good analogy for life and its distractions is; travelling on the highway. When we travel interstate, we pass many exits. Each exit has its own attraction; food, gas, hotel, etc. However we do not get off at every exit. We keep driving until we need to either rest, refuel or eat. We won’t be able to arrive at our destination if we took every exit we saw. In fact we would never begin the journey if we took the very first exit that we saw. This will take us totally off track and if somehow or the other we got back on track and took another exit again, we would be off track again. In essence what I am trying to say is, it is always handy to have focus and direction in life. This becomes like a compass for us.

There will be times when we might need to pull over from the journey of life to take a quick break but we wont be off track. We still have the goal and our GPS will be our values. They will point us in the direction we feel is most important to us. Just like the regular GPS, it is just a guide to get us to our destination. Our values will always be our GPS, if someone is morally bankrupt or deficient then we can compare that to a GPS that is not up to date. If we hold others to our own values, we will be compared to someone who wants other drivers to follow his own GPS. Everyone has their own journey, we may journey together for a while but never entirely together.

After all said and done, we want to be able to look back and be grateful for the gift of life, the gift of good health, and the gift of basic amenities that we take for granted. To those who wake up everyday with the zeal of a hunting Lion, I say all the best and see you all at work on Monday.

Till next week do follow for more. Read, like and share with others.

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.

Surrender

Dear Readers,

I hope you all are faring well. It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all once again yet another interesting blog this week. My blog today is a rather reflective one and I hope we all can draw some insight from it as I share.

I had a rather long weekend as I was really trying to be on top of things I had to do and things I needed to do. Needless to say, I like to get things organized mentally so I can physically roll into the execution with less hassle. In the midst of this process the computer that I was using at the moment decided to give up on me. I spent almost 8 hours on Saturday and even more hours on Sunday trying to see if I could salvage the situation. I also had an acquaintance who is Tech savvy try to assist me, it just ended up wasting his time too.

I needed to do something quick. In the process of trying to fix the Computer I lost almost everything I had on it. I downloaded a recovery app, to see if I could recover things from the hard drive only for the app to ask me for payment after “recovering” items I couldn’t even identify. I couldn’t tell if it was just a scam to get me to pay or if it was genuinely retrieving info. Feeling tired and frustrated, I felt why not try another app, and another app, until I finally got one that retrieved some lost files. I decided to rest my case and see if something else could be done to save the situation. Time was already lost and that could never be gotten back.

While we were trying to see how best to “save” the computer, we were getting obviously tired, frustrated, and losing more time. I had loads of things to do, that weren’t getting done, all in a bid to save money. You may wonder how? I felt instead of buying a new computer why not use this one (which obviously is not in a good state). Now I am losing time, rest, and productivity, so what did I get out of all of this?

I always try to see what lessons can be learnt from any situation that I am in. Instead of ranting to everyone about how tough my life has become, I try to see if I can simplify things myself, especially if it is a complication that I have created. Then it hit me crystal clear. My experience over the weekend is exactly how we are in the material world. The modes of material nature are constantly defeating us in our attempt to lord over it. Instead of seeing that it is a futile effort, we keep thinking maybe if I do this and that it would get better. Just like I was thinking maybe if I try this app or that app, or this fix technique etc. The real solution is right before us; which is to surrender to the one who is in charge of the material existence.

My computer can be used as an allegory to explain the situation in this material world. The more we try to fix it, the more we get entangled in it and lose time and energy. Unlike my computer scenario, where I lost some hours, in life we lose years of our existence and by the time we realize that we have been fighting a lost battle, old age has already kicked in. Now old age is not a bad thing in itself because if we had utilized the years prior diligently then we have nothing to worry about. Where old age becomes an issue is when we know deep down ourselves that we haven’t really given time and attention to cultivating higher consciousness in our prime time, and as such in our old age we find ourselves deficit of the required knowledge and experience, to go through the onslaught of material nature. So likewise in the allegory been used, because I didn’t take the necessary steps to get a working computer on time, now in a later time (which can be compared to old age), I find myself wanting and in serious need to get things done in such a small time frame or window opportunity.

We see this every time with people who feel, spiritual life is meant for old people and refuse to pay attention to or give their attention to matters that relate to the soul or self-realization. Then as they grow older they suddenly see that all that they thought was real and cool, isn’t as it seems anymore and that the most important thing they could have invested in or given real attention; the soul, has been neglected and then they panic in response. The usual reaction is to suddenly try to catch up for all the “lost time” but then the body is no longer as strong, the mind is there, family is not as supportive etc. Just like the adage says “a stitch in time saves nine”; in our spiritual lives a step in the right direction, on time saves us 9 lifetimes.

We can start now, and surrender to the process, or procrastinate and come back 9 lifetimes or more to fix it. Of course we all know that everyone will surrender according to their level of realization and the Supreme Lord will definitely reciprocate accordingly and he has promised, the clarion call however is to avoid the late entry.  I have now seen that sometimes even if we think surrendering is expensive (just like I thought getting a good working computer was expensive), surrendering to a working process saves us a lot more in the long run. Ultimately we find out that it is cheaper, to actually pay the price now than try to find some “simpler and cheaper route”.

Surrender is necessary to advance and we all have to in one way or another.

Till next week do follow for more.