Thursday, 30 July 2015

Albert Park Lake and How to Achieve Peace

Albert Park Lake

Albert Park Lake
Last weekend, I went for a walk in the Albert Park with my kids. I actually dropped my elder kid at the Basketball training in the MSAC - Melbourne Sports and Aquatic centre and walked to the Albert Park lake which is just opposite to the place. Though, the weather was still a bit cold and windy with mild sunshine, I decided to go for a walk. It was a nice 120 acres lake with varieties of activities like, Kids play area, Barbeque area and a walking track around the Lake. What caught my attention was the birds swimming in the lake - there are Ducks, Swans of different varieties.There 
Ducks @ Albert Park Lake
are number of people walking, jogging, cycling, people having picnic etc. There was a young man, who brought lots of bread crumbs and feeding to the birds which was an interesting and happy sight to watch. I told that the lake area is a habitat to number of other interesting life species like Kookaburra, Sulphur crested cockatoos, possums and Geckos. This was one of the important places of Aboriginal Wurundjeri tribe, who lived here for nearly 40,000 years. Just about 3 Kms from the City, this is a nice area for people who want to relax and take a break from the concrete jungle of the city. There is ample Public transport, Tram no 12 which has a stop just nearby. There is also ample Ticketed Parking available around. This lake is part of the Albert Park which is about 260 Acres and maintained by Parks Victoria.
The place was peaceful and I was suddenly reminded of a wonderful verse from 2nd Chapter of Bhagavad Gita - Verse 70.
" āpūryamānam acala-pratistham
samudram āpah praviśanti yadvat
tadvat kāmā yam praviśanti sarve
sa śāntim āpnoti na kāma-kāmī
TRANSLATION : A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires — that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being filled but is always still — can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.
                                                                             (Bhagavad Gita As It is 2.70 by Srila Prabhupad)"
Ducks and Swans @ Albert Park Lake
Albert Park Lake
Albert Park Lake
The analogy of an Ocean by Lord Krishna explains that, one must be like an Ocean which is not disturbed by flow of rivers. And, the water levels of the ocean does not depend on the rivers flowing into it and remains steady. What this means is that, as human beings we are always bombarded by constant flow of thoughts and desires. The mind is always asking and desiring for things. You just go for a drive in the car and the mind starts its desires factory. You see a Coffee shop, it wants a Coffee, see an Ice cream shop, it wants an ice cream, see a furniture shop – it want you to buy that Great looking couch. One day, I was going in the tram and met a acquaintance and started talking. He showed me from the Tram window, a Couch / Sofa-cum bed and told me. “ Did you see that one ? I am waiting for my next salary and would buy it on the Pay day. Keep my fingers crossed, nothing else come up in between”. I actually, heard from a wonderful lecture on how to control your minds desires. Imagine, you are driving on a busy road in the city and you have your kid sitting in the front seat with you. He would be telling you so many things, how he needs this and that, looking at shops etc. And, as a sensible person, you simply ignore whatever he is saying and concentrate on your driving. And if he really needs something, use your intelligence to judge and act accordingly. Similarly, our mind is like a nasty, chatty child, who keeps on blabbering this and that. But, we should ignore that and focus our attention on our goal. Not that, you started at point A to go to pointB, meanwhile stopped at C, bought D, looked at E, F ... Z and came back home without going to point B.
Elsewhere in Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna explains hierarchy of senses, Mind, Intelligence and Soul. One more Analogy that comes to my mind is that of a Charioteer, where the Soul is the passenger, the driver is the intelligence, Horses represent the senses. Please refer to my previous blog post.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Your Inner voice – How to Listen and Act

What is this thing called the inner voice ? Well it is quite personal, guiding, caring, clear voice that seem to guide you, give you assurance and take you toward your goals. When everything else seems gloomy, scary and confusing, that something speaks from within your heart, the Voice that gives Courage, assurance and faith to believe in yourself - I like to call that as The Inner Voice. The voice of your ever well-wisher, the Supremely merciful God.
As Mahatma Gandhi said " Everyone who wills can hear the inner voice. It is within everyone." Everyone, Including the  President, Pope, a thief, a criminal ? Ok, I am not any of these but, still how do I know that whatever I am hearing which is supposedly an Inner voice is not my own imagination, hallucination or the mind playing the tricks.? 
I am bit hesitant to say, that a number of time in my life and I am sure many of you would have had the same experience of an hearing an inner voice speak. Please read on..
I simply, thought that I would write on something from Bhagavad Gita. I just thought of a random number in my mind, 10:11 and looked up in Bhagavad Gita and this is the verse that I found in Bhagavad-Gita As It Is and this verse inspired me to write about the Inner Voice.
“tesam evanukampartham
 aham ajñana-jamm tamah
 nasayamy atma-bhava-stho
 jñana-dipena bhasvata
TRANSLATION : To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.

