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Lockdown Learning #1 – On Gautama the Buddha and his Path!

30 Mar

Lockdown Learning #1 – On Gautama the Buddha and his Path!

~a SwamyView insight

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Lockdown Learning is a new series of articles, through which #SwamyView on all things about ‘Life, the way it is’ is shared as insights, based on Questions raised by fellow humans, either seeking to comprehend something or simply expand their knowing.
This is the first article of the series.

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Questioner: Why was Buddha not convinced with any of the existing religions at that time? He did not choose to find enlightenment through Hinduism or even Jainism. He went ahead and created his own path… What could have made him feel that other religions don’t offer? I tend to agree that he did not start his own cult for fame or personal benefits.

First of all, let’s sweep aside all the misconceptions about Gautama the Buddha (he isn’t the only Buddha btw, every Realised Master that has ever been is a Buddha). We’ll refer to the great Master as GB from now on, to conserve some screen space.

Gautama_the_Buddha1sGB didn’t start a new organised religion. And no, it wasn’t a cult either. In fact, none of the Realised Masters to whom an organised religion’s founding is attributed to, ever actually intended to seed / start a new religion. That mostly happened after their time.

Vardhamana Mahavira (also a prince and grihastha with a child, his father’s name is ‘Siddhartha’ – not known to be related to GB though) didn’t found Jainism – he is just one of the Thirthankaras (not too different from Guru or messiah or prophet) in that religion, albeit one who is revered as God incarnation by the jains.

Jesus Christ didn’t found Christianity. And why would a ‘son of God’ propagate his own path, instead of his father’s, anyway? Jesus was in fact a jew, which means his religion (by birth and practice) was Judaism. And he was persecuted and executed by the Romans, who had their own belief system, with many a God. Incidentally, many jews don’t consider Jesus – referred to as Yeshu – as a messiah, let alone son of God, in Judaism. The organised religion attributed to him was founded by his disciples / followers, who believed his teaching, and the path based on those teachings, could offer salvation to the people.

Mahavira1Whereas, later day Gurus like Arutprakasa Ramalinga Vallalar, Ayya Vaikundar and Meivazhichalai Andavar actually ended up founding their own organised belief system akin to existing religions – Samarasa Sanmarga Sangam, Ayya Vazhi and Meivazhichalai, respectively. But even their systems have their roots firmly entrenched in Sanatana Dharma, which has been the ‘way of life‘ for several millennia, in this ancient culture. Vallalar’s magnum opus Thiruvarutpa actually has many verses in praise of Lord Shiva. He is known to have worshipped and sung the Lord’s praise in Kandhakottam, a popular Murugan temple in Chennai. Post his realisation, Vallalar simplified God as ‘jyoti’ (light), perhaps with the objective of eliminating the confusion caused by the vivid imagination of various God forms by devotees.  

TeachingofBuddhaGB chose the path of sanyasa, i.e. seeking the Truth through renunciation – of all materialistic attachments and worldly connections. It’s very much a path in the ancient culture of Sanatana Dharma, even now. Having been around two-and-a-half millennia ago, he must’ve certainly tried the methods and Sadhana (spiritual practices) of that time, which must’ve included severe penance, aka தவம். But at some point in time, during his journey along the spiritual path, he realised – to his utter dismay, most likely – that none of the known processes were offering the answer to what he was looking for (we’ll get to that in a few moments).

Shri Bhagavat Ayya, a contemporary living Master (in Tamilnadu), says that contrary to popular belief, Gautama the Buddha didn’t attain enlightenment by meditating under the Bodhi tree, but actually self-realisation happened to him when he sat under the tree in an almost despondent state, after realising that none of the sadhana he tried yielded the result he desired. This is not that different from the enlightenment experience shared by many other Gurus. Self-realisation, aka enlightenment, happens by its own volition, to/within a sadhaka. All sadhana is just preparing the sadhaka for that happening. 

GB did indeed show a different path to his followers, based on his experience of Reality. In fact, that’s exactly what any other Realised Master (Guru) too has done. Every single one of them offered a path that’s a variant of the original, where the tailoring or refinement is based on his/her own experience of realisation.

Sadhguru1For example, the core sadhana offered by Swamy’s Master Sadhguru is the Shambhavi Maha Mudra. It’s said to have originated from Adiyogi Shiva himself. Yet, Sadhguru’s version is tailored to eliminate the step(s) that will rekindle the sadhaka’s memories of past lifetimes, because most humans of this era simply aren’t ready to or capable of handling the stark facts about their past births. Sadhguru also emphasises the importance of knowing / realising the Truth (about Creator, creation, existence, et al, or ‘Life, the way it is’ as he terms it) through intimate direct experience and not based on how the scriptures or preachers describe it, since that’s the way he himself attained self-realisation, in this lifetime.

Incidentally, GB’s teachings such as ahimsa, renunciation, non-attachment, etc. are all very much part of Sanatana Dharma as well, one way or another. For example, the ‘yama and niyama‘ of Ashtanga Yoga (they are the first two stages of the eight-stage yogic path to realisation) elucidated by Patanjali Maharishi’s Yoga Sutras are nothing but a list of dos and don’ts, in terms of virtues essential for a seeker. Similarities such as these can be found in Mahavira’s jainism teachings as well.

GB didn’t include any kind of Gods in his teaching, possibly due to two reasons. And that’s purely speculation, of course. First, he didn’t find any God helping him attain enlightenment. That probably sounds pretty trivial, but it’s also a fact that none of the trinity, nor Devi, actually appeared to offer him self-realisation or salvation. But that isn’t surprising at all, since the manifest forms, i.e. Saghuna Brahmam of creator is typically left to the seeker’s choice. There are paths to realisation, using any form of God as the Paramatma, i.e. the supreme soul, with which the jeevatma (the individual being) aspires to attain union. So, a Devi upasaka chooses the path of Devi Shakti (the path of Tantra); a Subrahmanya upasaka chooses the path of the six-faced Lord Shanmukha (the choice of Siddhars such as Boghar and Pamban Kumaragurudasa Swamigal); a Vishnu upasaka chooses the path of the preserver among the Trinity (such as the path of Bakthi, chosen by the Azhvars); and the sadhaka who considers Adiyogi Shiva as the supreme soul chooses Shaiva Sidhanta or Yoga abhyasa (not for nothing is Lord Shiva known as both Adiyogi and Adi Guru – he predates all Realised Masters in this ancient culture). Alternatively, one can choose the formless ‘unmanifest’ form, i.e. the Nirghuna Brahmam as well, if one has got the guts and iron will to choose the abstract path to realisation. Sidhartha Gautama probably chose the formless or abstract form for his meditation is my guess.

