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Archive for May, 2014


The primitive man used to live in jungles, surrounded by nature lived to fulfill the basic challenges of the acquisition of food, clothing and shelter. Today also, the modern man lives in jungles, except for the fact that these are concrete jungles, where breath is slightly choked and challenges ensconced in fear, stress, desperation and roller coaster rides to nowhere.

Those who have had an occasion to live amidst nature or continue to do so even now co exist joyfully as they are meant to do. Man has many lessons to learn from proximity to nature. On the other hand, those who have boxed themselves in the thick walls of expensive concrete may have boxed themselves enough within thick, impenetrable walls so that neither the experience of fresh breeze carrying the aroma of sweet smelling flowers nor the chirpy songs of the birds, not even the frolic of clouds in the sky can enter. To be away from nature is unnatural. It is true that staying away from nature hardens the human heart. Nature is the greatest leveler for the ego of the human being.

I am humbled by the trees! They stand unflinchingly tall in the scorching sun to allow men to rest under their shade. When they are laden with fruit, they bend over towards the earth as if bowing to it in gratitude. I learn to re invent myself each time I sit by a river. I watch it undulating, flowing steadily towards the ocean, its source. I see it weaving its way around boulders, finding new pathways, tireless, undeterred and determined.

I look at the vast expanse of the sky which integrates and shelters all Creation like a benevolent parent, loving and kind and I think to myself, “this is what we should learn from the sky: to integrate and accept one and all as different forms of the same Divine Energy.” As the seasons come and go, giving us warmth, rain, coolness and challenging our tolerance and adaptability, so too, life comes in similar phases, daring us to rise to every occasion and come through with flying colors.

Then, of course, there is the ocean. I cannot find a better example of the working of the human mind than the ocean. The restlessness of the conscious mind is so beautifully represented in the waves crashing against the shores and receding into the ocean as compared to the stillness of the depth of the ocean, as is the sub conscious mind which can be accessed only by diving through the surface layers of the waves. Therein, deep within the self, deep as the ocean, dwell peace and oneness.

So also, the mountains, the hills, the valleys, the grasslands and all other forms of Nature are teachers of the highest order of God, following the universal laws to perfection while, sadly, man disregards every spiritual law of co existence with Nature as he continues to live each day with a greater sense of self absorption and an unbecoming callousness .

If truth be told, every awakening dawn brings a new hope for the day as the sun shines its pure golden light upon the earth and each day, dusk merges into the darkness of the night, taking with it the day’s experiences and lessons, and, above all, a hope that tomorrow will be better than today has been in every way. Man, with all his intelligence, fails to recognize his troubles in life as being the result of a lack of this very awareness.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Surekha Kothari

www.BodyMindSoulCentre.com

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One of the most profound autographs in my autograph book is from the renowned cricketer Vijay Merchant: “It is not about whether you win or lose but how you play the game”. With such attitudes, a sport was the best way to build character. I say “was” because today, sadly, this has become a commercial venture. “Character” doesn’t figure in the current scheme of things. However, nothing speaks louder than the outcome of an event. So, character building is one of the most important lessons we have to learn from the mega event of the Indian Election drama of 2014.

When people are in denial of the kind of people they are or have become, they tend to become hypocritical and even aggressive in their defense instead of accepting their shortcomings gracefully. We have seen this during the elections in a big way. Defeat and bitterness have vitiated personalities to such an extent that there is no self control or dignity left. There is little desire to introspect individually or in groups although public statements are made to this effect. Even now, my guess is, the frenzy of activity is perhaps only based on the earlier single point agenda: how to hit out at Shri Narendra Modi where it hurts the most. And I fervently hope I am wrong!

The truth is well known to all. Anything done with a self seeking motive, compounded by harming another will only boomerang. There is an unseen Divine energy at work. What God has ordained cannot be plucked asunder by man. Desperate and repeated attempts at doing so is definitely self destructive. Hate is not and never will be an answer for anything. It only speaks of the spiritual bankruptcy of those who indulge in it.

Hate, or “Dvesha” according to sage Patanjali, is the opposite of “Raga” or attachment and both are not desirable. Hate is the equal and opposite reaction of attachment. In this case, the insatiable attachment to name, fame and wealth and a complete disregard for ethics and morality has led to hating a spiritually powerful man who has become the role model of a majority of Indians within India and the object of admiration and respect internationally, even if grudgingly by some. When the ego services the self seeking little self, petty belief systems occupy most of the space in the mind, barring the higher self from imparting the wisdom that would help the person reflect before the act. These belief systems comprise of thoughts such as,” nothing “worthwhile” is gained by the practice of obsolete principles like ethics and morality”, a completely destructive philosophy.

India is known for its deep seated inclusive culture and family oriented traditions. The values of sacrifice, tolerance, nurturing those around us and other similar attitudes make India a leader in spiritual living and endorse the principle of the oneness of creation. This was a way of life in Vedic times and those were peaceful, harmonious and prosperous times.

