You can’t make radical changes in the pattern of your life until you begin to see yourself exactly as you are now….

Photo by Clay Banks 

You can’t make radical changes in the pattern of your life until you begin to see yourself exactly as you are now. As soon as you do that, changes will flow naturally. You don’t have to force anything, struggle, or obey rules dictated to you by some authority. It is automatic; you just change. But arriving at that initial insight is quite a task. You have to see who you are and how you are without illusion, judgment, or resistance of any kind. You have to see your place in society and your function as a social being. You have to see your duties and obligations to your fellow human beings, and above all, your responsibility to yourself as an individual living with other individuals. And finally, you have to see all of that clearly as a single unit, an irreducible whole of interrelationship. It sounds complex, but it can occur in a single instant. Mental cultivation through meditation is without rival in helping you achieve this sort of understanding and serene happiness.

Mindfulness in Plain English: 20th Anniversary Edition by Henepola Gunaratana

Book of the Month – September 2021 : Essays on the Gita by Sri Aurobindo

“The peculiarity of the Gita among the great religious books of the world is that it does not stand apart as a work by itself, the fruit of the spiritual life of a creative personality like Christ, Mohammed or Buddha or of an epoch of pure spiritual searching like the Veda and Upanishads, but is given as an episode in an epic history of nations and their wars and men and their deeds and arises out of a critical moment in the soul of one of its leading personages face to face with the crowning action of his life, a work terrible, violent and sanguinary, at the point when he must either recoil from it altogether or carry it through to its inexorable completion…. The teaching of the Gita must therefore be regarded not merely in the light of a general spiritual philosophy or ethical doctrine, but as bearing upon a practical crisis in the application of ethics and spirituality to human life.” – Sri Aurobindo (Essays on the Gita pp.9)

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No Death No Fear

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Thích Nhất Hạnh

“The day my mother died I wrote in my journal, “A serious misfortune of my life has arrived.” I suffered for more than one year after the passing away of my mother. But one night, in the highlands of Vietnam, I was sleeping in the hut in my hermitage. I dreamed of my mother. I saw myself sitting with her, and we were having a wonderful talk. She looked young and beautiful, her hair flowing down. It was so pleasant to sit there and talk to her as if she had never died. When I woke up it was about two in the morning, and I felt very strongly that I had never lost my mother. The impression that my mother was still with me was very clear. I understood then that the idea of having lost my mother was just an idea. It was obvious in that moment that my mother is always alive in me.

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𝗜 𝗹𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗿𝗮𝗰𝗲 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝗴𝗼𝘁 𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝗺𝘆 𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲 !

E𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒚𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒓𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅 𝒉𝒂𝒔 𝒌𝒆𝒑𝒕 𝒈𝒊𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒆𝒙𝒂𝒎𝒑𝒍𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝑻𝒐𝒓𝒕𝒐𝒊𝒔𝒆…𝑺𝒂𝒚𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒔𝒍𝒐𝒘 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒚 𝒘𝒊𝒏𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒆𝒎𝒑𝒉𝒂𝒔𝒊𝒛𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒗𝒂𝒍𝒖𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒅𝒆𝒅𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏.

Well ! No one has ever bothered to ask the Hare his side of the story, so let me tell you the story from a different point of view…

I met the Hare and sat down with him for a heart to heart talk.This is what he had to say after we spent the better part of a balmy summer afternoon getting to know one other.It was a wonderful experience, believe me..

“Yes, I am the hare who lost.No, I did not get lazy or complacent.Let me explain.I was hopping over the meadows near the hills and looked back to realize that the tortoise was nowhere to be seen.Assured of my healthy lead, I decided to take a short nap under the large banyan tree near the pond.The anticipation of the race had kept me up all night.For days, that old silly tortoise had boasted about his ability to plod for hundreds of miles without stopping.Life is a marathon, he said, not a sprint.I wanted to show him that I could run both far and fast.

The shade of the tree was like an umbrella.I found an almost oval rock, covered it with grass, and turned it into a makeshift pillow.I could hear the leaves rustling and the bees buzzing – it felt they were collaborating and even conspiring to put me to sleep.And it didn’t take them long to succeed.I saw myself drifting on a log in a beautiful stream of water.

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Become an instrument only, and my intervention will be constant….. 

Why Sri Krishna did not save the Pandavas when they played dice with Duryadhana & Shakuni

Since childhood, Uddhava had been close to Krishna, charioting him and serving him in several ways. He never asked for any wish or boon from Sri Krishna. When Krishna was at the verge of completing his life’s mission on earth, he called Uddhava and said, “Dear Uddhava, in this avatar of mine, many people have asked and received boons from me; but you have never asked me for anything. Why don’t you ask for something now?” 

Even though Uddhava had never asked anything for himself, he had been carefully observing Krishna since his childhood. He had always wondered about certain contradictions between Krishna’s teachings and actions, and had always wanted to understand the reasons for these apparent or real contradictions.

So he asked Krishna, “I have observed that several things you have done or not done in your life were different from what you have always taught or stood for. I truly wish to understand why —  for instance, during the great yuddha,  the role you played confounds me to this day. I’m curious and wish to understand. Will you explain?” 

