You live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted!

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Are we all living in captivity?

“I can’t live without you!”

“This is MY cup!”

“That’s MY name and I won’t change it!”

We hear or say this so often. It is so natural. We don’t even realize that we are getting ensnared into something that might stunt our growth and independence!

We speak about freedom of speech, freedom of expression….do we ever think about freedom of the soul? The aim of every soul on this earth is to free itself of its karmic debt and earthly desires. And that is what it is determined to achieve every time it enters into a human life. But as soon as the soul takes a human form, it forgets the purpose of why it has re-entered the cycle of life again! It forgets that it is here to find its way out, and not to get lost in the maze of desires all over again.

We should thank the learned masters and gurus for deciphering this knowledge and passing it on to us. For they are the ones who will show us the light. They will guide us to exercise our most important freedom- the freedom of soul.

The first step in this journey would be practicing detachment.

MY cup, MY bed, MY parents, MY wife, MY husband, MY house…..! Unknowingly, we have already attached ourselves to countless entities. And we are so attached to these that we cannot imagine a life without them. But the truth is- there indeed is a life beyond. Which we fail to live and enjoy as we get so bogged down with the fear of losing everything that we think is MINE!

As the clichéd statement goes- you got nothing while coming and will take nothing with you when you go. Even the body that you have belongs here. A soul doesn’t own anything. This is nothing new that I am trying to get across here, everyone knows this. Then why are we so attached to everything that doesn’t really belong to us?

We are attached not only to people and material possessions, but also to emotions and feelings. A soul is always neutral- neither miserable nor happy. An emotion is a reflection of one’s mind. If one’s mind is empty and free of needs and excessive attachment, it will reflect in one’s emotions and feelings as well. Wouldn’t it be blissful state if one’s mind was filled with nothing?!

One must try practicing detachment by breaking all bonds. It isn’t as overwhelming as it sounds. One might imagine that this is possible only if one leaves everything and goes to the Himalayas! You don’t need to leave anything. You can be right where you are, and this very moment try to detach yourself from everything that you feel you cannot live without. Your loved ones, your prized possessions, your feelings…everything. This can be often misconstrued as being aloof, hostile, cold or distant. But infact it is the very opposite of all these. Attachment brings with itself innumerable expectations, which if left unfulfilled can ruin so many relationships. If there is no attachment, there are no expectations and a relationship without any expectation could be so pure and special that it needs to be experienced rather than described.

Try, just for a day, to detach from as many things and people as you can. Just keep in mind that these donot belong to you and you are not here to own them.

With each detachment you will feel lighter, calmer and eliminate the unnecessary fear of loss.

But here again I would like to emphasize that there is a difference between being detached and being unconcerned. You haven’t stopped being compassionate and caring. You still love your loved ones and possessions, but with an intention of being undeterred even if you lose them. You are the same you- only a step closer to the awareness of who you really are and what you need to do to free your soul.

As mentioned in the Bhagavad Geeta, chapter 6, verse 5:

uddhared ātmanātmānaḿ

nātmānam avasādayet

ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur

ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ

The word ātmā denotes body, mind and soul — depending upon different circumstances. Since the mind is the central point of yoga practice, ātmā refers here to the mind. It is stressed herein that the mind must be so trained that it can deliver the conditioned soul from the mire of nescience. In material existence one is subjected to the influence of the mind and the senses. In fact, the pure soul is entangled in the material world because the mind is involved with the false ego, which desires to lord it over material nature. Therefore, the mind should be trained so that it will not be attracted by the glitter of material nature, and in this way the conditioned soul may be saved. One should not degrade oneself by attraction to sense objects. The more one is attracted by sense objects, the more one becomes entangled in material existence.

It is also said:

mana eva manuṣyāṇāḿ

kāraṇaḿ bandha-mokṣayoḥ

bandhāya viṣayāsańgo

muktyai nirviṣayaḿ manaḥ

“For man, mind is the cause of bondage and mind is the cause of liberation. Mind absorbed in sense objects is the cause of bondage, and mind detached from the sense objects is the cause of liberation.” (Amṛta-bindu Upaniṣad 2)

To conclude, I would like to remind that your name is not your identity, but your soul is. Try to keep it as pure and uncluttered as possible. The lighter your soul is are the better progress you will make on your spiritual path.

Bhagavad Geeta source: http://vedabase.net/bg/6/5/en

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Love to Hate

I find it hard to criticize. Anyone or anything. I don’t know what it is. I find people extensively criticizing other people, events, religions, history, books and every other thing that exists. Such people themselves have not done anything significant in their lives, but they have all the time in world to talk, discuss and disapprove of so many things. They will find negativity in the best of things. They will never appreciate anything; or rather find inadequacies and faults in every single thing. And frankly, I find it a bit tough to deal with them.

