THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

THE GREATER SACRIFICE

 

An atheist used to meet frequently a friend who was a theist. Each had regard for the other and looked upon each other as sincere friends. The atheist however, said to the theist friend one day, "Well, for God's sake what have you not done? You have given up all the pleasures and comforts of life." In reply the theist said to the atheist, "My sacrifice is nothing when compared with yours. You have renounced the Lord, the creator of the Universe. Your sacrifice is greater than mine."

 - Swami Sambuddhananda, Vedanta through Stories.

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

BLESSINGS IN DISGUISE

 

Disguised as a wandering mendicant, Sri Krishna visits a wealthy family, who welcomes him warmly and offers him hospitality that matches both their devotion and prosperity. When it is time to leave, he blesses his host profusely, promising him even more wealth and glory.

 

Sri Krishna’s next visit is to a poor widow, whose only possession is a cow. She too welcomes him with great devotion but all that she can offer him is a glass of milk. When it is time to leave, Sri Krishna blesses her and tells her that her cow will die soon.

 

Arjuna, who has accompanied Krishna to both the places, is horrified. He asks the Lord, “Your wealthy hosts lacked nothing and yet you blessed them with even more wealth. Whereas your blessing to the poor devotee accompanied the ominous news that she will lose her cow. This is unfair and unacceptable.”

 

Sri Krishna smiles and tells Arjuna, “My wealthy host is insanely attached to his wealth and his reputation. He has a long way to go before he becomes spiritually awakened. On the other hand, this poor devotee is already far advanced on the spiritual path. The only thing that is separating her from the highest freedom is her attachment to her cow. I removed the hurdle from her path.”

 

The insights that this story provides are obvious. God can enter our lives in any form and at any time, often in most unexpected circumstances. The blessing that the divine guest bestows upon us can be difficult to decipher at first glance.

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

Immutable Nature by Swami Sambuddhananda

 

Once, a group of villagers decided to go out on a pilgrimage to some holy places.  A thief thinking that it was time for him to stop thieving and to begin expiating the sins expressed his desire to the leaders of the party to go with him. They agreed to the proposal, thinking that the pilgrimage was more necessary for a man of his type than even themselves and that it might help him to turn over a new leaf.

 

The party started for Benaras and thence they went to Mathura and Vrindavan. Every day in the course of their tour they had the curious experience of finding that some of the articles belonging to one or two of the party were missing and that they were mixed up with the baggage belonging to some other persons.

 

Being at a loss to account for this, they suspected the thief, and one night some of the members of the party sat up the whole night in order to see who was at the bottom of the mischief. The thief was caught red-handed while he was transferring some of the articles belonging to one of the party to the belongings of another.

 

When he was asked to explain his conduct he said, “My good Sirs, owing to my past habits I am unable to have a wink of sleep at night and I have to do something to keep my mind engaged. Having abjured thieving, the best that I could think of was to put one man’s articles into another’s package, and I am thankful that I am doing nothing worse.”   

 

(From Vedanta through Stories by Swami Sambuddhananda)

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

NIRVANASHATKAM OF SHANKARACHARYA


(Translation by Swami Vivekananda)


I am neither the mind, nor the intellect, nor the ego, nor the mind-stuff;
I am neither the body, nor the changes of the body;
I am neither the senses of hearing, taste, smell, or sight,
Nor am I the ether, the earth, the fire, the air;
I am Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute --


I am He, I am He. (Shivoham, Shivoham).


I am neither the Prâna, nor the five vital airs;
I am neither the materials of the body, nor the five sheaths;
Neither am I the organs of action, nor object of the senses;
I am Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute--


I am He, I am He. (Shivoham, Shivoham).


I have neither aversion nor attachment, neither greed nor delusion;
Neither egotism nor envy, neither Dharma nor Moksha;
I am neither desire nor objects of desire;
I am Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute--


I am He, I am He. (Shivoham, Shivoham).


I am neither sin nor virtue, neither pleasure nor pain;
Nor temple nor worship, nor pilgrimage nor scriptures,
Neither the act of enjoying, the enjoyable nor the enjoyer;
I am Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute--


I am He, I am He. (Shivoham, Shivoham).


I have neither death nor fear of death, nor caste;
Nor was I ever born, nor had I parents, friends, and relations;
I have neither Guru, nor disciple;
I am Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute--


I am He, I am He. (Shivoham, Shivoham).


I am untouched by the senses, I am neither Mukti nor knowable;
I am without form, without limit, beyond space, beyond time;
I am in everything; I am the basis of the universe; everywhere am I.
I am Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute--
I am He, I am He. (Shivoham, Shivoham)

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

Organ Donation in Hinduism

 

Life after death is a strong belief of Hinduism and is an ongoing process of rebirth. It is a perpetual circle of birth and rebirth.So, the physical body is insignificant. This could be seen as reflecting positively on the concept of organ donation and transplantation in Hinduism.

