Tag Archives: Fear

Stop before you Start!

18 Aug

Stop before you Start! 

~ the amber light for all spiritual aspirants, to pause before they start the journey

So you’re bitten by the proverbial spiritual bug. As soon as you’ve listened to a mesmerising Master eloquently explaining what enlightenment is, on YouTube, and soothingly assuring it’s a possibility for everyone – that includes, ahem, you! Or when you’ve seen your BFF lose weight miraculously, a mere month after s/he started a new yOgA practice, which s/he learned in your workplace itself. Or when you simply couldn’t put down the book on the methods for self-realisation that you picked up at the airport (at double the cost of Amazon, no less) during one of those pointless business trips. Or when your fav celebrity – one of the many, obviously, since there are one too many now – gushed about how her recent initiation into mindfulness has transformed her as a person overnight (though there is no proof of any such transformation, other than her own assurance to famished fans like you)!

Anyway, one or all of the above happened to you within the last fortnight and you’re all fired up to start the journey to know. Umm, you don’t know yet what you really want to know, but who cares about such nuances anyway. If your fav celebrity got transformed, you, her die-hard fan, too will most certainly get the transformation. And how could the bestselling book be wrong, you ask yourself. And the weight-loss too is a dangling carrot that’s hard to ignore. And, if in doubt, you can always check with the YouTube Guru, who seems to know about everything under the sun! So you can hardly wait and are all set to press the ignition button.

Wait… wait… wait… Hold on for one moment please. Consider this the amber light that may actually prevent you from wrecking not only your #MakeInIndia superbike by jumping the Red, but also potentially wrecking those around you – on the road or at home or even at work, for that matter. Please Stop, just for a moment, before you Start that journey, which might be inevitable, who knows.

The long journey to self-realisation is a lonely pursuit. And a very selfish one!

What the h#!!?,” you may baulk. “Aren’t there millions of seekers, like me, who are on the path, being part of so many spiritual organisations!,” you might marvel. Yes, but…

IMG_20170712_093824There may be many fellow seekers along the path, or on a different path, to the same destination. They may even be part of the same spiritual organisation that you chose to be a part of and may do all the same programs that you do and do all the daily practices that you are supposed to do.

But, rest assured, each journey is different and every seeker has to pursue the journey alone, even if s/he is part of a group of seekers. And because you are aligned with a group of seekers who are all guided by the same Guru doesn’t mean you are all going to work together for everyone’s enlightenment. Tsk.. tsk.. Self-realisation is such a self-explanatory term that one should never get lost in any imagination about it’s self-centered nature. There is no getting around the hard-to-swallow fact that it’s about you and you alone.

sp1.jpgIf I become a better person, as a result of my spiritual practices, won’t the people connected with me be thrilled?,” you may wonder. Indeed, they will be. And the weight loss would certainly earn a few more admirers as well. But…

There will be many spectators along the path – loving family, caring friends, acerbic critics, unqualified self-proclaimed masters, et al. All of them are but mere spectators, who haven’t started (or concluded – especially the half-baked masters) their own journey yet. In fact, many of them won’t even have a clue about the existence of such a journey. They are so entangled in survival that they may not even be interesting in knowing about it, let alone support you in pursuing it. So, don’t be surprised if the beloved ones end up being the befuddled ones, not being able to comprehend what’s going on with you, i.e. the person they thought they knew all along!

I’ve got a fantastic Guru guiding me man… someone so popular that everyone from politicians to celebrities to industrialists line up to be at his events that happen all over the nation!,” you may protest. Well…

Guru_Swamy3

If you’re blessed, you may actually have a Guru (Spiritual Master, not the head of some religious establishment), with boundless compassion to guide seekers like you, shining the light along the path. But even s/he isn’t going to literally hold hands, till you reach the destination.

Not only that, the Guru will strip you clean of all the pretensions of your very existence, including the facade of personality that you’re hiding behind, in order to eke out a living in this man-eat-dog mad mad world that’s hell-bent on self-destructing the only planet it has got to live, so far, in this vast, still expanding, universe. Be assured, it won’t be a pretty sight, when you’ve no other choice but to look at yourself, in all your true-self g(l)ory… eeew! And that’s exactly what a real Guru does to you, because Guru is the light that annihilates the darkness of your hilarious ignorance, which you presumed to be intelligence, until the tables are turned, upside down.

adiyogi41s.jpgAll right, now that your iMax sized imaginary world of spirituality is shaken a bit with shattering Dolby Atmos sound, you better pause for a moment at this Amber sign (umm, Amber is the warning sign, in case you routinely fail to notice or jump at the sight of it on the roads), before speeding away into the unknown, but not uncharted, long winding path of spirituality.

