Friday, August 21, 2015

What you can learn from the churning of the ocean


The story goes that the Devas (demi-gods) were slowly losing their strength because of a curse by a great rishi. Their archrivals the Asuaras (demons) took advantage of this opportunity and threatened to wage war against the Devas. Fearful of what may come to pass, the demi-gods approached Lord Vishnu (known as the Preserver in the Trinity of Hinduism) for a solution. The great Lord told them to churn the primordial ‘Ocean of Milk’ or Ksheera Sagara to receive Amrita, the nectar of immortality, through which they may regain their strength. 

This churning, however, was not so easy a task that it could be conducted by the demi-gods alone. So they forged a temporary peace with the demons to attain their goal, after which the nectar would be distributed equally between the demons and the demi-gods. Using the King of Serpents as a churning rope and Mount Mandara as a churning stick, the demi-gods and demons began a task that would take 1000 years to complete. Lord Vishnu, incarnated as his Kurma avatar of a tortoise, held Mount Mandara on His back, so that it would not sink into the ocean during this time.

Working tirelessly for centuries, the reward they sought was not so easy to attain. The first thing to come out was not nectar, but poison. The Halahalam, as it was called, was so potent that it enveloped the universe and threatened to destroy all. Lord Shiva (known as the Destroyer in the Trinity of Hinduism) stepped forward to take this poison. His wife, Parvathi, stopped it from spreading to the whole body by constricting His throat. Lord Shiva’s name Neelakanta or ‘blue-throated one’ is derived from this incident, the poison having turned His neck blue due to its potency. 

Amrita, the nectar of immortality, was almost the last thing to come out of the ocean. When it did, it was held in a kumbh (pot) by Dhanvantari, the physician to the gods. Fearful of the consequences of what could transpire, the demi-gods tricked the demons out of drinking from the pot. Lord Vishnu incarnates again in the form of Mohini, the irresistible temptress, and tricks the demons into giving her the pot. What ensued was a dozen days and nights of fighting between the two groups. 

During this time, as Lord Vishnu fled with the kumbh from earth to heaven, a few drops of the nectar fell in four places in India: Haridwara, Prayag (Allahabad), Nashik and Ujjain. It is in these places that the Kumbh Mela, one of the largest religious festivals in the world, takes place on a rotational basis every 3 years. The one-and-a-half month festival is taking place in Nashik this year, on the banks of the Godavari River. By the time it has rotated to the other three sites and returned to Nashik, 12 years (representing 12 days and nights of fighting) will have passed by. It is scheduled to finish on 25th September 2015, during which time millions upon millions of devotees will have paid homage at the holy site. Even today, bathing in the rivers of Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari and Shipra, where the nectar drops fell is considered sacred and is said to wash away sins. 

Swami Sukhabodhanada visited Nashik in July for the Kumbh Mela. Watching the ocean of humanity that churns in and out of the sacred place is not unlike the ocean’s churning in the story. In fact, it is not unlike the turmoil that takes place continually inside many of us. 

The mind is constantly being churned by the positive (represented by demi-gods) and negative (represented by demons) aspects within us. For the spiritual seeker, one part will yearn to pursue the spiritual path, another will oppose it. Both these aspects must be in harmony. Keep in mind that both the Devas and the Asuras worked together for the churning. This painful churning brings out first suffering and unhappiness before it gives any rewards. It is the Halahalam that threatens to destroy. Lord Shiva, who drinks that poison, represents the ascetic principle. He represents simplicity, pure love, discipline, courage and detachment. The poisonous instability of our minds can only be stopped by cultivating these principles within us. 

The Serpent King represents desire. Mount Mandara stands for concentration. The name ‘Mandara’ contains two words: ‘man’ meaning ‘the mind’ and ‘dara’ meaning ‘straight line’. Therefore the name itself stands for concentration of the mind. The mind, like Mount Mandara during the churning, must rest itself upon divinity (Lord Vishnu’s incarnation of the tortoise) and give itself up to that divinity, if it is not to sink into the ocean. 