 

There are many references that support the concept of organ donation in Hindu scriptures.Dana  is the original word in Sanskrit for donation meaning selfless giving. In the list of the ten Niyamas (virtuous acts) Dana comes third.

 

"Of all the things that it is possible to donate, to donate your own body is infinitely more worthwhile.”  - The Manusmruti

 

Life after death is a strong belief of Hindus and is an ongoing process of rebirth. The law of Karma decides which way the soul will go in the next life. The Bhagavad Gita describes the mortal body and the immortal soul in a simple way like the relationship of clothes to a body:

 

vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya
navani grhnati naro 'parani
tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany
anyani samyati navani dehi

 

"As a person puts on new garments giving up the old ones the soul similarly accepts new material bodies giving up the old and useless ones."
Bhagavad Gita chapter 2:22

 

dehino 'smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
dhiras tatra na muhyati

 

“As are childhood, youth, and old age, in this body, to the embodied soul, so also is the attaining of another body. Calm souls are not deluded thereat.”
Bhagavad Gita chapter 2:13

 

Dadhichi, also known as Dadhyancha, is an important character in Hindu mythology.He is revered amongst the greatest of sages and is portrayed as an example that no sacrifice is too great when the result is the good of the world. His bones are used as a symbol on India's highest award for gallantry "Param Vir Chakra" as "vajra". He was among one of the greatest among clan of Bhrigus. He is credited with giving up his life in order to allow the Gods(Devatas) to make weapons from his bones to defeat the Demons(Asurs) ,recapture Heaven(Svargalok) and release all the world's water for all living beings.

 

Shibi Chakravarti was a famous king in Hindu mythology and the Jataka tales of Buddhism, notably in the Shibi Jataka. Shibi Chakravarti was the son of Usinara, a famous king of the Lunar dynasty. He was renowned for his liberal beliefs and selflessness and is said to have saved Agni (transformed into a dove) from Indra (transformed into a hawk) by offering up his own flesh.

 

Therefore, it can be seen that in Hinduism organ donation can be one of the virtues and good acts which one can perform to increase the merits which will be carried forward in next birth.

 

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

‘தாயின் கருப்பையிலிருந்து நிர்வாணமாக வந்தேன். நிர்வாணமாகவே திரும்பவும் போகிறேன்; இறைவன் கொடுத்தான், எடுத்தும் விட்டான்; அவனது திருநாமம் வாழ்க!’- மனிதனுக்கு வரக்கூடியதில் மிகப் பெரிய துன்பங்களில் துவண்டபோது ஒரு யூத மகான் சொன்ன வார்த்தைகள் இவை.

 

வாழ்க்கையின் முழு ரகசியமும் இதில்தான் உள்ளது. கடலின் மேற்பரப்பில் அலைகள் புரண்டெழலாம், புயல் சீறிப் பாயலாம். ஆனால் அதன் ஆழங்களில் எல்லையற்ற அமைதி, எல்லையற்ற சாந்தம், எல்லையற்ற ஆனந்தம் நிறைந்திருக்கிறது.

 

‘கவலைப்படுபவர்கள் பாக்கியவான்கள், ஏனெனில் அவர்கள் ஆறுதல் அளிக்கப்படுவார்கள். ஏன்? தந்தையின் கதறலையோ, தாயின் புலம்பலையோ பொருட்படுத்தாமல் விதியின் கைகள் இதயத்தை இறுக்கிப் பிழிகின்றபோதும், கவலை, மனத்தளர்வு, அவநம்பிக்கை இவற்றின் சுமையால் உலகமே காலடியிலிருந்து நழுவிப் போவதுபோல் தோன்றுகிற போதும், எதிர்காலமே ஊடுருவ முடியாத துயரமும் அவநம்பிக்கையுமாகக் காட்சி அளிக்கின்ற கணங்கள் நம்மைச் சந்திக்கும் போதுதான் அகக் கண்கள் திறக்கின்றன;

 

திடீரென எங்கும் ஒளி பரவுகிறது, கனவு கலைகிறது; இயற்கையின் மாபெரும் புதிரான வாழ்க்கை என்பதுடன் நாம் நேருக்கு நேர் வருகிறோம். ஆம், சாதாரண மனிதர்களை மூழ்க வைக்கிற அளவுக்குச் சுமைகள் அழுத்தும்போதுதான் வலிமை மிக்க, வீரமிக்க மேதை உண்மையைக் காண்கிறான்;
எல்லையற்ற, அறுதியான, என்றும் பேரின்ப வடிவான இறைவன் பல்வேறு மக்களால் பல்வேறு பெயர்களில் அழைக்கப்படுவதையும், வழிபடப்படுவதையும் காண்கிறான். அப்போதுதான் ஆன்மாவை இத்துயரக் கூண்டுடன் பிணைத்திருந்த சங்கிலிகள் உடைந்து வீழ்கின்றன. ஆன்மா எழுந்து உயரத்தில் இறைவனின் சிம்மாசனத்தை அடைகிறது. அங்கே ‘தீயவர்கள் துன்பம் செய்வதில்லை, களைத்தவர்கள் ஓய்வு பெறுகிறார்கள்’.

