Acting With Surrender.

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Do what you must do and then leave the rest to Him or Guru. This is where faith and devotion comes in – just leave it to Him, may His will be done. In this way offer your work to Him.

Surrender is to be with no fear or anger. Once you surrender you should be at peace. Besides, fear and anger expend life-energy and bring ill health and when you surrender, you should see your physical health and energy improve as well. Working this way is not a defeatist approach. Inaction is not being advocated. On the contrary you must be unswerving in your effort in fulfilling your duties and doing what you must. Neither is indifference and apathy being advocated. Working this way you will automatically find yourself nearer to Him and to all life. Your every utterance and action will bring calm and do good to others and there can be nothing more fulfilling, says Sri Krishna in the Bhagvad Gita.

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On The Upholders Of Tradition.

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When we do not allow others the freedom to choose and we impose our decisions and beliefs, we are being oppressive. Every so often we do this perhaps unwittingly. It is what we have always seen around us. Our elders who we look up to did the same as did their before them. We did not defy them and we were seen as good for that, and others have a duty to do likewise we think. What’s more we are lauded for running a tight ship. And who are we to question tradition? But make no mistake, it is oppression nonetheless and there is a touch of the desire to be in a position of dominance and control. The tools employed are that of subtle or veiled intimidation and manipulation. The repressed play safe and submit rather than be excluded or out of favor and face uncertainty. They try to find meaning and happiness within the structure. Are praised for their obedience and devotion and sacrifice of which a virtue is made. And often the seeds are sown early when respect for authority is inculcated, when independent thinking and a free spirit is discouraged, and when dissension is scorned upon or punished. Freedom is a prerequisite to happiness. Moreover, it is an injustice, however well-meaning, where an individual is not allowed to pursue his or her dreams or to soar to the heights that he or she is capable of. Besides would it not be nicer were people to do stuff out of affection and regard rather than a sense of duty, or under compulsion or for some other consideration; and also were people to empower others rather than look to wield authority?

As for our traditions, they are there to serve the individual and society and not the other way around. Their origins have a context and reflect the knowledge, challenges and aspirations of the people of the day and they must evolve with time and the changing situation. Either that or you turn back the clock to keep them relevant! Even then where there is stagnation, muck builds-up and the soul is lost in all the murkiness.

Five Pillars Of Morality.

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Every one of us is oblivious of his own wrongdoing and is upright in his own esteem. Here lies a difficulty and there must therefore be some basic guidelines, by which we can examine our own actions, and principles that we must be mindful of all the time.

Truth is that which is, beyond individual perception and belief. Truth commands respect. There is a certain sanctity to truth. An admission or acknowledgment of the truth is often the starting point for reason. Besides that, truthfulness makes things uncomplicated and straightforward. Fairness is justice all around. It is central to cooperation among people. Fairness helps preserve trust and closeness. Injustice on the other hand is born out of greed and often imposed by intimidation. Injustice destroys harmony and peace and produces conflict. Kindness is the cornerstone of morality. There is kindness in every person if only we dispose-off the muck that we cover ourselves in. An unkind act causes distress to another and we must, for instance, reject any ideology or call that advocates mindless hostility and cruelty towards others. Self-forgetfulness is necessary in as much as we do not make truthfulness and fairness and kindness subordinate or secondary to our interest or to those or that to which we are attached or committed. We must be especially wary of egotism and group-loyalty which ever so often leads us astray. The other obstacle is fear. Fear inclines us irrespective to stand with the crowd or to take the undemanding path rather than brave difficulties. Courage finally is indispensable to moral conduct.

The Inmost Self.

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When you are fast asleep, there is no thought of I or of this or that, no awareness of what is without and what within, time is not there, the mind is not, there is just being and peace. Coming out of sleep in the morning there is both the awareness of the waking state and the stillness of sleep. At some point you become conscious perhaps of the sounds of birds chirping and looking within you recognize yourself. You remain in bed, blissfully abiding in yourself. But soon enough the person and with it the schedule for the day and the rest (worries, desires, etc.) are back and you open your eyes.

