Sleep is for the trusting… April 16, 2013Posted by tharinid in Divine Inspiration.
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I saw a picture of a sleeping baby recently. All wrapped tight as a bundle, snuggled in the cocoon of its own warmth and radiating peace. And underneath the picture, the caption..“Sleep is for the trusting.”
A merging of two parallel streams of truth in my Conscious mind… November 6, 2012Posted by tharinid in Divine Inspiration.
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The Universe has this unique nature. It is an abundance of Love that wants to pour itself into wherever is an empty space or cavern of thought. It is ever waiting on you….for just a sign, a nod, a look of recognition, so it can come rushing to you, to grant you what you need, what you want even. The only problem is the blocks we set up against it. The walls we erect, the seeming impossibilities of conscious, limited, mental thought….where we insert our narrow parameters and expect wonders even from that place of restriction.
How is that possible? How is a miracle possible if it cannot expand, and move and careen into oblivion, beyond your notions of belief into the wild expanse of faith and hope and faith? Instead it can only bounce off of the 4 walls we have resurrected for it. And as with anything inside a box, it slowly loses momentum and dies. Taking a part of our hope with it. Leaving behind this dull ache of bitterness. Of cynicism. And hardness in the name of toughness.
The Bhagavad Gita had it right. Its main tenet is to lose the attachment to the result. Do your duty….but don’t wait on the result or expect it to be a certain way. Do and then Drop everything else after that. There is a reason for this. A beautiful, logical, scientific reason. Its not just a thing of nobility of character or a measure of the degree of our surrender. It is in fact pointing us to this very nature of the Universe. This beautiful maternal, paternal, eternal provider that wants to love, and without cessation, without encumbrance.
And our notion of a fixed result is that encumberance. Our fixation on that one ideal outcome is one of the 4 walls we have erected. The other 3 walls, are from our own Ego…our own sense of limited self that wants to stay within one body….one frame….one mind. That we cannot avoid, having born into a worldly realm and afforded a body to express our longing of Union. But that one remaining wall….that we have a say over. That we can ‘choose’ not to erect. That is our free will….and we can free our will away from building that wall. So that our longing…can escape into the Universe, gleefully out of our reach….where it is received with an eagerness of reunion….cuddled and asked to rest, for now the Provider can provide. With every resource at its disposal, It can stream and channel it in our direction….in a manner that we could not even have imagined, in our wildest dreams (because of our 3 walls)….full of love, and of a longing of love.
And here we are….carrying on the mantle of daily living….our faith and hope constant companions that makes us weep and laugh, exult and exhaust…patient and impatient. And there it comes….slowly and rapidly….simply and startlingly….awakening and calming….in the e.x.a.c.t manner in which we need it. When the desired meets the desirer….ah that Union!!! Ah the fireworks of that union that intermittently shines the light on the dark places….illuminating it before dying out. But not before you have seen what lay there.
From this is born a greater hope. A greater faith. Because Awareness has come into contact with Understanding of the ways of the Universe. The acquaintance turns into a friendship….the slow burn kind….taking agonising days, weeks, lifetimes, lightyears…..but growing steadily in intimacy. The love affair is now blatant and presumptuous and you start to take very many things for granted, but tempered with every sense of secret gratitude, because of the infallible nature of this Universe. Everytime you fall, it will be there to catch you. Everytime you want, it will be there to provide you. Everytime you take a risk, it will be there to buffer you with more than what you were willing to lose. And the adventure can begin….
Chanting the Gayatri… January 7, 2010Posted by tharinid in Divine Inspiration.
This is something I have taken up recently. Somehow when we chant the Gayatri at the Sai Center after bhajans, I find myself so itching and impatient to get it over and done with, and can barely wait for the 9th time of it to be over. So its a little surprising that it is this mantra that I took to for namasmarana.
I say this at times when my mind is disturbed, and influenced adversely by the words of people, or by my own wayward thoughts. And it happens often. Especially the latter. At first, I rush to it, like its my last refuge before the madness takes over. I literally plunge right into it, like a pool of ice cold water. And come up bursting for air after that initial shock of cold impact. I keep chanting it feverishly, the actions mechanical, not really concentrating on the words of the sound they make. 5-6 repetitions later, my heart is beating more normally, but the mind is still wandering. Back to the very same thoughts that prompted this self rescue mission in the first place. It is amazing how your lips can do one thing perfectly, and your mind another, both at the same time. Even with a mantra. At around the 9th repetition is when the power of the mantra steals over me and totally calms me down. The feeling is distinctly palpable, the difference in demeanour is that marked. It’s like my body temperature has adjusted to the temperature of the water, and finds itself floating, arms spread out, looking outward, but focussing inward.