Jiddu-KrishnamurtiSecond, he realised that despite believing in various forms of Gods and performing rituals to all of them diligently, people were still suffering. So he must have decided – most likely after his enlightenment – that it’s quite possible for anyone to be liberated from suffering (not just in this lifetime, but also permanently from the birth-death cycle), without actually having to believe in a(ny) form of God. If so, that would be a truly revolutionary approach to mukti, even during his time, preached by someone who himself is considered as one of the avatars of Lord Mahavishnu. That’s like God himself telling devotees that they don’t have to believe in him, yet they can attain the ultimate state possible for human beings! In fact, a contemporary world teacher such as J Krishnamurti too has eliminated the need for a(ny) God (or Guru, for that matter), in the pursuit of realisation of the Truth. JK neither identifies himself with any religion nor likes being called a Guru, despite the fact that he most certainly is revered by millions as a Realised Master, who isn’t that different from Gautama the Buddha himself!

Also, it may be surprising to know that there are quite a few Gods, or devatas in Buddhism, especially in the Tantric variants. Tara, for example is an important Goddess in Tantric Buddhist versions such as Tibetan Buddhism. Tantra in Sanatana Dharma has always been closely associated with Shakti, i.e. the Mother Goddess, who is considered the foundation or source of creation, according to Devi Bhagavatam and Devi Mahatmiyam. It’s quite understandable as Mother remains the sole source of creation, even in this digital era (even in a family of same-sex couple of two males, none of them can actually conceive, despite one of them being called ‘wife’). Moreover, depiction of Bodhisattva Avalokiteswara, the patron God or deity of Tibetan Buddhism with a thousand arms, quite possibly indicating the Sahasrara Chakra, (the opening, or blossoming rather – since it’s also referred to as the lotus with a 1000 petals – of which is an indication of self-realisation), also includes Sakhyamuni Buddha himself prominently. Oh btw, Buddhism hasn’t excluded karma either, and the reincarnation of beings due to that, unlike a few monotheistic religions. That idea has its roots in Sanatana Dharma goes without saying.

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GB is once said to have gone into a deep state of meditation – most likely Samadhi – and narrated who he is, by recalling all his past lifetimes, right from the single cell organism from which possibly all life forms in creation originated. This is in perfect alignment with the teachings of Upanishads and Advaita Vedanta, which elucidate on the source of creation as a primordial energy, i.e. Nirghuna Brahmam, one without form or attributes, or the unmanifest stillness (aka Shiva – ‘that which is not’), which eventually manifested itself into all of creation, i.e. the manifest universe and the beings inhabiting its worlds. In his realised state, GB simply perceived himself as that source of creation itself, from the very beginning of creation, and all its manifestations, till himself. This is exactly what the mahavakyas from Upanishads, viz., ‘Aham Brahmasmi‘, ‘Ayam Atman Brahman‘, ‘Ta Twam Asi‘ and ‘Pragnanam Brahma‘ state. In essence, he was expounding none other than the fundamental idea of Advaita, i.e. non-duality, which itself doesn’t require any reference to a particular form of God or deity.

Dhuni_Quote_1

So, there’s enough evidence to say convincingly that Gautama the Buddha’s findings and teachings weren’t so groundbreaking that they superceded every other religion or path that existed before. On the contrary, it’s quite easy to establish Buddhism as just another branch of the tree of Spirituality, that had been in existence long before GB came around. And that’s perhaps the primary reason why the religion whose founding is attributed to him, did not spread far and wide within Bharatavarsha itself, simply because most bharatvasis of that time must’ve been perplexed as to ‘what’s so new!‘ While he is certainly revered as a great Guru (Realised Master) in this culture, and even portrayed as one of Mahavishnu’s dasavatars (which directly links him to Sanatana Dharma), the fact remains that he is just one of the many Realised Masters who have treaded this land and guided thousands during and after their lifetime, to attain self-realisation and mukti (the ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle spiral). He just happens to be one of the popular Gurus.

Now to that part of the question regarding why he offered a different path to his followers. The primary reason for that is the fundamental problem for which he set out to find an answer. “Why is there so much suffering in this world?“, upon witnessing suffering in the forms of old age, illness, death, etc., for the first time in his life. Safely assuming that he belonged to some variant of Sanatana Dharma, before his quest to find that answer, he must’ve been familiar with the various religious practices (vedic chanting, homams or havan, elaborate rituals for various deities, learning & contemplation using scriptures, etc.). Though legend has it that his father carefully shielded him from knowing about ‘normal’ life (of human beings) and any form of scriptural learning (since it was predicted by scholars that he will become a renunciate and great teacher, at the time of his birth itself), GB was a prince after all and must’ve been part of, or at the least witnessed, many such rituals sponsored by his father. Even the epics Ramayana & Mahabharata must’ve existed in some form during his time, so he must’ve certainly been aware that even incarnations of Gods go through suffering in human form.

So when he eventually set out to know the Truth, his quest was probably not to ‘liberate’ humanity from the karmic cycle (which he may or may not have been aware of, at the beginning of his quest to realise the Truth), but to find a way to alleviate their suffering instead. Finally, post self-realisation, he concluded and proclaimed that “Attachment is the root cause of all suffering.” So his teaching was naturally tuned to eliminate attachment of all kinds, so that suffering too can be eliminated eventually. This is also why Buddhism is perceived as the path for renunciates, i.e. monks who have taken to sanyasa, choosing to renounce all worldly attachments, just as GB himself did. And it certainly seems to have worked, especially during his time (he did travel and preach his path for many decades post attaining enlightenment), when he had thousands of monks as disciples, including his own child Rahula. Incidentally Mahavira also did the same thing (walking out of a life of luxury and family of wife and child), though his path is inclusive of both sanyasa and grihasta ways of life.

BhagavadGita2a

Intriguingly, the removal of attachment that is considered essential to alleviate suffering in humans, isn’t new either. If one goes back a few millennia before GB’s lifetime, to the time of the great Yogi Krishna Paramatma (an avatar of Lord Mahavishnu, no less – the eighth one, preceding Gautama the Buddha), one of the most popular shlokhas of his teachings (enshrined in the eponymous Bhagavad Gita – considered the holiest of Sanatana Dharmic scriptures by many, even now) elaborates on how one must perform ‘actions’ without any attachment to either the actor or the outcome. It’s none other than the verse

Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,

Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhur Ma Te Sango Stv Akarmani.” 

Lord Krishna basically told Arjuna to get on with waging the war (of Mahabharata, at Kurukshetra), without being overtly concerned about the outcome. He also emphasised that not participating in the war was certainly not an option. Arjuna was hesitant to do so, since those who he had to face, and beat – most probably kill – were actually family. His decision making was obviously clouded by emotions and his subjective intellect was on overdrive, projecting a dreary future scenario, based on the vast repository of past information stored in the mind. In other words, he was ‘suffering’ due to the ‘intellectual thinking’ arising out of his mind, based on the past data, projecting a future scenario, preventing necessary action in the present. Krishna Paramatma’s way out for Arjuna’s ‘suffering‘ conundrum was to consciously ‘not getting attached to the doership and the outcome of the action.’ In essence, he told Arjuna to get rid of his attachment in order to alleviate his suffering. GB seems to have merely repackaged that teaching a bit, to suit the needs of people of his time.