Therefore, desire must be held in firm hands and controlled, the mind focused on a single aim, rested upon divinity, with all our negative and positive aspects harmonized if spiritual enlightenment is to be attained. What keeps us from this enlightenment and the immortality that it represents? Lord Vishnu in the form of Mohini represents the delusion of the mind. It is the delusion of pride and ego; they are the last hurdles one has to overcome. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Managing Life Creatively

We all live our lives in a dichotomy of two worlds: the world within that contains the true essence of ourselves, and the world without, where we work to establish ourselves in society, among our families, peers and friends.



This 2-day workshop by Swami Sukhabodhananda, addresses the challenges of these ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ worlds by creating a balance in 5 zones of personal well-being.



Date : 19 to 20 Sep, 2015    

City : Bangalore  

Address : At Prasanna Centre for Life Management, No.1, Nirguna Mandir, Nirguna Mandir Layout

Near Ist Block Park, S T Bed area, Koramangala



Register now @ http://www.swamisukhabodhananda.net/programs/Managing-Life-Creatively



Sunday, November 25, 2012

YOGA - A JOURNEY TO THE HIGHER SELF



A monkey, which leaves the tree and swims in a lake is inferior to fish. A racehorse kept in a beautiful and posh apartment, is inferior to a rat. A good swordsman given a plough to cultivate a piece of land, is inferior to a peasant. In the same way people feel inferior, if they are not summoned to a higher self.

“I am uncomfortable talking to people, I feel shy, I can’t mix with people, I feel diffident in getting jobs done by others, I am an introvert. How can you help me?” a lady asked, in one of my LIFE programs.

The art of living is about balancing. We have to balance our work, home, body, and mind. We should balance between being outer winners and being inner winners.

Reflect on this.
A woodcutter had to struggle hard to earn two meals a day. He met a monk. The monk advised him, “stop staying at the edge of the forest, and go into the forest. One day’s hours of work will fetch you one-month’s food.”

The woodcutter followed the advice. Deep within the forest, he found sandalwood trees. He was very happy. He expressed his gratitude to the monk. 

The monk advised again, “Take the risk of going still deeper into the forest. A day’s work will fetch you food for six months.  This time he found a silver mine. He thanked the monk again, profusely. The monk said, “If you trust me and go still deeper into the forest, one day’s work will make you earn enough to fetch your food for a life time.” This also turned out to be true. For he found a gold mine.

The woodcutter wondered, “Why then does the monk still stay at the edge of the forest and not venture into the forest, as he has been advising me?”

He expressed his doubts to the monk. The monk replied, “If you want to be eternally happy, sit under this tree and I will teach you to go within. Then you will be eternally happy.”

To be an outer winner, one has to explore the outside world. To be an inner winner, one has to go within oneself. The kingdom of heaven is within us.

The balance between being an outer winner and being an inner winner is what would make us feel good.

Why are you shy? This is because you are not feeling good. You are caught up in looking good. When you are not feeling good, even doing a good act may land you in trouble.

Reflect on this.
A woman noticed a boy jumping to reach the door bell. She helped him to ring the doorbell and smiled “Is your attempt now successful?”

“Yes; but now run and vanish before the door opens!” said the boy and took to his heels.
You say you are uncomfortable being with people. Your discomfort may be due to the lack of people skills. You should help people to bring out their best and that is possible only if your best comes out. Your best comes out if you balance being an outer and an inner winner. Learn to motivate yourself and others. Learn to be at peace with the imperfection in yourself and others.
One important aspect that has helped me in dealing with people is this value. The value of receiving complaints wisely. The more I listen to people’s complaints the more it appears that there are hidden agendas behind the plethora of complaints.

So the system I adopt is, the other has a right to complain; but not more than five minutes. If TV ads can last thirty seconds and still communicate powerfully, why not people’s complaints? We can spend more time for positive and productive talk. Engaging in positive and productive talk makes us feel good as against listening to complaints. This will help us to be positive with other people and make us feel good.

Shyness is another form of ego. Don’t support it. Just as you reject poisonous food, reject the ego games of your mind. Then you will see the truth is and not be taken in by illusions.
Reflect on this.

A woodpecker was pecking at an oak tree. A lightning struck the tree and felled it. The woodpecker flew away and boasted, “I never knew I was so strong.  I can make a tree fall.”
Drop your ego. You will find people as God’s messengers conveying divine messages to you, teaching you through their failures and successes.