Oh hey, you’re totally free to proceed on the well-known path of religion, which is the always available alternative, which most humans find very comfortable to tread, during any part of their existence. But that’s not going to take you to where you may actually want to go, since, most unfortunately, all the savvy preachers, heavy tomes and slick videos and impressive social media posts won’t bother differentiating one from the other, i.e. religion from spirituality. They are distinct and almost diametrically opposite.

The journey to realise the Truth isn’t a fun tourist trip that anyone curious can undertake. It’s a challenging yAtrA (pilgrimage) that not many get to complete, within a lifetime.

Yet, it’s been diligently undertaken by many, willingly, from time immemorial. And most of them did (and still do) have a Guru to guide them along.

Of course, anyone can start it. Even you, who loves whistle-worthy silly dialogues like “ரிஸ்க்ன்னா எனக்கு ரஸ்க் சாப்பிடற மாதிரி!” (“Taking risk is just like eating rusk for me!”) can. No one’s going to stop you from starting. And no one’s going to be there to ensure you sustain it. Or even complete it. You’ll be on your own. All the way, from start to finish. Hard to swallow but hey, that’s how Truth is.

Fun fact: The spiritual journey neither has a fixed schedule nor predetermined levels of difficulty.

RealizationBoth the length and difficulty of the journey is determined by you, not anyone else. So, if at all you don’t make it all the way, or you take a very long time to make it – may be a few lifetimes, the only being you can blame is yourself. And the “I told you so!” spectators will still be around to rub some salt on your wounded ego.

Along the path, there will be…

  • a number of tempting side attractions that will distract you from continuing the journey.
  • many a roadblock that will test your resolve to continue the journey.
  • a multitude of moments when you will be so exasperated that you just want to drop everything and run all the way back to where you started.

Naturally, there will be a number of fellow seekers too, who will pat you on the back, saying “Well, we’re on the same boat sis (or bro)!” hoping to cheer you up.

With plethora of content and myriad media to consume it, there are any number of aids available to a seeker, who should know how to utilise them, to progress further, along the path. The YouTube video that ignited the fire in you is one of them. That overpriced book full of practical methods is another. And it’s quite possible to be so enamoured by such aides that you may be stuck right where you are, without even realising it. After all, more videos and books are getting published every day. From everyone who thinks s/he has figured it all out!

CDD9-3And, if and when you make it to the destination, in this birth or another, you may be utterly baffled to realise that the journey is indeed the destination and you didn’t even have to undertake the gruelling journey in the first place, to realise what has always been there, right within you. Bummer!

Yet, upon the conclusion of the journey, you will end up immersed in the state of eternal bliss, overflowing with compassion, just like those who have attained self-realisation, before you. From time immemorial. And here’s the best part. There’s absolutely no obligation whatsoever for you to even share the experience with anyone, let alone shine the light of your hard-earned gnAnA (wisdom).

For every Agasthya Muni or Adi ShankarA or RamaNa Maharishi or Sadhguru, there have been thousands of other realised beings who simply chose to remain in the state of bliss, finding no compelling need to share it with anyone else. It’s certainly possible for you to be like one of them. Seems like a very tempting bargain, eh!

GuruPurnima1All said and done, there is a reason why there have been and are only a handful of realised beings and Masters, even as the human population kept on growing relentlessly. They are the only ones who walked the path all alone, all the way, consciously avoiding the distractions, and reached the ultimate destination, with or without the guidance of a Guru. They are the ones who have seen the glorious light of Truth, shining forever, within themselves. They are the truly blessed ones who had the glorious darshan of the Ananda ThANdavA (dance of bliss or ecstacy), with their eyes closed. And only a few of them, in an outpouring of compassion, chose to guide others along the path, as Guru.

So, before you choose to get on the path of spirituality, which btw – just to reiterate, because it’s extremely important to know – has nothing to do with religion, simply because someone known to you has done so or some social media post has fired you up, do take a moment to assess yourself. And be honest with yourself in accepting the fact that you may not be ready yet.

