Monday, September 23, 2013

Miracle

Throughout our lifespan, be it childhood or old age, we always look forward for some miracle to happen. When they happen, we are thrilled and excited, irrespective of our age. But interestingly, we fail to acknowledge and appreciate miracles that happen in and around us every day. A great example of this is our heart beat. This is even without our conscious knowledge and we are alive because of it. Is this not a miracle? The fact that we breathe without any effort is a miracle and a bigger miracle is that we have a choice to control breathing. We always have oxygen to breath and nobody has stolen it from us, that’s another miracle. Isn’t it astonishing that a running cycle does not fall but when the same cycle halts, it falls, if not held! It appeared to be a great miracle to me when I was a child and even today, I admire the bicycle in motion. Despite scientific explanations to these occurrences, each one of these are in fact miracles - miracles of our day to day life.

Certain things in creation are perceived to be miracles, but be sure that everything is in fact a miracle, the fact is, we just don’t notice it. Here’s story about the biggest miracle ……..

One day, after doing service to his Guru and imbibing knowledge for many long years, the disciple asked his Guru,”Gurudev, you have given me so much knowledge that is difficult to acquire and I am ever grateful for that. Now, please tell me whether I can really see God someday and how?” The Guru smiled and did not answer the question. Instead he told the disciple, “Today, you go to the nearby village and get the required materials for a special puja”. In those days, disciples don’t question the Guru on the instructions given. Instead, they implicitly obey their Guru. So this disciple simply followed the Guru’s orders, went to the village, which was very far from the ashram, to fetch the materials for puja. It was a very hot day and the disciple was very tired by the time he was back with the puja materials.

The Guru asked the disciple, “What are all the things that you saw today on your way to the village and back?”

The disciple said, “I saw some cows grazing, some horses galloping, a few children playing on the street……and so on”

The Guru asked him, “Are you sure you told me everything that you saw?”

The disciple thought for a while and said, “Oh, sorry Gurudev. I forgot to tell you about the monkey sitting on a tree.”

“Are you sure that you have told me everything you saw now?” the Guru asked again and the disciple confirmed that he had.

Now the Guru told him, “Dear son, you have told me about every object you saw but failed to remember the sun which illuminated all the objects you saw and also was with you throughout the day, where ever you went.” This is how we miss seeing God in us and in everything we see. Instead we look for some miracle to happen. If we can see properly, we can see the miracle of all miracles happening within us. This is what the Rishis of ancient India did and shared with us about what they saw. They are seers. What are we? At least we can make an attempt to know what they said and most importantly follow what they told us to do. The choice is with us, given by God.

-Arasu Ramanujam

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The best action plan


We are all busy running around to get our things done. For a change let us stop for a moment and think about all our activities. What do we want to achieve by these activities? A poor man wants to become rich; a rich man wants to get rid of stress; a sick man wants a doctor and a doctor wants peace of mind. All our activities are either directed towards getting something we like or get rid of something we hate. Do we succeed in this attempt? Whatever we get, we don’t stop there. We want more of it or something else that is more attractive. Are our activities really meaningful? Do our activities take us towards the goal, whatever the goal may be? Unlike animals, human beings cannot just be satisfied with the basic needs of food and shelter. We have an inner urge to become greater, happier and more knowledgeable. Ultimately all of us have the same goal. One may want to be an engineer, the other a doctor and the third an accountant. But what we want to achieve ultimately is one and the same. What is that one thing we all really want? Can we really get it?

In this age of internet, we have all sorts of information flowing in. At a click, we get the information we want. But the problem is the human tendency to search for what is interesting and convincing to self. Further there is so much of information pleasing the sense organs which may be counterproductive and distracting to the main goal of life. We need to get this knowledge of truth certainly from an experienced teacher who really knows it and the way to get it. If we keep acting according to our whims and fancies up to the end of life, the inner urge will still be lingering and the body and mind hankering for pleasures which cannot be fulfilled due to old age. It will be too late and the unique human birth would have already been wasted by then. Therefore now, from this moment, without wasting any more time we need to know what the best action plan is. This action plan is time tested and given by the most trusted teachers of humankind. Let us try to follow their steps as below (we shall reach goal at the end):

·   Actions are of two types - One to fulfill one’s own desire. The other done out of compassion to others without expecting anything in return for oneself. There is nothing wrong to have rightful desire to fulfill personal needs. But the time spent on this type of action should reduce and as we mature, the second type of actions should increase.