By this time, my negative feelings have dissipated. The mind has found a tether, and a smile comes over my face. It’s the smile of peace. It’s enchantingly beautiful. Why would I ever want to leave this place?
I have read a lot about the power of mantra and till recently, that knowledge remained theoretical. Now, I understand how easily it can be practically applied to the challenges of daily life. Imagine having the resource within yourself, to get to a place where you find peace, emulate that peace, radiate that peace and finally become it?!
Saying a mantra isn’t a new age notion, set to modern music, nor is it just an ancient one of eternal wisdom. It is one of the simplest paths to peace, and just within reach. Try it.
Why me?….Why not me! December 26, 2009Posted by tharinid in Random.
Its hard to find a place to begin a post like this…it contains a swirl of thoughts on free will, and divine guidance and Divine Will, and what happens when we seek and when we don’t…
For several months now, we have been struggling with a particular decision now. On whether or not to buy a new dining table set for our home. Not the formal dinner table, but just a simple, elegant wooden table with a minimum of 4 chairs. The one we have now, while in good, working condition still, is a very low end one dating back to our apartment days, and its been 8 years now. So while we certainly didn’t need a new set, we certainly could have used a new one simply because it had been a while.
But so far, its been such that we could never find just the right one, that was simple-elegant-priced within range etc. We found many that we could well afford, but when it came to the moment of actual committment, we couldn’t do it. And yet, we still couldn’t let the idea of having a new dining set go. Today, we decided to finally approach the Big Man, and ask for His guidance, for a change. Now asking for guidance is not a simple one step process. Firstly, you have to actively bring your mind out of its restlessness and into a calmer state by invoking a few deep breaths and prayer. Then you have to examine all your motives for asking, and whether you are sincerely setting aside your ego, to completely surrender your control to Him. You should ask because you are sincere about seeking, not because its a fun process where you can test His omnipresence. And you have to brace yourself to accept whatever outcome there is. Its a cleansing process really, to get into the climate of truly seeking.
So we went through the motions and sought with all that we had, for an answer, a clear one, and a single direction to take. We closed our eyes, and opened randomly, to the page of a book of Swami, in the hope that the first words our eyes fell on would give us our answer. Both of us did it individually, to get a double confirmation. :) R’s answer was….Come to Puttaparthi. And mine was….Come to me with empty hands…I shall fill them with gifts and grace.
Its amazing the kind of varied interpretations you decipher. Confusion abounds on which one is His. Did you understand it right? Is this what it means? Once the dust of the excitement settles however, you do sort of know from within, what it means. R & I felt beyond a doubt, that it meant that we remain happy with what we have and not burden ourselves with more possessions. On a simplistic level. Symbolically, there are more colours to this interpretation, but the underlying message is still clear. And that should be the end of things, ideally, right?
Wrong. Because I still want the table. I mean, how difficult is it going to be to bridge the gap between desire and action towards fulfilling that desire? We do have free will, don’t we? How difficult would it really be to exercise it? In a moment of recklessness, we could very well go ahead and buy our table. Its not an earth shattering decision, one that is bound to hurt anybody. Its a simple table, after all. But then, its not. It is free will. We have the right and freedom to choose, and when we do, we also have the certainty of experiencing the full range of consequence it comes with. This is a simplistic situation, but we face many many other situations in our life where we sort of bulldoze our decisions for our lives, without seeking divine guidance and many times, despite it. So how then can we pause, when things go wrong in our lives, and ask of Him….Why me?
That is one line of questioning that has surely and certainly left me. I have rephrased it with…what can i learn from this? What is the purpose behind this lesson?…and pretty soon, its not hard to see how each situation in life is somehow scientifically designed for our personal growth. The way it has been customised is so damn beautiful that it is a complete cause for wonder.
A starlit evening of conversation… September 6, 2009Posted by tharinid in Random.
Last evening was the Friday of the Labour Day weekend. If I hadn’t broken my leg, we would have been heading to Galena to join friends for our cabin weekend getaway of 4 days. The thought played on my mind as I sat outside, helped by R down those very same steps where I had fallen. The weather was very pleasant and I enjoyed making the most of this lovely evening. Only, the spirits didn’t quite keep up. It felt a little lonely. Just me and the boys outside and R inside, still working some 40 hours from when he started. It didn’t feel like the beginning of a long weekend at all.
I knew I wasn’t really alone. Not really. Swami was always there, just a call away. And company is not always about the physical presence of others. And yet, a dull ache inside, a longing for some good conversation, an interesting chat, a prickling up of all my senses in delight at discovering a person’s insides….I was just in that mood.