Most of us are like an oak tree in a flowerpot. The flowerpot is like the ego and our being is like the oak tree. Do not confine yourself to the ego. Drop your lower self and let your higher self guide you. This is the meaning of yoga; being yoked to the higher self.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions

Swamiji, mind is meant to think but not to be kept empty; can you please elaborate on this statement?

When required, think. If thinking happens without your awareness, it is compulsive and hence mechanical. Mechanical thinking is no thinking. To energise your thinking, keep your mind calm and empty. It is a known fact that many scientists think deeply on a subject, go to sleep and in the middle of the night often find answers mysteriously. Resting the mind energizes it. Waking up after a good restful sleep, you feel refreshed. Learn the art of being empty and in this emptiness when you start thinking, your thinking will have the power and vitality.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Language of Mysticism – A Calm Mind


Lord Shiva has a trishula - trident in His hands which represents the three gunas - Satwa guna, Rajo guna and Tamo guna meaning that all the three gunas are in His hands. He is the master of the gunas and the gunas are not the master of Him.

It is a very big topic that we would be dealing as we go further. Sattva is the one pure quality, Rajo is the quality of activity where ego plays a role, Tamo is darkness, laziness. All three qualities have roles to play but you should not be a victim to any one of them. Whenever you go to sleep, it is reflection of tamo guna; sleep must be part of your routine, but not right now while you are listening to me… therefore you should have control over tamo guna.

Rajo guna is sign of activity, so actively you have to sit for meditation. There is no activity in meditation, so someone goes on scratching his head, there is nothing inside and outside, but he scratches. Again rajo guna has been misplaced here. All these three gunas have roles to play, if you only know how to become the master and not the victim. For that to happen those roles have to be played in the respective places. For some people Sattva guna - purity becomes addiction.

I will narrate an example from the life of Buddha so that you can understand better.

Four people were in a boat. On reaching the shore, they were holding the boat on their heads and started walking. A monk who saw this asked, “Why are you keeping the boat on your heads”? They said, “The boat has helped us to cross the river and we are so grateful to the boat that we are carrying the boat wherever we go”.

After the boat is used, it should be anchored on the shore. These people out of gratitude carried the boat on their heads.

Have you seen some people expressing their gratitude? For them their gratitude itself is a form of bondage. Similarly, the very gratitude became bondage for those four people.

If you have yagnopavitha - sacred thread on you, and when you take sanyas – monk hood, as per the tradition, you have to tear them down. It is very difficult as you have been wearing the yagonopavitha all through your life and chanting the Gayatri Mantra. It is treated as very sacred throughout the life and when you take sanyasa the yagnopavitha has to be torn by our own hands… even that attachment has to be renounced. Even the attachment to good, along the line, should go away.

Buddha said that gratitude is beautiful, but don’t be foolish like the boatmen carrying the boat in the name of gratitude. Then the boat becomes a burden instead of a means of navigation.

Therefore one should be a master of all the three gunas - qualities. You should be able to leave off, that is the meaning of trishula or trident.

What is there on the trishula? A Damaru - a drum tied to it. The whole system of Sanskrit grammar seems to have emerged from the damaru, discovered by the great Saint called Panini. It is said that he wanted to write grammar sutras. He was meditating calmly for this purpose. At that time the intuitive quadrant of his brain opened up very well. He seemed to have tuned to the celestial dance of Lord Shiva during the sandhya - evening time. It is said that Lord Shiva was dancing with his damaru and thus Panini sutras were created.

Panini was a great saint. He was meditating. Why am I naratting this? The fine vibration is there in this world. Akashvani waves is right here, BBC waves, CNN waves, Doordarshan waves are here, but your radio or TV with antenna alone can pick it up. I am giving you a modern example. They will help you to understand an ancient concept, because you are all westernised.

How did Panini get the idea when Lord Shiva was dancing? How is it that you type www.swamisukhabodhananda.org and you get my site? You say, “Oh, It is like that. Isn’t it?” Right here we have BBC, CNN, and Doordarshan waves and if you have the right receiver, you can log on to it, isn’t it?