20120625_143222The humility to accept your lack of readiness to even begin the spiritual journey in pursuit of Truth, is indeed the starting point of the enchanting journey to everlasting realisation of the Self! Your humble acknowledgement of “I don’t know,” will eventually become such an unbearable thirst that it can be quenched only by the one(s) who has been there and seen that. Who knows, s/he may happen to you in this lifetime itself (don’t ever try going around shopping for a Guru – it just doesn’t work that way), to nudge you along the path.

Well, the Green light is on. It’s up to you now to Pause your Start or Continue unwaveringly. Happy journey fellow seeker!

May Grace be with you for a purposeful Life overflowing with Joy.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

SG1

Swamy aka @PrakashSwamy is a seeker (full-time may sound funny, but that’s a fact) whose seeking was on-and-off from his teens (when a maternal uncle took him to a Transcendental Meditation program) and switched gears upward in 2009, when his Master Sadhguru (Mystic, Yogi and visionary founder of Isha Foundation, awarded the Padma Vibhushan by Indian Government in 2017 for the remarkable social endevours of his spiritual organisation) initiated him into the ancient Kriya of Shambhavi Maha Mudra. A few more advanced Isha Yoga programs followed, culminating in Samyama, the 7-day Silence program, in 2013. With Shivanga, the yatra to Velliangiri Mountains, aka Kailash of the south and the yatra to Kailash itself (in Tibet) happening in the same year (2013), Life, as he knew it until then, took a decisive turn. Swamy eventually bid farewell to his lucrative, and reasonably successful, corporate career in 2015, which he assures is a planned retirement, to pursue the VAnaprastha phase and experience Life, the way it is, with a definitive purpose – of attaining self-realisation.

UpaGuru1Swamy considers himself twice-blessed, since, apart from being guide by the boundless Grace of his Master, from within, his ongoing journey is also being actively guided now by his Upa Guru Shri Sohamanandaji (the other bearded one, in the above pics), who is kind enough to not only to dispel his ignorant assumptions about spirituality from time to time, but also to take him along on the life-altering yatras to spiritually charged spaces such as Pancha Bhuta Sthalas (sacred spaces of Lord Shiva, associated with the five elements) & Sabarimala (both in South India) and Char Dham, comprising of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedharnath and Bhadrinath (on the mighty Himalayas). These days, in his own words, Swamy’s existence – one day at a time -is focused only on “Read, Write, Meditate!,” not necessarily in that order.

Oh, in case you are curious, Swamy hasn’t attained self-realisation, yet.. ha.. ha.!

img_20161225_080543.jpgYou may enjoy knowing more about Swamy‘s spiritual journey and experience of Life the way it is in his poetry (Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns – 218 and counting…), blogs, quotes and social media posts (links to all given below).

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

Follow Swamy Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Explore Swamy’s creation (blogs, quotes, poetry, reviews, photography…)

Been there, Seen that | Swamystery | Swamyverse | SwamyQuote

Swamyem | SwamyView | Swamygraphy

 

Middle of the Endless Beginning!

1 Apr

Kalachakra2A while ago I wrote the post “Endless Beginning!” It’s about Life, like many of Swamy‘s posts. Just the way there are two sides to a coin (in fact, there’s a third side too – check this post if you’re keen to know Third side of a coin!) there’s the other side to Life too. It’s a side none of us want to see or experience but all of us eventually will.

Most mortals call it death. Some call it afterlife, with a faint hope that there will still be some life, after Life! All think it’s the end. Only a few know it isn’t.

Death3Death is as omnipresent as Life and is everywhere around us. Yet, unlike Life, we wait for an instance of death to acknowledge it. Acceptance is still far away for most.

When some stranger gets killed on the road and finally (no pun intended) manages to get his 15 minutes of fame in the newspaper or TV, it doesn’t crate much of an impact in us, beyond the few minutes of reading or watching, or at the most a tea or lunch time chat.

Death6When someone known passes away, the effect lingers on a bit longer. We’re flooded with their memories for a while. A young relative of mine passed away recently. He was just a teenager with a long and vibrant Life to look forward to, until that future ceased to exist, on a certain day. He did suffer for long due to a medical condition, but his family wasn’t prepared in any way when he finally bid goodbye to this Life. I was more an observer than a mourning family member during his last rites. Not because I’ve a heart custom-made with the choicest granite from the now controversial Madurai (my dear home town) quarry, but because that’s the fact – however cold it may sound!