The street outside was deserted. The boys continued playing. A neighbour from across the street walked over to say hi. She stayed 5 minutes and then left. My right side neighbour pulled out of his driveway, waving a cheery goodbye. They were meeting family for dinner. I was envious. And sad. I thought of the no. of days left for Amma to come. How nice if she was here just now. How nice if somebody I could talk to in the flesh was here just now! And just to distract myself, to give myself a peaceful focus, I took up my embroidery and kept at it.
About 15 minutes in this manner, and suddenly I heard a door open and shut, and voices emanate the house on the left. James and Laurie made an appearance to have their regular evening smoke outside and they smiled and said hello. They asked about my leg, how I was feeling, how I was doing and so on. And we talked. And we talked. And we continued talking. Pretty soon, they pulled up chairs next to me, and Laurie came out with a glass of wine. Chilled zinfandel it was and heavenly. From time to time, in between, I marvelled at how perfect their timing was to have come outside and that weekend mood that was there…it lent an air of relaxation to the scene. Laurie and I talked while James played with the boys, who took to him easily. We talked about her 21 year old daughter with 2 kids who is considering a divorce. We talked about James and his disturbed and abused childhood. I came to know these people a whole lot more intimately in the course of 2 hours than in the 4 years that they had been there. Cultural differences vanished as the pain of traumas past was revealed and shared. I marvelled at how much we are a product of our childhoods and yet, many a times, rise over and above it, to become functional people in our own right, despite the torn psyche of the past.
It was 9:15 by the time we decided to call it a night and it was only because the bugs were biting us royal, and the boys were famished and restless. And when I came back indoors, it was with a huge smile on my face and happiness.
Even though you know that you are not really alone….sometimes, when an unasked for prayers is granted in the e.x.a.c.t manner in which you need it to be, what you feel in return, in retrospect is above and beyond a simple gratitude. Its complete and utter humility at the magnitude of the love that was offered to you so compassionately, to put a smile on your face…and make your heart a little lighter.
Thank you Swami…for hearing me and hearting me.
A momentous journey of 10 days… June 8, 2009Posted by tharinid in Divine Inspiration, Sai Center.
The past 10 days has been perhaps, one of the most momentous times of my life. And to think I almost missed the opportunity to get on board!
I had made my peace with not going on the pilgrimage this time. I was really okay with it. And I also wanted to help out in any way possible. So when the opportunity came, I signed up and offered my services on Photoshop, given that I potter around with it all the time. And then I promptly forgot all about it too. All until, I got the mail 10 days ago, asking to be part of a conference call, to aid in the designing of a booklet to be given to Swami.
Throughout that day, I gave in to my oscillating mind, one moment excited at the opportunity to be part of something in this pilgrimage, and at the other swinging extreme, overcome with inertia to pick up the phone and be part of a call with a bunch of strangers. And till the very last moment, I wasn’t sure I was going to do it. Somehow, the kids were in bed, I got out of the room, and picked up the phone and dialled. And THAT was the start of my own personal pilgrimage. It has every element in it possible….the highs, the lows, the challenges, the triumphs, small and big, (but even the small was so big), new acquaintances turning friends, kinship, common goal, group effort, personal sacrifices, loss of sleep, days of being a night owl, working to deliver on time, working to iron out every imperfection for that ultimate masterpiece of effort, telephone calls late into the night, brainstorming, chats on multiple windows at every time of day….the regular, daily tasks to be performed on the side, meals to be cooked, kids to be dropped off, work to be attended to, sickness, doctor’s visits, fresh meals, getting through the day with bleary eyes and a beleaguered body but defiant soul……last minute printing fiascos, that left me weak in the knees wondering if it would ever get done, and then….that moment of final deliverance, when the outcome was finally certain and in the hands of the right people…..aahhh, He saw me through it all. During this period of intense work, I was in constant dialogue with Him. He was the one I spoke to the most, out of all the people in my life put together and it was His counsel that saw me through desperate times…or what seemed like desperate times in my limited micro view of it all.
When I handed it over on Saturday evening, the sense of relief was immense, but so was the sense of emptiness that I knew would follow soon after. Its always like that isn’t it…when you live, eat, breathe, and see only one thing for a spell of time, it becomes YOU, and when it has to leave you…you are so spent, so hollow with the resounding silence of that departure. What keeps me going now are the memories of some of those times…and the words that I received from the people who appreciated this book. My Center President told me this, and I will never forget it….He said…You may not be going on this pilgrimage, but your EFFORT is going there, even before all of us. It was only then that I realise what I had been involved in, and how huge my responsibility had been. Because till that point, it had been about working on my favorite software, with the chance to practice the art of paying attention to the smallest detail and perfecting it to my fullest satisfaction, fit for the King of Kings and the Lord of the Universe.