 

சகோதரா, ‘உமது திருவுளம்போல் நடக்கட்டும்’ என இரவும் பகலும் சொல்வதை நிறுத்தாதீர்கள், இரவும் பகலும் புகார்களை அவருக்கு அனுப்பாமல் இருக்காதீர்கள். ஏன் என்று கேட்பதல்ல நம் வேலை; செய்வதும் செத்து மடிவதுமே நாம் செய்ய வேண்டியது. ‘எம்பெருமானே, உமது திருநாமம் வாழ்த்தப் படட்டும். உமது திருவுளம்போல் நடக்கட்டும். இறைவா, சரணடைய வேண்டியவர்களே நாங்கள் என்பது எங்களுக்குத் தெரியும். ‘பரம்பொருளே, எங்களை அடிக்கின்ற கை அன்னையின் கைதான் என்பது எங்களுக்குத் தெரியும். மனம் அதனைப் புரிந்து கொள்கிறது, ஆனால் உடம்புக்கு அதனைத் தாங்குகின்ற சக்தியில்லை.

 

‘அன்புத் தந்தையே, எங்கள் இதய ஆழங்களின் வேதனை ஒன்று உள்ளது. அது, நீங்கள் போதிக்கின்ற அந்த அமைதியான சரணாகதியை எதிர்த்துப் போராடுகிறது. உங்கள் கண் முன்னாலேயே உங்களது குடும்பம் அழிந்து போவதை, கைகளை நெஞ்சில் இறுகக் கட்டியவாறு பார்த்துக் கொண்டிருக்கிறீர்கள்.

 

‘இறைவா, படைவீரன் எதிர்த்துப் பேசக் கூடாது, பணிவதே அவன் செய்யத்தக்கது என்பதைப் போதித்த பரம்பொருளே வருக! உங்களிடத்தில் தஞ்சம் புகுவதே வாழ்க்கையின் ஒரே லட்சியம் என்பதை அர்ஜுனனுக்கு எடுத்துக் கூறிய பார்த்தசாரதிப் பெருமானே வருக. ‘அப்போதுதான் நானும் அந்த மாபெரும் மனிதர்களுடன் சேர்ந்து உறுதியாக, உம்மையே தஞ்சமடைந்து, ‘ஓம் ஸ்ரீகிருஷ்ணார்ப்பணமஸ்து’ (எல்லாம் கிருஷ்ணனுக்கு அர்ப்பணம்) என்று சொல்ல முடியும்’. இறைவன் உங்களுக்கு அமைதியை அருளட்டும் என்பதே இரவும் பகலும் எனது பிரார்த்தனை.

 

- சுவாமி விவேகானந்தர்.

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

Traits of a True Devotee

 

"There are certain signs by which you can know a true devotee of God.  His mind becomes quiet as he listens to his teacher's instruction, just as the poisonous snake is quieted by the music of the charmer.  I don't mean the cobra.  There is another sign.  A real devotee develops the power of assimilating instruction.  An image cannot be impressed on bare glass, but only on glass stained with a black solution, as in photography.  The black solution is devotion to God.  There is a third sign of a true devotee.  The true devotee has controlled his senses.  He has subdued his lust.  The gopis were free from lust.

 

"You are talking about your leading a householder's life.  Suppose you are a householder.  It rather helps in the practice of spiritual discipline.  It is like fighting from inside a fort.  The Tantriks sometimes use a corpse in their religious rites.  Now and then the dead body frightens them by opening its mouth.  That is why they keep fried rice and grams near them, and from time to time they throw some of the grains into the corpse's mouth.  Thus pacifying the corpse, they repeat the name of the Deity without any worry.  Likewise, the householder should pacify his wife and the other members of his family.  He should provide them with food and other necessities.  Thus he removes the obstacles to his practice of spiritual discipline.

 

"Those who still have a few worldly experiences to enjoy should lead a householder's life and pray to God.  That is why Nityananda allowed the worldly to enjoy catfish soup and the warm embrace of a young woman while repeating God's name.

 

"But it is quite different with genuine sannyasis.  A bee lights on flowers and on nothing else.  To the chatak all water except rain is tasteless.  It will drink no other water, but looks up agape for the rain that falls when the star Svati is in the ascendant.  It drinks only that water.  A real sannyasi will not enjoy any kind of bliss except the Bliss of God.  The bee lights only on flowers.  The real monk is like a bee, whereas the householder devotee is like a common fly, which lights on a festering sore as well as on a sweetmeat.