Krishna said, “Uddhava, please ask without hesitation.” 

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Carrying our Heaven Within

Once the Sun and a Cave struck up a conversation. The Sun had trouble understanding what ‘dark’ meant and the Cave didn’t quite get the hang of ‘light’ so they decided to change places. 

The Cave went up to the Sun and said, ‘Ah, I see, this is beyond wonderful. Now come down and see where I have been living.’

The Sun went down to the cave and said, ‘Gee, I don’t see any difference.’ When the sun went down, it took its light along and even the darkest corners were illuminated. That’s why the Sun couldn’t see any difference. 

There is a quote from an old book that says, ‘The enlightened ones can never be sent to hell or pushed into darkness, they carry their heaven with them wherever they go.’

We think that heaven is a place one should aspire for, perhaps it is a state of mind which can be achieved. 

If we are full of darkness within, full of negativity, fear and doubt, we become a Cave, a dark hell inside. Instead, if we are illuminated, like the Sun, then the darkness of the cave wouldn’t matter. We’ll be able to find a blessing even in the worst of circumstances as we’ll be carrying our Heaven within.“`

– Sufi Story

(Contributed by Mr. Balasunder)

12 Blocks to Active Listening

Communication is central to any type of interaction and relationship. Most relationship problems can be overcome if individuals improve their communication skills, and replace passive, aggressive and passive-aggressive communication with more assertiveness.

What we often fail to comprehend is that active and assertive listening is THE most important communication skill. In fact, we usually put more effort in how we can get our point across and become more assertive in what we ask and express, than actually realize the significance of our listening skills. We tend to forget that communication is a mutual process of listening to the other and expressing ourselves.

Today our focus will be what prevents us from listening actively and attentively. By recognizing the 12 blocks to listening and realizing when we engage in those, we can subsequently improve our listening skills. This will inevitably bring positive changes in the way we communicate with others.

After all, listening does mean not just hearing with our ears, but actively being mindful and attentive of what is being expressed, so that we first understand it fully. You are what you listen to- and this does not only apply to music!

The 12 Blocks to Active Listening

If you often find yourself in situations that you cannot communicate with someone properly, maybe you are also not listening properly.

Of course it is understandable that we can not always give our full attention to whoever is talking to us- yet understanding what prevents us from doing so is a first step in making necessary adjustments in order to improve our communication. Let’s look at 12 common blocks to listening.

1. Mind Reading

Have you ever caught yourself drifting away from what the other person is saying, because you are already making an assumption in your mind about what they will say?

Although this is to some extent natural and automatic in many conversations, and it may suggest that you understand the other quite well so that you can already guess what they’re about to say, mind reading can become an obstacle in your communication with others.

The reason for this is, the more time you invest in trying to figure out what will be said next, the less involved you are with the present moment and the other person.

After all, no matter how well you know and understand your conversational partner, you are not really in their head- so it is beneficial to actually listen to them rather than presuming you know their next sentence before they utter it.

2. Rehearsing

We can all be guilty of this occasionally; rehearsing means preparing what you will respond next, before your partner has finished talking.

This can often be accompanied by interrupting the other, to say what popped in your mind- which can take a negative turn quite easily, because interrupting is regarded as quite offensive and aggressive and can trigger a defensive attitude of the other person.

Then your focus is on constructing your next argument, not on the person talking to you. Consequently, you focus on yourself and not the other- but listening is all about the other.

It can therefore be worthwhile to pay close attention to them for a bit- it won’t be long until you also have a chance to speak. In addition, the more attentively you listen, the better you will absorb and understand the other’s message- so the more authentic you can be in your response.

3. Filtering

Filtering means having selective attention only to certain types of information, and letting your mind drift away otherwise.

We tend to use filtering when we want to ensure we are not threatened, or when we expect or wish to hear specific things from the other.

For instance, if you feel you are in danger if the other becomes upset, your attention may be more tuned to cues of increased emotion of the other. If the threatening cue is not present, then you can be distracted by your own thoughts and lose concentration.

Understandably, this is a block to effective communication because you do not receive the whole message of whatever the other wants to say- only fragments of it. You basically hear only what you want to hear.

4. Judging

Judging means having a negative opinion that is already firmly established about the other person, or making negative criticism in your mind about what they are saying.

By making judgements or assessing that the other person is not worth listening to, you close yourself from actually hearing what they have to say. Being open and flexible is always an advantage in communication.

5. Daydreaming

Something the other just said triggered a memory, image or thought in your mind- and then you got carried away on your train of thought.

You know how it goes, one thought let to another, and another, and off you go! Suddenly you are disconnected from your partner, lost in your own mind, drifting away. Or you simply lost interest and therefore concentration.

Often when you return to the conversation, you have absolutely no idea of what has been said so far. You may feel confused or awkward. This can be very embarrassing in some occasions, especially when you ask a question about something that has already been expressed while you were off somewhere far. It is quite obvious that such a thing is disrespectful to the other person.

Seek First To Understand Quotes By Stephen Covey
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