Change your instrument to change your perception

Our main objective is to lead people on the path of Self-Realization and make them to re-look at various facets of Indian philosophy and culture for effective transformation of individuals in particular and society in general.Take a few moments to indulge in some fantasies.

LOOKING WITH X-RAY EYES:
IMAGINE THIS: Imagine that science has figured out a way to place implants in your eyes so that your usual vision is transformed into x-ray vision. You look at another person and instead of the usually solid flesh you’re used to seeing; you see a ribcage, gangly bones hanging from it, and some strange shadows in the background. The person is still the same, yet you see her/him as totally different.

What is “reality” now? Is the fleshy person the real one, or the bony person?

Now, imagine that you have just received implants in your eyes that grant you the vision of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device. Are the blobs of contrasting color you see the “reality” of the person in front of you?

Next, imagine yourself with the echolocation of a bat, which uses sonar to locate its prey and to avoid mid-air collisions. You are now equipped with a device to project high-pitched sounds that echo back to you from any object in your path and provide you with information about its location and size. What does the world “look” like to you under these conditions?

Now, imagine that you have microscope implants in your eyes. You are looking at a yellow pencil cut in half. Instead of seeing the smooth surface of the wood that was your picture of reality before you got your microscope implants, you now see coarse shreds with sharp protuberances sticking out. Increase the strength of your lens. Your pencil has now become a lot of empty space dotted with small bits of matter floating about here and there. Where did your solid world go?

The world appears to us as it does because of the particular instruments we use in seeing it. Change the instrument- and you change your reality! Once, while laying dishes down for dinner, I had the uncanny experience of suddenly seeing that my whole organism was an intricate combination of countless activities involving blood, hormones, cells, movements of infinitely small size. It was as though for a split second I had taken a peek into the way all mechanism of the body, big and small, worked together. I was stunned by this split-second at the miracle of what it takes to keep this body going. For a short moment, I had had a different “look” at what we generally perceive as one, homogeneous organism.

We take the body for granted- especially if our health is sound. It moves, it speaks, it sleeps, it eats, it replenishes blood,and it mends wounds. This taking for granted happens with everything; the computer I’m typing on, the glasses on my nose, the telephone two feet away from my hand, the heater buzzing its warm song. What if we stopped a moment to take in fully what we have in front of us? What would we see?

Two revelations emerge:
1. Reality is not what it seems.
2. Every object we look at is the result of a confluence of countless forces.

Life is one

There has been a very good response from youngsters in trying to understand “what is life?” and “where we are going?” They are confused with traditional way of thinking and its solutions. It is not to be blamed on the traditions; but the lack of scientific explanations for the traditions and lacking of interpretations! They need to be informed the values in the language which they can grasp it. Canada Yoga Vedanta Organization is taking that responsibility and disposing that duty and dusting–off those powerful ideas and unfolding them to the man and woman of Toronto.

One sunny day some years ago in Rishikesh, North India, my eye was caught by the slightest of movements next to a plant sitting on the buffet near the window.

I saw a very, very tiny creature, near-caterpillar. I don’t know what else to call it. It was wormlike, but it had the friendly air of a caterpillar. It was smaller than the typical caterpillar, and its body was translucent. I could look beyond its thin, almost transparent skin and see inside its tiny form. Some miniscule points of black and brown were visible; they must have been its internal organs. Then the little creature moved. Just a slight wiggle of translucent flesh—and I was suddenly overwhelmed by one blinding thought: The Life in that almost invisible creature is the same life that stirs in my body.

It was such a simple thought, yet so powerful. I had heard it expressed by many spiritual teachers. I had read often that “Life is One”, with a capital L and capital O. But to have it hit home like that—and with the help of a worm!

“One principle holds the varied objects of this universe together, as a string holds flowers of different shapes and colors to form one beautiful garland. The plant, the animal, the human kingdoms- all are enlivened by this one Principle” says Swami Chinmayananda, the prominent twentieth century exponent of Vedanta, a metaphysical system of thought emanating from Vedic India. This overarching principle is the primordial ground in which all existence is rooted, the “beingness” that pervades all that is. It is the life force that drives your existence and mine, as well as the vitality pulsating in the worm and the amoeba. It is the “is-ness” of everything conceivable, both moving and unmoving. A good many spiritual-philosophic traditions of the world speak of it, though often tongue-tied and apologetic in the process, because words can never adequately describe it.

The sages of ancient India called it Brahman, the supreme Reality, choosing the verb root brih—with its two meanings of “to expand” and to “to nourish”—on which to build a word to describe something that both transcends and nourishes all things known. Simply said, all beings on this globe are united by the one life force that is common to us all. The sages of the ancient philosophic and spiritual traditions of the world tell us that the fundamental unity of everything defines our most essential nature. In my innermost nature I am identical with you in your innermost nature!