 

"You have taken so much trouble to come here.  You must be seeking God.  But almost everyone is satisfied simply by seeing the garden.  Only one or two look for its owner.  People enjoy the beauty of the world; they do not seek its Owner.

 

(The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna)

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

The Position of a Bhakta

 

"In this evanescent world, where everything is falling to pieces, we have to make the highest use of what time we have," says the Bhakta; and really the highest use of life is to hold it at the service of all beings.

 

It is the horrible body-idea that breeds all the selfishness in the world, just this one delusion that we are wholly the body we own, and that we must by all possible means try our very best to preserve and to please it. If you know that you are positively other than your body, you have then none to fight with or struggle against; you are dead to all ideas of selfishness. So the Bhakta declares that we have to hold ourselves as if we are altogether dead to all the things of the world; and that is indeed self-surrender.

 

Let things come as they may. This is the meaning of "Thy will be done" — not going about fighting and struggling and thinking all the while that God wills all our own weaknesses and worldly ambitions. It may be that good comes even out of our selfish struggles; that is, however, God's look-out.

 

The perfected Bhakta's idea must be never to will and work for himself. "Lord, they build high temples in Your name; they make large gifts in Your name; I am poor; I have nothing; so I take this body of mine and place it at Your feet. Do not give me up, O Lord." Such is the prayer proceeding out of the depths of the Bhakta's heart. To him who has experienced it, this eternal sacrifice of the self unto the Beloved Lord is higher by far than all wealth and power, than even all soaring thoughts of renown and enjoyment.

 

The peace of the Bhakta's calm resignation is a peace that passeth all understanding and is of incomparable value. His Apratikulya is a state of the mind in which it has no interests and naturally knows nothing that is opposed to it. In this state of sublime resignation everything in the shape of attachment goes away completely, except that one all-absorbing love to Him in whom all things live and move and have their being. This attachment of love to God is indeed one that does not bind the soul but effectively breaks all its bondages.

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

All is possible with God

 

"Nothing is impossible for God.  Nobody can describe His nature in words.  Everything is possible for Him. There lived at a certain place two yogis who were practising spiritual discipline. The sage Narada was passing that way one day.  Realizing who he was, one of the yogis said: 'You have just come from God Himself.  What is He doing now?' Narada replied, 'Why, I saw Him making camels and elephants pass through the eye of a needle.' At this the yogi said: 'Is that anything to wonder at? Everything is possible for God.' But the other yogi said: 'What? Making elephants pass through the eye of a needle - is that ever possible? You have never been to the Lord's dwelling-place.' "

 

(Excerpt from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna)

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

SVADHARMA, ONE’S DUTY

 

What am I supposed to do in life? What is my duty? What is my way and what is not? These questions are integral to our existence. We become what we do. What we do is our identity. If you are a police officer, it is not only because of a badge and an ID but because you protect people. That is your duty. You do not become a teacher by just getting a job but by your commitment to teaching. Our actions define us and so, it is vital that we know what our actions should be. Svadharma or one’s duty has been a guiding principle of human society. However, there seems to be some confusion about the concept, particularly in recent times, owing to not understanding the Indian varnashrama system. Such confusion mainly centres around how to decide on one’s duty.

 

 

Svadharma is what one professes to do. If one vows to teach, then teaching is svadharma. If one is a medical doctor, treating patients is svadharma. In the context of this word, sva means one’s own and dharma means that which one upholds. How does one know what one’s duty is? It is common to arrive at an understanding of one’s duty from the family and society one is born into, and the consequent upbringing one receives. This gives us an idea of what is correct, proper, and acceptable. A husband who is brought up in India might consider it his duty to guard the interests of his wife almost to the extent of apparently controlling her. Whereas a husband who is brought up in Europe might consider that taking care of his wife’s necessities and allowing her to make decisions independently and giving her space would be the best things to do. Further, the idea of duty differs greatly depending on our religious backgrounds. Duty is decidedly a subjective matter. However, there are some moral imperatives that are universal, for example, telling the truth, not hurting others, not stealing, and loving everyone. Birth and society do influence our idea of duty. But what if someone thinks that she or he was born into the wrong family and surroundings? What if someone feels stifled by the beliefs and customs of the place where one was brought up? Then a person develops one’s own idea of duty based on the understanding of oneself and the world. A doctor’s daughter need not be a doctor. A lawyer’s daughter need not be a lawyer. A priest’s daughter need not be a priest. This means that in the final analysis, duty is what one vows to do. It could be based on birth, family, and society, or it could be a choice away from the cultural roots of the society where one was brought up. Once one decides and vows to do something, after proper thinking and consulting traditional wisdom, one should stick to that and it is this sense of holding on to one’s responsibilities taken upon by one, which is generally called ‘duty’.

