Friday, August 28, 2009
Life is about correcting mistakes
Monica married Nick this day. At the end of the wedding party, Monica's mother gave her a newly opened bank saving passbook with Rs.1000 deposit amount.
Mother: 'Monica, take this passbook. Keep it as a record of your marriage life. When there's something happy and memorable happened in your new life, put some money in. Write down what it's about next to the line. The more memorable the event is, the more money you can put in. I've done the first one for you today. Do the others with Nick.
When you look back after years, you can know how much happiness you've had.'
Monica shared this with Nick when getting home. They both thought it was a great idea and were anxious to know when the second deposit can be made. This was what they did after certain time:
* 7 Feb: Rs.100, first birthday celebration for Nick after marriage
* 1 Mar: Rs.300, salary raise for Monica
* 20 Mar: Rs.200, vacation trip to Bali
* 15 Apr: Rs.2000, Monica got pregnant
* 1 Jun: Rs.1000, Nick got promoted
* ..... And so on...
However, after years, they started fighting and arguing for trivial things. They didn't talk much. They regretted that they had married the nastiest people in the world.... No more love....Kind of typical nowadays, huh?
One day Monica talked to her Mother: 'Mom, we can't stand it anymore. We agree to divorce. I can't imagine how I decided to marry this guy!!!"
Mother: 'Sure, girl, that's no big deal. Just do whatever you want if you really can't stand it. But before that, do one thing first.
Remember the saving passbook I gave you on your wedding day? Take out all money and spend it first. You shouldn't keep any record of such a poor marriage.'
Monica thought it was true. So she went to the bank, waiting at the queue and planning to cancel the account. While she was waiting, she took a look at the passbook record. She looked, and looked, and looked. Then the memory of all the previous joy and happiness just came up her mind. Her eyes were then filled with tears. She left and went home.
When she was home, she handed the passbook to Nick, asked him to spend the money before getting divorce.
The next day, Nick gave the passbook back to Monica. She found a new deposit of Rs.5000. And a line next to the record: 'This is the day I notice how much I've loved you thru out all these years. How much happiness you've brought me.'
They hugged and cried, putting the passbook back to the safe. Do you know how much money they had saved when they retired? I did not ask. I believe the money did not matter anymore after they had gone thru all the good years in their life.
"When you fall in any way, don't see the place where you fell instead see the place from where you slipped. Life is about correcting mistakes."
Ok. We can’t predict the exact date you’ll pop you clogs, but leading gerontogist Dr. David Demko, who has served on two US government commissions investigating the effects of aging, has spent years working out what governs life span.
"Long life isn’t just the result of smart genes and dumb luck," he says. "In fact 80% of the controlling factors are related to lifestyle." The chances you’ll make it to 100 depend on five areas: genetic inheritance, diet, exercise, an alert mind (use it or lose it) and outlook (meaningful lives last longer). Demko has even developed a life span calculator: it starts with an assumed life expectancy of 75 for men, 80 for women, from which you add or subtract years depending on your answers (a short version is shown below – the full quiz has 127 questions).
Don’t panic if you score low. "Try switching to a healthier life style and you may live a long, long time," Demko says. Of course, then there’s the question of saving enough cash to see you through retirement…
Questions of Life or Death:
Do you have an annual medical check-up? (yes) + 3 years (No) –3 years
Did your grandparents live to at least 80? (yes) + 3 years ---
Do you do voluntary work? (yes) + 2 years (No) -1 years
Are you graduate? (yes) + 2 years ---
Do you have 2 or more female children? (yes) +3 years ---
Are you able to laugh at your mistakes? --- (No) -3 years
Do you have a close friend to confide in? (yes) + 1 year (No) - 2 years
Do you maintain mental fitness? (yes) + 4 years ---
Do you take regular aerobic exercise? (yes) + 3 years ---
Do you eat balanced diet? (yes) + 2 years (No) - 3 years
Are you always going on and off fad diets? --- (No) -5 years
Do you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day? (yes) - 4 years ---
Do you live/work with a smoker? (yes) - 1 year ---
Do you own a dog/cat? (yes) +2 years ---
Do you live alone? (yes) -3 years ---
Do you practice a religious belief? (yes) +6 years ---
Do you have a system for managing stress?(yes) +4 years (No) -3 years
Are you in love? (yes) +7 years ---
Do you fear the uncertainties of old age?(yes) -2 years ---
(Courtesy: The Readers’ Digest, Sept. 2004)
Rabbits are among the most timid of animals.
The rabbits of a colony, once had a meeting to discuss this trait of theirs. They came to the conclusion that as their timidity would never leave them, they were doomed to a miserable existence and it would be better to drown themselves and end their misery once and for all.
Accordingly, they began to move towards a large lake.
When the frogs in the lake saw the large number of rabbits approaching, they were filled with fear and made for the deepest part of the lake.
Seeing this, the leader of the rabbits stopped and said to his fellow-creatures:"It is true we are timid, but here are animals more timid than we are. There is hope for us yet. Let us go back to our homes."
And that is what they did.
Moral: Just as we are afraid of others, others are afraid of us.
A young ascetic sitting in meditation under a tree was splattered by the droppings of a bird.
He looked up angrily at the culprit and such was the intensity of his wrath that the bird was reduced to ash.
His concentration disturbed, the ascetic got up and went in search of food. He knocked at the door of a house but there was no answer. He knocked again and the lady of the house shouted that she was coming. Presently she came out with food and seeing that he was annoyed at having had to wait so long, smiled and said: "Please don't try to burn me with your angry glance like you did that bird. My dharma as a housewife is first to take care of the needs of my family before attending to the needs of others."
The ascetic realised that she was no ordinary woman and was ashamed of him. He asked her to teach him what dharma was. She said he should see Dharma Vyadha.
The ascetic went in search of Dharma Vyadha expecting to find a venerable sage but the man turned out to be a meatseller.
Dharma Vyadha made him wait while he served his customers. When the ascetic showed signs of impatience, the meatseller smiled and said: "Just as the woman's first duty was to her family, my first duty is to my customers."
So the ascetic waited. When the last of his customers had gone, the meatseller turned to the ascetic and invited him home.
When they reached Dharma Vyadha's house the ascetic was again made to wait while his host lovingly attended to his parents. It was quite some time before the meatseller could return to his guest but the young man showed no trace of anger. A transformation had come over him.
"Now I know what dharma is," he said, rising and bowing to the meatseller.
Giving up the path of asceticism he returned home and begged forgiveness of his parents for having deserted them in their old age.
"I seek your blessings," he said, "to give me strength to do my dharma."
Are you stressed? Are you so busy getting to the future that the present is reduced to a means of getting there? Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there’, or being in the present but wanting to be in the future. It is a split that tears you apart inside.
Does the past take up a great deal of your attention? Do you frequently talk and think about it, either positively or negatively? The great things that you have achieved, your adventures or experiences, or your victim story and the dreadful things that were done to you, or may be what you did to someone else? Are your thought processes creating guilt, pride, resentment, anger, regret, or self-pity?