Death5When someone very close to us ceases to exist, the effect is much stronger. Even devastating! We cry, curse God (we even have a God – Lord Yama – specifically for this purpose) for snatching their Life away, chide others who don’t seem to be as impacted as we’re and do many other things that keep the memory flame burning long after their Life flame was doused. Whenever I look at my two lovely daughters Mylo and Maggy, the fact that their lifespan is all of just 12-14 years never fails to flash in my mind. Half-way through their Life now – a very happy one for sure, they don’t resemble middle aged women ravaged by health issues of body and mind in any way, but certainly fall in that category – at least in human age scale! I don’t see my family reacting any differently from you, whenever the inevitable happens.

CrashedBike1While this is understandable as humans are highly emotional beings, it is worth knowing that the attachment we’ve with other beings – human or not – is not too different from the attachment we’ve with many other objects of desire. All of us have our favorite objects – a pen, bike, watch, shirt, mug, jewel, recliner or any of the million things that every household is packed with. It’s not hard to recall how we felt the last time one of them got broken, stopped working or had to be given away.

Bhishma1When someone dies at a ripe old age, we try to pacify ourselves saying they lived a good Life. I was witness to this when my grandfather died a few years ago, a relative of mine lost his mother and a neighbor lost his father. They all lived well, died old and everyone seem to have come to terms with their death soon.

DeadBird3When someone dies too young – as a baby – we try to console ourselves saying they were saved from the suffering that we go through in Life. The recent incidence I recall is the baby pigeon that died during the Operation Pigeon Rescue we’ve performed not so long ago and the entire rescue team was actually glad that the baby didn’t live to suffer more.

FuneralPyre1But when someone neither too old nor too young dies, we find it hard to apply the same logic, though they too lived their lives fully before their time was up. I had seen this thrice in my Life so far – twice in person – and the reactions of near and dear were similar in both cases. Acceptance is hard and time seems to be the best healer of the scars left by the untimely death on the psyche of family members and a few close friends.

Sadhguru10If we know Life, the way it is, while Living Life, we’ll understand and accept death better. my Master Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev says we fear that we don’t know. We’re afraid of death, because we don’t know it well. Since all our focus is on living, we don’t spend any time thinking about death. In the absence of thought light, lack of knowledge shrouds our mind like darkness. So, we invariably conclude death as dark and end up fearing it.

Monkay1As firm believers of ‘Ignorance is bliss’, we eternally (pun certainly intended) live hoping death isn’t going to knock our door today or some day in the near future. What’s inevitable appears as improbable in our minds – especially when it comes to our own Life. But when the inevitable happens – it will for any and every being – we are unable to come to terms with it and continue to live in denial. We try hard to fill the assumed void with thoughts – about the one that is no more.

FuneralProcession4Interestingly, we also glorify death, when it happens to those who we revere. A saint is said to have attained Samadhi, when he leaves his physical body, which is then enshrined and worshiped  long after they’re gone. A popular actor or politician gets a grand farewell and some of them a memorial too, which eventually becomes a tourist spot. Armed services personnel who lost their lives in a war are remembered and even rewarded, posthumously. And intriguingly, all these events also involve vast amount of flowers – as decoration in the form of garlands, a mark of respect in the form or wreaths or thrown at the passing carriage to pay obeisance.

Sadhguru10Flowers themselves die every day, yet we cherish their blossom and fragrance but don’t bother too much when it’s time to throw the withered ones away. my Master Sadhguru, a Gardener of Life with boundless grace for all beings, loves flowers and says flowers are wonderful examples of what’s possible for every being. But before our ignorance starts shining with vivid imagination, Sadhguru also clarifies that flowers don’t blossom to be liked by us nor do they give a damn about whether we like them or not. They just blossom because that is Life the way it is for them.

Flowers2Instead of just be born, live and die like any human being, we too can blossom to our maximum potential, pleasantly, and spread the fragrance of joy in others’ lives. And when our true inner self blossoms, without attaching any expectations, it also offers us the ability to transcend Life and accept Death as just another phase of Life.

RamanaMaharishi2Very few beings such as the enlightened masters attain realization of the true self during their lifetime. But death is a phase of Life in which the true self can be realized by all, without the trapping of the physical – even at the very last moment when we breathe our last breath. If we’re prepared to accept death in full consciousness, when it happens.