Inner voice and Bhagavad Gita :- Lord Krishna at number of places explains that how he as Paramatma (Supersoul) is residing in the heart of every living entity. This does not mean that whatever actions a living entity performs for example, a sinful person is approved by the Lord. The supreme Lord tries to speak to the soul and explain him not to do a wrong thing but, like a when a soul like a spoilt child refuses to listen to him, he will regretfully sanctions it. So an Inner voice in the context of Vedic literature  means the voice of the Supreme God.

Other Interpretations of Inner voice :- Its interesting to note the use of this Inner Voice by various authors in different contexts. According to some, it a Intuition that comes from Mind, an inspiration, a gut feeling, the Psycho somatic indications and responses of one’s body etc. Some people talk of developing your power of listening to your inner voice by emotional intelligence, by brain exercises etc. Then some people talk of Holy Angels, Guiding Angels – how to recognise them, how to attract them etc. As I said in the beginning, there are some problems with people claiming to hear this inner voice. Because one's perception of inner voice depends on, one's level of consciousness and what a person considers an Inner voice to be. For example, a man was questioned as why he killed someone. He told the police that his inner voice told him to do. Similarly, people can claim or blame the inner voice to be the cause of their actions. Of course, in Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna says, “Yanti deva Vrata devan” in Chapter 9.25, people who worship, Demigods, Spirits, Ghosts, Ancestors take birth or go to them and one who worships him will come to him.

Conclusion :- As per the Holy scriptures of India, one’s consciousness  needs to be purified by practice of spirituality and devotional service. And, to the extent ones consciousness is purified, one starts perceiving the presence of Super Soul in his heart. But, generally it is advised that in the neophyte stages of one's practice of spirituality, when one gets or hears his inner voice speaking, he needs to check the instructions are in accordance with the scriptures and holy books. Furthermore, one is advised to take guidance of a senior devotee or a Spiritual Master on these matters. Because, who knows I might get an inner voice speak to me and say that, give up your job, renounce everything and go to Himalayas. But, that may not be the real inner voice but, a conscience or my Intellect that got tired of the busy, stressful, hectic life style. Then, what I have to do is to go to Bhagavad Gita and see what Lord Krishna spoke about renunciation, did he approve Arjuna to give up his responsibility and become a sanyasi or something else.? I also have an option of asking some seniors who would advise me about danger of giving up work, without our mind and senses getting completely purified.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Twenty Spiritual Instructions that will lead you to Moksha or Liberation