Then you are not only reinforcing a false sense of self but also helping to accelerate your body’s aging process by creating an accumulation of past in your psyche. Verify this for yourself by observing those around you who have a strong tendency to hold on to the past.
Die to the past every moment: You don’t need it. Only refer to it when it is absolutely relevant to the present. Feel the power of this moment and the fullness of Being. Feel your presence.
Are you worried? Do you have many ‘what if’ thoughts? You are identified with your mind, which is projecting itself into an imaginary situation and creating fear. There is no way that you can cope with such a situation, because it doesn’t exist. It is mental phantom. You can stop this health and life-corroding insanity simply by acknowledging the present moment.
Become aware of your breathing: Feel the air flowing in and out of your body. Feel your inner energy field. All that you ever have to deal with, cope with, in real life-as opposed to imaginary mind projections – is this moment. Ask yourself what ‘problem’ you have right now, not next year, tomorrow, or five minutes from now. What is wrong with this moment?
You can cope with the Now, but you can never cope with the future – nor do you have to. The answer, the strength, the right action, or the resource will be there when you need it. Not before, not after.
Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is true prosperity. It cannot come in the future. Then, in time, that prosperity manifests for you in various ways. If you are dissatisfied with what you have got, or even frustrated or angry about your present lack, that may motivate you to become rich, but even if you do make millions, you will continue to experience the inner condition lack, and deep down you will continue to feel unfulfilled. You may have many exciting experiences that money can buy, but they will come and go and always leave you with an empty feeling and the need for further physical or psychological gratification. You won’t abide in Being. Feel the fullness of life now – that alone is true prosperity.
Give up waiting as a state of mind: When you catch yourself slipping into waiting…. Snap out of it. Come into the present moment. Just be, and enjoy being. If you are present, there is never any need for you to wait for anything.
In that state, all your attention is in the Now. There is none left for day-dreaming, thinking, remembering, and anticipating. There is no tension in it, no fear, just alert presence. You are present with your whole Being, with every cell of your body. In that state, the ‘you’ that has a past and a future, the personality. If you like, is hardly there any more. And yet, nothing of value is lost. You are still essentially yourself. In fact, you are more fully yourself than you ever were before, or rather it is only now that you are truly yourself.
(Courtesy: The Sunday Times of India, 25-9-2004)
We all know what old age does to your bodies – our skin becomes wrinkled, our hair turns white and our muscles grow weaker. But, what do the advancing years do to your brains? For the more than 100 million senior citizens in our country, and for all of us who will eventually join their ranks, the paramount question is whether we can do anything to keep our brains healthy well into old age.
Our understanding of brain is fairly recent. Just a hundred years age average life expectancy was merely 47 years, as compared to nearly 75 years now. Thus, the issue of brain function in old age has become relevant, and a subject of scientific investigation, just over the past few decades. What we have learned during this time has overturned some long held beliefs.
One such belief was that as the brain ages, it continuously loses neurons, at the rates as high as 1,000,000 per day. This progressive neutral loss was thought to lead, inevitably, to mental decline in old age. However, this is quite incorrect. Unless the brain is affected with some specific neuro-degenerative disorders, its neural population stays steady throughout life. We are not sure which factors are actually responsible for age-related changes in brain function. Some prominent hypothesis include the weakening of inner-neuronal connections, inadequate blood supply to the brain, and complex chemical interactions that lead to the creation of hard deposits called ‘amyloid plaques’ in the spaces between neurons.
Eat food conducive to brain health:
A diet of fruits and vegetables, rich in antioxidants protects nerve cells from the damaging effects of free radicals in the blood stream. Spices like turmeric, cinnamon and cloves are particularly potent sources of anti-oxidants.
Chemicals called omeg-3 fatty acids also contribute to the brain’s well being, by protecting it against memory impairments and neuronal damage. These are found in Soya and fishes. Not only do omega-3 rich foods help the brain; they are also good for the heart.
Stay mentally active:
Individuals who kept their minds engages in stimulating pursuits such as reading and learning lessons their chances of age related cognitive decline. Intellectually challenging activities help strengthen neuronal connections, which makes them more robust against degenerative diseases. Conversely, depriving the brain of a stimulating environment can lead to atrophy and hasten the onset of cognitive impairments. The basic idea here can be summed up in the phrase ‘USE IT SO YOU DON’T LOSE IT’.
Stay physically active:
Physical exercise is not only good for the body; it is also tremendously beneficial for mental health. Better cardio-respiratory health improves blood circulation to the oxygen-hungry brain and keeps it properly nourished. Some intriguing animal studies suggest that besides keeping the existing neurons healthy, physical exercise might also lead to the creation of new neurons. Half-hour brisk walk every day can do wonders for your long-term mental health.
Get adequate rests and maintain a stress-free lifestyle:
Rest is just as important as exercise. We do not yet understand precisely what the purpose of sleep is, but what is that it has clear is that it has direct bearing on the brain’s health. Getting about 8 hours of sleep every night lowers one’s risk of age related cognitive decline. During the remaining 16 hours, our life-style should be as stress-free as possible. Stress leads to the production of the hormone cortisol, which can, over time, damage neurons in the memory centres of the brain.
The bottom-line is that the maintenance of mental fitness is, to a large extent, in your control. A healthy brain not only frees you from dependence on others, it also ensures that you can give younger generations the benefit of your accumulated experience and wisdom. For living examples of this dictum, we need look no further than APJ Abdul Kalam, Amartya Sen and Khushwant Singh, whose contributions to society have only increased with the advancing years.
(Written by: Prof. Pawan Sinha, Cambridge, USA in The Hindustan Times, 5-9-2004)
Take brain breaks:
The brain accounts for about 2 percent of your weight but requires around 20 percent of your body’s oxygen. No wonder working at a desk all day can be so exhausting. Frequent breaks are an energizing fix; a new study from Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge compared computer workers who took time-outs (performing simple stretches) every hour with those who took them every 15 or 30 minutes. Those who worked in 15-minute blocks with "microbreaks" as brief as 30 seconds were the speediest and most accurate, and had significantly fewer body aches. "The longer you work, the longer it takes to recuperate," says study author Fereydoun Aghazadeh, Ph.D. "When you work for shorter periods and take short breaks, you don’t have time to get tired," he says.
Be a single-tasker:
When you focus on one thing instead of several, you usually get more done in less time, according to researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Plus, their study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: ‘Human Perception and performance’ found the percentage of errors doubled when participants tried to do two things at once. "Multitasking uses a large number of regions in the brain simultaneously," says co-author David, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology. "To cope with the challenges, your brain consumes more energy resources like glucose." In addition, doubling up on activities can create a vicious cycle. You do too much, tire out, get even less done, making you more stressed and unfocussed – you get the picture.
Burn a personal soundtrack:
Whether you play the Titanic theme before a big meeting or crank up your collection when you’re stuck in crushing traffic, listening to your favourite music can get you jazzed, says Jon Gordon, author of ‘Become an Energy Addict.’ Go ahead; let the music move you!