In a letter to one of his disciples, Swami Vivekananda quotes the Bhagavad Gita verse and says,

‘Despair not; remember the Lord says in the Gita, “To work you have the right, but not to the result.‘ ‘To work‘ essentially means to perform an action. Actions can be performed effectively only if the actioner takes the responsibility to perform them. Both responsibility and performance are shaken when the actioner worries more about the outcome than the action. The cause for this is attachment. Objectivity requires detachment. And objectivity is essential for staying focused on the action, until completion. To put it differently, performing an action is akin to being in a state of meditation. Meditation, unsurprisingly, is one of the primary tenets of GB’s teaching as well.

1000349_10202443379629792_1133605306_n.jpgDuring his lifetime, GB’s followers seem to have comprised predominantly of monks (of both predominant genders), who have renounced material life and chose the path of sanyasa. This is known as the Sanga, one of the primary tenets of GB’s 3-fold teachings (the other two are Buddha and Dhamma). He is said to have had thousands of disciple monks around him, many of whom are said to have attained enlightenment as well.

Sanyasa isn’t an easy path to choose, yet it is very much present as a choice in Sanatana Dharma as well. Post the Brahmacharya stage, one can choose to be a Grihastha (life of householder) or Sanyasa (life of renunciate). Alternatively, even those who choose to be a Grihastha, can later choose Sanyasa, after completing their Grihastha duties and going through Vanaprastha. Therein also lies the clue to why GB’s path didn’t find many grihastha followers in Bharatavarsha. Interestingly, there have been many Gurus in this ancient culture who remained Grihasthas, even after their enlightenment, and continued to teach and guide seekers.

Lockdown_Migrants1Today, during the nationwide lockdown enforced to protect the masses from getting infected by the deadly virus pandemic known as COVID-19, we come across many a news article or visual crying out loud about thousands of migrant workers walking or transported back to their hometown, highlighting their misery and suffering all along. It’s quite obvious that they endure a lot of suffering during their existence – not just during pandemics or natural calamities. Yet, a significant portion of such poor population hold dearly on to their ancient belief system, passed on through many generations, i.e. Sanatana Dharma in one form or another, and not willingly shift en masse’ to a different faith such as Buddhism (for example), which was founded from the quest of a great Master who set out to find the cause of such suffering and alleviate it. It’s a fact that they do find solace in their favourite form of God and trust their faith to survive their existence filled with one form of suffering after another. One need to only witness the millions (literally!) of padayatris who walk hundreds of kilometres, year after year, to Rishikesh and Gangotri, chanting ‘Har Har Mahadev‘ fervently, to comprehend the sheer power of their belief.

Have GB’s teachings eradicated suffering from the world? Obviously not.

Were there not such teachings aimed at alleviating the suffering of people, either before or after the Buddha’s existence? Of course there were many – by many a Realised Master, not too different from GB himself (though many may not be that well known – limited to a certain region or even a particular place).

The reason why so many belief systems and paths of seeking coexist only in this nation is that all of them lead the seeker (or believer) to the realisation of the same / singular Truth (about the Creator, creation, existence, et al) and the ultimate liberation (from the suffering of repetitive birth-death survival spiral). Gautama the Buddha’s path and preaching were based on his own quest (to find a way to eradicate suffering) and ways of attainment (renunciation, meditation, etc). So are all the paths that were and still are in existence. Each Master teaches differently, yet they all guide their followers – seekers and believers alike – towards the same end state, that of realisation and liberation. That hasn’t changed for several millennia that have come and gone, and isn’t expected to change for several more to come. Teachers come and go, but their teachings continue to resonate with newer generations of seekers and followers. That’s why Gautama the Buddha is as relevant today as he was two-and-a-half millennia ago. Yet, the suffering that he tried to alleviate still pervades all sections of humanity even today, for which he (or any other Master, for that matter) can’t be held responsible.

Before we conclude this learning, two incidents in GB’s life are worth recalling, in order to truly comprehend this long-form response.

Buddha_and_Widow_taleThe first is a famous, oft-quoted, tale of a widow who requested GB to bring her only child back to life. Buddha, the ever-compassionate yet pragmatic realist, told her it can be done, adding an ‘if’ clause. He told her “If you can fetch a handful of grain (till or something similar) from at least one family in this village/town, which hadn’t seen any death whatsoever, and bring it to me, your child shall be brought back to life.” That poor grief-stricken woman went around, from door to door, seeking a handful of grain, but was left empty handed by the end of her seeking. For, there was not a single household in that place (or anywhere else, for that matter) that hasn’t seen death of a beloved member of the family. Everybody dies. And everyone connected to them grieves. That’s the harsh reality of existence. The woman realised that and became a disciple – monk, of course – of GB himself. This tale highlights one noteworthy aspect of the great teacher – his teaching was direct, bereft of any hard-to-comprehend fantastic expositions of Truth (typical of scriptures, puranas and ithihasas), and based on direct perception / experience of reality. That’s the primary reason it was so effective.

Buddha_first_sermonThe second, less known tale, has been shared by Sri M, a contemporary living Master, of the Nath yogi order (founder of ‘The Sathsang Foundation’). In his autobiography (two volumes titled ‘Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master’ & ‘The Journey Continues’ – highly recommended, even for non-seekers), while recalling his many past lifetimes, Sri M narrates his experience of being in the presence of Gautama the Buddha. This happens during GB’s now-famous first sermon at Saranath, when the world was about to hear from the new Realised Master, for the very first time. Sri M in that lifetime belonged to a lower caste and GB passes through his place. Sri M offers him water, which GB accepts and drinks. Then he invites Sri M to be part of his sermon. Sri M, being a lower caste person, sits away from the crowd of curious people who assembled for the sermon, and listens to the Master. The crowd for the epic first sermon of the Buddha was less than twenty people or so, apparently. And Sri M says, in all his lifetimes (which includes him being part of the epic Mahabharata battle at Kurukshetra, witnessing the great Yogi Lord Krishna himself in action, as a woman then) he has never seen a being that was as compassion personified as Gautama the Buddha, the great Master who taught his path to less than two dozen people in his first sermon. Swamy had tears rolling down his eyes, involuntarily of course, while reading this passage in that book. But GB certainly fared better than Adiyogi, who as Adi Guru Dakshinamurthy, had just 7 sages to transmit his teachings, which is the firm foundation of all spiritual seeking, till date. Yet, look at how much Adiyogi is revered, worshipped and fervently followed even now. Size doesn’t matter, after all, certainly not in the spiritual realm!