What is Moksha or Liberation ? Basically, it means freedom from the miseries and greatest problems of the life. As explained by Lord Krishna, Janma, Mrytu, Jara, Vyadhi - Birth, Death, Old Age and disease. These are the problems everyone has to go through in their life.And, on top of these or subset of these are the problems like,
The ādhyātmika duhkha or tāpa is that which is caused by bodily suffering and mental anguish. Hereditary diseases like Diabetes, disabilities like blindness or lameness and diseases caused by the violation of the rules of health and sanitation are classed under this. The mental agony caused by worries and anxieties, attachment and aversion, also comes under this group.
The ādhidaivika duhka or tāpa is that which is caused by daiva. The word daiva includes the power of time, nature and the unseen hand or fate. Diseases caused by the changing seasons, misery caused by the elemental forces like floods and fire, suffering caused by black magic or disembodied spirits or gods who are displeased, natural tribulations due to hunger, thirst and old-age belongs to this group.
The ādhibhautika duhkha or tāpa is that which is caused by other bhutas or living beings, like wild animals, snakes, or enemies.
Thus, some of these problems cannot be got rid of like a physical, hereditary disease like a genetic disorder and they needs to be endured. Some others like disease due to change of weather, Hay Fever , enemies can be countered by taking appropriate precautions.But, the ultimate solution to these sufferings is to back, back to godhead, to Vaikunta where there are no miseries. In order for this to happen, one has to raise above to the the level of spirit, connect ourselves to the Supreme God through Yoga.
The below is a nice forward I received from one of my friend.
Obviously, I am not a Master or practicing all these things to be telling others. Especially, some of the things like getting up at 4AM in the morning, I know some great souls who actually get up at 3Am and finish their sadhana of Chanting Hare Krishna Mantra on beads before sunrise. I cant do it. I struggle to get up at 5AM but, these are nice standards or Goals that someone serious about spiritual life should aspire to achieve. Please note my comments are in Italic.
1. Get up at 4 a.m. daily. This is Brahm Muhurt which is extremely favourable for meditation on God.
Yes, no doubt and I am able to do it some time. This is the time, the whole world is sleeping and there is noise or disturbances. Also, in shastras it is said, this time the Mode of Goodness is prevailing.As soon as sun comes up, your mind is running.I have to go there, do this, catch a train, attend a meeting so on.
2. ASAN: Sit on Padm, Siddh or Sukh Asan for Japa and Meditation for half an hour, facing the east or the north. Increase the period gradually to three hours. Do Sirshasan and Sarvangasan for keeping up Brahmacharya and health. Take light physical exercises as walking, etc., regularly. Do twenty Pranayamas.
I sometimes do Sirshasan and Sarvangasanand they are quite effective. Even, if you do for 3 to 5 mins, you feel great difference and energy in your body.
3.JAPA or Mantra Meditation: Repeat any Mantra. Personally, I chant
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare .... and there are other Mantras like
Om or Om Namo Narayanay, Om Namah Sivay, Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevay, Om Saravanabhavay Namah, Sita Ram, Sri Ram, Hari Om, or Gayatri, according to your taste or inclination, from 108 to 21,600 times daily.
4. DIETETIC DISCIPLINE: Take Sattvic food, Suddh Ahar. Give up chillies, tamarind, garlic, onion, sour articles, oil, mustard and asafoetida. Observe moderation in diet (Mitahar). Do not overload the stomach. Give up those things which the mind likes best for a fortnight in a year. Eat simple food. Milk and fruits help concentration. Take food as medicine, to keep life going. Eating for enjoyment is sin. Give up salt and sugar for a month. You must be able to live on rice, dhall and bread without any chutni. Do not ask for extra salt for dhall and sugar for tea, coffee, or milk.
Again, my personal experience is that when you eat heavy especially for dinner and also if you eat late, you next day is ruined. Firstly, you won't be able to get up early in the morning and the whole day you will be yawning and feeling sleepy.
5. Have a separate meditation-room under lock and key.
Yeah, its good to have one, if it is practical or make one part of your living room or any room a regular place of meditation. Have a Altar set up, nice pictures of Lord etc.
6. Do charity regularly, every month, or even daily, according to your means, say six paisa per rupee.