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

God's grace is the ultimate help

 

"You may try thousands of times, but nothing can be achieved without God's grace.  One cannot see God without His grace.  Is it an easy thing to receive the grace of God? One must altogether renounce egotism; one cannot see God as long as one feels, 'I am the doer.' Suppose, in a family, a man has taken charge of the store-room; then if someone asks the master, 'Sir, will you yourself kindly give me something from the store-room?', the master says to him: 'There is already someone in the store-room.  What can I do there?'

 

"God doesn't easily appear in the heart of a man who feels himself to be his own master.  But God can be seen the moment His grace descends.  He is the Sun of Knowledge.  One single ray of His has illumined the world with the light of knowledge.  That is how we are able to see one another and acquire varied knowledge.  One can see God only if He turns His light toward His own face.

 

"The police sergeant goes his rounds in the dark of night with a lantern6 in his hand.  No one sees his face; but with the help of that light the sergeant sees everybody's face, and others, too, can see one another.  If you want to see the sergeant, however, you must pray to him: 'Sir, please turn the light on your own face.  Let me see you.' In the same way one must pray to God: 'O Lord, be gracious and turn the light of knowledge on Thyself, that I may see Thy face.'

 

"A house without light indicates poverty.  So one must light the lamp of Knowledge in one's heart.  As it is said in a song:

 

Lighting the lamp of Knowledge in the chamber of your heart,
Behold the face of the Mother, Brahman's Embodiment."

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

The Significance of Temple Worship

 

We, Hindus are criticized by other religionists as worshippers of idols because foreigners do not understand our method of worship. This worship of God in His personal forms is the highest form of worship: for only that enables man to realize the highest love. Infinite God is not so glorious as finite God. Why? God’s nature is infinite: but when that Infinite Being is forced to become finite there is some power which is greater than that of the Infinite One, the power of love. In His infinite nature God has several times appeared to several of His devotees. But God as a man, other nations and other religionists cannot understand. They bring in the aid of philosophy to understand Godhead, and it teaches them that God can only be infinite an omnipotent and omniscient and all-gracious. But if He is all-powerful and all-gracious, He can be finite as well as infinite at any time; for His Maya-sakti is inscrutable. With this power He can become finite, infinite and even something more. Through it to One appears as many, the infinite appears as finite. This Maya is also called Prakriti, the material cause of the Universe. He is the Lord of this Maya: apart from this, He is the eternal One, always the same, beyond time, space and causation.

 

It is, therefore, possible for God to assume forms for the sake of His devotees. To pray to God for this or that thing is beggarly; such men can never become lovers of God. Our ancestors did not want to become beggars. If you go on praying in a church or a temple or mosque for this thing or that, you cannot love God. But loving God is the highest ideal. How to popularize this ideal? Indian devotees found a solution. Some realised him as Vishnu, some as Siva, some as Rama, some as Krishna, and so on. True love enabled them to realise God in His many benign forms. Why should they not worship God in those forms? Let us treat Him as our Friend or as our Master. Let us give Him a house, let us give Him everything that our friend or our master wants. In this way, instead of wanting anything from Him, we shall give Him everything. Such pure love born out of this method of worship, has borne good results always. Through this worship of the living forms of God, the great saints of India have come into existence. Lord Gauranga and his innumerable followers were all worshippers of such Divine forms. Here in South India the Nayanars and Alvars worshipped these forms of God in their temples and became saints. In modern days the name of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is not unknown to you. He became a saint by worshipping such a Divine form represented as the Mother of the Universe.

 

You can now understand that this worship of images in temples is not merely intended to enable men to concentrate their minds. Some think that the images have been introduced to enable the beginner to concentrate his mind. That may be true for some people. But the highest purpose which these living Gods of our temples fulfil, is to develop pure, unselfish love. So we should not ignore these forms of worship, thinking them useless. That would be foolish. God as the infinite being is the natural God. But God in his finite form is more than natural. Blessed are we indeed to have been born in a country where we have been taught to worship God inside ourselves, when we  close our senses; or when we open our senses to worship Him in His universal temple, whose azure vault is our perennial sky, illumined by the glorious sun in the day and by the sweet moon and diamond-like stars in the night, whose floor is our mother earth dressed in green, where just at the centre stands this living temple of God, my fleshly tabernacle, at whose centre, the heart, the living Lord of the entire cosmos, is eternally enthroned, smaller than the smallest and at the same time bigger than the biggest. If on account of our countless daily avocations we are apt to forget Him, we are frequently reminded of His all-pervading Self by the innumerable spires of His temples, sanctified by His all-worshipful forms as well as by the devotion of His innumerable devotees.

 

(The Message of Eternal Wisdom by Swami Ramakrishnananda)

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

Four Classes of Men

 

"Men may be divided into four classes: those bound by the fetters of the world, the seekers after liberation, the liberated, and the ever-free. 