That which we experience as the person is consciousness plus mind. Hidden behind mind, seen only when the mind is stilled, our inmost self is consciousness. No, not even that. The innermost is just being; awareness that is oblivious even of itself that then becomes differentiated consciousness; that is the ground in which the duality of consciousness as subject and mind as object (and hence experience) emerge. Suffer the loss of a limb and the sense of being stays unchanged. An injury to the head may well change the contents of consciousness and how the world is perceived; even so consciousness itself remains unaffected. The inmost self is always there, you cannot get away from it; that being first everything else follows; it is something so real and solid and yet so basic and subtle, the mind is unmindful of its own substratum.

The inmost self is independent, detached, without action it watches our actions from within. It is that which sees, hears and seems to think. The eyes, ears and mind are but its instruments. The inmost self has neither nationality nor race nor sex, is untainted and untouched by sin, is beyond all knowledge and beliefs, beyond all suffering and sorrow; all of which belong to mind. Ever present within, the inmost self of all, is unchanged by injury or old-age – it cannot be cut or burned, does not wither or decay. You are that, say the Upanishads; know that you are that.

Brain Time.

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There are occasions when time seems to fly and other occasions which seem an eternity. Our experience of time-speed has to do seemingly with the direction of our attention, i.e. is it directed on the present experience, or a present expectation, or on what went before, or is it reminiscing the distant past or making plans for the future? And then again, is the attention focused, or is it distracted or preoccupied. The experience of slowing time is a consequence of a non-wandering attention focused on a present (not distant) expectation. Anybody who has been in an automobile accident will tell you that what must have been barely a second or two appears a great deal longer and it is like watching a scene enfolding before you in slow motion before you come back to normal time-speed. More commonplace examples of time slowing would be, for instance, when you need to urinate most urgently and the bathroom is in use, or when you are watching milk boil, or when you encounter an unfamiliar setting or situation and are alert and on your guard. On the other hand, time speeds up when you are utterly immersed in the present as in when you are engrossed with an undivided attention in work or when you are in the arms of your partner with no yearning or concern for nothing.

Reality v. Perception.

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Experience is everything – it might even be questioned if something is actually out there or is only experienced as such. Perception is how we experience the world. It is the narrative that we superimpose on all that is happening around us and the personal reality that we construct. The mind is a bundle of thousands of interacting neural circuitry that collectively give rise to perception. Therefore a mind that is wired differently (and each mind is) experiences or encounters a different world. Even something as basic as vision and hearing is what the individual mind makes of vibrations that the eyes and ears sense. For instance, a number of neural circuits receive input from the retina in both eyes and collectively manufacture or put together a picture on the screen of consciousness. There are circuits responsible for giving depth, for colour, brightness levels, for filling in spaces, to give continuity, another turns the image the right-side up, and so on. There are then other neural programs at work – that look through the memory store, that recognize and distinguish, that place a name and words to describe it, that make comparisons and give perspective, etc. Furthermore there are then related memories, the individual’s situation and training, his likes and fears, and so on that are superimposed on the world picture.

There is always the intervention of mind and we deal only with perceptions. Each person is holding a different world in his head. Therefore it is essential to empathize and understand as to why an individual thinks or acts in a particular manner rather than be straight-off judgmental. Especially where perceptions are vastly different, communication and comprehending the other’s viewpoint can often be difficult and such opposed perceptions on a large-scale, as between people of different cultures, can sometimes become a source for conflict.

Directing Your Attention.

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The mind is all the time running, jumping from one subject to another. You notice or hear or are reflecting on something and like a search engine at work, all kinds of recollections, knowledge you’ve acquired, that which you’ve read or seen, as well as other things or events associated with it come to mind. Your thoughts are just an interaction or linking of all of these. And then the mind picks-up something else and again the same process ensues and so on and so forth. Some thoughts are ludicrous, some immoral and therefore we dismiss them. Others like fear do harm if we stay with them for long.  What is important to note however is that whereas you might not be in command of your thoughts, you do have power over the attention that you give them. Besides, it is this attention that gives a thought strength. Furthermore, moment to moment, at any moment only a single thing or matter can hold your attention. For example, divert your attention and you become oblivious to the pain you were feeling. Or you are anxious about something and then some other concern crops up and the former dissipates.

Don’t attend to pessimistic or depressing thoughts. On the other hand make time for and give your attention to and savour the countless little things that hold possibility for happiness. It could be something as basic as – lying a little longer in bed after you wake up, taking a hot shower, sipping on ginger-tea, watching a downpour, a sattvic meal, driving your automobile on a scenic road, a foot massage following a tiring day, or a back rub as you fall asleep.

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