·   The second type of actions can be to help other human beings. It can be for other living beings or it can be for preserving nature. It could be devotion to God- pure devotion, love of God just for love.

·  We should increasingly indulge  in rightful actions guided by scriptures and noble persons; reduce wrongful actions induced by greed and hatred.

·   We would not have got this body without our parents and their parents. We cannot live on this earth without air, water and fire. We need sun light, and our very earth exists in space. Therefore we are indebted to all these and hence we should be thankful for these every day. If not every day, we should at least periodically worship our forefathers and all the elements that keep us alive. This sense of worship will help in our progress towards our goal.

·   Daily prayer in the morning and evening, Yogasanas (simple physical exercises) to maintain good health, eating simple food (that is enough to keep good health) are all needed to achieve the ultimate goal. Either pampering the body by laziness or torturing it by excessive activity must be avoided.

·    Our duty and responsibility are due not only to other human beings, but also to the whole creation. We should help maintaining the order of nature. This is the fundamental principal of ecology, of which the world talks a lot these days.

·    We better dedicate all our actions to God. Whatever work we do, let us do it whole heartedly and with love, as service to God. We should not claim ownership for success and failure. We should think that we are just instruments in the hands of God. He does everything through us. We should accept all results of dedicated actions, as a gift from God.

·    It is our duty to look after our children and be responsible for their welfare. But we should not try to own them as materials and dictate our own terms to them, due to our excessive attachments. We should always be conscious that one day they will grow, become independent and have their own views about their lives.

·    We should consume the minimum that is required for living. We should try to contribute as much as possible. Gratification of senses will drag us deeper and deeper into the sea of sorrows. At the advanced age we will be helpless. We will not be able to control the longing for sense pleasure due to habitual indulgence.

·    Self control is absolutely essential for a happy life. Nobody has ever achieved anything worthy without control of the mind and sense organs.

·    All of us need not do the same thing at the same level. There are so many ways as many individuals. For example, some might realize early that mere selfish actions produce unending chain of actions without any progress towards the goal of life. Such people may do more actions as dedication to God and make a quick progress. But all must try to regulate sense pleasures and control the mind. Finally the mind should listen to us and not vice versa

·   In fact even unselfish actions such as social service are really self help only, but of higher nature. Only such actions help in getting a pure mind and to concentrate on higher levels of thought.        

So, what do we get out this action plan of life? We get self esteem, peace, harmonious environment and above all a pure mind to go to the final stage of our goal. A human life is never completed unless it realizes eternal existence, unlimited knowledge and absolute bliss. In fact all these three are one and the same. This state can never be explained in words. Only if we have followed the above steps we can reach the next stage where we can realize this state here, in this world itself. The ultimate goal is not explained here in detail as it is our own nature, higher true nature. We just want to merge with our true nature. It is possible to reach there if we have followed the above steps sincerely in our life. Last minute preparations won’t work as this is life and not an academic exam to pass. Let us put our sincere efforts. God’s grace will take us there with the help of proper knowledge and guidance.

-Arasu Ramanujam


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The First and last lesson


A few decades from now, the people in the next generations may find it difficult to believe that someone like Kanchi Paramacharya Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati lived in human form. Blessed are those who had his dharshan and listened to him. One who seeks God, needs to know no more than his teachings that came out as the “voice of God”. There is nothing more one needs to do, than to follow his life itself as exemplary way to realize God. The Paramacharya known as Jagadguru, did not use a car to travel, a cot to sleep, or a fan to get breeze. When the whole material world was at his feet, he preferred to go on foot from village to village and had the barest minimum for living. He practiced austerity and penance that brought happiness to all living beings. He himself was the personification of the teachings of Vedas, Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavatam. It would be impossible to describe all his glories in words. Humility is the first lesson we should learn from him in order to destroy ego, the root cause of misery and ignorance. Such a great saint was so humble and simple himself. He blamed none but himself when things went wrong. As a perfect saint, he was like a child in his simple expressions with profound meaning.

Once the parents of a young man met the Paramacharya and made a complaint. They said that their son was always involved in social service after listening to Paramacharya’s speech on the subject. He spends all his time in collecting rice for the poor and feeding the cows. The young man was so much involved in such activities that he did not attend to his work and did not care about his parents. His mother had to attend to his daily needs, even washing his clothes. Further the young man was getting irritated when doing anything other than social service. Hearing this complaint, the Paramacharya spoke elaborately on the subject with humility taking the blame on himself as follows:

·        I am not going to escape from this complaint by saying that the media did not publish everything as I stated.