Play with your joystick:
Video games are more than just mind candy. Using them may give you the same eyes-wide-open results as a walk around the block. A small study from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City found that when people played Ms. PacMan for 30 minutes, their heart and metabolic rates increasing much as they would with low intensity exercise. Plus, whenever you do something that stirs up excited feelings, your body rewards you by releasing hormones that increase blood sugar levels, which can give you energy, according to research at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
Sleep from six to eight hours:
A recent study suggests that key repair work may happen in the brain between the sixth and eighth hours of sleep. The researchers believe that during this time, bursts of electrical activity trigger waves of calcium to enter certain brain cells. "These calcium waves instruct neurons to recognize their connections with each other and generate new ones," says lead researcher Mathew Walker, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School on Boston. The result: You wake up feeling fresher and thinking better.
Gain an Emotional Edge, Connect with those who count:
When you’re busy and feeling beat, it is natural to want to make life a hermit. But nights our with your friends or a miss-it-and-you-cry phone call with your sister can buoy your energy by providing emotional support. In fact, scientists at Griffith University in Nathan, Australia, found they could predict energy levels of nurses who did night shift work by how much social support they got.
Head off a fight:
Those first few minutes at home after work can be a potential powder keg, says Thomas Bradbury, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. In fact, late afternoon and early evening are prime times for arguments. We’re tired, we’re hungry, our patience is shot. And really, there’s nothing much more exhausting than battling over whose turn it is to make dinner! Instead, refuel on your way home, says Gordon. Eating a little snake will up your blood sugar, giving you extra stamina to transition from work to home.
Clear your clutter:
Cleaning out a drawer, purging your purse or organising your desk or closets will give you a little jump-start. While there’s not much science behind the theory, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence, says Karen Kingston, author of Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui. Well, it does sound like it makes sense. Either way, getting organised can't hurt and is certainly worth a shot. Who knows, de-cluttering your life may give you more of a jolt; than a cup of designer latte – and at a fraction of the price!
(Source: Health & Nutrition, October 2004)
Thursday, August 27, 2009
There was a young student-archer who reached such proficiency in his art that he could shoot an arrow into a tree and then cleave that arrow into two with the next shot. He began to boast that he was a greater archer than his guru.
One day his guru, a venerable old man in his 70's, asked the youth to accompany him on a trip across the hills. The journey was uneventful until they came to a deep chasm.
A single log spanned the chasm. The guru walked down to the centre of the log, unshouldered his bow and taking an arrow shot it into a tree on the other side. His next shot cleaved the first arrow into two.
"Now it's your turn," he said, walking back to where his student was standing.The youth stepped gingerly on the log and very slowly and carefully made his way to the middle. But his heart was in his mouth. He knew that if he lost his footing, he would plunge to his death. His hands trembled as he strung an arrow into his bow. Preoccupied with the danger he was in, he found it hard to focus on the target. Consequently when he let go of the arrow, it missed the tree altogether. Whimpering, he turned around.
"Help me!" he shouted to his guru. "I'll fall!"
The old man walked up to him, took his hand and stepping backwards led him to safety. Neither of them said a word on the return journey but the boy had much to think about.
He had realised that to be a master of his art it was not enough to know how to control the bow, he had to learn how to control his mind too.
The experienced fisherman watched this go on all day and finally got tired of seeing the man waste good fish. 'Why do you keep throwing back all the big fish you catch?' he asked.
The inexperienced fisherman replied, 'I only have a small frying pan..'
Sometimes, like that fisherman, we throwback the big plans, big dreams, big jobs, big opportunities that God gives us. Our faith is too small.
We laugh at that fisherman who didn't figure out that all he needed was a bigger frying pan, yet how ready are we to increase the size of our faith?
Whether it's a problem or a possibility, God will never give you anything bigger than you can handle. That means we can confidently walk into anything God brings our way.
Nothing is too big for God.
HOW TO BE A WINNER
(The power you have within you)
Man is a natural overcomer. He has quested ever further into the realms of the unknown. The secret of success is something we have with us already. It is part of the toolkit for living, the natural heritage of mankind. Here is a plan in seven steps which will help you develop the power you have within you
Cultivate a relaxed frame of mind. Say to yourself: "Whatever happens today I can cope. I have the power to overcome every obstacle and solve every problem." Always take an optimistic view of live.
From your self-knowledge will come a clear understanding of other people. This will revolutionise your relationships. Ponder the wise words of Confucius: "If another drinks, does it quench your thirst? If another eats, does it appease you? Who then shall develop your understanding?
This springs from faith in ourselves and in God. Worry and fear are a negative kind of faith. Think constantly of your successes not your failures. Think of the success of others and build up your own confidence. Affirm constantly: "I can and I will."
All of us have an immense store of courage that can be called up when needed. Courage has the extraordinary quality of being there when it is truly wanted.
This comes from caring. It is the inner quality of life that brings excitement and dynamic activity into everything we do. Many people are cool and unenthusiastic because they really have no idea what they want from life. Put yourself completely into what you do. Grow hot about your work – your interests in life. Your interest and enthusiasm will spread like a wild fire. Enthusiasm literally means, "being possessed by God."
SELF – ESTEEM
Obviously you will never succeed while you cherish a failure image in your subconscious. If you expect to fail, you will. Never play yourself down or accept a low estimate that another person may offer. You are a fine person. You are potentially great. You are a child of God! Self-esteem is basic for human happiness. When you feel right with yourself, your feelings will project itself into your world and make others happy. To raise yourself – praise yourself!
This means from the psychological point of view only one thing – thought control! Many people are at the mercy of their negative thinking. Go over in your mind all the things you have to be thankful for , for all the successes, big or small you have had. Deliberately seek the positive, and see how bright the day becomes rain or no rain.
There really is a secret of success. It is this. Your health, happiness and prosperity lie in what you put into your subconscious mind. See that it is entirely positive. This requires self-discipline, perseverance and patience. You can emerge a winner!
(Written by Dr. Clive D. Hurley)
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
1) TAKE A PERSONAL INVENTORY
Are you a hard worker? Are you a loyal friend? Can you operate a VCR?Psychiatrist advises patients to consult the list as soon as something goes wrong- a missed promotion, a lost love, or any other emotional setback. '"That way you can isolate the event. You can see it as a specific experience, not something that defines your whole life."
2) THINK OPTIMISTICALLY
Optimistic thinking is a sure-fire way of creating an upward cycle, moving from one success to another.
3) MEET A CHALLENGE AND CONQUER IT
Don’t let the problem become worse and conquer you, Took charge of the situation and face the reality. Involved in physical exercise, can strengthen and energize your will power and spirit.
4) SET HIGHER GOALS
Give yourself the benefit of any doubt by telling yourself you can achieve more. "Strive to a higher position in life." You'll prove that you've got more on the ball than you thought... Through honest hard work and sincere dedication, you can rise higher on the social or economic scale than you are now."
5) LEARN SOMETHING NEW
The least fulfilled people are those who are not growing. Learning something new builds confidence because it forces you to push the boundaries, expanding the mind and spirit. "It's a mistake to think that once you're done with school you need never learn anything new,"
"So if you find that you need glasses, get a little pain in your knee, notice a few brown spots on your hands, don't despair. There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love."
