If fighting injustice is spiritual then knowing how the injustice came about is important. It is like taking the first step towards the shrine. Let us continue exploring the injustice of racism. Historically racism grew from war. When people who did not look like us attacked one the first seeds of hatred were sown. Many prophets and kings fanned this hatred between cultures as they felt xenophobia will make their people rally behind them more fiercely. Differences in culture and sense of … [Read more...] about Show Spirit, Become Spiritual
From Buddha to Aristotle many have spoken about the importance of balance. This balance is the one which man acquires when he moves on the middle path. When he avoids extremes and follows the golden mean. Then for example, he is not a coward, nor is he rash -he is courageous. Similarly between pride and diffidence he chooses modesty, between miserliness and extravagance, liberality, between moroseness and buffoonery, good humor, between belligerence and flattery, friendship and so on. One … [Read more...] about Even saints require power, weapons
Two sharp insights from Confucius… Cut the handle of a new axe with an old axe and it will not be far from the old handle in appearance. Hence a gentleman asks of others no more than of himself, so long as they correct their mistakes. He who can practice tolerance and forbearance is not far from the way of the mean. He should do to others as he would have others do to him. Confucius highlights the challenge of walking the middle path (way of the mean) especially in the beginning. Cut the … [Read more...] about Confucian Prescription for Spiritual Evolution
Now comes a new lament. Indian players in the Indian premier league are being racially abused. And then Air France staff is accused of harassing Indians. So much of racial discrimination targetted against one community? What is it in us Indians which makes the world treat us so? I was invited as the chief guest to the IMA (Indian Medical Association) for their annual function. My introduction was in superlatives and I was given a lot of respect before being called to address the function. I … [Read more...] about Does our Spirituality make us Weak?
Even a priest needs to inspire some awe to command the faith of the faithful- Chanakya By priest, Chanakya means a virtuous man - a kind, honest, sincere, generous, loving man. If you wish to live like such a man your life would be saintly. If you wish to be like a saint, then you should have a weapon. What does a weapon mean? Weapon means either the ability to stand for your principles or your network of contacts and your good will or your ability to expose the other person’s misdeeds. This … [Read more...] about Spirituality of Truth and Strength
In the last piece I said how throwing shoes at one’s oppressors is a spiritual act. A reader has asked me he would like to go further and throw stones. Would that be more spiritual? Let me answer his question with a tale from Ramayana. Lakshaman and Sugreeva are deliberating on how to cross the sea and reach Lanka with their army. They thought it is best to begin with a prayer to the ocean-god and submitted their opinion to Rama. Rama accepted their counsel and started his fast and prayers … [Read more...] about What’s spiritual: shoes or stones?
A popular tale about Krishna goes as follows. Krishna is having dinner sitting in heaven. His wife Rukmani is serving him. On the Earth a devotee of Krishna is surrounded by some thugs who are moving menacingly towards him to rough him up. Krishna watches this and gets up to go to his aid. Rukmani is disappointed that her husband has to leave suddenly and tries to stop him but Krishna is determined to leave. Suddenly he sits down again and resumes dinner. Rukmani asks him, “What happened, My … [Read more...] about Are we becoming more Spiritual?