EXPERIENCE IT…
While sitting in a meeting, or within a circle of talking friends or family members, find a few moments when your active participation isn’t needed. Become very aware of your being. Sense your presence. Notice how you’re sitting, how your hands are positioned, where your feet are. Don’t move. Continue sensing your own being.

Then look at one other person and repeat the exercise with him or her. Feel that person’s presence, meanwhile remaining grounded in your own sense of being. Know that the other person exists and you exist, each separately, yet together. Experience the commonality of life in both of you.

As you become more adept at this exercise, you won’t need to wait for a pause in activity, nor will you need to concentrate on one other person to the exclusion of others. You can remember to experience your being anytime, anywhere—and become FULLY PRESENT IN THE SITUATION. You can open up to the being of others, becoming more aware and more sensitive to what is going on in the moment and what others around you are experiencing. If you do this exercise in difficult encounters, you will find that it takes the edge off painful confrontations. And in the case of interactions with people you feel close to, doing this exercise will bring you to such an intense feeling of identity with the other, you’ll have difficulty defining where the “other” leaves off and you begin.

When all thought of otherness is dropped, full identification with the other takes place. Looking at the other is the same as looking at you. You stare at the one with whom you identify, and you feel as though you were looking at yourself. This is a very pure form of love—not lust, but love. In the story of Lyla and Mejnun, the ancient Romeo and Juliet story from the East, after a painful separation of the lovers, Mejnun finally finds his Lyla again and stares at her in wonderment. He does not see her. He sees only himself staring back at him.

Otherness is at the root of many of our perplexities. Only when we see ourselves as separate from the rest of creation can we feel fear. In a state of separateness we readily interpret “the other” as a possible source of danger to our sense of self, our “I”. “What will he think of me now?”, “What if she decides against my promotion?” And out of fear, which is one of the most basic emotions we experience as humans, arise anger, jealousy, worry, and a myriad of other moods of the mind. Once we begin to feel otherness dissolving, or at least some of its precisely defined edge, we begin to feel relief from many of the negative emotions that plague us.

I remember a man I worked with who spelled the epitome of fear. Although confident in his field and arrogantly assured in his business interactions, human interactions for him were obviously a painful exercise. He saw every one else as his adversary, at least potentially so. The otherness of the other was severely pronounced in his thought pattern. He suffered terribly for it. Ridden by fear- of losing his prestige, losing his job, not making it in the eyes of the big bosses- he mistook even good intentions, outright efforts to help, as actions to be distrusted. No matter how successful such a man becomes, unless he learns to dismiss his overwhelming perception of the otherness of the other, he will remain a failure as a human being, and a miserable one at that!

How to free ourselves from our numerous perceptions?

A truly free person is one who can look at a tree and see a tree. Let’s ponder a little on how we generally look at a tree. For instance, just now I was looking at the big tree in my backyard. My thoughts run away with me the minute my eyes had taken it in. So, within microseconds, the tree I was looking at had disappeared. Or, you might say, I had disappeared from its environs. In fact, I was nowhere close to it. In a few quick moments I had leaped beyond the tree to my childhood in northern Sri Lanka, under the margosa and mango trees, and to the political reality of the failure of the democracy and the economic system of Sri-Lanka.

Such seeing is not seeing the tree. “Seeing” the tree as I did is being hopelessly bound in the cocoon of our own thoughts. While our minds wander the globe, we end up not being present in the moment at all. We are missing from the very moment in which we think we exist. That moment has become dead, as we have become dead to it. If we look at the tree and suspend our thoughts for a while, we enter a new, rejuvenated world. We are then fully present to see the tree as it is—not as we may describe it in our imagination or in our memories. We dream no brilliant futures.

That choice of less awareness gives us a view of life seldom experienced otherwise. The leaves of the tree vibrate with a new life, and the colors seem more vibrant. The limbs are positioned exactly right. The tree is complete, perfect. Everything is in its place and as it should be. We feel a wondrous fullness, a completion, a union with other things around us, even with the tree itself. This simple exercise of suspending thought in order to see a tree can refresh us and bring joyous meaning into a tired day!

TRY IT:
Look at a tree in your yard or out on the street. Take in the image of that tree with your whole being. Dismiss, in disinterest and with no emotion, any thought that may come by to pull you away from pure seeing.

As you look at the tree, try to feel its essence. Let it speak to you in its own language. Feel its perfection. It’s perfect as it is. The limbs are fashioned with precision. The leaves vibrate with life. Even the dry branch with its dead leaves has its role to play.

You don’t need a tree, for this exercise. Try it with anything a pencil, the moon, a spider sitting on your bathroom wall. Many of us, though, get a little help from nature in finding a peaceful break in our flow of thoughts. If you are one of those, then doing the exercise with a tree, a flower, or the moon may be especially powerful.

I remember a time when, surrounded by friends in an intense discussion about the meaning of life, my mind glided into such an intense mood of peace, such joy in simply being, that I listened, overjoyed and in awe, to the sound of coffee perking in the coffee maker and thought that in that unpretentious little noise, I was hearing the music of the entire universe. Hearing that sound was the auditory counterpart of truly seeing a tree. For a brief moment, I was truly hearing coffee perking!