A study has shown that whatever the great Kishore Kumar has sung, or for that matter whatever great singers have sung, it can never disappear; it is always in existence. And we create an apparatus, and we can log on to it. Energy cannot be destroyed. It exists in some form or the other. We don’t have the apparatus right now to discover them. That is all. Therefore, meditation is an apparatus and in the apparatus are your receptors of intuition, which modern science refers as the “D” quadrant of your brain.

There are four quadrants of brain – “A” quadrant is of logic, “B” quadrant is of planning, “C” quadrant is of kinesthetic and playful while “D” quadrant is of intuition. “D” quadrant of the brain represents intuition.

When you meditate, research has shown that the intuition brain cells opens up, and then you see more than what others can see. That is why Walt Disney looked at the rat and created Mickey Mouse. Somebody looks at waste and creates wealth.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ego and Patience – Silent Killers



Waiting for others to live up to our expectation is a waste of time.

Reflect on this story.
A family of tortoise went on a picnic. They packed food and set out to a place they had selected… behind the hills. When they reached the spot, they unpacked their picnic basket. They realized they had forgotten to bring salt. Food without salt is tasteless.
They had a conference to decide who should go back and get salt. After a lot of discussion, the youngest tortoise was chosen, as he was faster than the others.

The youngest objected on the ground that before he could come back the others might eat the snacks. But they assured him they would wait for him to come back with salt. Six months passed, but the youngest tortoise did not turn up. So the rest of the family decided to open the basket and eat the snacks. When they opened the snack basket, the little tortoise jumped out of the bushes and screamed, “Look, I knew you would not wait till I came back. For six months I have been hiding in these bushes to make sure you would not eat without me. Now my suspicion has been confirmed, and I am not going to get the salt.”

Some of us are exactly like our suspicious tortoise: we waste our own time waiting for people to live up to our expectations. Instead of doing the right thing ourselves, we wait for others to act in ways we expect them to. We waste our time waiting for others to live according to our expectations. We have not learned to enjoy doing what our intuitive judgement tells us is the right thing.

Is stress related to egoism?
Yes, very much. Egoism implies our conviction that we are more important than others, and our beliefs are the truth. Ego means our point of view is more important than that of others, more important than even truth. So we are trapped within our point of view. Not only are we arrogant about our point of view, we believe in our infallibility. This arrogance creates stress. Being stuck to our point of view creates stress.


Reflect on this.
A husband and wife were quarrelling. Each kept screaming at the other. The house was a living hell. Then the husband walked out of the house. The couple’s teenager son, seeing his father walk out, asked his mother, “Is Daddy going to be back?”

“Yes, he will be back in half an hour,” replied the mother.

“Damn,” said the youngster in obvious disappointment, “I thought of eating his dessert.”
When self-interest or ego prevails in our mind, we begin to compete with everyone for everything, no matter what the cost. We do not see beyond our self gratification.

Be playful and flexible. If you need to work long hours in the office, enjoy it, play with it. Convert the work place into a fun place with commitment.

Then you don’t work for joy, work itself becomes joy.

Drop the ‘I’ and ‘mine’ and live in the ‘We’. The universe is one. It is, and has, a unity. Don’t live in the division of the ego. Without the ego, we experience a beautiful connectedness with everything else in the great chain of being: with the birds, the stars, the sky and the trees. You can envision them to be different parts of your body, or yourself to be part of one or more of them. It is this connectedness that is known as ‘Nirvana’. Reality is unity and illusion is division.

What lies at the root of impatience?

One has to cultivate the state of being patient. We have to trust the universe with its own ways of opening and closing windows of opportunity and doors to happiness and prosperity. We have to learn to be patient. A boy loved mangoes. He bought the best of seeds and planted the mango seed. Every morning he would dig the earth to see if it had sprouted. In this process he never allowed the seed to sprout. Our impatience works in the same stupid way.

Impatience is a result of lack of trust. We trust our ego and not the miracle of life. Since we depend on our ego, we take for granted the way nature reveals her mysteries. Our imagination projects a reality and we don’t recognize anything else as real. We are lost in our subjective reality.

