As I sit all alone, under the shade of a tree,
Thoughts of all shades play hide and seek with me;
As I gently close my eyes and reflect on what these impart,
Out in a rush come gushing, the ponderings of my heart.
Children are the essence of the future.
Children are extremely precious and they should be respected and treated that way. We, as parents and adults, must remember that ‘they’ are the future. It is about time we admitted that every new generation is smarter than the previous one. What we teach them today, will be utilised and will be improved upon by them.
We must remember that the philosophy of life that they are taught when they are children will decide their future and also that of the nation they are in and that of the world. Values such as love, compassion, honesty, responsibility, humility, integrity, forgiveness, gratitude, respect, discipline, good manners, faith, and above all, social responsibility form the basis of a civilised and a humane society.
Children, during their formative years are highly impressionable. It is during this period that the above mentioned paramount values and virtues should be instilled in their minds to mould them into wonderful human beings and responsible citizens. Extreme care needs to be taken in the way children are treated and educated. Each child is different and unique and therefore deserves individualised handling. Appreciating children lavishly and admiring them convinces them that they are being loved and respected.
Love and best wishes
Detox your life
“ You are so fake that you should have two FACEBOOK accounts; one for each face.”
This quote by someone with an amazing sense of humour had me in splits yesterday. Isn’t it true that there is always at least one person in a class, group or family who finds some kind of sordid pleasure in talking behind our backs, while all the time maintaining an ‘Oh so sweet’ smile? The way they pretend concern can fetch them an award at the Oscars! How he/she loves going out of the way to ask whether things are okay with us and when we reply in the negative, gets a thrill out of it? And God help us if we do end up sharing the intimate details of our life with them… before we count ten, a dozen tongues have probably started wagging about us, thanks to this person. The baseless rumours they spread could put even a Bollywood script writer to shame!! Ahha! I see that you have by now thought of a person in your life, who fits the bill perfectly!! 😉
The surprising thing is that, don’t they ever realise that sooner or later their game will be up? Don’t they understand that people are sensible enough to sniff out their intentions after a while? That people will discern, if someone discusses others with you, they will discuss you too with others? Isn’t that common sense?
Don’t they realise it is easier to try to be a better person than put on a mask and spend half their lives holding onto it dearly, so that it doesn’t fall off and reveal their true, ugly face? These are people who usually hang out with a new group of friends every time we meet them. Why? Because the veil they’ve been wearing all the time has fallen off at some point and the face that has been revealed, has ceased to impress their previous bunch of friends. If we ever know and if we have a specimen of the kind I’m writing about, in our life, we need to run! RUN AWAY from them like our life depends on it!!
I met a dear friend over breakfast this morning. She repeated some words once uttered by some wise man, about how we cannot choose our family, but how we have the power to choose the friends in our lives. With each passing day, we have one lesser day left on the planet. It always makes sense to spend precious time with people who are genuine than with people who are not. It is better to cut those people off from our lives who don’t understand what loyalty is all about, without any strings attached, without any hesitation and without any regrets.
It may seem difficult at first, but as we go on in life, letting go of fake people eventually comes without much effort. When we come across these prototypes, we need to pause a while. Think. Apply our intelligence. Delete. Move forward. Some people are just not worth our time and our effort. It’s always good to surround ourself with people who provide our life with good vibrations. Also don’t forget, people who live a life of artifice, are earning bad karma for themselves.
Isn’t it a fact of life that we cannot please all the people all the time? We must realise that there are people who will complain even if we were to bend backwards to keep them happy. Come on, do we really want to spend time on these people and then regret what a waste of life it has been? Really?? Please… it’s time we DETOXED our lives. It’s time we flushed out toxins like these out of our system and our lives, once and forever. We certainly don’t want to spend half our life proving ourself to people who don’t really matter. Do we??
Here’s what José Micard Teixeira, an author has to say about the kind of life he wants to lead –
“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I have reached a point in my life, where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I have lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.
I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or on those who want to manipulate me. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and I dislike betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience, for anyone, who does not deserve my patience.”
I second it.
PN: I have posted an interesting story I’d read long ago, related to the topic above on Ponderings, under the title, “ A pillow full of feathers”. Do give it a read if possible, because this story has immense power to help you stop speaking about others.
A Pillow Full Of Feathers
Hello. I would like to share a story with you today. This story deeply influenced me and changed the way I look at people. It helped me realise how important it is to think before I speak. It is a very simple story but with a profound message in it. Here it is, the story ” A Pillow Full Of Feathers”.
In a small town in India, there lived a good man with a disgusting habit. He could not help but gossip about others. He loved the attention it got him and in order to make the tittle-tattle interesting, he sometimes decorated them with little lies to make them funnier and juicier. Other than this weakness of his, he was a good man.
One day, he came to know some story about a businessman in town, which incidentally was true. Although he knew it was against the Dharma to spread the news around, he just couldn’t control the urge to share it with others. And it so happened, that within a few days, this businessman came to know about the rumours doing the rounds. He ran to the Rabbi and shared his grief with him. His reputation was ruined!
When the good man with the disgusting habit heard from the Rabbi how distressed the businessman was, he felt truly sorry and guilty. He had not considered it a big deal to share this story because it was true after all and the rabbi could check it out if he wanted to. He confessed to the rabbi that it was him that had spread the rumours. He said he saw nothing wrong in it because there was truth in what he had shared with others.