 

"Among the ever-free we may count sages like Narada.  They live in the world for the good of others, to teach men spiritual truth. 

 

"Those in bondage are sunk in worldliness and forgetful of God.  Not even by mistake do they think of God. 

 

"The seekers after liberation want to free themselves from attachment to the world.  Some of them succeed and others do not. 

 

"The liberated souls, such as the sadhus and mahatmas, are not entangled in the world, in 'woman and gold'.  Their minds are free from worldliness.  Besides, they always meditate on the Lotus Feet of God. 

 

"Suppose a net has been cast into a lake to catch fish.  Some fish are so clever that they are never caught in the net.  They are like the ever-free.  But most of the fish are entangled in the net.  Some of them try to free themselves from it, and they are like those who seek liberation.  But not all the fish that struggle succeed.  A very few do jump out of the net, making a big splash in the water.  Then the fishermen shout, 'Look! There goes a big one!' But most of the fish caught in the net cannot escape, nor do they make any effort to get out.  On the contrary, they burrow into the mud with the net in their mouths and lie there quietly, thinking, 'We need not fear any more; we are quite safe here.' But the poor things do not know that the fishermen will drag them out with the net.  These are like the men bound to the world. 

 

"The bound souls are tied to the world by the fetters of 'woman and gold'.  They are bound hand and foot.  Thinking that 'woman and gold' will make them happy and give them security, they do not realize that it will lead them to annihilation.  When a man thus bound to the world is about to die, his wife asks, 'You are about to go; but what have you done for me?' Again, such is his attachment to the things of the world that, when he sees the lamp burning brightly, he says: 'Dim the light.  Too much oil is being used.' And he is on his death-bed!

 

"The bound souls never think of God.  If they get any leisure they indulge in idle gossip and foolish talk, or they engage in fruitless work.  If you ask one of them the reason, he answers, 'Oh, I cannot keep still; so I am making a hedge.' When time hangs heavy on their hands they perhaps start playing cards."

 

(The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna)

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

‘My Standard is the Best’

 

‘My teacher is such an interesting madam,’ tiny Mukesh was recalling his school time to his mother. ‘She teaches arithmetic and each day, she gives a different solution. Two plus two is four, she said the other day. And today, she said, three plus one is four!’ His mother smiled and smiled. Mukesh was so innocent and naïve but he was speaking out a profound issue in his simple, childlike language.

 

Like Mukesh, we too have similar problems—in different ways and areas of life. For instance, we ask, ‘How could God with Form also be God without Form?’ Or, ‘How can same God be called by different names? If I call Him as Vishnu, how could he be Shiva? Or by some other name?’ And so on.

 

Not only in terms of religious issues, the problem of one-sided thinking is universal in its existence. It is the problem of finding out the underlying truth behind the multiplicity of expressions, extending into diverse forms of life. We hold something as true and then fail to understand, like Mukesh, that different expressions of the same thing are laid out in different ways and methods. And this non-understanding leads to a hardened stand; we become intolerant and, ultimately, violent. Fanaticism extends to the way we eat, dress, speak, pray and what not. We want everyone to be like us!

 

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

The Idea of Renunciation

 

It is indeed a paradox to say that renunciation determines all our tendencies. Men greatly fear to renounce. They grasp firmly everything that they happen to possess. Renunciation is regarded as the exclusive duty of a monk (sannyasin). A householder should not have anything to do with renunciation. But I tell you that it is the only thing which determines the movement of all the living beings throughout the Universe. We must have to renounce that which cannot give us happiness any more, in order to get something which makes us all happy. Everywhere, whether in the vegetable or in the animal kingdom, the law is the same.

 

One thing in connection with this idea of renunciation is that it is regarded as very difficult and undesirable by most people. For, when they look at a sannyasin with shaven head going from house to house to get his meals (Bhiksha); and when they see that he has nothing to call his own, that he finds house in a chatram or under a tree, and that he is looked upon with hatred and pity by most of the well-to-do people, - the ordinary man of the world cannot help regarding such a life to be very undesirable, nay, fearful. That the sannyasin does not put on good clothes, does not get good food, nay, sometimes he has to starve and thus lead a very wretched sort of life, are facts which very few can relish. Every man has a desire for enjoyment. If you have got a certain amount of money, say Rs 10, in your hand, and I ask you to throw it away, you would not do it, because money makes you happy. But if I assure you by saying, “I will give you Rs 20 if you do so,” you will at once obey me; for by so doing, you will get twice as much enjoyment as the amount in your hand can give you. This is exactly what everyone does when he renounces, be he a house-holder or a sannyasin. In the Chhandogya Upanishad Bhagavan Sanatkumara is exhorting Narada in this way.

 

“That which is vast and limitless is the source of all bliss there is no bliss in what is limited and little. The Infinite One alone is bliss; try to realize it.” 