So, in conclusion (at last..;), there’s no question that Gautama the Buddha is one of the greatest Gurus (Realised Masters) of this ancient culture. The fact that his teachings still prevail is proof enough for their effectiveness. But there’s no denying the fact that his teaching, and thereby the path which is based on his teachings, have their roots in Sanatana Dharma. Just as there are many tributaries to the mighty Ganga Maa, there have always been many spiritual paths / organised belief systems that branched away from Sanatana Dharma. The beauty of this culture is its acceptance of all such tributaries as well, alongside the eternal mother river. That’s why teachers such as Gautama the Buddha and Mahavira were neither persecuted nor prosecuted here, but accepted and revered as a Gurus, and had scores of disciples who chose to follow their paths and put their teachings to practice. That in essence is the greatest aspect of our culture, highlighted in the saying ‘unity in diversity!

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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

Sacred Secularism!

15 Sep

This enchanting tale about Gautama the Buddha & one of his wonderful disciples was shared by my Master Sadhguru (shared as received).

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“Right now, during monsoon, the northern and eastern part of the Indian subcontinent is receiving heavy rains. In a season like this, Gautama the Buddha, who was otherwise continuously travelling with a large group of his disciplines, made a rule that in these two and a half months, the monks could stay in one place. Generally, the rule for the sanyasis or monks who were with him was to never stay in any place for more than two days. But during the rainy season, walking through the jungles would have been treacherous, and many would have lost their lives. Therefore, this was a time when they stayed in a larger town and spread across many homes.

During the day, the monks went out for alms. Ananda Tirtha, Gautama’s elder cousin, encountered a courtesan. She gave him alms, looked at him, a tall and handsome young man, and said, “I heard monks are looking for shelter. Why don’t you come and stay in my house?” Ananda Tirtha said, “I must ask the Buddha as to where I should stay.” She became really taunting, “Oh, you want to ask your Guru? Go and ask him. Let’s see what he says.”

Ananda went back to Gautama and put what he had collected at his feet. Everyone was supposed to find food and shelter wherever they go. So Ananda asked, “This lady is inviting me. Can I stay there?” Gautama said, “If she is inviting you, you must go and stay there.” Upon hearing that, the townspeople who were around were up in arms. They said, “What? A monk is going to stay at a prostitute’s home? This is it! This spiritual process has become corrupt.” Gautama looked at them and said, “Why are you so worried? The lady is inviting him. Let him stay there. What is the problem?”There are better highs than getting drunk. There are better highs than doing drugs.People started to get up. He said, “Wait. I am on this path because I see this is the most precious and powerful way to live. Now you are telling me her ways are more powerful than mine? If that was the truth, I should go and join her. As a true seeker, that is how it should be – if you find something much higher, you should go for that.” People were in high dungeon, and of course, many left.

Ananda went and stayed with her. Because of the rains, it got cold. He was only wearing a thin robe, so she gave him a nice silk wrap. He covered himself with it. When people saw this, they took it as evidence that he was going astray. She cooked nice food for him. He ate. In the evening, she danced for him. He sat watching with utmost attention. When people heard the music, they thought he had fallen. Time passed. When the rains stopped and it was time to move on, Ananda came to Gautama with a female monk!!!

This is the power of being on the path of truth. There is an innate longing in human beings to seek truth. They just need to be given an opportunity.

– Sadhguru”

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The rainy season practice mentioned in the aforesaid tale is still actively observed by monks of many mutts (Ashram) too, as ChAturmAsya vrata.😌

Chatur (Sanskrit) means 4 (doesn’t “Chatur bhuje chandra kalA vadamse” ring a bell!🔔). It’s a 4-month period, during monsoon, when many popular festivals are also celebrated. 🤗 This period is considered auspicious for performing DAna (offering / giving away to others), VratA (austerities including daily rituals & food), JapA (chanting MantrAs) & HomA (ritual havan or fire process for purification & specific purposes). 😇

There are a few interesting stories (what’s our magnificent culture without them 😏) about ChAturmAsya vratA that one can Google & enjoy. 👌

KAnchi MahAPeriyavA Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi aka ParamAchAryA (literally – Great Guru / Teacher) made its importance known to many by observing it in different places every year & disciples, devotees & seekers (considered the reincarnation of the great sage Adi SankarA, MahAPeriyavA is a realized Master who is physically no more but continue to be a living reality for many disciples) were delighted because it’s like having God incarnate come & stay in (near, to be precise) your place for an extended period of time rather than you going to their place for darshan. 🙌

Incidentally, Gautama, having been a Prince before becoming the Buddha (the enlightened one), would’ve not only known about this ancient practice, but would’ve also patronised SAdhus, monks & roving mendicants during the ChAturmAsya.☝ It’s but natural for him to follow it, albeit sans the rituals (which he consciously excluded in his path Damma PadA, so that any seeker, including those without any knowledge of the many rituals, can still seek to attain Mukti), which is the backdrop of the aforesaid story.👍

Considering every 3rd person encountered on the road these days is a selective secularist, soon there’ll certainly be a secular spin to the Buddha’s tale as well, as the necessary pieces to put together a puzzle are all readily there (& a bunch of mic wielding maniacal reporters chasing TRP are always around to share their silly sickular views on prime time TV as well). 🙈

Sadhguru, a living realized Master, has shared the tale of Gautama the Buddha,  one of the most popular realized Masters of all time, to shine the light on the power of spirituality, fueled by purity of purpose.🙌

Our ancient culture is abound with such enchanting tales from time immemorial, to ensure the safe passage of Truth thru time, for all future generations. In this tale, the subtly hidden message is about the auspicious nature of the ChAturmAsya period & the austerities to be observed / performed during that time, by all seekers.🌼

Since Mukti or ultimate liberation (from the cycle of birth & death) was considered the only purpose of being born as a human being in this awe-inspiring culture, such minutely detailed practices are given without any reference to religion, caste, status, gender & any such divisive criteria, which makes this ancient culture truly secular, i.e. Sacred Secularism. 😌

But the selective secularist pseudo intellectual elites, love to only use such tales to polish their silly perspectives on history. No sir / ma’am, no pre-historic or purAnic or vedic period exists in their human evolution timeline, as they continue to simply brush aside anything not written or spoken about by a western – preferably left-leaning – or western-educated scholar. BAUHumbug.. 🐙 So much for the secular spin 😄- that too in the name of realized Masters 👼- on our meaningful, purposeful & powerful ancient culture! 🙌 Shambho 🙏

Be joyful 😌 & spread the cheer 🌻

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy

Mystic Nation 1 – The God Conundrum!