6) EXERCISE REGULARLY
Consistent moderate exercise not only controls weight, it strengthens the heart, lowers cholesterol, reduces stress and improves circulation. It also lifts the spirit considerably. Select a physical activity that you enjoy such as walking, jogging, cycling or swimming. Then do it faithfully at least three times a week.
7) DEMONSTRATE GOODWILL
Work to make the world around you a kinder place. You will feel good while improving the quality of life of other. "These days, we tend to forget acts of kindness toward others," Offer your seat on a bus to an elderly person, or wave another car through when you have the right of way. You'll feel an inner glow knowing that your small act has made a difference."
8) ACT HAPPY
The saying, "Fake it until you make it" has a great truth. A key step to greater self-esteem is simply to adopt the stance of being a confident person who is totally comfortable in life. Like an actor, you can grow into a role.
"Act the part that you want to play. Go right out and without ever telling anyone else that you're really a quaking, shivering mass of jelly inside, just act confidently in a given situation where no one knows you. In that present moment of your life, you are the new, miraculous, self-confident person."
Disappointments are part and parcel of life. In this circus of existence, you cannot have your way all the time. Things change; people change. Events and results have an unpredictable and uncontrollable way of happening.
To keep yourself from being utterly frustrated and dismayed, here are some things to avoid or at least soften the pangs of great disappointment:
Once upon a time the senses quarrelled among themselves as to who was superior, each saying: "I am superior, I am superior."
They went to Prajapati, their father, and said: "Sir, who is the best of us?"
He replied: "He by whose departure the body looks the worst – he is the best of you."
Speech then departed and, having stayed away for a year, returned and said: "How have you been able to live without me?"
They replied: "Like the dumb - not speaking, but breathing with the breath, seeing with the eye, hearing with the ear, and thinking with the mind. Thus we lived." Then speech entered in.
The eye then departed and having stayed away for a year, returned and said: "How have you been able to live without me?" They replied: "Like the blind – not seeing, but breathing with the breath, speaking with the tongue, hearing with the ear and thinking with the mind. Thus we lived." Then the eye entered in.
The ear then departed, and having stayed away for a year, returned and said: "How have you been able to live without me?" They replied: "Like the deaf – not hearing, but breathing with the breath, speaking with the tongue, seeing with the eye and thinking with the mind. Thus we lived." Then the ear entered in.
The mind then departed and having stayed away for a year, returned and said: "How have you been able to live without me?" They replied: "Like children – not thinking, but breathing with the breath, speaking with the tongue, seeing with the eye and hearing with the ear. Thus we lived." Then the mind entered in.
Now, when the breath was about to depart, tearing up the other senses, as a strong horse about to depart might tear up the pegs to which he is tethered, they gathered round him and said: "Sir, remain. You are the best of us, do not depart."
Then speech said to him: "If I am the most prosperous, so are you the most prosperous." The eye said to him: "If I am the firm basis, so are you the firm basis." The ear said to him: "If I am success, so are you the success." The mind said to him; "If I am the abode, so are you the abode."
Hence these are not termed organs of speech or eyes or ears or minds.
They are termed signs of life.
For life itself becomes all these.
(From the Chhandogya Upanishad, XIII. v. 1, Translated by Professor D.S.Sarma)
A young man had to appear for his first interview in the afternoon. He had a new pair of trousers made for the interview. When he tried them on in the morning, he found that they were two inches too long.
So he went to his mother and said to her, "Will you not reduce the size of the trousers by two inches so that I can wear them for my interview?"
"Please don’t disturb me now," said the mother. "I am preparing breakfast for your father and he has to leave for work."
So he approached his sister and said, "Will you not bring the trousers to the proper size?"
"Please don’t disturb me," replied the sister. "I am doing my homework!"
He then appealed to his grandmother: "Dear Granny! I have to go for my interview. Will you not cut my trousers to the right size?" And the Granny said, "What can I do, my boy? Today is a day on which I cannot thread the needle. I cannot do this work now."
The poor boy! Exasperated, he had no choice but to take up a needle and thread and do the job himself. The task completed, he kept his trousers aside, ready to be worn in the afternoon.
Imagine his horror when he put on the trousers! They had been reduced to half-pants! His mother had prepared the breakfast for the father and then reduced trousers by two inches. So also the sister, after having completed homework, had further reduced the length of the trousers.
And finally, the grandmother had called for a servant to threat the needle for her and she too reduced the size of the trousers by two inches more!
The result was disastrous!
Instead of depending upon others, we should have full faith in ourselves. Do your duty the best way you can and you will gradually march to perfection.
Milarepa, the great Tibetan yogi! Whose name has run around the globe. There is a touching incident. One day, Milarepa comes to his Guru and begs to be accepted as a disciple. The Guru, Marpa, says to him: "Do you have sufficient faith?"
Milarepa answers: "Master, my faith in you is beyond words."
"How much faith do you possess?" asks the Guru.
"As much as the limitless skies," is the answer.
The Guru hears the words but wants to put the disciple to a test!
"Here are some bricks," he says to Milarepa, "with them build a platform at this spot."
Milarepa sets to work immediately. He builds a beautiful platform which he feels should please his Guru. When the Guru arrives, he exclaims: "What a fool you are, Milarepa! You have wasted all your time and energy. I did not want a platform here, at this corner, but at the other corner."
Milarepa says to himself: "I clearly remember the Guru pointing to this spot; bet let not my faith be shaken. I must be wrong. The Guru is always right!" He dismantles the platform and starts building a new one at the other corner.
After a few days, the second platform is ready and Milarepa approaches his Guru.
Once again, the Guru is dissatisfied and says: "What a silly fellow you are! I never wanted the platform here."
Milarepa feels irritated, but controls himself and says: "Let me not doubt the Guru!" He builds a third platform.
The process is repeated several times. And now Milarepa can take it no longer. He loses his patience. His faith is completely shaken. He wants to run away from the Guru. The Guru’s wife learns of it: she comes to his rescue.
"The Guru is only testing you!" she says to him. "It was you who told him that your faith was limitless as the skies. Where is your faith gone?"
Milarepa’s faith renewed. He builds yet one more platform. When it was ready, the Guru embraces him, saying: "You are truly my child. Let me share with you the secret which I have shared with none else."
Milarepa sits at the feet of the Guru and receives from him what only a Guru can pass on to his disciple. He is enlightened. He is emancipated from the seemingly endless cycle of birth and death which is, inevitably, a cycle of suffering and pain, but from which, alas, many of us do not yet wish to be liberated.
May some of us be inspired to cultivate this great quality of faith. The Guru is too loving to punish and too wise to make a mistake. Therefore, let us learn to accept all that comes out of his hands as Prasadam. In sun and rain, in pleasure and pain, in loss and gain, let our trusting heart learn to pray: "Give me a place at Your Lotus Feet!"
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
By Felipe Santiago
Inheritor of the European Catholic culture, the common Brazilian wedding is a mix of old tradition and the modern way of thinking. After dating for several years, the couple will decide to get married, at an average of 25 years old.