Dear Sweet Lord….I am eternally grateful and eternally in Your debt.
Jai Sai Ram!
I to we to Sai… April 6, 2009Posted by tharinid in Ceiling on desires, Divine Inspiration.
This is the idea behind the pilgrimage that Sai centers across Chicagoland and nearby regions are going to undertake the in the last week of June. Getting sanction for a group to come on a pilgrimage to Parthi is a very huge privilege and the opportunity of a lifetime to get within physical closeness of Swami. When I received these mails from the Center, I read very cursorily (not understanding the beautiful significance of it), and passed it off, because there was no way we would be able to go. 2 India trips in a gap of 6 months, meant a big bite into the pocket, and with R’s hectic work schedules, and the concern for the care of the kids, all combined, made me regard it as a very distant prospect for us.
That is all until I got a personal mail from one of the officers of my local Center with the same information of this pilgrimage I had earlier dismissed. He had addressed this mail specifically to me, asking me to attend the presentation this weekend. It troubled me, because I would have to offer yet another excuse of Winkie’s Sunday school engagement. Thinking I would send that mail later with my regrets, I moved onto a chore in the kitchen. And R who sat down with his coffee in front of the laptop, saw the mail and convinced me to go. He said he would drop me beforehand to the Center, take the boys to the temple for school, and then pick me up on the way back. He said it had come in my name, and I must not ignore it, for the sign it was.
And so, with some hesitation (since I was going to the Center after a whole year) and also a lot of excitement, to learn more about what this pilgrimage meant, I went. And just 5 minutes into the presentation, my eyes were welling up with tears and overflowing. For at that moment, I realised what a big blessing was being offered to the members of all these centers…to go as a group, stay there for a whole week dedicated to Swami, and be charged in that vibrant spiritual atmosphere. The person making the presentation had just returned from a monthlong stay at Parthi, and it was his request that Swami had granted, to give darshan to all the members here. Being there, in that surcharged atmosphere just brought the reality of seeing Him that much closer to me, and the desire to be part of the pilgrimage took fire and began to burn inside me. And only moments before, I had been of the mindset of…what was the need to see Him, when I was in constant dialogue with Him, anyways???
Its amazing how the very considerations of practicality which I used as reasons to justify not going on the pilgrimage, began to wither away, and every situation seemed to have a solution in my mind. Everything seemed possible, in the face of this once in a lifetime opportunity. But the fact that nothing is permanent asserts itself even here. The minute I got home, the world began to come into me once more, and the road blocks were up again. Money, time, kids, family, money…on and on it comes back in this loop. *sigh*. Its been a long time since I took something as such a huge blow. The last date for registration is April 15, and I will continue to torture myself until then, I am sure.
One of the nicest things that evolved during the presentation was the subject of unity and inclusiveness, to include even the non-pilgrims to involve themselves in the preparation for this trip. Volunteer services were requested for different areas to help ready the rest of the group even if they themselves were not going. One opportunity includes some proofreading, editing, designing work which I think I will volunteer for. It will afford me some form of contribution and help me lick my wounds. Another wonderful cropped up, to include non-pilgrims in the sadhana effort aspect as well.
Talk of sadhana reminded of one of the most important things in Swami’s 9 point code of conduct….ceiling on desires. It was something I talked about a long time ago and then conveniently forgot all about. Perhaps disappointments in life are good after all….they seem to have the energy to effect the climate of change. As for the change itself, time, and sadhana with Grace, will tell. For now, I have picked up the first desire I want to slowly, but surely, get rid of from where it is deeply entrenched, the desire to raise my voice, yell and talk in harsh tones. It simply has to go. So I offer it to Swami, on a little chit of paper, written proof of my sincere resolve, and hope that I will be able to kick it.
The mind is like a child… March 12, 2009Posted by tharinid in Uncategorized.
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After the end of a long and very busy day, I sat upright in bed, next to the form of my sleepy boys. They were about to nod off and my day was finally done. The weight of all the burdens I had been carrying settled on my shoulders, and I found my breath coming in short spurts. There was a definite need to slow down and relax the body and mind a little. I know its time to restart the meditative practice…that is the only answer for my state of imbalance.