 

(From ‘The Message of Eternal Wisdom’ by Swami Ramakrishnananda) 

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

Lead Us From the Unreal To the Real

 

We are Souls not the miserable bodies and minds. The human soul is eternal and immortal, perfect and infinite. This longing to remember and regain our true nature will be haunting us until we reach the goal, until we realise we are the Self. It is this longing which expresses in the form of innumerable desires. This teleological urge will not go away until we reach the goal. This unconscious longing and how to remember our forgotten divinity is the theme of every scripture, specially the Upanishads. All nature is crying through all the atoms for one thing--its perfect freedom. It is this longing of every human being that is so beautifully expressed in the form of prayer in one of the great Upanishads:

 

OM asato ma sad gamaya
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
Mrityorma amritam gamaya

 

Om! From ignorance, lead me to Truth;
From darkness, lead me to Light;
From death, lead me to Immortality.
(Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 1.3.28)

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

Parable of the Snake

 

"Listen to a story.  Some cowherd boys used to tend their cows in a meadow where a terrible poisonous snake lived.  Everyone was on the alert for fear of it.  One day a brahmachari was going along the meadow.  The boys ran to him and said: 'Revered sir, please don't go that way.  A venomous snake lives over there.' 'What of it, my good children?' said the brahmachari.  'I am not afraid of the snake.  I know some mantras.' So saying, he continued on his way along the meadow.  But the cowherd boys, being afraid, did not accompany him.  In the mean time the snake moved swiftly toward him with upraised hood.  As soon as it came near, he recited a mantra, and the snake lay at his feet like an earthworm.  The brahmachari said: 'Look here.  Why do you go about doing harm? Come, I will give you a holy word.  By repeating it you will learn to love God.  Ultimately you will realize Him and so get rid of your violent nature.' Saying this, he taught the snake a holy word and initiated him into spiritual life.  The snake bowed before the teacher and said, 'Revered sir, how shall I practise spiritual discipline?' 'Repeat that sacred word', said the teacher, 'and do no harm to anybody'.  As he was about to depart, the brahmachari said, 'I shall see you again.'

 

"Some days passed and the cowherd boys noticed that the snake would not bite.  They threw stones at it.  Still it showed no anger; it behaved as if it were an earthworm.  One day one of the boys came close to it, caught it by the tail, and, whirling it round and round, dashed it again and again on the ground and threw it away.  The snake vomited blood and became unconscious.  It was stunned.  It could not move.  So, thinking it dead, the boys went their way. 

 

"Late at night the snake regained consciousness.  Slowly and with great difficulty it dragged itself into its hole; its bones were broken and it could scarcely move.  Many days passed.  The snake became a mere skeleton covered with a skin.  Now and then, at night, it would come out in search of food.  For fear of the boys it would not leave its hole during the day-time.  Since receiving the sacred word from the teacher, it had given up doing harm to others.  It maintained its life on dirt, leaves, or the fruit that dropped from the trees. 

 

"About a year later the brahmachari came that way again and asked after the snake.  The cowherd boys told him that it was dead.  But he couldn't believe them.  He knew that the snake would not die before attaining the fruit of the holy word with which it had been initiated.  He found his way to the place and, searching here and there, called it by the name he had given it.  Hearing the teacher's voice, it came out of its hole and bowed before him with great reverence.  'How are you?' asked the brahmachari.  'I am well, sir', replied the snake.  'But', the teacher asked, 'why are you so thin?' The snake replied: 'Revered sir, you ordered me not to harm any body.  So I have been living only on leaves and fruit.  Perhaps that has made me thinner.'

 

"The snake had developed the quality of sattva; it could not be angry with anyone.  It had totally forgotten that the cowherd boys had almost killed it. 

 

"The brahmachari said: 'It can't be mere want of food that has reduced you to this state.  There must be some other reason.  Think a little.' Then the snake remembered that the boys had dashed it against the ground.  It said: 'Yes, revered sir, now I remember.  The boys one day dashed me violently against the ground.  They are ignorant, after all.  They didn't realize what a great change had come over my mind.  How could they know I wouldn't bite or harm anyone?' The brahmachari exclaimed: 'What a shame! You are such a fool! You don't know how to protect yourself.  I asked you not to bite, but I didn't forbid you to hiss.  Why didn't you scare them by hissing?'

 

"So you must hiss at wicked people.  You must frighten them lest they should do you harm.  But never inject your venom into them.  One must not injure others.”

 

(The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna)  

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

The Story of the Good King Ranti Deva

 

There is a beautiful story, in one of the old books, about a great king who showed compassion to others. I will tell you that story. There was once a king called Ranti Deva. He was the son of Sankriti. He was known as the good King, for he always gave to the poor both money and food.

 

Sometimes he gave away all that he had, and he and his family used often to go without food so that they might feed the hungry.