The mind walks on our thoughts. The more thoughts we chain together by association, the stronger the bridge becomes for the mind to walk upon. When we cut back on the inner dialogue, we break down some links in the chain and allow for silent spaces between our thoughts. If we learn to stay intensely aware while in those silent spaces, we begin to see and hear the world in a newly vibrant and dynamic way. We actually give ourselves the chance to see a tree and hear coffee perking.

Try to imagine what our lives could become if every moment we were fully conscious of everything around us, we were fully seeing trees, pencils, people, we were really hearing babies cry, mothers weep, birds sing, we were smelling a rose as though we had never smelled one before. In such a world surcharged with the intensity of our pure, aware thinking, we could never be bored, no experience would ever be stale, and no thing or event would ever be taken for granted. We would literally be reborn fresh every moment of our existence!

Shift Your Thinking To Experience Peace!

The Essence of Vedanta is to show us how to transform the stresses of everyday life, whether at work, at home, or in the community, into meaningful exercises for self-fulfillment. Let us see “WHO AM I?”!

We define ourselves by what we do or what we have done. Our lives consist of citing names, dates, and lists to prove that all those things we’ve done have created a being worth his or her salt. But where was I in all this restless doing? And where did I disappear once the doing stopped? Now that the doing has stopped, am I still a worthwhile person – not even to speak of a person who might be respected, adored, praised? How do I define myself now, now that I am no longer a publisher, software engineer, gourmet cook, board member, or gardener

Most of us spend many years searching for ourselves – for our personal truth – outside ourselves. We seek that truth in a career, in parenthood, in undertaking impossible challenges. When careers get short-circuited in a demotion or layoff, when the youngest child leaves home for college, when a medal finally won, we are forced to stare nakedly into our own face and apprehend our essential identity.

Many of us dread that face-to-face encounter more than most other challenges of life. So we continue to add new layers of complexity to our lives as soon as any one layer falls away by accident or intention. We have barely left one job before we feverishly clutch onto the next opportunity, no matter whether or not our pocketbook allows us a respite. We finally succeed in abandoning an unfulfilling relationship, yet weeks later we’ve already engaged in another. We don’t allow life to become simpler. In fact, we’ve become experts in complicating it – and then we suffer from the ensuing worries, stresses, and endless complexities.

Our lives have much in common, yet each is unique. For you it may not be necessary to jump off the spinning merry-go-round in order to regain the center of your own truth. Many of us, though, are caught helplessly in the web of our activities, and we cannot begin to see ourselves unless we first make a conscious effort to stop. Once we make that stop and re-establish our inner balance, we can then continue to undo the frenzy – over and over again, while remaining in the midst of an active life. We do that by learning to use the mind in a new way.

You are what you think! If your identity is defined by the thought, “I am a talented software engineer” and then if that identity is further enhanced by the thought (probably never expressed out loud), “I am a worthwhile person because my talent has led me to achieve a respected position in my company”- you are never with yourself, never centered in your own being. You are also at the beck and call of the fluctuations through which your exterior identity may go. Position gone, identity destroyed. Position improved, self-worth soaring.

Thus, we dance like marionettes obedient to the strings pulled by the thrusts and changes of the world around us. The trick is to learn to think in such a way that we remain centered in our being no matter what changes may take place in the roles we happen to play (engineer, board member, gardener) or how intense the pace of activity around us may become. No need to quit jobs, change alliances, runaway from frenzied households. We can learn to push the ‘undo’ button while continuing with our lives as they are. We just need to shift our thinking! In the following steps (chapters) I offer some powerful ideas for creating such a shift in our inner lives. They also provide a series of exercises in undoing – in learning to find the quiet eye at the center of our varied storms!

The Solution To Our Everyday Problems Can Be Found As The Undo Button Within Us!

I envied my neighbor’s cat, who seemed a consummate expert at doing nothing, yet the cat exhibited no guilt over it. I found myself not very good at that cat-like repose. I always had so much to do, and I felt so very responsible for doing it. And if for some rare moments I succeeded in doing not much at all, guilt was sure to plague me.

Many of our lives sound similar notes of countless demands on our time, mental unease of one sort or another, and stresses of various kinds that pressure us with increasing tenacity from day to day. This is even truer if our lives consist of both working in a profession and managing a private life.

The in-box at work, whether on the corner of your desk or in the electronic mail program on your computer, seldom stays empty for more than a few minutes. When you’re at home the ardent telemarketer inquiries after your well-being, just as you finally head toward the dinner table. With dinner barely finished, you’re off to deposit your youngest at the piano class teacher’s door. Demands for your time and mind press on relentlessly. This pace is typical of the Western world. Every man and every woman, young or middle aged, are undeniably upwardly mobile in personal motivation.