They will spend the next two or three years choosing the guests, the church, the party house, the buffet, the costumes, everything, balancing what they dreamed about and what they can afford. In the past, her family would pay for everything as the dowry.
But nowadays things have changed and the couple will pay for everything on their own or both families will share the expenses.
In Brazil, it was custom to announce only to the brides’ and grooms’ families and friends. However, nowadays, the fashion to make a big party celebrating the engagement is a demonstration of good taste and glamour.
Civil marriage always precedes the religious. The church cannot, by law, perform the religious ceremony if civil marriage hasn’t been performed. For civil marriage, bride and groom must go to the office twice. The first time is for qualification that consists in a process of data analysis. The second time, thirty days later, is the ceremony itself.
The religious ceremony consists, essentially, in three stages: the procession of entry, in which the guests must be present before the bride enters, because together with the priest they represent the church that receives the couple for marital blessing; the liturgy, in which the priest pronounces holy words, blessing the marriage and there is also the signature and photos by the end; and the leaving of the participants.
In the Catholic Church, the liturgy may comprise two rituals: the mass and the marriage, or just the ritual of the marriage. The chosen date and ritual are fixed in the church by submitting the documents required by the Diocesan Curia.
The most famous churches in Brazil require that the reservation date for the wedding is made with more than a year in advance.
A solemn church full of guests, a small orchestra opening the ceremony, the place decorated with white or yellow flowers everywhere.
The nervous groom in a black tuxedo is waiting anxiously, when the trumpets announce the most expected arrival. Camera flashes go crazy.
Everybody stands up while the beautiful bride walks slowly through the saloon wearing her long white wedding dress and meets her loved one.
The priest pronounces inspiring sacred words, the couple makes their vows to each other and with the blessings of God they are declared husband and wife.
After the religious ceremony it’s party time. Everybody moves to the party house. A lot of food and drinking, family, new and old friends all together, good live music all night long and everybody shaking a leg.
Suddenly, the music stops. The bride and the groom are going to dance the Waltz. However, no Brazilian wedding would be complete without the sound of a good samba school playing their powerful drums in the end.
A King who had a beautiful figure, a strong body and large army. He was the mighty ruler of a vast kingdom. He was proud of his strength, wealth and army.
The King did not understand. He got angry. But the holy man insisted: "O King, learn to be humble. In the measure in which you become humble, in that measure you will become a channel of God’s forces for the healing of suffering mankind."
Infuriated, the King said: "Why must I be humble? I have such a vast kingdom. I have just to lift up my finger and thousands of people will come to my bidding. Why must I be humble. I do not need your advice. Please leave the darbar."
A few days later, the King, along with a few of his ministers and friends, went out to hunt. From a distance he saw a deer. He chased the deer and was separated from the rest of his group. The deer eluded the King and disappeared. The King galloped faster and faster. The deer suddenly crossed a valley and again disappeared. The King kept on chasing the deer and just as he was about to cross the valley, his horse fell down. Both the horse and the King were badly hurt and lost their consciousness.
After a little while, a few decoits happened to pass by. Finding the horse and the rich rider in an unconscious state, they looted the King of his possessions, his weapons and stripped him naked. When the King regained consciousness, he was shocked at what he saw. He was nude and his horse was almost dead. In that helpless condition, he remembered the words of the holy man: "These things will either leave you or you will leave them, one day." He repented.
Just then, he heard the roar of a lion. His heart trembled. However, he found that the lion’s roar had awakened the horse. The King felt happy. He mounted the horse and crossed the valley to where his ministers and friends were searching for him.
Turning to the corporal, the rider asked: "Why don’t you help them?"
"Me? Why, I’m a corporal, Sir!"
Dismounting, the stranger helped the soldiers. He smiled at them and said, "Now all together, boys, heave!" The big piece of timber slid into place.
Handing over his visiting card to the corporal, the stranger quietly said: "The next time that your soldiers need help, call me!"
Practical suggestion number eight:
Take care of your food. See that your food is satvic, pure, earned by honest means, without doing violence to anyone.
Practical suggestion number nine:
Take care of your breathing: breathing has a direct influence upon the mind. Let your breathing be deep and rhythmic. Some day, perhaps, I shall speak to you in detail concerning these two important factors of life, food and breathing.
Practical suggestion number ten:
Never succumb to temptation. Try to overcome it but, in spite of your best efforts, if you fail, you must not think any more about it. When a little child learns to walk, not unoften, he stumbles and falls. But immediately, the mother comes and lifts him up and asks him to walk again. When you fall, pay no attention to it, but immediately rise and move on, ever onward, forward, Godward!
Practical suggestion number eleven:
You can not overcome temptation by fighting it, in the ordinary sense of the term. The more you fight it, the more you direct your attention to it. The stream of life flows in the direction of attention. If you direct your attention to temptation, forces of life will tend to flow towards temptation, and will only strengthen it. This will increase your troubles.
To give an illustration, when the body suffers from pain, the more we think of pain, the greater it grows. But when we forget it by absorbing our attention in some other activity, such as painting, or music, pain completely vanishes,
It is the same with temptation. The less we think of it, the better for us. On the other hand, we must not thoughtlessly yield to temptation. We must be sinless. To be sinless, our lower self must be cleansed, washed, purified. The lower self must be transmuted into the Higher Self.
This leads us to practical suggestion number twelve:
Whenever we are assailed by temptation, let us turn to God. What is meant by turning to God? Turning to God means directing one’s attention to a Power, Intelligence, Wisdom, Love greater by far than my own. Turning to God means directing one’s attention to a Being who is ever above, beyond, transcendent, and yet who is also closer to us than breathing, nearer to us than the nip of our neck.
How may this turning to God be accomplished? Through the top of the head or the point a little behind and between the eyebrows. When we turn our attention to the top of the head, or to the point between the eyebrows, we rise above the physical and the psychic, and contact the spiritual, and divine forces begin to flow in and through us. The light and wisdom and power of God flow into us and help us in living the new life. Everyone who seeks to contact God will find his own way of doing so. The way I have found helpful is this. I close my eyelids and turn the eyes in their sockets upward, to a point above the apex of the head and, immediately, I feel the divine forces flowing into me, strengthening me, washing me, cleansing me, making my heart pure and clear. Or I turn the eyes in their sockets to a point a little behind and between the eyebrows, and, again, have the same experience. Try this experiment and you will find wonderful things happened to you.
Practical suggestion number thirteen:
In our language "thirteen" is "tera". And "tera" is also means "thine". Say to God: "O Lord, I am Thine, completely Thine, utterly Thine! O Lord, I come to thee, as I am. I come to Thee with all my faults and failings, weaknesses and imperfections. Thou wilt mend my broken life. Thou wilt make me new! I cannot do it by myself. I have tried to straighten my life. I have tried to renounce evil ways, I have tried hard, and failed. Now I come to Thee as I am. Lead me to the Other Shore! I hand myself over to Thee, knowing that by myself I can do nothing. I am nothing. Thou art the All. Thou alone canst deliver! Thou alone canst save! I place my trust in Thee!"