Today, when the vision of Shri Narendra Modi encompasses a wide canvas of growth and development, I am reminded of my childhood years. The head of a joint family even then, practiced the very same principles of taking the family onto higher levels of richness of health, wealth, harmony and prosperity. Sadly, today, when a P.M. Elect who symbolizes a patriarch with such a vast and inclusive attitude towards India, wanting to work towards the development of a “family” of one hundred and twenty five crore people, ironically, it is unpalatable to many. We definitely have to question our sanity here!

I can only say that contributing to the elevation of status and prosperity of India should be the only consideration for every citizen at this time, regardless of whether it is an erstwhile politician or a current one, or whether it is anyone else from any walk of life. Let us stop the politics of subversion and aspire for an illumination of India within the other countries of the world, because this is what India richly deserves.

Surekha Kothari

www.BodyMindSoulCentre.com

 

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Every phase in life urges us to introspect in terms of the conditions at the time, the imbalances and what needs to be introspected upon and changed. The Indian Elections of 2014 remind me of the movement led by the Mahatma Gandhi phenomenon which actually succeeded in making India an independent nation. It was a massive mandate given to one extraordinary individual. History has repeated itself with a “tsunami” wave hitting the country in the form of one individual, the Prime Ministerial Candidate of BJP. Ten years of indifferent governance has resulted in the earthquake triggering this tsunami.

Of course, the needs of the hour were different in both cases. But this would be, to my mind, a superficial perception. In the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna has averred and I translate,” whenever evil exceeds the good, I will come to the earth to put things back in order”. I am not labeling anyone as God. This message is more symbolic than literal. In a country torn with strife, divisive politics, corruption, a complete lack of governance, a disregard of the agony of the common man and above all, no intent exhibited to change any of this either, the sudden emergence of a man who promises all of these is evidently like chancing upon an oasis in a dry desert.

I always wonder why, even as individuals, we wait for a crisis to change ourselves. A general discipline always starts at the top. Examples are always set by those in authority which subordinates must follow. It is next to impossible to have an upright, honest boss and corrupt employees unless they have his permission for whatever reason. Of course, very often, as human needs take precedence over ethics, there will be some who will always try to work around principles to achieve petty gains. But, they should be aware that a chain of such actions may prove to be a web they weave around themselves which, over a period of time, becomes their prison. And a group of such people may create a prison for the entire group.

In the case of the ruling party also, we have seen a gradual decadence of morality and a disregard of the duties towards the people of this country. We have seen a distancing of those in authority from the crying needs of the citizens. There has been on the part of many in the party, an attitude of “making hay (for themselves) while the sun shines.” Logically, this must have been permitted by the upper echelons of the party, even if it is, perhaps, by turning a blind eye when this was happening under their vigilance.

My very simple contention is, we have forgotten the teachings of our elders. If we have been placed in a certain situation, we have a duty to fulfilling all the needs of what that situation demands from us. It is a moral responsibility and the attitude towards this responsibility shall be sincerity, commitment and integrity and nothing else. Again, my second simple contention is, if any party considers their first duty to be towards the task they have taken up, would there be any need for voting different parties into power based on a sense of frustration and anger or a feeling of being cheated? The one who always looks at duty with respect and a priority can seldom go wrong.

I keep coming back to the essence of every individual. Today, the News channels are filled with discussions about the worthiness of the parties and senior individuals in the party. Sadly, many of these prominent people come across as very angry, backed by a fear about their own “comfortable” existence. The vehemence they exhibit with their words and body language says more about who THEY are rather than the person they talk about. I guess, at this point, they are past caring about the image they portray to the world because dignity has gone out from the back door long ago. We have seen a lack of this wonderful quality in the mudslinging, abusive and chair-flinging in Parliament and a lot of it on the Television time and time again.

Have the politicians been conducting themselves with the propriety and dignity that commands respect? Or is there so much complacence that they can do anything and get away with it because they truly believe that the people of this country are deaf, dumb and passive? If this is the case, it is a huge mistake and this has become evident during the electoral battle of 2014. The desperate attempt to ostracize one man promising a rosy future to India and its people has been the most pathetic one to date.

At this juncture, the parties need to forget their petty egos and work together for the prosperity and, very important, the security of this country. It is amazing that blatant threats from neighboring countries also have not succeeded in removing the veil of greed and acts of subversion. Thankfully, the youth of today only votes in favor of development and growth and refuses to be swayed by any other considerations. They want to be led by a visionary towards the fulfillment of their dreams which transcend the narrow boundaries of caste and creed. The youth of today is actually looking towards a future which will focus on multi levels of inclusive economic growth and development.