Amid this frenzied productiveness, you sometimes may have felt tempted to push a cosmic “undo” key not unlike the kind you can find in some computer programs. You have just typed in a mess on your computer screen, and you reach for the button that says “undo”. Instantly, the clutter in front of your eyes disappears, and you’re back in the original space, now of course cleared of the complications you had mistakenly created.

On the macro scale of our lives, some of us try to push the cosmic “undo” button in various ways by quitting a stressful job, leaving the megalopolis-GTA to move to Montreal, abandoning an unsatisfactory marriage or relationship or taking a three month trip around south-east Asia. If we’re lucky, the step we’ve chosen to take allows the immediate pressures within us to subside, and we regain our inner balance. But many of us are lucky only for a while, until new pressures mount once again, making us feel bound hand and foot, prisoners inside our own lives and minds.

It can take a while to discover that the real undoing begins inside, not by merely rearranging the outer situations of lives. It certainly took a while for me—first to understand the idea and then to begin to apply it in a very practical way to my own life.

For years I’d been rushing daily work to attend to a pressured management job only to rush home at the end of an exhausting day to attend the needs of a family, going non-stop until bedtime. My mind felt as though it were pressed into a vice by the onslaught of thought on thoughts beating at the door of my awareness. “I must remember to e-mail that memo to Vatsi tomorrow…I probably should have forced an earlier cut-off of that lengthy discussion of alternatives at today’s planning meeting. The telephone bill and internet bills are due by the tenth, must not forget…Dinner party at the Rathy’s on the thirtieth, and did I RSVP?”

Now and then I would stop my dash through the day for a second or two to sneak a quick glance at a tiny poem I had tacked up some years ago on the bulletin board in front of my desk in my study at home.

“I am not eager, bold, or strong—all that is past
I am ready not to do, at last, at last!”
-Peter Canesius, 1521-1597.

It was a strange poem, one that seemed to speak blasphemy in the face of my upbringing that urged me to do, to accomplish, to be industrious conscientious, resourceful, and relentlessly strong, eager and bold. Yet, for years, the yellowing piece of paper with its simple, perplexing words continued to hang in my study, beckoning me toward a different kind of thinking from that which I was used to. I barely understood that way of thinking, yet I was inexplicably drawn toward it. It spoke to me of ways of being that had little to do with doing as we usually define it.

So I continued my dash through the complexities of life I myself had created around me. However, I kept wishing for a “undo” key to push that might unravel the cocoon of complexities around me and bring me closer to the simplicity that Peter Canesius seemed to be hinting at. For so long I felt close to suffocating, like a silkworm wriggling inside yards and yards of silk, unable to get out.

How to undo this cocoon I’d created? The rush seemed endless and the self-created pressures real. The need to succeed was overwhelming, and so was the inner push constantly to do something in order to prove to myself that I existed—and worthily so.

I had known for a good many years that the real undoing—the inner transformation that brings us to a new plateau of balanced clarity—begins inside. Yet, I found that impossible to accomplish while spinning at high speed on the carousal of activities I had chosen to mount. One day, I decided to get off the merry-go-round without even waiting for it to stop I quit my job. At first, I reeled from the momentum I had created. I could hardly keep my balance as my body kept lunging forward with the motion already set in its limbs. My mind too, continued at a frenzied gallop, even though many obligations had already fallen away. But in time, I came to a relative rest. My mind and I stopped the mad rushing long enough to begin to hear, feel, and think—simply to be.

In my case, as in the lives of many others, an outside event was needed as a catalyst for the inner act of clearing the mental dross and simplifying the emotional complexities. Yet I knew all along that the real magic—the liberating transformation we long for—takes place ultimately in the landscape of our minds.

That lesson I was still to learn through trial and error—and unrelenting practice. Over and over again, day in day out, I had to relearn, integrate, and put into practice a few powerful, self-transforming ideas that I had had the good fortune to be exposed to in my early adult life. This shows how to move away from a mental culture of finding all solutions outside ourselves to learning how to forge solutions inside. They show us a new way to be, how to liberate ourselves from our self-created complexities and learn to find our sense of self in naked simplicity of the moment.

While it remains a worm, the silkworm is confined to its cocoon. It bursts the walls of its cocoon of gossamer thread only after it undergoes transformation into a moth. We too, need to allow a profound shift within ourselves- a transformation- before we can feel the radiant simplicity of a liberated life.

If you are profoundly satisfied with every aspect of your life—every moment, everyday—-and wish for no deeper peace, understanding, or fulfillment, don’t read this book. If not, read on..!

This books is for those of us caught in the pace of life and work what we have come to known as “ the way of the Western World”. No matter whether we live in the west or in the east if we fit this type, we tend to be highly productive, goal-oriented, and responsible citizens of this great multi-cultural country, dedicated to the supremacy of the logical mind and to progress at all costs.

Many of us, however, have now and then taken a pause in the midst of our purposeful striving to ask: 1. Is all this effort worth it? 2. What’s the meaning of it all? 3. Why don’t I feel truly happy and fulfilled?