He who hands himself over to God, temptations can have no power over him.
I read concerning a man in America. He was driving his Ford car, when suddenly, something went wrong. He got out and looked at the engine, but could detect no fault. Helplessly, he stood there, when from a distance he saw another car approaching: he waved to it for help. It was a brand new Ford car. Out of it stepped a tall, friendly man who asked: "Well, what’s the trouble?"
"The engine suddenly stopped" was the reply. "And it will not start again."
The stranger made a few adjustments under the bonnet, then said: "Now start the car!"
When the motor started, its grateful owner introduced himself and asked: "What is your name, sir?"
"My name," answered the stranger, "is Henry Ford."
The man who made the Ford car knew how to make it run. God has made us and He alone knows how to run our lives. All we are required to do is to completely surrender ourselves to Him, call Him by what name we will, Krishna, Rama, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Mahavira, Nanak, Zarathustra, Buha’u’alla. Call Him by what name we will, without Him we can make a complete wreck of our lives. When we surrender ourselves to Him, all goes well. When we cut ourselves off from Him, we can do nothing. Therefore, say to Him, again and again and still again: "O Lord! I come to Thee as I am. Take me to the Other Shore!"
To have the true joy of life, you must be in continuous contact with the source of joy, with God who is the Spirit of Ananda; unbroken bliss. Once you have contacted God, nothing, no one will be able to take away your joy from you. It may appear as though you are living a life of poverty and destitution, your spirits will keep soaring the skies.
There was a poor man. His clothes were soiled and torn. His feet were covered with mud. Yet there was a beautiful smile on his lips and a spring in his steps as he walked. Someone said to him: "Good Morning!"
"I have never had a bad morning" answered the poor man.
"That sounds strange" said the man to him. "I pray that you may always be so fortunate."
Quickly answered the poor man: "I have never been unfortunate."
"May you always be happy", said the man to him.
"I have never been unhappy", answered the poor man.
"I do not understand", said the man. "Will you kindly explain the paradox?"
"I have never had a bad morning," said the poor man. "For every morning, I praise the Lord. The day may be bright or dull, the weather may be pleasant or otherwise, I am still thankful to God. You wished that I might be always fortunate, but I cannot be unfortunate for I rejoice in everything that the will of God brings to me. I believe that whatever God sends me is good! You wished me happiness, but I cannot be unhappy so long as I rejoice in the will of God, and as long as his peace rules in my heart."
Yes, praise the Lord in everything that happens, and you will be amongst the happiest of men on earth. You will have the true joy of life and you will keep radiating it wherever you go!
(Concluded: Author: Sri. J.P. Vaswani)
Practical suggestion number five:
Never forget that impurity begins in the thought. Therefore, take care of your thoughts. Thoughts are forces, not to be trifled with: thoughts are the building blocks of life. If you entertain pure thoughts, you build for yourself a noble future. If otherwise, you work for your own ruination. St. Thomas A’Kempis says: "First there cometh to the mind a bare thought of evil, then a strong imagination there of, afterward delight and evil motion, and then consent." His advice is, "withstand the beginnings!" Therefore, take care of your thoughts!
The great Prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad, said, "Temptation comes as a passer-by, then knocks on the door of your heart to be taken as a guest. But once you open the door to temptation, it will stay as a master!" Then man is doomed. Therefore, do not let temptation in! Withstand the beginnings. The moment temptation comes to you, drive it out with all the force you can summon.
Thomas Acquinas, one of the greatest saints of the Catholic Faith, when he was sixteen years of age, was locked up in a castle tower. A woman was sent to entice him to evil. "Let me flee," thought Thomas to himself. But every exit was locked: he could not flee. He then took from the chimney a burning log and chased the shameless woman away.
That is how everyone of us must try to deal with temptation, chase it away the moment it appears.
This leads us to practical suggestion number six. The moment an evil desire or thought wake up within me, I should immediately, without the least delay, push it out and punish myself. Beloved Dada always carried with himself a pin: and on his body, we found ,many scratches. When he was a young man, he kept with himself a stick. If an undesirable thought came to him, he would close the door of his room and beat himself with the stick, until his mind repented and promised never to entertain such a thought or desire.
One chilly, winter night, St. Francis of Assisi felt within himself, as never before, the rebellion of the flesh. He got up and found some brambles with thorns and, without hesitating a moment, lay down on it, crying out: "O Lord, it is better to suffer your thorns than to fall into satan’s hands."
St. Benedict lived a life of great austerity. He wore a rough shirt and lived for three years in a desolate cave, beyond the reach of man. His scanty food was let down to him at the end of a rope. Even there, temptation did not leave him. The memory of beautiful woman he had met haunted him continually and so impressed him that he was on the point of leaving his seclusion to follow her. Near his cave was a clump of thorns and berriers. Having undressed, he threw himself among them and rolled around till his body bled with many wounds. This continued to do till the fires of passion were quenched forever.
Many of us think that the saints are never tempted. That is not so. Only the other day, I read concerning a young man who complained to a saint that, after struggling for eight years, he had not yet succeeded in restraining his passions. "Eight years of struggle!" replied the saint. "For sixty years I have been fighting them in the desert, and so far I have not been spared a single day!"
Saints, too, are tempted even as we ordinary men are. The difference is, we easily succumb to temptation, saints overcome it and grow in spiritual strength and splendour.
It was Emerson who said, "As the Sandwich-Islander believes that the strength and valour of the enemy he kills passes into himself so we gain the strength of the temptations we resist."
Practical suggestion number seven.
What is it? I believe we all remember the adage which was taught to us in the school: "An idle mind is the devil’s workshop." If you wish to be free from temptations, keep yourself busy all the time. Our mothers were well aware of this truth, and they were specifically careful to see that their daughters were kept busy all the time. I know of a mother who, if she had no other work to give to her daughter, would mix a handful of dust with rice and tell the daughter to clean the rice. Today’s daughters spend their time in frivolous activities. They read dirty novels which poison their imagination and spoil their minds. They go to the cinema, houses of filth, they play rummy, they spend hours watching the video. Little wonder, if their minds become small factories of impurity. O ye who would wish to overcome temptation, keep yourself busy all the time.
A young man came to Beloved Dada and complained of being continually tempted. Dada prescribed certain disciplines, but the young man returned a few days later, saying that there was no improvement in his condition.
"Alright," said Beloved Dada, "come back early tomorrow and spend the day with me."
The next day, Dada said to the young man: "Take the books out of this cupboard, dust them properly, and keep on doing this until noon."
The young man followed the instructions and met Beloved Dada that afternoon. His cloths were covered with dust, but looked happy. And Dada said to him: "Go and take lunch, and after lunch, you will do the same thing to the books in the other cupboard."
The boy obeyed and when it was dark, he returned to Beloved Dada, exhausted. Dada asked him: "Tell me, my child, if you had any temptations today."
"None whatsoever," replied the young man. "I did not have the time."
Dada said to him: "Try to work that way, everyday!"