·        Whenever I take up a subject, I probably stress the point too much. I say this not as an excuse but to accept my mistake.

·       Whenever I have advised social service for getting a pure mind as a stepping stone for spiritual path, I should have been cautious. I should have taken care of the other side and put a qualifying clause for social service.

·         I take the complaint of the parents as a stricture, rather as an advice to me, even though they were very polite to me when making the complaint.

Normally, as human beings, we try to find a scapegoat to even hide our own mistakes. Only a great saint like Paramacharya takes the blame on himself even though the media and the young man did not properly understand him. Being humble and not blaming others is the first lesson we should learn to destroy ego, the internal obstacle.

The Paramacharya further explains about social service in his own words:

·        If someone does not do his service to his own parents but serves the world, that is hypocrisy. If he gets irritated when somebody points out his shortcomings, he does not have any benefit out of this social service.

·        First, one should carry out his own personal duties himself without entrusting it to others. Our scriptures say that one should wash his own clothes. Rajagopalachary washed his own clothes when he was a Prime minister of Madras Presidency (In those days there was a Prime minister for Madras Presidency). Great Acharyas, Bhagavatas and religious leaders such as Muhammad have never failed to attend to their personal duties.

·        No one should think that the world continues to function because of his social work. God who created the world looks after it.

·         By helping others, we help ourselves in the form of getting a refined mind for spiritual growth.

·        The qualities of service should be humility and love.

·         All those who go to social service should take an oath that they first look after their personal work themselves and then do social service.

On another occasion, a clever journalist put an embarrassing question to Paramacharya. He asked ”Have you ever felt bad being the religious head and Pontiff of the math?”

Hearing this, the staff and the devotees around felt uncomfortable. They were all looking at the Paramacharya anxiously. But the Paramacharya was spontaneous in his reply. He did not hesitate for a moment and said with his usual childlike expression, “Yes, sometimes, when great pundits and acharyas come to meet me and I cannot prostrate them due to my position.” Who else could have thought of such a reply? Tears roll down your cheek when you hear such a statement from a noble soul. Can there be a better illustration of humility than this?

A great saint is humble himself. He sees only Atma everywhere. His greatness is seen by the whole world like sun light. Atma shines by itself. Humility is the first lesson to be learnt. When ego is destroyed, what remains is Atma. That is the last lesson.

-Arasu Ramanujam


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Go beyond reason and intellect


Sri Ramakrishna went to Calcutta when he was 16 years old as his brother Ramkumar wanted assistance in his priestly duties. Sri Ramakrishna describes in his own words the City life of India (Calcutta) in the early 1850s.”Greed and lust held sway in the higher levels of society, and the occasional religious practices were merely outer forms from which the soul had long ago departed”.(What to say about our cities now?) Gadadar (As Sri Ramakrishna was called in his young days) had never seen anything like this at Kamarpukur among the simple and pious villagers. The sadhus and wandering monks whom he had served in his boyhood had revealed to him an altogether different India. He had been impressed by their devotion and purity, their self control and renunciation. He had learnt from them that the ideal of life as taught by the ancient sages of India was the realization of God.

When Ramkumar reprimanded Gadadar for neglecting a bread winning education, the inner voice of the boy reminded him that the legacy of his ancestors was not worldly security but knowledge of God. So Gadadar asked Ramkumar, “Brother, what shall I do with a mere bread-winning education?” Ramkumar could hardly understand the import of his brother’s reply. In the late eighteenth and early nineteeth centuries, time honored beliefs and traditions of Indian society were breaking due to the English traders and British rule. Today the world knows the contribution of Sri Ramakrishna to human society by reviving the ancient Vedic wisdom and culture to the extent possible in this modern world.

A few gems from Sri Ramakrishna for sincere seekers of God:

·         He is born in vain, who having attained the human birth does not attempt to realize God in this very life.

·         Those who wish to attain God should guard themselves against the snares of lust and wealth. Otherwise they never attain God.

·         The tree laden with fruit always bends low. If you wish to be great be humble.

·         Devotion of God increases in the same proportion as attachment to the objects of the senses decreases.

·         Brahman is above and beyond knowledge and ignorance, good and evil, dharma and adharma. It is indeed beyond all dual throngs.

·         When Brahman, the absolute and unconditioned is realized it is all silence. There remains, then only ‘Is-ness’ (being), and nothing else. For verily the salt doll tells no tale when it has become one with the infinite sea. This is Brahma gnana.