This book addresses many such questions. Although the ideas are thousands of years old, its application to today’s world is new. It’s also an introduction on shifting perspectives. By the time you have finished it, you’ll see what I mean. But for now, try a simple exercise…

Imagine This:
You are sitting in a chair. The chair is in your living room. The living room is in your house. The house is on the 140th block of Eglinton avenue East which is in the south eastern section of the grand junction. It is situated in the Scarborough suburb of the city Toronto. Toronto is in the province of Ontario. Ontario spans the southern region of Canada. Canada is part of the North American continent which is located on the planet called Earth. The Earth is the part of the solar system, which is the part of …

Has your perspective shifted from that of simply sitting in the chair?

This whole book is about shifting your perspective—by shifting the way you think about yourself and the world. You’ll find that the thoughts you think can literally make or break your life.

You’ll be looking at a way to accomplish the undoing of the you that gets in the way of your own happiness and fulfillment. By getting the current doer out of the way, you will unfold a new and powerful entity from within you, who will transform your life—at work, at school, at home, and at play!

How to remedy seemingly impossible unbalance that currently exists in our world? The continuous chatter of discontent has risen to a level that threatens to undermine the very foundation of spiritual awareness. Most choose to battle the unseen forces with bouts of their own negativity. This leaves those who seek peace feeling defenceless in the tidal wave of harsh cruelty.

The first internal question asked is “What am I doing here?” This is often followed by “I am never reincarnating here again.” Of course the choice will be made while in-between life times. However, exactly where does that leave you while completing this one?

We say that instead of allowing yourself to be a victim to a difficult reality, become a catalyst for a change of energy. Instead of feeling defeated, become a powerhouse of positive energy.

Making positive choices in the face of adversity will enable you to participate in the clearing of negativity. Start by assessing the energy around you. Feel the vibration and decide to do one thing differently. This will cause a ripple through the negative flow. It may take a bit of time, but a continuous exchange will make a difference in the timeline. Will your one attempt change the world? Most likely not, however, if all participate, there will be a feeling of difference, that if supported, will ultimately move all of you into a better place.

We agree there is a lot of movement required to alleviate the wrong in this place. Stand strong for a wave of united energy that can indeed make a difference. Start with yourself and your own personal interactions. At first, you may feel awkward because you are the only one. We state that eventually there will be others who join you simply because the energy feels good. Feeling good is contagious. So start an epidemic of warmth, forgiveness, and positive action and thought. Leave a trail love. There are others eager to follow. Let them without expectation. The destination is not out of reach.

THE JOY OF LIVING

Every one has the power to become a flower of love, we are just seeds and we have to help the seed to become a flower. Very few succeed actually as most are not committed and alert. The future is an illusion and the past a history. To be alive and grateful to the present is wise contentment. There can be either a negative or a positive contentment. The real is present.

When you look at someone dear to you, just look at the present in total with no comparison and you will see divine energy dancing ‘here and now’. Happiness is within us, declares the Gita. In the state of deep sleep, all of us are happy. Where does it come from? It comes from within. Look within and discover the joy of happiness—meditation makes you come in touch with happiness.

Growth oriented thinking allows us to grow. Thinking in a new way will open life in a new perspective. The sensual mind, which solely depends on the senses, perceives life in a limited way. One cannot receive the spirit of truth that is beyond the senses if one’s life is only based on the sensual mind. All the enlightened masters teach us to think in a new way so as to discover who we are and our relationship with the world outside.

The “I” in us is based on a sensuous mind filled with unnecessary thoughts, emotions, disappointments and expectations. In this noisy state, we hardly hear the real call of the soul inviting us to experience the world beyond. The sensuous mind transcends in deep meditation. Thus the sacred soul in us surfaces. It reflects who we are. We are the music of silence. In such a silence we can celebrate life and death, success and failure. The ego in us wants only success and life. Death is also a part of life.

Life is like a university. Those who love to learn to help one another graduate with distinction. To learn involves openness. Openness is an enlightened framework. One has to reframe all experiences with a quality of openness. Almighty can do anything for you, if you can give Him a chance, if you can give him openness. Being closed is like a cage where you are locked up. Openness is the key to enlightenment. Openness gives you serenity, as you are not hijacked by worry. Serenity opens the door for infinite possibility.

Tradition is like the footprints of truth. It is just wrapping. It is an outer layer. It is just only an indicator and not the indicated. But every tradition claims it has truth; it is like the shadow claiming the very object reflected as real.. One has to look into it to find out the truth of life. In order to discover the truth one should be open. Only in the space of openness one discovers truth. Truth is beyond likes and dislikes beyond tradition, beyond dogmas and beliefs. Such a truth blesses a person beyond concepts. One should be like a traveler open to see and explore into “what is” and not “what should be”. Also one should be like a tourist, who, while in Toronto, is thinking of Vancouver. There is no end to foolishness if one does not realize the truth.