 

Once he, and those who were with him, had been without food for many days and they were very hungry. Some one brought them some food, some nice fresh milk, and ghi and barley and water. They were just going to sit down and take the food, when a Brahmana guest came in and asked for some, for he also was hungry. Ranti Deva was very pleased to give him food and served him first.

 

When the Brahmana had eaten he went away, and then Ranti Deva divided what food remained so that all had equal portions. Just as he was going to eat his portion a Shudra came in and asked for some food. Ranti Deva gave him some, although he had not yet had any himself; so the Shudra had some food and he went away.

 

There was not much left, but before Ranti Deva could take any, a man came in with a pack of dogs, and he also wanted food. The good King gave all that remained of the food to the man and the dogs, and all that was left was one cup of water.

 

The man and the dogs also went away, and Ranti Deva was just going to take a drink of water, for he was very thirsty, and that was all that remained. Just at that moment a poor beggar came up and cried out " I am so thirsty, so thirsty, I pray you give me water". He was only an outcaste but he was tired and miserable. The kind and loving King took the cup of water that he was going to drink, and gave it to that poor beggar. While he was holding the cup so that the poor man could drink easily, Ranti Deva felt full of love and said: "I no longer feel the pain of hunger and thirst. All I ask of Hari is to let me bear the pain and sorrow of others, so that I may help them and take away their miseries".

 

 

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

 

A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door! He slammed on the brakes and drove the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown. The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car, shouting, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing?

 

That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?"

 

The young boy was apologetic. "Please mister ... please, I'm sorry... I didn't know what else to do," he pleaded. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop..."

 

With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. "It's my brother," he said. "He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up."

 

Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me." Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out his fancy handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay.

 

"Thank you and may God bless you," the grateful child told the stranger. Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the little boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home. It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!

 

God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don't have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us.

 

 

THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

Four classes of men

"It is said that there are four classes of human beings: the bound, those aspiring after liberation, the liberated, and the ever-perfect.

 

Parable of the fish and the net

"This world is like a fishing-net.  Men are the fish, and God, whose maya has created this world, is the fisherman.  When the fish are entangled in the net, some of them try to tear through its meshes in order to get their liberation.  They are like the men striving after liberation.  But by no means all of them escape.  Only a few jump out of the net with a loud splash, and then people say, 'Ah! There goes a big one!' In like manner, three or four men attain liberation.  Again, some fish are so careful by nature that they are never caught in the net; some beings of the ever-perfect class, like Narada, are never entangled in the meshes of worldliness.  Most of the fish are trapped; but they are not conscious of the net and of their imminent death.  No sooner are they entangled than they run headlong, net and all, trying to hide themselves in the mud.  They don't make the least effort to get free.  On the contrary, they go deeper and deeper into the mud.  These fish are like the bound men.  They are still inside the net, but they think they are quite safe there.  A bound creature is immersed in worldliness, in 'woman and gold', having gone deep into the mire of degradation.  But still he believes he is quite happy and secure.  The liberated, and the seekers after liberation, look on the world as a deep well.  They do not enjoy it.  Therefore, after the attainment of Knowledge, the realization of God, some give up their bodies.  But such a thing is rare indeed.

 

Worldly-minded forget their lessons

"The bound creatures, entangled in worldliness, will not come to their senses at all.  They suffer so much misery and agony, they face so many dangers, and yet they will not wake up.

 

"The camel loves to eat thorny bushes.  The more it eats the thorns, the more the blood gushes from its mouth.  Still it must eat thorny plants and will never give them up.  The man of worldly nature suffers so much sorrow and affliction, but he forgets it all in a few days and begins his old life over again.  Suppose a man has lost his wife or she has turned unfaithful.  Lo! He marries again.

 

"Or take the instance of a mother: her son dies and she suffers bitter grief; but after a few days she forgets all about it.  The mother, so overwhelmed with sorrow a few days before, now attends to her toilet and puts on her jewelry.  A father becomes bankrupt through the marriage of his daughters, yet he goes on having children year after year.  People are ruined by litigation, yet they go to court all the same.  There are men who cannot feed the children they have, who cannot clothe them or provide decent shelter for them; yet they have more children every year.

 

"Again, the worldly man is like a snake trying to swallow a mole.  The snake can neither swallow the mole nor give it up.  The bound soul may have realized that there is no substance to the world-that the world is like a hog plum, only stone and skin-but still he cannot give it up and turn his mind to God.

 

"I once met a relative of Keshab Sen, fifty years old.  He was playing cards.  As if the time had not yet come for him to think of God!

 

"There is another characteristic of the bound soul.  If you remove him from his worldly surroundings to a spiritual environment, he will pine away.  The worm that grows in filth feels very happy there.  It thrives in filth.  It will die if you put it in a pot of rice."

 

(The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Chap.7)

Books for Sales