Tag Archives: Trust

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

 

Boundary of Benevolence!

18 May

Swamy isn’t much of a spokesperson or a person who speaks to other persons a lot, but he indeed spoke to his kid brother (cousin actually, but brother nevertheless, if you go beyond that mile long Nakshatra & Rasi list read always wrongly in front of the family deity for his blessings 😉 and his mom (Swamy’s aunt, who incidentally went to school along with Swamy – what can one say, ‘active grandparents’ :O), twice – minutes before the results of +2 (aka H.Sc aka 12th grade or standard) were out and a few minutes later. Like any keen student who is burdened by the rote learning education system with no known escape, he wasn’t too happy with the marks he secured, despite scoring a fantastic 96.5%, which is no less than exceptional. Such is the rotten sorry state of education, about which Swamy has ranted a bit in What Say Doting Parent! sometime ago.

LL1Since Swamy has been engaged in the education sector someway, by helping brilliant but economically challenged students in his hometown, thru the NGO Meenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust (started by his 82 year young father-in-law Shri N. Subramaniam, popularly known as NS, over a decade ago & now managed by a board of trustees with him continuing to be actively engaged as a Mentor), he not only shared his pov (cheerful, naturally – his cousin’s an aspiring youngster, after all 🙂 but chose to share a few more inputs with those who care (that obviously includes Swamy’s loyal readers such as you) to ponder.

LL8Swamy’s kid brother has scored fantastic marks (1158 / 1200) in the final year of schooling, especially since he isn’t in the lose-lose engineering / medical race (that most parents pretty much force their wards to prepare for & choose), which require all the marks under the sun – especially for the consciously neglected OC group that we belong to, in a state that brazenly continues with an unconstitutional 69% of quota in all forms of education (and in all probability, employment as well). So, getting a seat in a good city College should be a piece of cake for him. But…

“But what if I don’t get a seat in that top XYZ College with these marks?”

This is a disease that has already consumed the entire school education sector and is already becoming an epidemic in the higher education space as well.

LL4In case you live in a cave in Gupt Kashi, parents in Tamilnadu stand in a serpentine queue, long before the Sun wakes up to wake you and everyone else, to get the admission form for their child’s admission in… wait… take a deep breath… PLAY SCHOOL! And that form doesn’t even guarantee an actual admission, helping the umpteen schools with high brand value rake in the moolah with just form sales. The multi-tier complex fee structure that will confound even Raghuram Rajan comes into play after an entrance exam – right from LKG – and in-person interview of both the child & parents. If you haven’t got that WTF expression on your face yet, you’re certainly one of those parents, with a Whoa expression! :{}

Pause here for a moment and imagine thousands of children who not only don’t get to choose their school (RTE is supposed to help them get educated) and who can’t even continue their education without support from a few benevolent souls – year after year!

LL10Most parents have a plan for their child’s education (which in all probability is something connected with what they failed to accomplish or to ensure continuity of what their current profession is). The ones that plan their child’s education aren’t obviously poor (in the right sense of that oft abused word) and that plan typically will be steered (and most probably funded as well) by close relatives as well. Those who don’t have a direct say in that planned pursuit, will extend their collective goodwill, guidance and – if & only if requested – assistance, as & when required. But…

But there are thousands of children (probably millions – at a national level), brilliant ones, who live in abject poverty and can’t / won’t continue their education, without external assistance, which their parents may not even be aware of – in terms of how, who & where. 

LL2Let’s rekindle your memory (presuming you’re a long-term Swamy reader) with an example. Shri NS (Swamy’s 82 years young, socially active, inspirational father-in-law) has been helping brilliant but economically challenged children continue their education, for over a decade, thru Meenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust in Madurai. These children, all of whom are as eager as your and my child to study, have no means whatsoever to continue their education, on their own. Their fathers typically are daily wage laborers and mothers are servant maids or homemakers. Many of them have more than one child, when they can’t assure a better future – comparatively, of course – to even one. Your heart will bleed and you’ll certainly be moved to tears if you meet & interact with them (you can – during the annual fund giving day – scheduled on June 26th in 2016).