If today’s humanity is going to survive the many threats against it, we need authentic preceptors and free thought Gurus exposing light and love into this dimension by uncovering the light and love inherent in all of us. Humanity is not a sinful species, but a community poised to be liberated through genuine compassion. Humanity is a community whose heart can stand in the brilliance of integrity.

People are able to let go of the beliefs that stand between them and their direct experience. Humanity is not its beliefs. We don’t need faith based moderates and appeasers arguing for the continuance of dimming our light and love, pretending that their avoidance and form-based conceptions, including morality, belief and moderation, are compassion.

The motivation of comparison to liberate sentient beings proceeds from an uncovered heart-mind. Until the heart is open, that is, free from beliefs, there can be no true compassion. Only through emptiness can compassion be understood. Transcending the effects of duality, all struggle ceases. The still nowness of life reveals the light within heart-mind. Embracing the reality beyond duality, the origin of ecstasy, where fear –filled pasts and hope-laden futures never existed, is the supreme goal. Transcending attachment of the objective world liberates us from the illusion of polarized choice. Without fear, there can be no hope. Without hope, there can be no fear.

Awakening spiritual understanding cannot occur in the past or in anticipation of the future. Enlightenment is a clear realization beyond the conceptual construct of any oneness. The oneness of duality is an electro-dynamic reality of compression and expression, expression and compression.

By secular enlightenment, I mean a fearless compassion for the liberation of all, so that all can rise to higher levels of bliss than is currently possible in the repressive, disempowering, disconnected society of today.

There are lot of terminologies like self-realisation, transformation of self and all connected with self. Students may wonder what are these and what do they denote Let us see what is this “transformation”.

 Mere philosophy and intellectual knowledge cannot stand in time of need, if one does not know how to use the essentials of that philosophy in one’s daily life. Applying theoretical knowledge and living with it in daily life for a genuine and everlasting transformation, one must practice a systematic method of is called practice.

Practice requires discipline. Discipline should not be rigidly imposed, but students should learn to commit themselves and accept discipline as essential for self-growth. Imposing rigidity and following it is not helpful at all.

On the way to self-transformation, self-discipline is indispensable to both those who live in the world and those who renounce the world and resort to monasteries. Even those who renounce their homes and duties still carry with them the deep-rooted samskaras sown in earlier lives. It takes a long time to become free of those samskaras.

Becoming a swami or monk is not so important. What is important is to accept a self-disciplined life. There needs to be a bridge between life within and without. Discipline is the foundation of that bridge. People should not be tempted by mere techniques, but should learn to cultivate discipline within themselves.

People have formed a habit of leaning on others. They always want others to help and tell them what to do and what not to do. This is a bad habit. You are a human being; you should take charge of yourself. If you become too dependant on a therapist, a preacher, or a healer, then what’s the difference between you and an animal? It means you are allowing your life to be governed by your trainer. By becoming dependent on such therapies and therapists, your power of self-motivation and self-guidance will never be allowed to unfold. The scriptures, the treasure house of the sages’ experiences, clearly state that self-help alone helps. For such self-help we need a sound method of self-training.

Among all the methods for training and therapies, the highest of all is self-training in which one remains conscious of one’s thoughts, speech, and actions. When you work with yourself you will notice that whenever you calm down your conscious mind, bubbles of thoughts will suddenly come up from the unconscious mind.

In learning to control the mind and its modifications, it is essential to go through the process of self-observation, self-analysis, and meditation. Learning to control the mind, and careful study of the relationship between the conscious mind and the unconscious mind, take a long time. Many times you may think that you have conquered your thoughts and your mind is under your control. After a few days, some unknown bubble arises from the unconscious and disturbs your conscious mind, thus changing your attitudes and behavior.

The process of transformation requires regularity and vigilance. Without regularity it is not possible to transcend one’s habit patterns or transform one’s personality. Patience helps one maintain regularity, whereas self-analysis and observation help one remain vigilant.

At times you may find yourself disappointed and depressed, but if you are determined and committed to self-training and self-transformation, you will certainly find help in one way or another. Do not worry about success, failure is a part of success. However, not to make an effort is wrong.

Take a look at the greatest marvels of human ingenuity and creativity and one will often find a seer’s unconditional love as the dynamic force behind man’s incredible feats. From the sacred temples of India to the great Sufi poetry of Mawlānā Jalāl-ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī and to Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, connections and relationships with self realized masters spurred these achievements and many of those in found in-between.

Places of samadhi of self-realized masters have become the epicentres for glorious temples, mosques, and churches. Unconditional love has inspired mausoleums like the Taj Mahal. The grief of parting with his spiritual mentor and guru, spurned the most popular poetry of the modern times of Rumi. A correspondence with an Indian guru helped Albert Einstein articulate concepts already declared in revelations by great rishis about the nature of the universe. Like these, countless examples emerge of the silent and invisible grace of self realized masters making the ordinary human’s life become richer by pushing him/her towards the only goal of self-realization.