18 Sep

ArtistSwamy6Swamy is fully aware of the pitfall of choosing a topic that’s pretty much guaranteed to raise passionate (and possibly violent – going by the recent murders of learned rationalists) reactions from fellow sheep, umm… humans, for the first post in the new seriesMystic Nation” (#MysticNation on social media) on demystifying the great #Bharat culture and encouraging + enabling it’s much needed revival. But having been born and brought up in this colourful milieu that survived not just one or two but many attempts at annihilation, century after century, it’s but natural for Swamy to pick a topic that exemplifies the truly liberal nature of this ancient culture.

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Bharat, aka India isn’t just a country of Gods (and Goddesses, of course – it’s important to be genetically correct in these neo-liberal days when fashionistas, feminists and femme fatales are quite vocal about gender equality – especially on primetime media, while remaining nonchalantly ignorant about daily reports on rape and other dire statistics that imperil their ilk), but a nation where you’ve the liberty to pick and choose a God. Any God, for that matter.

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KamadhenuStarting from the benevolent cow, worshipped as Gomata – mother cow, a benign being that’s quite shaken lately by finding itself suddenly on top of the TRP & trending lists, instead of its humble abode of Goshala – cowshed, because the argumentative Indian who worships the Holy Cow and drinks its milk by the litre everyday also wants to assert his right to butcher and eat her! What can one say, other than Mera Bharat Mahan!

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ArtistSwamy10Where were we… Oh, starting with the holy cow, you’re free to worship any plant (Tulsi – Basil), tree (Vembu – Neem), animal (Hanuman – Lord Monkey, Nandi – Bull), snake (many from Adisesha & Vasuki, and its abode, Putru that’s custom built by, umm… Ants), bird (Garuda – eagle), mountain (Kailash), stone (Saligram or Saalagram), geometric form (Linga – an ellipsoid), hybrid of human & animal (Ganapathy / Ganesha / Vinayaka /Vigneswara… – human form with an elephant head, Narasimhahuman form with a lion head, Hayagreeva – human form with a horse head), eerie looking beings (Kaaval deivam or deities of protection), king (Rama – Lord Ram), cowherd (Lord Krishna), female in a variety of moods wielding dreadful weapons or delightful instruments (Durga, Kali, Saraswathy, Lakshmi & a thousand other Devis – Ammans), beings with non-human features & superhuman abilities (Muruga / Karthikeya / Skandha with 6 heads & 12 arms who, as the General of Devas, extinguished Asuras like Surapadman), part male & female (Ardhanareeswara – talk about gender equality) and last but not the least, an alien being who wouldn’t fit into any kind of definition yet seem to encompass everything, even those beyond human beings’ feeble imagination, surrounded by dreadful looking demented beings (Ganas) and equally at ease in absolute silence or ecstatic dance or absolute annihilation or total bliss (Adiyogi Shiva)… The long list of Gods & Goddesses you can choose to follow and worship in Bharat is limited only by your imagination!

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ArtistSwamy9This idea of anything or anyone as God is certainly incomprehensible for those who grew up in any western civilisation, who from their childhood are brought up on a strict single God diet, eerily similar to some of those they despise and continue to wage war at – the other omnipotent God believers in the middle east, who would erase you from the face of earth without batting an eyelid, if you even dare to talk about their God. And of course, there are those who proclaim with pride their non-belief in a or any God – the atheists. And then there are also the antitheists who will beat any believer up black & blue with their vehement argument because according to them there’s not only no God, but there cannot be any!

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ArtistSwamy1But Bharat being what it was, is & will be, in typical chaotic fashion, one-ups all those binary (only mine, 1 or none, i.e. 0) believers with even more options. First, despite having a plethora of God/desses to choose from, you’re free to remain a non believer too (take that a/ntitheists), with Charvaka being a noteworthy example of this tribe. Second – and this one really takes the cake (modhak or pooran poli is more appropriate, considering today is Vinayaka Chathurti) – you can also learn how to create a God/dess! :O

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ArtistSwamy11Yep, you read that right! This is possibly the only culture with not only an in-depth science of Spirituality but also a practical technology called Consecration (no, not the Mantra-based one done every 12 or 14 years at popular temples with great publicity these days, but the Praana Pratistha process founded by Agastya muni who is considered to be one of the 7 disciples of Adiyogi Shiva, known as the Saptharishis) to create God/desses. That turns the whole Creator (supposedly somewhere way high up) creating the Creation, including us obviously, at will and basically hands over the power of creating the Creator to the Creation itself!

Know more about the science of creation from Sadhguru, a present day yogi, mystic & practitioner, in the references section below.