The lessons learnt and to be learnt are many. But mainly, these elections have shown us that a change for the better is always required within every individual first , because it is a group of individuals that make a party. As is the caliber of each individual, so will be the caliber of a party. Mahatma Gandhi led us into freedom but thereafter, we gradually gave up our spiritual freedom to become slaves to greed. The need of the hour now is to unite and move hand in hand to elevate India as a nation to reckon with in every way morally, spiritually, economically, politically and socially. Only by harmonizing the center and all the states and its people under this great democracy will we lend true meaning to the flag hoisting on Independence Day and the sentiments expressed in our national Anthem, “Jana Gana Mana”. Just as a mother brings up her child that she can be proud of later in life, it is the responsibility of each one of us to create the nation that we can be proud of.

I AM A PROUD INDIAN.

Surekha Kothari

Website: www.BodyMindSoulCentre.com

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Being from the older generation, this saying was what we were brought up with. Today, the younger generation might scoff at such sentiments. I merely smile! I know that however much we “advance” materially, scientifically, mentally and socially, there will be little spiritual evolution if we don’t value or practice the ageless tenets of wisdom that have been handed down to us and which make India so special that the entire world looks up to it for spiritual learning.

Actually, spiritual learning is the inevitable side effect of simple living and high thinking. Some truths which many consider to be obsolete, are relevant in every day and age. But, often, they are misunderstood and often, personal material goals gain priority. The race for success obliterates the necessity for solid value systems. A system of compromises also has its own set of principles. For example, if we need to compromise the truth to save an innocent  life, it is permitted because saving this life is more important.

The fact is that it is not so simple to be simple. For example, can we say what we mean and mean what we say? Impossible! We prefer to project ourselves in a specially crafted image, maybe because we want to feel good wearing that image, or, maybe, we are aiming for some benefits and are trying to please those who will look at us favorably as we “seem” to be, in their eyes.

Our intrinsic simplicity is also taken away from us by the constant reactions by our ego to people and events which result in a huge amount of the ever piling excess baggage that we carry, often to our graves. Being simple would mean “letting go” and dropping all the ego related obstructions in our growth. But, we choose to carry for years some verbal war we may have had, some expectations gone wrong, some events that may have upset us and so on. If only we valued the present instead of holding on to the past! If only we realized that by bringing the past into the present regularly, the future will only have unwanted, repeated patterns of the past and each of us who cannot let go will be solely responsible for this.

If we are able to practice being simple, we will attract those people who value us for who we are. These are the genuine relationships which are transparent. But we are in a race for “contacts”. So, how can we be ourselves AND please everyone?

The philosophy of high thinking is one based on personal and social ethics. “Ethics” is a widely interpreted word today. In the more individualistic society, the definition of the word has changed. High thinking actually implies a clear and pure thought process which finally culminates in action for the larger good, which includes us as well. It implies that a “win- win “result must be arrived at by our actions in terms of something for everyone.

High thinking incorporates the value of love, tolerance, acceptance of everything as having the similar and the dissimilar qualities unified in Creation. It means a constant realization from within that this world is not our permanent home and that oneness and integration should be the motivation for existence while on this earth. As a consequence then, our merit would lie in the subjugation of our destructive ego and attempts to do everything that will harmonize our space and allow everything to co- exist peacefully.

Is simple living and high thinking simple? I can only answer for myself and leave your answers to you.

Surekha Kothari

http://www.BodyMindSoulCentre.com

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This morning, I was listening to an interview with Shivani of the Brahmakumaris. I don’t know of any individual engaged in the search for truth who doesn’t listen to her interviews with rapt attention. She has the art of making life so simple just by her analysis of what people do what they do and how they should think.

The feeling of “respect” is directly proportionate to the expectations we have. We say we respect elders, our family members and also some friends. But, at every step, we ourselves show that in reality, we don’t.

The simple fact is that we are constantly judgmental. If, for example, someone comes late, we get angry because we expect them to be on time. That person may have had reasons to be late but our expectations were that they should be on time because that’s the way WE like things to happen, punctually. This actually means that our expectations are making us unstable and unhappy. It demonstrates that we are giving the late comer power over us by basing our mental and emotional health on their actions. It also means that we want to control the other person and even the environment and cannot accept that just as we want the freedom to be who we are, so, we have to extend the same respect to others.

Another example Shivani gave is of expecting a child to get a first grade. A parent says words of encouragement to the child by saying,”you can do it”. But to add the phrase” or else” will spark off pressure of expectations in the child. The message we send in this case is a conditional one, that we may lose respect for the child if it does not perform as per our expectations. We are trying to control the child and not letting the child be in charge of its own motivation and goals.

While listening to Shivani’s interview, I realized that I don’t know anyone who actually has a genuine respect for anyone. It has been an eye opener. The moment our well being and happiness begins to depend on our ability to control people and environment through expectations, we don’t even respect ourselves, let alone others.

The transformational word here is “ACCEPT” the way people are. Separate the individual from the act. We have the right to set our own parameters for living but, just as we would expect that we are accepted for who we are with all our traits and personality, we must also give the required respect to others to continue to be who they are. Otherwise, relationships will always be in conflict and could even find a closure. Forget others, our relationship with ourselves will be in conflict because our minds will always be in turmoil.

Surekha Kothari

www.BodyMindSoulCentre.com

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