Patience is a spiritual quality and discipline. Patience is predicated on the faith that God knows better than we ever can hope to know what is good for us. Impatience, on the other hand, asserts, “God should be clever enough to let me have things my own way because, after all, what I want is paramount.” Patience accepts that God’s will is greater than my will.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Develop Enthusiasm in Life


It is a very important aspect in life. Study the life history of successful people and you would find that one of the ingredients was tremendous enthusiasm or the passion to live life. One should have passion to live life. It is said, Edmond Hilary who climbed Mount Everest, failed thrice earlier. Later at a party hosted in his honour in New Zealand, he looked at the portrait of Mount Everest and humorously remarked, ‘Mt. Everest has a problem. The problem is, it cannot grow more than about 29,000 feet, whereas I have the ability to grow in my ability to climb Mt. Everest.’ What he meant was that he has the ability to grow whereas Mount Everest stood at the height of about 29,000 feet. Look at his passion. In the very next attempt, he scaled Mt. Everest successfully.

In us there is a ‘lower-self’ called Jeevatma and a ‘higher-self’ called Paramatma. One can either operate from the ‘lower self’ or from the ‘higher self.’ When one operates from the ‘lower self,’ one finds his life is not powerful whereas operating from the ‘higher self’ results in the opposite. This is the choice before us.

If one operates from the ‘lower self,’ life opens up as a threat. While operating from the ‘higher self,’ the life opens up as opportunity. Operating from the ‘higher self’ consistently generates enthusiasm.
Any situation viewed as threat is an example of one involving the ‘lower self.’ The ‘lower self’ operates as an interfering thought or an obstructing thought. The ‘higher self’ operates as a supporting thought, not as an obstruction. In any situation in life, if seen as opportunity, it is supportive. If seen as an obstruction, it is like a danger or a threat…. it is a function of the ‘lower self.’

Our bodies have an immune system; if it is weak, the body is prone to disease. So too, we have a psychological immune system. If our psychological immune system is weak … we are upset, hurt, frustrated. Like genes in our bodies, our minds are also products of evolution of many years. When our psychological immune system is weak, we are prone to perceive external situations as dangerous or as obstruction. It only calls for strengthening the psychological immune system so as to be powerful individuals.

How do you make it powerful? Like how we make the physical body powerful by right exercising and dieting, so too, the psychological immune system can be made powerful by not allowing the ‘lower self’ in us to operate... instead we should encourage the higher centre to operate in our daily lives.
In our lives we operate from acquired knowledge, rather than the cosmic intelligence of the cell. Where do we draw our identify from? Most of us draw our identify from our acquired knowledge. Don’t we? Why is it so? Because through acquired knowledge, our ego is established, our identity is established, our address is established. Whereas in cell intelligence that we have not created, but are gifted with, our uniqueness is not established. Ego is established in the ‘I.’ The acquired knowledge is the ‘lower self.’ The knowledge from which we are born – the cell evolution is the ‘higher self.’
Let us draw our identity from this growing cell that is the ‘higher self.’ But alas, we don’t trust this. Instead we trust our acquired knowledge. In life we should eliminate our ‘lower self’ and operate from cosmic intelligence. The acquired knowledge will be supportive in our growth and not obstructive. Understand this distinction.

Acquired knowledge should support the ‘higher self,’ not obstruct it. For example, in a game of tennis, when you see a ball coming from an opponent, your thought should not interfere with it and obstruct your spontaneous effort to hit a ball. But if you think, ‘Oh, I am going to miss it because my history of missed stroke last time’; then acquired knowledge is obstructing. As a player, you cannot succeed.
Suppose, the ‘higher self’ looks at a ball in a different way - “With a focused awareness I allow my being that has evolved to guide me in hitting a ball. In case I miss it, the ‘higher self’ being a learning and evolving being, makes required corrections the next time I face a ball... but whereas acquired self or the ‘lower self’ creates an image that I am not good and I am not lucky. This image makes me look at a ball next time as a threat and acts as an obstruction. The ‘lower self’ is rigid, while the ‘higher self’ is flexible in learning and growing. I will not allow my static conclusions to decide my action instead allow my flow to decide a response.”