Even as I close my eyes, I dread the onslaught of thoughts that I will have to endure. The number of times I will get led away into the swirling maze of mind-work, before I pull myself back to breathing again. The very idea of it knots up my shoulders just a bit more. I try unsuccessfully, to shake it off and just stay put. Breathe in and out, in and out….and I notice how short my breaths have been. The very effort of trying to breathe slowly and deeply seemed to pressure my heart. I stick with it, and soon a little voice inside my head gives me little directions to follow. Release the tension from your shoulders. Tilt your head a bit further down. Don’t clench your hands so much. Looose. Loose. And so on. By now, the breathing is a bit more regular, but my mind has started to wander away. Its amazing how incongruously it shifts from the breathing focus to something else random, and how firmly it attaches itself to that thought and gets led away. Several seconds would have passed, before I even realise what has happened and attempt to lure it back gently to the breath once more. On and on, this cyclical process goes, but the voice in my head urges in a gentle way, and inspires me to be less violent in my reactions to my wayward mind.
Its about 10 minutes now, and I finally find it easier to stay with the breath. Thoughts still come and go, but my ability to observe them and steer my mind back, improves. I begin to get lost in a place I can’t identify. I can tell from the way an immense pressure builds in my forehead, making it distinctly uncomfortable for me to relax. Its just one step short of actual pain. A buzzing sound fills my ears, and accentuates the discomfort of that point. From time to time, it clears and I enjoy a respite while succumbing to the unique bliss of breathing deeply and intently. And while I am suspended in this short space of time, a thought comes to me. It is not the usual train of thought of things mundane, from the past or the future. It is clearer and the kind that gives you a better understanding, almost as if it is rising deep from the seat of wisdom to give perspective. I am able to recognise this different quality of thought because it is so beautiful in its clarity that I know it can’t be the product of my muddled mind.
The thought is this, and it tells me that the mind is very much like a child, and is to be regarded thus in understanding its nature in order to know how to train it. If we treat our mind with respect, understanding and gentle love, it can be moulded ever so beautifully to the patterns of our innate discrimination. But if we try to assert instant control, with pressure and aggressiveness, it is going to be regressive and try to bound even more out of control than before. A point of illustration : Even in the process of the meditation that I was engaged in (rustic though my attempts are)….I had to treat my mind with respect and gentleness, whenever it wandered off into thought. By this I mean that I had to understand that the mind was following its natural impulses to be wayward, and it is important to acknowledge and accept this, while gently calling it back to focus. When I thus gave myself the gift of acceptance and love, I have a better chance of regaining control. But if I were to put pressure on my mind that it HAD TO stay with the breath and NOT FLIT AWAY with thought, that is exactly what it is going to do.
So the mind is like a child. You have to give it love. Understanding. Time. Patience. Loving effort. Grounding. And that is the only way to have any kind of mastery over it!
Back to Day 1! February 21, 2009Posted by tharinid in Self discipline.
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So a friend read my earlier ‘Day 1′ post and called me up to get inspiration thinking I had kicked the caffeine habit. And there I was, sheepishly telling her that I was still having coffee, though it was restricted to just one cup a day.
In the course of the conversation, resolve built again and we decided to take on the challenge together. So one week free of caffeine it is, with Saturday and Sunday being a treat, if we still feel like it. And today is back to being Day 1.
The feelings I woke up with were crazy. I took to observing my mind and the linking thoughts. There didn’t seem to be any point in getting up for the day, because I couldn’t have that blissful cupful. I woke up feeling a bit low in spirits, and then my mind started to try to convince me….after all, it is just 1 cup. What’s the big deal?
I had still decided to go ahead and make R his usual cup, and loaded the filter with enough powder for just one person. That process also tested me no end, and I thought I might as well fix myself some breakfast right away to escape the craving. But then, I didn’t want that heavy feeling so early in the morning.
So without any further thought, in went a cup of water for heating, out it came and I slipped a mint green tea bag inside. The job was done. I sat down with it and did not even want to taste it. But somehow, when I did, it was pretty good. And I love that fresh zingy taste that mint has. Sooo… much better than that not-fresh aftermath that coffee leaves.
For now, the craving is at bay. I think I will get through the morning. Hope the afternoon goes as smoothly.
The best way to learn… January 8, 2009Posted by tharinid in Random.
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You know what’s the best way to learn???…By messing up enough number of times. Yes.
I don’t think you can make a mistake once, learn from it, have it change you in that one opportunity, and then never make that same mistake again. I don’t think it works that way. At least for a majority number of people.
Hence, the best way to learn is to make the same mistake over and over and over and over and over again, until you get so sick of yourself and your inability to change, that you finally do. From that saturation, comes some discipline, and from that discipline comes transformation. Of course, all this happens over a period of time, and the age factor is also packed into it.
So that’s the secret folks. You want to change? Do the same old thing over and over again so that the energy and power it has over you is finally exhausted. And then….enjoy a new you!