2009_PerformancesKnowing how dire the situation is, Swamy and many other kind souls connected with Shri. NS go out with a virtual begging bowl, requesting their near, dear & acquaintances for donation, to ensure continuity of the education for these children – varying from primary school to professional degree. You’ll be surprised at the magnitude of benevolence shown by people, which is minuscule (compared to what’s required). Generosity always seems to be slumbering, especially when year after year, we practically beg people to help those who really need help. A 500 here or a 1000 there is a nice gesture but also just a notional one. Many don’t even respond. We’ve become immune to such conscious ignorance by now, but never let it deter us from seeking help.

LL7Sevalaya is another example. Located in a nondescript village on the outskirts of Chennai, this school secures 100% pass in both XII and X standard, year after year. They offer free education to poor and orphaned children, only thru benevolence of donors. Of course, it’s far well known than Meenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust and receives a lot of corporate funding too. Sivananda Gurukulam on the other side of Chennai is yet another.

There are numerous NGOs and individuals who are doing their bit to enable a few hundreds or thousands who are in need. But in reality there are millions more who genuinely need help.

Campaign3_2014The stark contrast between well publicized so-called success stories of hard work resulting in sky high marks and state level ranks (and, of course, the ever rising brand value of the popular schools that keep churning such rote champions out, year after year after year) and students who have no assurance of even completing their education is so alarming that one can’t help but wonder Why (and what can be done by each and every one of us)!

Despite his open apathy for his own species’ abject stupidity in whatever they do (reflected in many of his sharp – daily – quotes), Swamy never fails to mull about (& share) whatever little that can be done to change the attitude at least a wee bit and ignite action from at least a small percentage of them. So, here goes his take on the human beings’
Boundary of Benevolence!

LL9All humans are benevolent (well, almost all, one must accept reality) by nature.

But for whatever incomprehensible reason, they’re convinced that they don’t have to express it in any way – beyond their own family, that is. Humans remain convinced “My responsibility is limited to taking care of my family.” True, but Really!

Blog_Campaign_2012_1Ls

Most humans don’t express their benevolence in any way.

These are the “it’s not my problem yaar” or “what can I do yaar” type.
There’s water on the road ~ it’s not my problem yaar!
Politicians suck ~ what can I do yaar!
The dog catcher has taken away the mommy of 5 newborn stray puppies ~ it’s not my problem yaar!
Millions of poor children can’t continue their education ~ what can I do yaar!
You get the drift…

Many humans don’t go beyond tokenism, when it comes to helping others.

These are the “500 here 1000 there” type.
We’re offering Annadhanam for over 3 lakh seekers on Mahashivaratri ~ “here’s my contribution – Rs.500”
We’re conducting annual Car Festival in the local temple ~ “here’s my contribution – Rs.100”
We’re helping 60 poor children continue their education ~ “here’s my contribution – Rs.1000”
They’re obviously better than the first two characters, but there’s a predetermined limit to what they contribute to which. And that limit hardly ever gets a raise!

LL11Few humans step beyond the tokenism and actually offer meaningful help, to the genuinely needy.

These are the “I take care of my driver’s or servant maid’s child’s education” or “I regularly contribute to xyz cause” type.

While obviously commendable – compared to the first 3 types – they are often not too keen on extending their benevolence to causes or organizations that aren’t well known to them personally. Such limited perspective of the varied needs of the world usually limits their benevolence to a bunch of handpicked organizations, some of whom may already be well funded!

Even fewer humans actually get involved in making a difference, in someone’s Life, even if that person or organization isn’t connected to them in anyway.

These are people willing to explore the many options to expand their giving.
Open to listening to what’s the purpose of an individual or organization’s cause.
Keen on extending the range of their benevolence, at times directly related to their own income stream (
for example, a raise in their regular income may actually result in an increase in their charity spend).
The challenge is finding such benevolent humans, since most of them prefer to remain away from the public glare or publicity, which could result in many not-so-genuine entities from pestering them for funds, all year long.

Only a handful of humans actually end up changing the world, at whatever level they can, in whichever area they choose to.

These are the Shri. NS type of people. Not all such humans are celebrities or even well known outside their circle of admirers and supporters.

LL3Shri NS isn’t a rich man. But he had a singular vision, driven by a purpose he totally believed in – to ensure continuity of education for needy students. Here’s a snapshot of his meticulous journey of selfless benevolence, steering Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust, single-handedly for the first few years, for a decade now.