The illustrious seers from around the world from time immemorial explored and mastered all subjects. By connecting with the Supreme Intelligence and with complete detachment from narrow identities of the small self, these seers objectively, in the absolute sense, investigated many “ologies”. Developing systems of exercise, music, medicine, mathematics, art, dance, cuisine, and even sex, the seers made sure that every avenue ultimately pointed to the Self within. Everything was meant to show that is the goal of human existence to seek that which is eternal and unchanging, the common denominator of the Universe, the Self. The seers hoped that by doing so, all of humankind can enjoy creation.

With many faiths and religions, it may be very difficult to find these contributions of seers as those who came after them veiled the true nature of the very religion or faith they now practice. However with Sanatana Dharma, it is so evident the absolute and unconditional love the seers had for humankind. Every rung of the spiritual ladder, from the very bottom to the unbounded top, is catered with so much encouragement and affirmation to meet the goal of self- realization. Bhagawan Vyasa, the saint that all Hindus should be giving first benedictions to, created the rich philosophical mythologies of the Mahabharatha and the Bhagavad Gita. Meant to make deep philosophical truths more accessible for the ordinary human, these mythologies were taken in the literal sense and has manifested as the blind ritualism of today’s Hinduism. Regardless of the current reality, Bhagawan Vyasa showered his grace in actually being the first to record the revelations from time immemorial of all the great seers and rishis into the meticulously organized systems of Vedas as discussed earlier. Many traditions continued to be passed down orally i.e. Ayurveda, Hatha yoga, laughing yoga, tantric yoga, Bharatha Natyam, and much more. In eastern Asia, self-realized masters created martial arts that were meant to tame the body and mind and help unleash the spirit.

 Mythologies of Sanatana Dharma

Puranas

The Puranas generally deal with primary creation or cosmology, secondary creation or dissolution and renovation of worlds, including chronology, the genealogy of the Gods, patriarchs, reign of the different Manus (called manwantaras) and the history of the solar and human dynasties and their descendents.

There are innumerable characters in the Puranas and none can be taken specifically as a hero or a heroine.

There are eighteen Mahapuranas divided into three categories of six each:

Brahma Puranas: Brahma, Brahmanda, Brahma vaivarta, Markandeya, Bharishmya and Vamana

Vaishnava Puranas: Vishnu, Naradiya, Bhagavata, Garuda, Padma, and Varaha

Saiva Puranas: Matsya, Kurma, Linga, Vayu, Skanda, and Agni

  In addition to these 18 puranas, there are 46 upapuranas (so in all 64) out of which 18 are considered important. They are under, known after their authors:

Sanatkumar

Narasimha

Naradiya

Siva

Durvasa

Kapila

Vamana

Ousasana

Varuna

Kalika

Bhargava

Nandi

Soura

Samba

Maheswara

Parasara

Ganesa

Vasishta

 

The Ithihasas

These are historical anecdotes centering around a hero and a heroine whose lives and deeds serves as inspiration for humanity, for realizing the four Purusharthas namely Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.Iti-has-asa” literally means “It so happens” and “It so will continue to happen”. So these can be taken as permanent histories of human life and endeavour.

The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two Itihasas in that chronological order.

Ramayana

Ramayana, which means “the goings of Rama” is the smaller of the two great epics of India and is anterior to the other more voluminous one, the Mahabharatha.

Through the generations, this book has exercised tremendous influence on the life of the Hindu and his culture. Herein describes Rama, the ideal hero, brother, king, son, husband, warrior, an embodiment of Dharma. In Laksmana and Bharata, we have the ideal brothers and in Sita, the noblest flower of Indian womanhood, devoted to her Lord in thought, word and deed. There can be no better text book of morals to be placed in the hands of youth to inspire them to higher and nobler planes of character and conduct.

Perhaps it will be news even to the vast majority of Hindus that the 24, 000 stanzas of Ramayana are amplifications of the 24 letters of the “Gayatri” and that after every thousand stanzas, the next stanza in Ramayana starts with the next letter of Gayatri in that order.

The names of the characters conceal in themselves meaning of metaphysical import which would us stand aghast in wonder and amazement. It would require a separate volume to deal with that.

The Mahabharata

This is the greater of the two great epics of India and in volume is more than eight times the size of Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey put together. In philosophical content, this is unparalleled in any other language or literature of the world.

This grand book of knowledge contains more than one hundred thousand stanzas in original- hence it is called “Satasahas-Ri”– in eighteen chapters, called Parvas, and is the monument work of the great sage Krishna Dwaipayana Badarayana Vyasa, commonly known as Veda Vyasa. He was the person who first collected and codified the Vedas. The central theme of the book is “Yato Dharma-Stato Jaya”- “where there is Dharma, there is victory”- unfolding ‘through’ the story of an intertwine war fought towards end of Dwapara Yoga, between two sets of first cousins of the same royal family.