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… You may take a pause here, long enough to pick your fallen jaw from that Italian marble floor.
ArtistSwamy16As this is only the beginning of a – hopefully & sincerely – blog series (might become a book/s as well, who knows), instead of diving deeper into each and every God/dess mentioned here & then some, let’s look at the idea of God instead. An auspicious starting point would be none other than Ganesha or Vinayaka, Adiyogi Shiva & mother goddess Parvathi’s elder son (there are those who say Ganesha is younger to the younger son Muruga or Karthikeya, considered to be an accomplished Yogi as his illustrious mystic father), who is celebrated & worshipped across this Mystic Nation today – the auspicious day of Vinayaka Chaturthi.
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There are many interpretations of Lord Ganesha, aka Vigneswara, Vinayaka, Ganapathy, Modhakapriya, et al. Devdutt Pattanaik‘s ‘Decoding Ganeshais a good one to start with and can be found in the references section below. In a nutshell, Ganapathy (Lord of Ganas – dreadful looking celestial beings who are always found in the company Adiyogi Shiva) prepares you for the following, if you’re open enough:
ArtistSwamy31. Acceptance – By being depicted as someone who would typically be despised or laughed at in physical form (rotund human form with a pot belly & big elephant head), Ganesha symbolizes acceptance that goes beyond form, shape, hue, et al. Obviously, a valuable example in these troubled times of racial angst and outbursts the world over.
ArtistSwamy182. Equality – The little mouse that’s at Ganesha’s feet depicts even the meek or not-so-equals are accepted as company and taken care of. A useful insight for all supervisors, managers and, ahem, bosses.
3. Physicality – Vinayaka’s form & associated ornaments – snake being one of them, gadgets (axe & ankusa) & delicious food (modhak & pooran poli) depict the material aspects of Life that hold us back from pursuit of Truth, i.e., Who am I? Something worth remembering before you sign the EMI forms for the 2nd house or 4th car.
ArtistSwamy144. Possibility The little mouse (Devdutt enchantingly calls it a ferocious bandicoot) is even depicted as Ganesha’s vehicle – just imagine that! Well, that too is a depiction in typical Bharat style, indicating one must learn to look beyond the obvious. The mouse’s depiction as vehicle of the rotund God possibly depicts size doesn’t matter and nothing is impossible. In fact, Ganesha’s creation (first by Parvathi and then by Adiyogi Shiva – both accomplished Yogis with absolute mastery over all realms & forms) itself is a depiction of the possibilities of creation. An energising thought to ponder before you go back to the BAUHumbug routine job.
ArtistSwamy45. Truth – By nature, humans are tuned to sense the physical form, with their 5 senses (seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting & feeling by touching) and hardly use the 6th sense (thinking) to go beyond the physical realm. Considering Vigneswara is the eradicator of all hurdles, if one learns to see past Ganesha’s form (which itself is many layered and enchanting to know – depicting our desire to know & be with fellow humans, who too are many layered), he depicts none other than the Truth itself, i.e., Aham Brahmasmi or I am Brahman (the source of creation). It won’t be far from truth to say this is the precedent to the long-winding talks about ‘Beyond the obvious’ & ‘Thinking out of the box’ by many modern management & leadership gurus! 
ArtistSwamy7Now that dear reader – the freedom to seek & experience the Truth, going beyond the myriad forms of God/desses (one or many), is the sacred thread that still holds this ancient culture intact, even after many mighty warriors tried to plunder, destroy, rule and annihilate Bharat, over many centuries. In this Mystic Nation, God was never a conundrum, but a potent idea. Not just an enchanting idea about esoteric superhuman beings who looked like humans (because we sketched / crafted them from our limited imagination), but about beings who depict a higher possibility for humans to attain. To transcend the physical limitation and be free… be one with the eternal source of creation.
ArtistSwamy2Not only this Mystic Nation has many God/desses, it also had/s possibly the most number of enlightened beings (the yogis & mystics who have experienced the Truth & attained a state of eternal bliss, transcending the physical) that graced this planet, have devised mechanisms & paths for any and every human being to seek liberation, which was considered the ultimate goal of human existence, not reaching esoteric places like heaven or hell, after death!
ArtistSwamy5aSuch benevolent beings – starting from Adiyogi Shiva himself (celebrated and worshipped as one of the Trimurti, i.e. triumvirate of Gods, along with Vishnu & Brahma), who as Adi Guru Dakshinamurthy transmitted his knowing to Devi first (expounded as the 112 ways to liberation in Vigyan Bhairav Tantra) and then seven disciples known as the Saptharishis on the auspicious Guru Purnima, the pantheon of enlightened beings is long, including but not limited to Lord Muruga (who is said to have left his physical form in a rare standing posture at the Kumaraparvata mountain), Lord Krishna (considered one of the greatest yogis ever to tread this land), Gautama the Buddha (founder of Buddhism who at a point in time is said to have had thousands of enlightened beings as disciples), Rishabha (presumed to be the founder of Jainism), Goraknath, Akkamadevi, Sadasiva Brahmendra, Sri Palani Swami, Sadhguru Sri BrahmaLahiri MahasayaSri Yukteswar Giri, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Sivananda, Ramana Maharishi, Osho, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta MaharajRamalinga Vallalar and many more.
Sadhguru_Quote3Such beings are still among us – a few well known and many unknown. One such is Swamy’s Master Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of Isha Foundation. And with deep reverence, Swamy submits this first post of his new “Mystic Nation” (#MysticNation) series at the lotus feet of his enlightened Master, whose boundless grace will shine the light on this new path Swamy has chosen to tread, with limited experience but unlimited enthusiasm. Shambho _/\_
… enchantment will flow…
@PrakashSwamy
Note: All sketches & paintings (except Kamadhenu) are Swamy’s own creations – out of imagination or inspired by other skilled artists – drawn during his youth.
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edited_1442284271572References:
Decoding Ganesha – Devdutt Pattanaik

Swamystery in 2014!

31 Dec Realization

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for Swamystery blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,100 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

From Ordinary to Extra Ordinary!

25 Feb

If you’ve read the title of the post at least one more time just to check if it’s right, be assured you aren’t alone. ‘Ordinary to Extraordinary’ is one of my Master’s many discourses (all are available as DVDs, Audio CDs or in digital form here) and the title of this post is its core message. Hmm… since I sense a few raised eyebrows already, let Swamy clarify it his way!

We all read, hear, know about extraordinary accomplishments by ordinary or extraordinary individuals or teams, time and again. Some of you may’ve even been a part of some of them (no, I’m pretty sure I haven’t been, at least not yet). But our typical human sense (many call it – overrated – 6th sense and some – honestly – nonsense) of getting overawed by anything and everything that we haven’t (or can’t or wouldn’t) done ourselves won’t let us see through them clearly enough to comprehend, understand and appreciate how they had to step down first to step up eventually.

Ordinary to Extra Ordinary is willing to step down from the high pedestal.

BhagavadGitaArjuna always thought of Krishna as his friend, until the day when he stood in front of his blood brothers and elders with the Hobson’s choice of obliterating them. The moment he climbed down from the high pedestal of the extraordinary archer who can annihilate any opposition and bowed down before Lord Krishna for clarity, not only did he get Vishwaroopa darshan of the Lord and cleared away the cobwebs in his mind, but the world also got the great treatise Bhagavad Gita!

 

Ordinary to Extra Ordinary is willing to let go. 

GautamaBuddhaPrince Sidhartha was born with a proverbial silver spoon and hasn’t known anything about ordinary Life and people, until the day he left the life of extraordinary wealth and indulgence behind and sat under the Bodhi tree to contemplate inwards and comprehend the truth about Life, transforming into Gautama the Buddha!

 

Ordinary to Extra Ordinary is willing to change. 

Oscar2A billion people the world over (including yours truly) are tuned into the Oscar awards ceremony today. Most winners of this coveted award have got nominated only when they chose to shed the extraordinary halo of super stardom to don the roles of the rest of us. George Clooney with all starry stuff completely peeled off – still awesome & charming of course – and got a well deserved Oscar nomination for ‘The Descendants’! Hugh the Wolverine Jackman in ‘Les Miserabes’ is disheveled and even cries, which should help him stand up against the colossal Daniel the Oscar Day-Lewis for the ‘Best Actor’ award this year!

Ordinary to Extra Ordinary is putting others ahead of the self.

MSDhoni_Sixer_WCFinalMahendra K(S)ing(h) Dhoni (the newspaper subeditors sure know how to churn out captivating titles for news stories), is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated, adored and discussed about cricketers of our times. His captaincy may be a topic of debate for some time, but his accomplishments as the extraordinary leader of the Indian cricket team are second to none. One of his most enduring traits is to remain calm and composed under any circumstances – on the ground or off it. And he never forgets to put the team in front of his own accomplishments and is known to step back leaving his team to enjoy the spoils of (m)any great victory. He’s well on the way to becoming the best captain ever!