Mun mecca dil dwarika, kaya kaashi jaan, Das dware ka dehra, taamein joti pichaan (Kabir says that your mind is the Mecca and the heart is Dwarika (the door-way to self-realisation). A sacred and healthy body may be likened to Kashi – the holy place of worship. This ten door body of the human being is that temple where self realisation can be attained. In other words, one does not need to go on a pilgrimage to reach God, the human body is capable of achieving everything right here right … [Read more...] about Heart, Mind, Body and Love
Tere andar saanch jo, bahar naahi janaav, Jaanan hara jaani hai, antar gati ka bhav (Kabir condemns bragging even about the truth in your heart. Your truth is yours alone. The knowledgeable have the ability to sense the machinations of the human mind on their own and your true heart will be seen by them anyways.) Why do we brag about our spiritual realisations? Why do we want to tell others about our spiritual growth? There are two reasons for this. Either it is for one-up-man-ship: … [Read more...] about The true mark of self-realisation
Bhay se bhakti karen sab, bhay se puja hoye Bhay paras hai jeev ko, nirbhay hoye na koye (Kabir says that ‘fear’ (probably of the unknown) is instrumental in moving people towards prayer and taking to devotional practices. Fear works like the philosopher’s stone that causes people to tread on the right path). Kabir reaches the heart of the matter. He says, fear is instrumental in moving people towards prayer and taking to devotional practices. How was prayer or religion born? Imagine the … [Read more...] about Fear and Religion
Bhay bin Bhav na upaje, bhay bin hoye na preeti Jab Hirday se bhay gaya, miti sakal riti (Kabir says that without an element of fear, it is difficult to feel happiness or sorrow. Fear is important even to feel affection for the Guru. In the absence of fear, one loses reverence for his master and can easily abandon all ethical behaviour, resulting in a loss of his own identity). Every mother once in a while has to scare her child. Why? Does she not love her child? No. If there is one expression … [Read more...] about The Importance of Fear
Jab mein tha tab Guru Nahin, ab Guru hain main nahi Prem gali ati saankri ta mein do na samahi (Kabir says that when in a state of ego a disciple cannot connect to his Guru. And when he does achieve that connection with the Guru and absorbs true knowledge, ego vanishes. So narrow is the lane of love between the Guru and disciple that it has no room for ego.) Ego has its uses and Kabir knows about them. Ego is a defense mechanism. It helps you defend your interest. However, one should use ego as … [Read more...] about Guru-shishya link is based on love
Saint Kabir has been one of the most unique Indian poet – thinker. Kabir was a peak in spiritual consciousness. Let us explore his wisdom. Kabir is a man of candor. He has spoken extensively on the guru-shishya (teacher-student) relationship. In the whole world, I doubt if anyone has written so extensively on the teacher-student relationship as Kabir has. Most of his writings have been polluted by compilers. They wax eloquent about the guru. In the following verse, which having read him … [Read more...] about Poor teachers have readymade answers
In the last two pieces I have discussed how relevant is the advise of Chanakya given 2500 years ago both for parents and children of today. This mega mind also exhorted the Indian society to shed its hypocrisy as it makes India weak, inefficient and non credible. He says that a physically weak person develops a friendly nature. That is when you are physically weak you pose to be friendly because that is the only behavioral option you have. You can't be aggressive when you are physically weak. … [Read more...] about Hospitalisation can spur enlightenment
In my last two pieces I discussed how an overemphasis on spirituality can dilute action and how the so called spiritual gurus, often unknowingly, take you on a make-believe ride and make you miss life. Misdirected religion and spirituality can engender another problem. It can tie you up in rituals and superstition. You lose the power of differentiating the eternal teachings (Sanatana Dharma) from the temporal recommendations (Yug Dharma). For example Geeta says that you should resist evil and … [Read more...] about Belief must stand the test of wisdom
Last week, I wrote about how too much focus on the sacred (spiritual) dilutes action. The blind pursuit of the spiritual also has other undesired effects. Let us see what these are. Alfred Hitchcock was once traveling by car with a friend. He suddenly pointed out of the car window and said, "That is the most frightening sight I have ever seen." His companion was surprised to see nothing more alarming than a priest in conversation with a little boy, his hand on the child's shoulder. "Run, little … [Read more...] about Chasing a Mirage Called Spirituality
One of the reasons why I was thrilled to receive the invitation to write for this column is its name, Sacred Bull. I love it. So in my first piece let me talk about two great men who in a somewhat similar style challenged the status of the sacred. The first was Confucius, who said, “To give one’s self earnestly to the duties due to men and while respecting spiritual beings, to keep aloof from them, this may be called wisdom”. Why does Confucius suggest that we keep aloof from spiritual … [Read more...] about Put Social Welfare Above Spirituality
Saint Kabir has been one of the most unique Indian poet – thinker. Achieving a peak in spiritual consciousness, Kabir was not just a spiritual guru. Kabir’s dohas or couplets have been widely translated and attempts to interpret them have also been made. However, most of this interpretation is esoteric and academic. It often does not do justice to this great master of his times. The following pages truly highlight the essence of Kabir, not as a poet or spiritualist alone, but as a Success Guru. … [Read more...] about Kabir’s Spiritual Wisdom