Aum-Namah-ShivayaIn that state, we’ll remain a mere witness to what we love as Life and dread as death. While one is manifest to be seen, heard, smelt, tasted and touched by the five senses, the other is unmanifest and can be understood only when we can go beyond the senses. If the manifest is Shakthi, then the unmanifest is Shiva. And comprehending Shiva isn’t an easy thing to do as he’s beyond comprehension (Swamy’s limited experience of being a Shivanga – an anga or part of Shiva – can be read in Shambho and the 7th Hill)!

YinYang1But it isn’t that hard to comprehend that Life and Death are entwined together all the time, which is symbolized by Ardhanarishwara – a form that’s a combination of Shakthi and Shiva. Yin-Yang is a representation of the same truth as well. Binary, the core of all things digital, too is an embodiment of this. The smartest ignorant beings – with an overrated sixth sense – that we are, we look (by using just one of the five senses) at all of these as mere symbols without comprehending what they truly represent.

UnmanifestDeath isn’t the full stop for Life, i.e., the end of Life, as perceived by most. It’s a semicolon rather, indicating continuity of Life, in a dimension that can’t be perceived by most.

Butterfly1A worm slithers around, becomes a fly, flutters around and falls back and merges with earth – in the space of a few hours.

A flower buds, blossoms, gets plucked, adorns and withers – in the space of a day.

Birds3

A bird cracks out of the egg, eats worms fed by its mother, grows wings, flies away, lives in a nest, perishes with age or gets killed, cooked and eaten by another vicious two-legged being that relishes feeding on anything other than their own – in the space of months.

Gadgets1A shiny new gadget gets crafted out of metal and silicon, wows its potential buyers with mesmerizing power and abilities – many of which they won’t need, gets bought by millions, used for everything other than brushing the teeth, and gets traded or gathers dust when replaced by another shiny new gadget – in the space of an year or two.  

CowCalf1A mammal slips out of the womb, suckles, stands up, learns to walk, makes noises, feeds, finds a mate or falls in love, copulates, gives birth, takes care of its offspring, grows old and dies – in the space of years.

BanyanTree2A sapling springs out of a tiny seed, sprawls into a tree offering shade to all and bearing fruits for any, witnesses many a monsoon, typhoon and summer, gets cut by a stupid two-legged monster or falls when its purpose is served – in the space of hundreds of years.

Unmanifest1A universe appears out of nowhere, with a big bang, gives birth to planets and stars, lets Life find a way, spins around while Life flourishes and gets sucked into nothing, i.e., a black hole – in the space of many a millennia.

That’s the way of Life. That’s how it has been from time immemorial and how it will be for as long as there’s timeAs the Present becomes Past in the Future in no time, not learning the art of Living Life only exposes the Absurdity of Existence further. But to truly understand Life the way it is, one must be willing to go From Ordinary to Extra Ordinary!

Flowers3It’s always a Flower’s form at full blossom that’s remembered – as a garland adorning a deity or Guru, strung together and worn on hair or neck by humans, a sacred offering during puja or a natural ornament on the plant that gave birth to it. Their withered form, when removed and thrown away,  is hardly remembered by any, as they’re invariably replaced by fresh flowers, time and time again, starting the cycle all over again.

When the end comes, inevitably, it’s the Life we lived that should be remembered and cherished. Not the death, which is just another event in one’s Life. While celebrating death may be a bit far-fetched for many, accepting death as an inevitable event in one’s Life shouldn’t be so.

Death2

Fear not, for Death isn’t the end. Learn to embrace it, for it’ll anyway happen to all when their time’s up. Like the glorious crescendo of an orchestra, signaling the conclusion of perfect music played to a packed audience in a concert hall. In the Game of Life, both the musicians and the listeners will move on for another performance in another place on another day!

AfterLife2Fret not, for Death isn’t the beginning either. As the Life beyond it isn’t comprehensible with our limited senses. Like the glorious light from the Sun at dusk, which isn’t that different from that of the dawn! In the Dance of Life, the Sun is another dancer that goes on about its business, as long as it has to, before running out of gas and shrinking into nothingness.

Cemetery1

Face Death nonchalantly by knowing it better, for Death is more the Middle of the Endless Beginning called Life!

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