Ordinary to Extra Ordinary is acceptance of change, that’s inevitable.

Avengers‘The Avengers’ is last year’s most successful movie where many larger than life egos, oops… heroes, err… superheroes came together to save the world from an alien invasion. Each one of them has extraordinary powers and can exterminate enemies on their own (they all have their own movie franchises, naturally), but to face their most powerful enemy (until Part 2, of course), they’ve to shed the ‘I’ (not an easy thing to do even for not-so-heroes, forget superheroes doing it) to become ‘We’.

 

Ordinary to Extra Ordinary is pushing the boundaries and daring to go beyond them.

VairagyaWhen I first heard Sadhguru’s ‘Ordinary to Extraordinary’ message, it was fascinating (his wordplay is better than the best swordplay). But even after several years of diligent practice of Isha Yoga, the magnitude of the message didn’t fully sink in, until I started the Shivanga sadhana (you can read about it in this post) this year (will reach out to some of you for completing one of the steps in that process, which should be done before Mahashivarathri day on March 10). It’s a focused attempt to make us shed the “I” shades to see ‘Life the way it is’ with absolute clarity, comprehend it better, appreciate its natural magnificence and live it joyfully with a sense of gratitude, offering unconditional love and sharing whatever we know with others to let them grow and glow.

In essence, it’s a valuable lesson on how to step up to the possibility of being and doing something extraordinary in Life by stepping down from Ordinary to Extra Ordinary (ahem, that’s less than even ordinary)!

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Love + Gratitude = @PrakashSwamy

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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Living Life!

15 Oct

All Life forms, including humans, have one Life, in this lifetime.

There are 2 choices for any of us in this Life.

We can either Exist or Live.

Existence or going-with-the-flow is the easy way, chosen by many.

Living or treading-a-different-path is the hard way, chosen by few.

The few who choose to Live Life, become the chosen few.

Lord Krishna, Pathanjali, Samrat Ashoka, Gautama the Buddha, Jesus Christ, Raja Raja Chozhan, Leonardo DaVinci, Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, Ramana Maharishi, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Henry Ford, Mahatma Gandhi, Tenzing & Hillary, Albert Einstein, Swamy Vivekananda, Subrahmanya Bharathi, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking, Rukmini Devi, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, MS Subbulakshmi, Oscar Pistorius, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev… It is a long list of legends spanning centuries.

They will tread new paths and show the path for others. And they don’t mind scores following them.

They will break existing rules and make new ones. But they don’t know fear while doing so.

They will think and act differently. And they don’t think twice about being perceived as nonconforming.

They will be questioned and stonewalled at every turn. But they don’t worry about perceptions and focus on reality instead.

Mere existence is following a routine. Routine will rust the spirit, numb the enthusiasm and kill the desire to excel. And No We Can’t Live Life without breaking the routine!

Existence may be good. Anything Good will make you smile in acknowledgement of its goodness. That’s why most humans are happy to just exist. And go with the flow. Accept BAU. They look at life as clockwork.

Humans with their overrated 6th sense think Flora and Fauna just exist. And they’re wrong, like in many other cases, due to their limited, constrained thinking.

All non-human life forms know and play the Game of Life well. They Live Life the way it is. They don’t mess with nature’s way of Life. And their existence is useful for others – including humans who consume and destroy them. They know fully well the Absurdity of Existence!

But true living is Great. Anything Great should bring Joy Drops, whenever one experiences it.

Those who chose to Live, know when Life recycles Time, the Present becomes the Past in the Future!

So they bookmark the past, focus on the future and make things happen in the present.

They don’t bother about what others would think of them, as they know this Life is worth Living.

Life is a marvelous, vibrant, adventurous, memorable, enchanting and joyful journey. Life’s journey is the destination.

We can learn how to Live Life from other life forms in perfect harmony with Life and humans who chose to Live Life.

Life is an Endless Beginning, which is indeed beautiful, if we let it to be!

Life spans 3 stages. We can live Life one moment at a time; one hour at a time; one day at a time or one Life at a time.

One Life. It is far more worth than mere existence. Rev it. Live it.

The Absurdity of Existence!

16 Jul

Life is a cycle. Cycle means both continuity and completion. Every cycle has completion in terms of time taken for a cycle and continuity when the next cycle starts. Many a cycle goes on from one Yuga to another and beyond, forever!

Life’s cycle starts with physical birth and is thought to end with death. This life-cycle continues forever, through generations, for all life forms. And it applies to professional Life too, where we are part of projects, each with a life-cycle and many such projects being active at the same time. Projects face closure too!

When the cycle of Life just completes without continuity, it is called extinction. Dinosaurs’ life-cycle didn’t continue after a certain point in time during the Mesozoic era some 65 million years ago. Tigers’ life-cycle won’t continue after a few years, if they continue to be h(a)unted by the ghastly two-legged (m)animals.

Of the 44,838 known and assessed species, 905 are already extinct and 16,928 are listed as threatened to be extinct, according to the Endangered Species International organization. Millions of species still need to be assessed to know their status. Humans obviously had a big hand in destroying many of these rare species.

In Life, which in reality is an Endless Beginning, every being that’s born will Feed, Grow (physical growth happens through feeding), Study (very few truly Learn), Work (even fewer create work for others), Earn (obviously there are many ways for the smarter ones), Partner (marriage isn’t the only legal way anymore), Copulate (man is yet to play God here as the original design & process pretty much remains the same for all beings even after millions of years of evolution), Procreate (offsprings, naturally), Grow Old (oh, the many things mere mortals do to appear young by cheating themselves & others) and Die (not a choice for even the most powerful or rich ones).

But if we just manage to merely exist like that, there is no difference between animals with underrated 5 senses and humans with grossly overrated 6th sense. Inanimate objects like stone or sand also just exist, but are obviously far more useful and valuable than us. Mere existence by any is an unpardonable waste of a precious lifetime.

All of us falsely believe in living an active Life, by chasing only “that which is”, because our perception is limited to the 5 senses, which is the same as animals! In the Yogic way, Shiva is portrayed as “that which is not”, indicating both the infinite possibilities of Life and it’s boundless nature. To perceive “that which is not”, i.e., beyond the physical, one must dare to go beyond What’s known (typically taught, studied, listened to and rarely observed during one’s Life) and imagine or visualize (not to be confused with dreaming) What could be, which is nothing but What is!

The extra sensory or subtle perception required to perceive ‘that which is not’, is that much maligned 6th sense, which can be developed only through deep observation and thinking different or opposite, neither of which is easy for a normal human mind that is conditioned to think and act in a monochromatic socially acceptable way.