(To be continued; Author: Sri J.P. Vaswani)
· The willingness to humble oneself before God, the resolve to live a new life, the determination not to touch temptations even with a pair of tong, this is the first and most important thing. It leads us to practical suggestion number two.
· "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" is a very noble aspiration: but it must not be overdone. We must not indulge in a lot of retrospection. With a heart contrite and lowly, let us confess our sins, and then think of God’s mercy which can wash the darkest spots on our hearts. Let us not then think of our sins, for whatever we think of, repeatedly, to that we are drawn. If we constantly think of our sins, we shall be drawn to them, more and more. Let us not think of our sins, but keep our eyes fixed on God and His mercy, on God and eternal things, His goodness, His beauty, His purity and His truth. And we shall grow Godlike.
· Let us honestly confess our sins, pray for strength to live a new life, and then forget our sins. Let us forget what God has already forgotten. To my revered Master, Beloved Dada there came a girl who had gone ashtray. She shed tears of repentance, and asked for forgiveness. Beloved Dada looked at her penitent eyes and said: "My child, forget what God hath forgotten. Go and live a new life!"
· And what is practical suggestion number three? The more man turns to God, the more he realizes that he is a child of God. God is the king of Universe, the King of all kings. This makes everyone of us a prince, princess, a son or daughter of the King. If only I remember this one thing that I am the King’s son, I will refrain from doing wrong things. I will never stoop low. I will stand up to my royal dignity. I will never compromise with ideals.
· I recall what Beloved Dada’s brother, Shri Mangharam, told me more than once. His work took him to many places: he did not have a settled life. He came face to face with many temptations. There were occasions when he was about to succumb to temptation when, he said, the thought would occur to him: "I am a brother of Sadhu Vaswani. How can I do such an ignoble thing?" The thought was enough to give him enough strength to overcome temptations.
· In the annals of France is the story of the son of Louis XVI. As a young prince, he was handed over to wicked and vicious men with the express command that they should defile him and ruin his character. The vilest influences were to be let loose, so that this child of royalty might become the mockery of the enemies of the King of France. No boy, prince or peasant, had ever been brought face to face, with such shamefulness as that to which the young prince was exposed. Unmentionable were the temptations placed in his path, indescribable the company into which he was thrown. But to it all the young prince had only one answer to make: "I can not do that. For I am the son of a king!"
· Young men and women! Remember, youth is too good to squander after some things, too good to lie, to cheat, to steal, to take to drugs, to indulge in impurity, to poison the body, to drown the soul. "I cannot do that, for I am a child of a king!" is a good slogan for youth. Everyone of you is a child of a king, the king of kings. Everyone of you is a child of God. And there are things which a child of God must never do!
· Let us move on to practical suggestion number four. To a holy man I went when I was a little boy, and said to him: "Teach me a way to overcome temptations" He said to me: "I will suggest to you not one but three remedies."
· The first, he said, is to avoid occasions. The second is to avoid occasions. Yes, avoid occasions and in that way you will be free from many temptations.
· Mohan was a little boy who had just recovered from an illness. He was still weak, and the doctor had forbidden him to eat many things, one of which was cake. One day, Mohan’s sister entered his room, eating a piece of cake with another in her hands. The cake appeared tempting. But Mohan said to her: "You must run right out of the room away from me with that cake. And I will keep my eyes shut, while you go away, so that I should not want it!" Yes, the way to overcome temptations is to avoid occasions.
· A young man, who came to the satsang, was determined to change his way of life by avoiding evil occasions. One day, he met a dangerous occasion, a girl of questionable character with whom, at one time, he was very intimate. The girl invited him to her room and said to him: "Honey, don’t I mean anything to you? I’m still the same girl."
· "Yes" replied the young man, "but I am not the same fellow." Saying thus, he ran away as fast as his legs could carry him.
· Avoid occasions. You have heard the story of fruit seller who said to the boy who had been lingering too long near a tempting display of fruit: "What are you doing? Trying to steal one of those apples?" "No" said the boy, "trying not to!"
· In such a case, it is a good thing for a boy or a man to remove the temptation by removing himself. One way of winning is not to be defeated. And the way not to be defeated is to depart from the place and situation where defeat will naturally result.
(To be continued; Author Sri. J.P. Vaswani)
In the Gita, Sri Krishna gives us the mechanics of desire. Desire is man’s deadliest foe: and how does it work?
In answer to this question, Sri Krishna says: "Arjuna, desire, kama, lust enters through the outer gates of the senses and captures the fort of the mind and then invades the region of determination and will."
Therefore, if you are wise, if you wish to overcome temptation, if you wish to live a pure, peaceful, happy life, a life of freedom and fulfillment, you must guard the gates. Each sensation of pleasure should be to you a warning. Watchman! Let not the enemy in! When kama, lust leads the senses; the mind and the reason, the man goes swiftly down the path of decline.
Goethe was a great man. He was, perhaps, the greatest poet the world produced during the nineteenth century. But when kama, lust darkened his senses, he ran after girls in restlessness. Nelson was a great general who won many victories on the battlefield: he could not gain victory over desire. In the face of kama, lust, he crumbled. Nelson lived with the wife of another man. Shelly was a man of poetic genius; but his poetic intuitions were darkened by lust, and Shelly, leaving his wife, married another woman and the first wife committed suicide.
I could go on and on, but my time has travelled fast, and the question still remains: How to overcome temptations? What may we do to overcome this which is, perhaps, the greatest foe of man, man’s arch enemy, desire?
What may we do to overcome temptations? And so let me pass on you some practical suggestions, which I have found helpful in overcoming temptations. If I have time, I would wish to pass on to you thirteen practical suggestions. It is not necessary that all the thirteen suggestions be put into practice at once and the same time. It is enough if you pick up one of them and try to live up to it: you will be benefitted greatly.
Practical Suggestion number one:
What is it? Temptations are of various types
There is the temptation to gratify the senses;
there is the temptation to steal what belongs to another;
there is the temptation to drink, to smoke, to take drugs;
there is the temptation to overcome or eat forbidden food or violence;
there is the temptation to send out thoughts of ill will to others;
there is the temptation to speak harsh words or to indulge in lie;
there is the temptation to gossip, to spread scandals against others;
there is the temptation to waste time in playing cards or other frivolities;
there is the temptation to accept bribes, to indulge in unlawful profiteering, to make money by means fair or foul,
there is the temptation to evade payment of taxes.
There are a hundred and one other temptations. To be able to overcome any type of temptation, you must be ready and willing to turn a new leaf. You must decide once and for all that you will never, never fall into sin again.
Of St. Augustine, it is said that when awakening came to him, he prayed to God to be led into a new life, to be kept away from a life of sinfulness. And then he added; "O God, but not yet!" That is, he wanted to indulge in sin just one more time, before turning a new leaf. It is said that most people who flee from temptation usually leave a forwarding address.
If I wish to overcome temptation, I must be ready and willing to wash my hands off it right now and here, and I must be willing to make any sacrifice for it. No price is too heavy to receive entry into the new life.