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I know a friend who has a habit of delving into criticism at every opportunity she gets. I asked her many times- why do you do this? Why criticize so much? She plainly replied- I am just speaking the truth! Truth? Really? Who decides what the truth is? Maybe they are highly developed spiritual beings who have actually discovered the ‘truth’. I can probably never reach their level and therefore this ‘truth’ is incomprehensible to me!

I believe this to be a very narcissist outlook.

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Truth is a relative term. What is true for me may not be true for you. 2 people maybe saying 2 different and contradictory things, but both of them may be correct. Like, if I (in India) say that its night and another person (in the US) says its day, we both contradict each other but neither of us are wrong!

So who decides what the truth is?!

Everyone has their own story. Everybody puts up an effort to live and survive each day. And everyone has certain shortcomings. No one is perfect. But all of this falls short before the might of a pessimistic, self-absorbed critic! And with the advent of social media, the world of internet is an open playground for them! I see posts and comments on popular social networking sites which are rude, insulting and downright disrespectful. Anonymity gives an advantage. I see movies, plays, works of art, beliefs, freedom fighters, scholars, scientists, artists, ideas, innovations, creativity being openly criticized. And by ‘criticize’ I mean completely rejected. And who are these critics? No one knows them. They probably are frustrated individuals who could not accomplish anything remarkable in their lives and are perhaps envious of the achievements of others.

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I sense unrest amongst these self acclaimed critics. I try to read between their lines, but I find only further unrest. Their statements reek of disparagement. You can almost see them scorning at you! Sometimes I even try to reason with them and try showing them the better side, but they choose to disregard it and criticize me in return! Sometimes I try to reason myself and see if they mean well and if this criticism is constructive by any means. I am delighted if it is! Constructive criticism is always a good method to support improvement. I’m totally for it. I don’t advocate accepting things blindly. But idle criticism (as I call it) is just a waste of time!

Conflicts will always be arise, I donot deny. There will always be differences in opinions. But I feel if we have a supportive and appreciative outlook towards matters, it will not only boost solidarity but also aid to have a healthy dialogue and possibly a positive conclusion.

It all depends on the perspective. One should learn to understand and appreciate the viewpoint of others. Rather than searching for a winner, it would be a better option if both parties agree to disagree and reach an amicable resolution which is the least risky to both.

Dear self acclaimed critics- Please try looking at the brighter side of things for once. They are much better to enjoy. It can happen that something is absolutely bad and blameworthy, but I know for sure that there will be something, as minute as it can be, that is good in it. Try exploring for it for a change. Please don’t argue just for the sake of arguing. One needs to introspect first before being critical. Life will be much more positive and bright if one embraces optimism and sanguinity.
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THIS moment!

Every moment is new.  Unanticipated.  Mysterious. Unknown. Unpredictable. I know I cannot hold on to it. I cannot create or re-create it. But I can create a memory out of it. And I might as well create a good one!

I feel sometimes I underestimate myself and believe that I donot have enough time….enough moments during the day. I am occupied with countless activities and chores. I get into a routine and feel that there’s nothing ‘new’ in life. Again, here I forget that the next minute is going to be a new moment. A new opportunity! I can either let it pass uneventfully or utilize it to my benefit and try to create something new! One might argue – I have to do laundry everyday, what new can I create in that?

Well, have you ever tried observing the soap bubbles?

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How they form and burst eventually? Though transparent, they carry so many colours within them? If you really look closely, these soap bubbles themselves demonstrate how you should look at the moments in your lives. They form and they burst. But for the short time that they are visible, they embrace all the colours that exist in nature and exude beauty! Don’t they look lovely? Will laundry be the same again now?

It all depends on the perspective.

What does this picture depict? Is the sun rising or setting?

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It is just a moment. A moment in my life. By itself it is completely empty. It is I who need to fill it. Either with a sunrise or a sunset. The ultimate decision lies with ME!

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Discipline isn’t a dirty word

You are waiting in queue at the ticket counter, but someone slips ahead, with least concern for every other idiot standing in line for so long, and asks for a ticket.. The woman at the counter would not care much about this either, she will serve whoever comes to the counter first.

You are waiting in line to fill fuel. It’s Monday and you are already late for office. But still, you are waiting for your turn in the line. There comes a hero, with a blingy bike. Goes right ahead upto the fuel machine and demands that his bike should be filled in first. Before the 40 bikes already waiting in line since the past 30 mins!.  This guy at least showed off his might. But there a sly few who just silently inch ahead. The other day, there were only 3 bikes in line. The one before me just got filled in and I was moving my bike towards the counter and reached my purse to take out money. Taking advantage of these crucial seconds the bike behind me silently slid ahead of me and the guy signaled the worker to fill his tank first.