In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna  says that “Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance are not to be given up but should be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity and penance purify even the great souls.
na tyajyam karyam eva tat
yajno danam tapas caiva
pavanani manisinam BG 18.5 “
But, be mindful of whom you are donating to.Suppose you to donate to a beggar on the street and if he goes and spend the money you gave him on drugs and alcohol, you get a part of the negative karma.
7. SVADHYAY: Study systematically the Gita, Ramayan, Bhagavat, Vishnu-Sahasranam, Lalit Sahasranam, Adity Hriday, Upanishads, Yog-Vasishth, the Bible, Zend Avest, the Koran, the Tripitakas, the Granth Sahib, etc., from half an hour to one hour daily and have Suddh-Vichar.
Daily reading uplifts your consciousness and suddenly, your worries and problems don't bother you as much. You still deal with them but, hey this is not the end of the world.Plus, your consciousness is purified and you get higher taste etc.
8. Preserve the vital force (Veerya or Semen) very very carefully. Veerya is God in motion or manifestation, Vibhuti. Veerya is all power. Veerya is money. Veerya is the essence of life, thought and intelligence.
Unfortunatly, when we tell this to the youth, they will simply laugh and make fun but, this is a fact and all the Holy books of the world stress this point.
9. Get by heart some prayer, Slokas, Stotras, and repeat them as soon as you sit on the Asan before starting Japa or meditation. This will elevate the mind quickly.
Prayers are your personal shields. You get strength,protection, will power from them.Again, the simple and most sublime one is the Hare Krishna Mantra.
10. Have Satsang. Give up bad company, smoking, meat and alcoholic liquors entirely. Do not develop any evil habits.
I cannot stress this fact, a man is known by the company he keeps. One rootworm, one bug destroys the whole tree.
11. Fast on Ekadasi day or live on milk and fruits only.
Give some rest to your organs – Stomach, Liver, Heart and take time to rejuvenate.
12. Have a Jap Mala (rosary) round your neck or in your pocket or underneath your pillow at night.
For practical purposes the beads are kept in a cloth bag.
13. Observe Moun - Silence for a couple of hours daily.
Many saints and great people do this and have done this. It is said that if you practice voluntary silence with your mind focused on god for 10 or 12 years, they get a power called Vak Siddhi, means whatever you say will become true.At Least, helps one to maintain their sanity.Srila Prabhupad said, Chanting Hare Krishna Mantra is practicing Silence or Moun.
14. Speak the truth at all cost. Speak a little. Speak sweetly.
Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami defines eloquence as "truth spoken concisely."
15. Reduce your wants. If you have four shirts reduce the number to three or two. Lead a happy contented life. Avoid unnecessary worry. Have plain living and high thinking.
I dont need to extrapolate on this. Retail therapy might be good but, hurts when paying the bills.I know a friend, who decided to clean his Wardrobe after 2 years and found 20 unused T Shirts.
16. Never hurt anybody. Control anger by love, Kshama (forgiveness) and Daya (compassion).
Remember, what goes around, comes around.
17. Do not depend upon servants. Self-reliance is the highest of all virtues.
18. Think of the mistakes you have committed during the course of the day, just before retiring to bed (self-analysis). Keep daily diary and self-correction register. Do not brood over past mistakes.
Yes, repent for your mistakes and resolve to never repeat them.Dont loose your heart if you fail.Remember, as a kid you fell down so many time but, never gave up trying to walk. And, today you are walking with such a style and elegance.
19. Remember that death is awaiting you every moment. Never fail to fulfil your duties. Have pure conduct (Sadachar).
Srimad Bhagavatam says, with every sunset and sunrise you are getting closer to death and if you don't use your time to know about God, learn scriptures, your life is wasted.
20. Think of God as soon as you wake up and just before you go to sleep. Surrender yourself completely to God (Saranagati).
Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita 6.47 says,
yoginām api sarvesām
śraddhāvān bhajate yo mām
sa me yuktatamo matah
"Of all yogīs, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion." (BG 6.47) So one who thinks of the Supreme Lord always is the greatest yogī, the supermost jñānī, and the greatest devotee at the same time.