I read of a wealthy man, the master of a big estate in England, who was on his deathbed. His thoughts turned to God. He had a servant, named Jim, who was a devotee of the Lord. To Jim the Master said: "Jim I am dying. I do not know what will happen to me after death. What can I do to earn Heaven?"
The wise old servant knew the pride of his master and he said: "Sir, if you want to earn heaven, you must humble yourself. You should be ready to go to the pigsty, get on your knees in the mud and say, God, be merciful to me, a sinner!"
The master said: "I could not possibly do that. What would the neighbours and servants think?"
A week passed by, and again he spoke to the servant: "Jim, what did you say to do to earn heaven?"
The old servant replied: "Sir, you should be ready to go to the pigsty."
The master said: I have been thinking it over, Jim, and I am ready to go."
The servant then said: "Master, you do not really have to go to the pigsty. You just have to be willing."
This willingness to become new, to renounce the old life of sinfulness and pride, is very important. We must humble ourselves, we must make a clear confession of everything before God or a God-man. When our heart becomes contrite and lowly, the way for us is opened to the Kingdom of Heaven. The prayer of the Sikh Guru is so moving:
"Infinite are my sins, O Lord, as are the drops of water in an ocean. Have mercy on me and take this sinking stone to the other shore."
(To be continued; Author: Sri. J.P. Vaswani)
There is a Bengali proverb which tells us: "The heron is a saint when there are no fish in sight." And there is an amusing little story told to us concerning a young woman who trained her cat to hold a candle stick in his paws while she ate dinner. This the cat did, night after night, and when the young woman felt satisfied with the cat’s performance, she invited her friends to dinner, so that they could see what she had trained her cat to do. The cat jumped on the table, got hold of the candlestick and sat there quietly. One of the friends spread the food on the floor, thinking that the cat would be driven to it, but was surprised to find that the cat sat motionless, holding the candlestick in his paws. Another friend held a piece of meat close to the nose but even that did not affect the cat. However, when someone who had brought a mouse in a box, opened the box and let the mouse go, the cat immediately dropped the candlestick and ran after the mouse.
We are like that. We seem to be safe in virtue, but as soon as we see some pleasure, we run after it, forgetting everything else, forgetting even our reputation, our family, honour, and prestige.
The question has been considered in the Gita. Arjuna asks Sri Krishna: "Master! why does a man commit sin against his will? What is the force that drags him, irresistibly to pathways of evil?" Many of us have had a similar experience. We think we do not wish to fall into. In our saner moment, we wish to avoid sin. Then suddenly, there wakes up within us a storm, and we are led ashtray. What is the force that drags us to pathways of evil?
In answer, the Master says to Arjuna: "You say that man is dragged to the path of sin. That is not so! For man is not a machine. Man is endowed with willpower, - the power of determination, the power to make his own choice. Man can never commit sin against his will. Man’s will consents, gives the green signal, before man falls into sin. And, Arjuna, you ask me what is the force that makes a man commit sin. The force is kama, desire, lust. It is the enemy of man! It is man’s deadly foe! Beware of it! And, never forget, that desire is insatiable!"
Significant are the words of the great law-giver, Manu: "Desire is never satisfied by the enjoyment of the objects of desire. It grows from more to more as does the fire to which fuel is added." And the Yoga Vashista tells us: "We think it is we who enjoy pleasure. But, in truth, it is pleasures that enjoy us. For a while pleasure always remains young and vital, it is we who keep growing old and get consumed in the fire of pleasure."
An old man of eighty met me. His hair were white and he walked with stoop. With tears in his eyes, he said to me: "Even at this age, I feel drawn to the sins of flesh. My body is become old, my limbs have grown feeble, but the pull of pleasure is stronger than ever before!"
Yes, desire is insatiable. There is the classic example of Henry VIII, called the "Great Widower." He married one women after another. He married six times. His lust was insatiable. He had to break off with the Pope of Rome. He said: "What does it matter? I shall set up a new church, but I must satisfy my lust."
Kama cannot be quenched. The more you seek to satisfy it, the more you add fuel to its flame. Kama, desire, lust, reigns over man’s unregenerate senses. His reason is clouded: he cannot discriminate between right and wrong: and there are no depths of degradation to which a man, under the influence of kama, will not stoop.
In our days, in the city of Pune, there was a man who lived happily with his wife for several years, until one day he met a girl. Lust woke up within him. He lost his appetite and sleep. He but desired to marry the girl. How could he do so? In Maharashtra, there is a law forbidding a man to remarry during the life-time of his wife. So he hatched a plan. To his wife he said: "You have not moved out of Pune for some years. Why should not we go out for a change to Mumbai?" They travelled by a night train on a moonlight night. There were only the two of them in the compartment. While the train crossed Lonavla, the man called his wife to the door of the compartment, saying, "Come and see the mountains in the moonlight; how wonderfully beautiful they are!" The wife, not knowing what was in store for her, looked out through the door at the enchanting valley. Suddenly, the husband pushed her from behind, and down she went, her body rolling on the slops of the lofty mountains. The man thought he was rid of his wife and would now be able to marry the young, pretty girl. Destiny had decreed otherwise. Early next morning, a shuttling engine passed by. The engine stopped at that spot for a while. The engine driver heard moanful sounds. Curious to find the origin of the sounds, he went and looked down the mountain-side, and saw the body of a woman lying in a cluster of branches of trees on the mountain slopes. Soon rescue parties arrived and the woman’s life was saved. The husband was tried in a court of law and sentenced to capital punishment. This is what kama, desire, lust does to man. It clouds his reason and leads him to his own destruction.
(To be continued; Author. Sri. J.P. Vaswani)
The lark felt tempted and wanted to know the price of the worms.
"Three worms for one feather from your wings," was the answer.
The lark thought this was an excellent bargain, and pulled out a feather from his wings, exchanged it for three worms which he enjoyed greatly, then spread his wings and rose again. He had not risen very far when the temptation to eat more worms became too strong for him to resist. Descending again to the garden, he bartered away two more precious feathers, had the great pleasure of eating six worms, and rose once again into the sunlit air. Balance and wing-power were lost, however, and the lark found it difficult to fly. And like an aircraft, that suddenly develops engine trouble, the lark crashed and was found dead in the lovely garden where he had met temptation and found it irresistible.
So it happens with man, again and again. He is tempted and, if he overcomes it, he grows in spiritual strength. But if he yields to it, he falls into sin. Gradually, sin becomes a habit which he can not resist: and he finds that he has become a slave of a tyrant from whose clutches he cannot find release.
Have you ever looked at a fly sipping honey? At first, it is very careful to see its legs are free. It sips on the edge of the spoon containing honey, saying to itself that after just one wee little taste of honey, it would fly away. But once it gets the relish of honey, it forgets everything and goes all out for it. And when it has had its fill, it finds that all its legs are stuck in honey: it cannot fly away. There it dies a tragic death in its sweet grave. Such is the case with man. He is lured into temptation by the thought of a little pleasure that he expects to get. Once he has tasted pleasure, it draws him to itself, again and again, until he becomes the slave of a habit cannot overcome.
Pleasure leads a man ashtray!
(To be continued, Author: Sri. J. P. Vaswani)