You are waiting at the traffic signal. There are 40 seconds left on the timer for the signal to go green. So you switch off your bike and chill. The rickshaw and the travel bus behind you are not happy though. They want you to move ahead…go over the zebra crossing…why are you wasting so much space!! Pedestrians don’t need zebra crossing to cross the road! You can almost see their red faces in the noise of the horns they are honking at you. Meanwhile the timer shows 10 seconds. All the more reason for them to honk as all the other bikes have already surpassed you and are all over the place. They have marked their territory, they own this road! The timer shows 5 seconds left but it is actually a secret sign to these people that – 5 seconds at the signal don’t count! You have so many more important things you can do in those 5 seconds….like jump the signal and dash ahead! There is a prize waiting at the other side of the signal! The idiot that I am….i cannot comprehend this very intelligent message.

Do these incidents sound familiar? And frustrating? They will, to the ones who care for rules. And fellow citizens. They say- Rules are meant to be broken. That is the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard! No. Rules are meant to be followed because they make your life better (or bearable atleast). They are meant to reduce the obstacles you face each day. They are made so that people can co-exist. Without rules we would just be like wild animals….all running in different directions and ultimately getting lost!

Discipline is just doing the same thing the right way whether anyone’s watching or not.”

MICHAEL J. FOX,

There is a reason for every queue, for every traffic signal, for every zebra crossing, for every speed limit, for helmet and every seat belt. And no, it is not the responsibility of the government to ensure that people follow them. They are meant for the safety of the people and so it is the people who should ensure that they are followed. I have seen people in developed nations like America and Japan diligently following civic rules. I can’t help but wonder- is that why they are ‘developed’ nations and we are still ‘developing’? Isn’t discipline an attitude rather than a behavior?

I have also seen people who follow rules are looked down upon. Laughed at. While the ones who break them are heroes. Its so evident on their faces. Gleaming with pride! Sorry, but for me, these so called heroes are laughable morons!

I am not talking about drastically changing anything. I am only thinking what kind of a world it would be if people just did what they are supposed to do. Isn’t that a natural expectation? As natural as expecting a mango tree to produce mango?

I read somewhere- If you don’t like the rules, follow them, reach the top and change them. But before that, why not try and inculcate a routine of discipline, generosity, courteousness, respect and good etiquette? Why not reflect upon rules with a constructive outlook, follow them and see what difference it makes? It doesn’t have to be a mass movement. It starts with YOU! If each of us decides that we will live a life of discipline, I feel the world would be a healthier, easier and a more tolerant place to stay.

YOU deserve happiness!

Lately, a lot is being discussed about women safety. Awareness is good. Women do need to be aware of their rights. It would also help if they know some self-defense techniques. They could carry pepper sprays. This will save them from physical assaults. But what about the emotional assaults they face everyday? It’s hard to believe but there still are women living in cities like Mumbai and Pune who are so oppressed….not by others but by themselves. They have decided that whatever happens to them, they will keep suffering, they wont seek a change….change is bad…what will people say! Why do we (as women) blame husbands, parents or in-laws for whatever is going wrong in our lives? Why can’t we take our own responsibility? Isn’t it my responsibility to safeguard my happiness?

Does this sound selfish? I don’t care! I believe if you can’t love and take care of yourself, you can’t do that for anyone else either. If you are not happy..for whatever reason…why cant you take some time out, analyse the situation and see what you can do to at least get the peace of mind you deserve? Ignorance or avoidance is not going to resolve your issues. And if you keep suffering it’s not going to please God either! If you experience unacceptable behavior, at home or outside, just speak out! Dont be afraid to break the routine. If anyone abuses you every single day don’t take it lightly by saying this happens everyday, whats new? You need to stop this!  And you can! Face the situation rather than running away. Tell them that they are wrong to have taken you for granted!

There could be a time when a lot is running in your mind……don’t get your detective cap on for every single thing that happens! Relax. The universe is not conspiring against you all the time. You should be alert and aware if what is going on around you…but don’t clutter your mind only with those thoughts. If you dont clear your mind you wont think right and take the best decision. Think ahead.

Always be true to yourself. If you realize that you have made a mistake, don’t let your ego stop you from accepting it. Say sorry and move ahead.

Lastly, I would say, don’t invest too much energy and time into something that is not going to work out anyway. Instead, use this energy for creating happiness. Change your job (get one if you dont have), relocate, sponsor a child’s education, go for a long vacation…anything that will make you happy. Because you deserve to be that way! Creating happiness doesn’t always need money, it could be as simple as having coffee, eating an entire bar of chocolate, shopping, talking to a friend…..anything that gives you true happiness. But you need to shift your focus from all the negativity.  And when you are happy…dont find reasons to get sad again. Because you know you will find many of them! Dont. Just concentrate on being happy, cheerful and optimistic. Think about your shortcomings as opportunities. Experience never goes waste. So take it and move ahead. Dont get entangled so much in your problems. Look up, and smile!

Emotional stability and happiness  forms a core part of Womens’ safety which often remains neglected as it is not always expressed adequately.  So rather than looking at external resources to safeguard them it is essential that women take time to introspect and seek change wherever necessary.

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To all the beautiful women in this world- You get only one life- Make it happy!