The ability to ‘think’ is a gift given only to the human being, helping it evolve faster and better compared to other earth beings. But what we’ve evolved into today is certainly not something worth boasting to a Martian or Furian, considering the murder and mayhem we’ve caused among ourselves and to other beings as a race.

Those who did ‘think different or opposite’ in their lifetime, are celebrated, analyzed, interpreted, followed and their work continues to be improved upon. But many such beings were also murdered, incarcerated or exiled, due to fear, which stems from our inability to understand or the complete lack of it. Our innate arrogance, a manifestation of the ego, of course will fail to acknowledge any such ignorance, despite historic evidence spilt all over the bloody sands of human history.

While the count of original thinkers in the history of human race is minuscule compared to the large populace which lacked that faculty, if and when brilliant thinking happens, Ideas flowing like a fresh water stream translate into meaningful Outcomes, an individual or organization transforms from Good to Great and the Joy that ensues, typically at one being’s level, transcends to Bliss for all beings.

When Gautama, the Buddha, sat under the Bodhi tree, looked within and thought (or meditated) deeply, he got enlightened and Buddhism came into being, resulting in bliss for many. When Steve Jobs was fired from his beloved Apple, he thought deep and hard and eventually came back and created countless iThings, which enthralled millions.

We are a race that has wasted the precious gift of thought, time and again, through indulgence to satiate the 5 senses that we share with animals. And that’s why many times, animals with one less sense appear better than us – in their acceptance of Life, the way it is, and the simplicity of how they live it, the way it should be.

We ambitiously set out to change Life and ended up destroying it’s very essence instead.

Improvement can never happen through destruction, yet we destroy our forests & flora and relentlessly continue to build concrete jungles.

Nothing can ever be bountiful through depletion, yet we continue to drain precious natural resources like water.

Physical form will decay without giving a damn about how wealthy or powerful one is, yet we spend an entire lifetime in enhancing and fixing this frail body, that’ll eventually be done and dusted.

When Life in its myriad forms and shapes is throbbing vibrantly all around us, we fail to even notice it but focus on searching that elusive Higgs Boson or some obscure Alien form to understand how Life came into being!

Everyone from Adhi Guru Shiva to Bodhi Guru Buddha to the multitude of New Age Gurus, some of who’ve corporatized spirituality, more effectively than many corporations, have figured out and taught to look for God within. Yet we continue to visit temple after temple looking for God in a deity’s physical form.

Going by the quantum of harm we’ve done to our own planet and environment, there isn’t much time left for this race to fix the damage to ensure we as a race survive and thrive. Yet we spend millions in meeting at beautiful locales to discuss about what can be done year after year and return empty handed / headed every single time, wasting valuable resources – human or otherwise – all the time. That’s just wishful thinking, useless for anything!

Nature, while being very tolerant to all this atrocity, continues to ring the alarm in many forms, shapes and sizes. A meteor hit that made Dinosaurs extinct; Tsunamis that wiped out whole civilizations; Earthquakes and Volcanic eruptions that continue to shake and stir even the most powerful countries; Floods that devastate the developed, developing and the not so hopeful nations alike. Nature’s reminders are strong and the list is indeed very long.

It is time we heard the alarm ringing loud & clear and woke up from our long ‘Life the way I know it’ slumber to do something worthy and purposeful about living and preserving how ‘Life the way it really is’ intended to be.

It is well past the time for us to stop just Doing most things as-is and just about time to start the quest for Knowing the 5 Whys, the root cause of all misery. That’ll eventually lead us to Being, how and what we’re actually meant to be.

If we choose to emulate Rip Van Winkle instead, Life the way it is lived by us today will lack the vibrancy and go unseen or unheard of by any other being, be too bland to cherish, stink due to lack of anything fragrant and will fail to touch anyone’s heart. It will be unnoticed, unsung and forever remain a tragic-comic portrayal of The Absurdity of Existence!

Just another day in paradise!

18 Apr

Today was the birthday of this soul 42 years ago at the temple town that never sleeps and known for it’s ruling Goddess, 2 of the 6 padaiveedus of her younger Commander-in-Chief son, fragrant Jasmine, roadside Eateries serving piping hot gourmet dishes with a smile anytime of the day, branded Goli soda and nurturing of the Tamil language for ages from the Sangam period.

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111 (at last count) wishes have poured in, for someone who doesn’t give a damn about wishes and also wrote a blog about wishing! Which makes one wonder about this dogged obsession of people to wish one another on different days, especially on birthday!

What has one done to deserve a wish on that particular day, which is just a bookmark in anyone’s long winding, occasionally joyful, otherwise painful journey called Life, which after all is just the aftermath of karma accumulated in the past lives, according to Sanathana Dharma, otherwise known popularly as Hinduism!

Of course there are days that are certainly worth celebrating. In Life’s long history, such as…

  • The haloed one in 528 BC when a prince got enlightened and became the Buddha
  • March 10, 1876, when a bearded scientist called his assistant in the adjoining room over an acoustic device
  • September 11, 1893, when a young Swami from Bengal made a historic speech in far away cold Chicago that warmed up the hearts of millions across the world
  • May 29, 1953, when a Nepali Sherpa and a Newzealander shocked the world by standing atop the world’s highest peak
  • May 6, 1954, when a British runner stunningly cracked the sub 4-minute mile…
  • April 12, 1961, when a human defied gravity and flew around the globe for the first time

Or the day when an apple fell on a scientist’s head… when a wall dividing two sides of a nation was demolished to unite them again… when a certain loincloth wearing lawyer freed a great nation sans any violence… when a biscuit maker’s son took his 800th wicket…

Those are days worth celebrating, forever. But the day of birth of a mere mortal, who hasn’t made a dent in the universe yet?

“Ah, c’mon. When did your cup become half empty?”, said a voice from within. At once, the compulsive optimist in me sprung to life again and nudged me to find at least one valid reason to celebrate. I promptly obliged and here are two!

First historical, for present is past in future and who knows how this soul will be remembered in future! I was told many a times that my grandfather used to call me Apolloer & here’s why – The spacecraft Apollo 13 apparently landed safely on earth exactly on the day I was born. So let me humbly take credit for ensuring it’s safe landing, which can only be attributed to my birth! Or the birth of all Arians who were born on that day, anywhere in this world.

And the second is spiritual. What’s a Swamystery blog without at least a sprinkling of spirituality? If death is considered the ultimate liberation from this Life, wretched or otherwise, then every birthday is a not-so-gentle reminder that we’re one more year closer to liberation. And that in my view dear readers, is certainly worth celebrating. May everyone wish to their heart’s content anyone who is closer to liberation – knowingly or otherwise!

But for the enlightened souls who figured out Life as an endless beginning and chose to guide those who dared to at least dip their feet in the vast spiritual ocean, to accept Life as it is, any day – birthday or not – remains just another day in paradise!

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