·         When all personality is effaced, one realizes the knowledge of the Absolute.

·         It is true that God is even in tiger, but we must not go and face the animal. It is true that God dwells even in the wicked, but it does not mean that we should associate with the wicked.

·         The vultures soar high up in the sky, but all the time their eyes remain fixed on charnel- houses in search of putrid carcasses; similarly the minds of so called scholars are attached to the things of the world, to lust and wealth, in spite of their erudition in sacred lore, and hence they cannot attain true knowledge.

·         If one worships God all the time, that is preaching enough. He who exerts himself to attain liberation from birth and death preaches without words. To him hundreds of people come from all sides to learn as when rose blossoms, bees come from all sides uninvited.

·         The nearer you come to God, the less you are disposed to questioning and reasoning. When you actually attain Him as the reality, then all noise, all disputations, come to an end.
-Arasu Ramanujam




Sunday, April 29, 2012

Your life style matters


It is not that difficult to talk great philosophies and enter in to arguments to prove one’s own stand point. It is extremely difficult to follow certain life style and discipline which alone can ultimately help man get liberated from all sorrows.It is inspiring to know how Mahatmas set example for humankind by their own lifestyle besides their great teaching. It would be of great help if we can follow such examples. Their teaching can be really understood when we start following such examples.

It is amazing to know about the life style of Ramana Maharshi in the words of Professor N.R.Krishnamurthy an ardent follower of Maharshi.

“One noticed in Bhagvan’s daily life, personal cleanliness, tidiness, habitual wearing of vibhuti on the forehead; equal sharing of everything with those around; strict adherence to a time schedule; doing useful work however ‘low’ it be; never leaving a work unfinished; the pursuit of perfection in every action; incessant activity except while sleeping; never considering oneself superior to others; speaking the truth always or strict silence if the expression of truth would hurt others; perfect self help, never asking another to do a piece of work which can be done by oneself; taking full responsibility for failure if any, without shifting the blame on others; accepting success and failure with equanimity; leaving the plate clean after eating…..”.The list continues. Professor N.R.Krishnamurthy says, “These are the lessons Sri Ramana taught by example to his followers.”

The professor further says,”Of what Maharshi taught in the realm of spirit, words fail and I dare not write.”  True.  What a great statement from a great follower of great Soul! When describing God, all expressions fail. Learning is good, but just learning takes us nowhere. It is good to start with the disciplines of daily life if we really want some results from our learning.  

-Arasu Ramanujam


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Where is love?



I am not blind, I am the eye behind
All eyes that see, I am true love.
Search not in vain, I am in you
I am in all and all in me.

Try to know me, I am the source
Near yet far, I am true love.
I am the cause of all the forms
Eternal, everywhere, I am true love.

-Arasu Ramanujam




Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Six rules

Six rules of life ……………..
1.   Never mind who it is, smile and show your delight.
2.   Never give up, keep trying until you succeed.
3.   Never say yes, when you want to say no.
4.   Never feel shy to express your joy, laugh when you  feel   like.
5.   Never hesitate to seek help when you need it.
6.   Never procrastinate, be on time every time.
……………..to learn from your six months old child
And these six rules……………….
1.       Always respect parents, teachers and elders.
2.       Always be kind to others and help the weak and poor.
3.       Always respect food and thank the one who gives food.
4.       Always be frank in speech, never hide truth.
5.       Always be brave, fear not and hurt not
6.       Always help yourself, your effort alone is your wealth
…………………to teach your child before she/he is six years old
(When you leave a nine months old child with a load of toys in a room, the child ignores all toys, cruises to a corner and picks up some tiny particle and puts it into its mouth. The child is attracted by external objects, starts liking anything new and gets bored with objects already known. This is the tendency of all children when they start interacting with the external world. Inputs through the five sense organs are so exciting and the organs of action start executing.  Ego starts here. A simple person is getting developed into a personality. You may also notice the child getting angry when she cannot reach something she wants. She gets frustrated when she is not fed in time. She starts crying when someone snatches her toys. The feeling of possession starts here. All good and bad habits start when the child starts interacting with external objects and people. The role of parents in guiding and regulating the desires of children up to six years is very important in shaping their future. If the opportunity is missed at this age, it will be extremely difficult to make up for the loss in future. Therefore it makes sense to learn these six values from the innocent child at six months and teach at least the six values as the child grows and reaches six)
-Arasu Ramanujam