  • He went about finding children who needed financial assistance to continue their education – starting with the poor neighbourhood.
  • He would make their parents fill a detailed form (he was a government servant after all – all his professional life) and promptly cross verify the details provided (talk about accountability – the funds received have to go only to those who truly deserve it).
  • He’ll then go about contacting people known to him and request funds, never forgetting to send them a formal letter of request and invite for the finds giving event. And request them to request funds from more people known to them. For example, Swamy being his son-in-law will be requested by NS, who in turn will request his colleagues, friends & relatives.
  • He’ll ensure all the funds raised are deposited in a bank account created exclusively for this purpose (accountability, once again) and a receipt is issued to each and every donation – however small it is.
  • He’ll plan the funds giving day well ahead and communicate to many, requesting each of them to be present, in person (only a few turn up, unsurprisingly).
  • He’ll meticulously prepare a case register, with each filled form, with his own notes highlighting anything that’s worth notice and hand it over to the panel of dignitaries (many of whom are now part of the board of trustees) invited to hand over the donations.
  • He’ll organize an in-person interview of each student, along with the accompanying parent(s), to not only check their credentials and current status but also to offer a piece of appropriate advice – personalized, as he known almost all of them personally.
  • He’ll ensure at least one more dignitary, unrelated to the NGO, to be present on D-Day, to address the gathering of beneficiaries and offer valuable advice. This is over and above the speeches given by the board of trustees.
  • He’ll organize seating and free food for the event – at his own expense (from his retirement savings).
  • He’ll ensure all the funds collected are disbursed to students on D-Day itself – somehow or other. Next year comes only next year!
  • On conclusion of the event, he’ll ensure the disbursement details are meticulously documented and send a copy of the event summary and funds disbursed by name, category, et al, to each trust member and also some of the highest contributors.
  • Occasionally, but always regularly, he’ll contact the students or their parents to check the continuity of education & progress made
  • He’ll restart and complete the cycle diligently, year after year

LL5About 7 students who have received financial assistance from Meenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust have now graduated and secured jobs in large organizations – including IT behemoths. These are children who didn’t have much hope of even continuing their education. Many of them don’t know who all helped them, but remain indebted to Shri. NS as their saviour (though he himself humbly remains only a conduit – simply connecting the donors with beneficiaries). These achievers (yes, in the true sense of that word) are now being included as active members of the Trust. They’ll be the ambassadors who’ll take the reach of the Trust far and beyond what Shri. NS and the trust members can. They’ll eventually become members of the Trust board itself.  

Our Boundary of Benevolence can be as non-existent as the first category of I-Me-Mine people, or as broad as the last Shri. NS kind of humans, or anywhere amidst these two categories.

As ever, what we can do remains boundless and what we really do is bounded – by faith, belief, relationships, ideals, preconceived notions, etc. But the choice to do something purposeful, in order to be someone valuable, is always ours.

Blog_Campaign_2012_3LsMeenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust will give away the funds raised to deserving students this year too – on 26-June-2016, at Madurai.

You can contribute funds for this year’s event (directly transferred online to the Trust account or via cheque or as cash), irrespective of whichever category you belong (known only to you).

You can explore a bit and take the responsibility of funding one or more children’s education, for one or more year (do ping Swamy or Shri NS, if you’re an explorer for details & guidance).

You can expand a bit and request your near, dear & acquaintances to contribute funds (feel free to use the details shared in this post or ping Swamy for any custom messages).

You can expand a bit more and directly engage with the Trust – as an active member (you obviously have to meet Shri. NS to get started on this enchanting journey, which could turn out to be a rewarding lifelong pursuit).

What you do (or not) will always remain your choice. But whatever you do (or not), keep in mind this (not just for joining hands with Meenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust, naturally 🙂

LL6The Circumference of your Compassion
Is limited only by
The Boundary of your Benevolence!

Be joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~ @PrakashSwamy

Additional Related Reading…

3x3x3 Life Matrix! (Swamy’s address to Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust beneficiaries & parents in 2014)

Yes We Can – Light the Lamp! (published for Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust’s initiative in 2013)
The Purpose of Life! (Swamy’s message to Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust beneficiaries in 2013)
ஒத்த தறிவான் உயிர்வாழ்வான்! (Swamy’s message to Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust beneficiaries in 2013, in Tamizh)
Whoa to Wow! (published for Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust’s initiative in 2012)
Choice = Chance! (published for Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust’s initiative in 2012)
What Say Doting Parent! (Swamy’s rant on the rotten rote-based education system & insights for parents to change the course for their children)
Light the Knowledge Lamp video by Swamy on YouTube
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