This is the essence of all spiritual Sadhanas. This will lead you to Moksh. All these Niyamas or spiritual canons must be rigidly observed. You must not give leniency to the mind. Share this with more brothers. Create awareness in this regard amongst friends and contacts. Within your individual field of reach, may you take these thought and deploy them to the masses, the saints through various media - print, electronic or any other. Please do not hesitate in this self-less work. Your duty is to give your near and dear ones this opportunity, leaving the rest to the Almighty One.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Tips from Alice in Wonderland

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Recently, I came across these lines and thought them to be quite profound and interesting. I must have read this book “ Alice in Wonderland” when I was about 15 yrs or so.In the above dialouge and exchange of words between Alice and the Cheshire Cat, we see some valuable and important points that needs to be incorporated into our lives.
Think about your life. How can you take a road, when you don't know where you want to go in life.? That’s why direction in Life is important. Firstly, know your current standing, make the wise choices and chalk out a plan of action. As it is said, time and tide wait for none. You never know, how quickly time goes away. Dont be in a position that after 5 or 10 years, dont regret for not making the choices, the right ones and letting the time go by.I know from experience and have seen people waste their time uselessly. In india, during youth make simply waste their time by sitting out in their favourite places (called Adda) like, a Cafe or Restaurant, on near bus stands and walls and all that they do is to simply, look at girls walk by passing comments etc. It might seem, lot of fun and enjoyment but, will get you no where except trouble and wasted life.
How can you get “there”, when you don’t know where that “there is”?
This is called, Goal setting. What is your goal. Dont simply dream that, yeah I will be a Doctor or a Engineer. You have to have a more realistic and solid plan of how you are going to achieve what you wanted. Use tools like – SMART specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.    
Know where you are going. Imagine this, suppose the Captain of a Aircraft makes the following announcement “ Dear passengers, I have a good news and a bad news.The good news is that we are flying at very high speed and the bad news is that , we don't know where we are heading to”. So going at a high speed, without knowing where you are going is simply useless and dangerous.
Association and the company that you keep is another important thing. It is said that, a man is known by the company that he keeps.Keep your self with like minded people and people that motivate and not that ones that drag you to the bottom. Don't become blind and follow another blind man so that, both of you fall in a ditch.
Take help and guidance. Dont be shy in asking people.You will be surprised how much people can tell you and teach.I know some people say, I am a self made made and I want to experience everything for myself.But, two things might happen. By the time you gain all the experience,you become old it might be too late to act or forget you past experience. I once saw a person wearing a tea shirt which had these words “ Been there , done that but cant remember anything”.

Alright, when I get some time I plan to read the whole book “Alice in Wonderland” and come up with some more useful tips. Till then, if you get a chance you read it and let me know how you went.

Friday, 3 July 2015

An interesting Number Plate - SATTVA

An interesting number Plate - SATTVA.I have see variety of them like 000, 007, Family names so on but, this one was cool. Found this, on an afternoon walk in the campus. I don’t know if this means something else in some other language but Sattva in Sanskrit means - Goodness and then, there is Rajas - passion and Tamas - Ignorance. Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita explains, that all the living beings in the material world are influenced by these three modes called Sattva, Rajas and tamo gunas.And Guna, literally means a rope. Thus, the way we behave, act and live our life is influenced and bound by these three modes.And, these three modes are always acting and fighting over each other to gain a supremacy, which means for some time
a person can be in the mode of goodness and at other times, in passion and ignorance. So, a person may be in the mode of goodness, in the morning while coming to work, may donate some money to a beggar in the street, at office he might become passionate and start arguing and shouting in a meeting etc. Thus peacefulness, happiness,tranquility in one’s life denotes mode of goodness, Lust, greed and insatiable desire for money denotes passion and laziness,depression,indolence,intoxication indicates the Tamo guna.The whole chapter 14 of Srimad Bhagavad Gita is dedicated completely to explaining about these three modes of material nature and how a Soul which is spiritual in nature comes in contact with these modes and becomes affected by them. Just like a pure rain water,
which by contact with mud appears muddy, similarly the Soul even though by nature is full of eternity, knowledge and bliss get covered and influenced by the three modes. How does a Soul which is spiritual, superior energy gets covered by material energy which is inferior.? Because, it is explained that we belong to a category called Thatasta Shakti or Marginal potency and compared to material energy we are anu or minute.
So what is the ultimate verdict.? We need to become situated primarily in the mode of goodness but that’s not the end of it. The mode of goodness acts as a springboard to transcend the three modes of material nature and reach a stage called transcendeal goodness or Suddha Sattva. Again, as explained by Lord Krishna in the same chapter, one who takes up devotional service to the Supreme Lord, at once transcends these  three modes and comes to the level of Brahman.
“gunān etān atītya trīn
dehī deha-samudbhavān
vimukto 'mrtam aśnute
TRANSLATION : When the embodied being is able to transcend these three modes associated with the material body, he can become free from birth, death, old age and their distresses and can enjoy nectar even in this life.

PURPORT : How one can stay in the transcendental position, even in this body, in full Krsna consciousness, is explained in this verse. The Sanskrit word dehi means "embodied." Although one is within this material body, by his advancement in spiritual knowledge he can be free from the influence of the modes of nature. He can enjoy the happiness of spiritual life even in this body because, after leaving this body, he is certainly going to the spiritual sky. But even in this body he can enjoy spiritual happiness. In other words, devotional service in Krsna consciousness is the sign of liberation from material entanglement, and this will be explained in the Eighteenth Chapter. When one is freed from the influence of the modes of material nature, he enters into devotional service.(From Bhagavad Gita As-It is 14.20, Translation and Purport by Srila Prabhupada).”