The ultimate triumph of good over evil is the underlying theme of the Epic and again the story is only a vehicle to convey eternal philosophical truths of the highest order.

The book is full of lofty instructions on all aspects of human life and endeavour and is an inspiring saga of all that is great and noble in human trait, in striking contrast to the despicable depth to which man can go in greed and Adhramam and the glory that was India of the past.

The guiding spirit throughout the epic is the divine figure of Lord Krishna who brings home unto Him the pure and virtuous and exterminates evil and the evil doers. The Great Bhagavad Gita or the Lord’s celestial song occurs in this great book.

It will be interesting to know that the two great epics of India centre round two great women the world has produced namely Sita of Ramayana and Gandhari of the Mahabharata. These two characters are the crystallization of thousands of years of Indian culture and tradition and eloquently reveal what glorious status women occupied in the India of the past.

Temple Structure 

 The origin of the word temple can be traced to word the “templum” which were used by Roman soothsayers indicating a section of the sky and also a piece of the ground to gaze and mark divine signs for foretelling the future. Eventually, temple referred to a building constructed at the site. A Hindu temple refers to in Sanskrit language to Devaalaya consisting of two words namely Deva (God) andAlaya (House).

In Vedic Hindu view, an individual’s body is referred as a temple with the indweller as God. The Vedic seers (Rishis) having realized God within themselves gave designs and functions of temples in scriptures (agama shastras) of Vedic Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma). Its purpose is to enable a devotee to use a physical temple and the ritualistic worship as a reminder to the spiritual journey to be carried out within oneself. In addition, it also serves as a place for celebrations of Hindu religious festivals.

A Vedic Hindu temple’s architecture is a divine and yogic representation of a human being as shown in the figure (ref: Agama kosha by S.K. Ramachndra Rao). The feet represent the spire (rajagopura). The hands represent the walkway (prakaara) encompassing all around the temple. The main hall (mandapa) represents the abdomen. The entrance porch (antaraala) represents the heart. The sanctum sanctorum (garbha griha) represents the head. The deity is consecrated with religious rites in the sanctum sanctorum. There is proportionality between the size of the deity in the sanctum sanctorum and the sizes of the temple construction details.

The ritualistic worship (pooja) of consecrated deities (vigrahas) is carried out by priests on behalf of devotees to remind them of the inward yogic process of approaching the indwelling God. The various steps in a pooja offered to the deity with prayers and mantras (in Sanskrit) include steps such as washing feet and giving sacred bath using milk and water. Then with screen closed the deity is decoratively dressed with special cloths, flowers and ornaments. After the decoration the screen is opened to devotees to signify removal of veil of illusions so that devotees can see the beautifully decorated God. Then fruits and food are offered and incense sticks and lamps are waved to the deity. During the waving of lamp by a priest, devotees need to see with eyes open the radiating face of the fully decorated deity so that its memory will provide the spiritual joy. Then the priests distribute the sacred water (teertha) and sacred food (prasada) that devotees drink and eat for spiritual blessings. Thus the entire ritualistic worship can also be seen as expressing love, devotion and respect to one’s guest of honor. The joyful resonance between the external and internal worship provides the bliss.

The elaborate worship of consecrated deity along with sacred rituals with Vedic mantras and the materials used in rituals such as water, milk, flower, incense, sandal paste, bells, conch-shell etc is to help devotees to focus their mind on the Supreme Being. The Vedic seers have recommended the temple and rituals so that devotees through sensory experiences can spiritually experience the bliss of God. It is inspiring to remember the words of my Sadguru Sriranga, a seer-yogi, “The worship of deities and rituals in a temple should be carried out with child-like loving mind by the devotees as little children play with joy using their toys as medium.

Vedic Hinduism or Santana Dharma is based on the Vedas and Vedic literature. Solutions and approaches to all levels of inquiry into the nature of soul, universe and God are provided in Vedic Hinduism. Rituals, Music, Dance, Yoga, Meditation, Vedanta etc express its many facets. The celebrations of Vedic Hindu festivals bring out the various aspects namely religious, cultural, educational and social. A devotee focusing on the meaning of the Vedic mantras and ritualistic procedures will gain the spiritual knowledge. One focusing on the prayers and feelings in rituals will experience joy of devotion.One focusing on service in a temple will experience the joy of selfless service.

A temple plays an important role in providing a sacred place and means for spiritual development of a seeker.

A Hindu temple (Devaalaya) has not only religious purpose but also spiritual, cultural, educational and social objectives. It provides a place for devotees to focus and develop their spiritual insight. A Hindu temple in essence can be recognized in three forms. The first is oneself with God within. The second one is a dedicated room (with altar and deities) in a home. The third one is the Hindu temple in which devotees participate collectively that reflects the pluralistic nature of Vedic Hinduism or Santana Dharma. Thus a devotee needs to integrate all the three forms of temples to develop the spiritual insight and enjoy the peace and bliss.