The rabbi sighed and said, “True or not, you should not tell stories about people. This is ‘lashon hara’, it’s character assassination, it’s like murder – you kill a person’s reputation”. The man who started the rumour felt terrible about what he had done and wanted to undo the damage he had unknowingly caused the businessman.
The wise rabbi asked him to get a feather pillow from his house. The man was puzzled but he went home and returned with the pillow anyway. The rabbi opened the window and handed him a knife and asked him to slash it open. Hesitatingly, he ripped open the pillow. A cloud of feathers came out. They landed everywhere and some even breezed out of the window.
The rabbi waited for a few minutes and then asked the man to bring back all the feathers and re-stuff the pillowcase with every single feather that had flown out. The man gaped at the rabbi in disbelief. “That is impossible, Rabbi. Even if I were to get most of the feathers in the room, how will I ever manage to gather the ones that have flown out of the window?”
“Yes,” said the rabbi, nodding seriously. “That is how it is, my dear man. Once a rumor, secret or a gossipy story leaves your mouth, you do not know where it ends up. It flies on the wings of the wind, and you can never get it back!” He ordered the man to deeply apologise to the businessman, about whom he had spread the rumor. He commanded him to also apologise to the people with whom he had shared the story with, thus making them accomplices in the horrible ‘lashon hara’ game. He ordered him to diligently study the laws concerning ‘lashon hara’. The man not only studied about it, but he also talked about the importance of guarding one’s tongue to all his friends and colleagues. And in the end he became a nice man who overcame his disgusting weakness.
Please do try to put into practice the message this beautiful story conveys, for it goes a long way in making you a better person. This story has tremendous power to help you give up the nasty habit of gossiping.
Foundations of healthy relationships
Relationships play a very important part in our life and by a relationship, I do not mean only the romantic kinds. The relationships that I am talking about are those that we are in, be it with our parents, our in-laws, our siblings, our spouse, our children or with our friends. And also, with the one we hold close to our heart.
The five most important components of any relationship are :
Even when one of these runs low in a relationship, there is bound to be unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
According to me, communication plays an extremely important role in any relationship. An open and an honest talk most often solves the biggest of differences between people. Sadly, it is the most neglected aspect in many a relationship. I have a close friend who sorts out the differences she has with her sister-in-law, over the mobile phone by exchanging messages. That is indeed a very clever idea, for there is no risk of raising voices and bitterness, that is usually exchanged in the heat of the moment. At the same time, whatever needs to be said is conveyed without a physical confrontation. An e-mail too would do the trick. When there is something bothering you about some person and when you discuss it directly with the person concerned, it gives you a chance to look at the matter from his or her point of view. Without holding on to your pride or your ego, if you could be fair to the result of the discussion, and decide to either forgive or apologise, the matter would thankfully end there. Do not hold onto the incident after it has been sorted out completely. Let it go. It never helps people when they rake up differences from the past and spoil the present they are in.
Trust and respect go hand in hand in any relationship. All bonds are built on trust, including the ones you share with your driver or your house-help. Once lost, it takes years to build it again, if ever. It is difficult to trust people who lie, steal and cannot keep a secret. Like I read this oh so true saying – “ Trust is like an eraser. It gets smaller and smaller after every mistake”. It is always better to admit your wrong doing and apologise than to defend yourself by lying, for, sooner or later, truth prevails. By admitting your mistake, you only show the strength of your character and not to mention, your integrity. Respect follows trust like its shadow. When you lose trust in a person, you also lose respect for him or her in the bargain. To gain love is easy in this world, but to gain respect, is not as much. If you lost respect for someone in your life, it would be extremely difficult to start loving and trusting that person again.
Love and understanding – Without the presence of either of these, the other ceases to exist. When you love someone, you need to show it. Sometimes, a smile or a hug is more than enough to kill the rising tension between you and your friends or relatives. It calms things down instantaneously. An honest explanation given or asked respectfully, without blaming the other, also helps in solving most misunderstandings. Do not make assumptions. Be kind and considerate. Listen to what the other person has to say, patiently and without any preconceived notions. We often take the ones closest to us for granted. If we were to treat the ones who live with us, in the same manner we treated our friends, genuinely trying to relate to them, relationships at home would be a lot better. I feel most people don’t express appreciation, apology or gratitude to people at home as much as they would to friends, or even to strangers. All relationships require an equal amount of effort from both sides. If one person goes on giving in, just to maintain harmony, it would definitely give rise to bitterness in the long run.
One important lesson I have learnt in my life is to let go off things that bring sadness into my life. Forgive people who have wronged you for they probably are at a level of spiritual evolution, that could be much lower than yours. Or deal with it by discussing it with the concerned person. Do not get into arguments unnecessarily because most of them become meaningless after a while. Hold on to people who make you happy. It helps tremendously to have a set of close and non-judgemental friends who love you for the person you are. Even sharing your problems with those who matter to you, lifts a huge burden off your heart. Stay away from gossiping with others, for it brings a lot of unwanted negative energy into your life. It is a criminal waste of time and it in no way helps your progress towards the perfection that you are constantly trying to achieve towards merging with the Divinity. The best way is to constantly weed out people who bring bad vibrations into your life, for finally, it is the quality of your friendships that matters.
And lastly, and very importantly, I repeat the main rules:
- Never hesitate to seek forgiveness when your conscience tells you that you are wrong.
- Never forget to express gratitude when you’re forgiven.
- Never hesitate to forgive a heart that seeks forgiveness.
Remember your attitude to any relationship is extremely important, because finally, it is YOU that has the power to make it or break it. The decision is ultimately yours.
Children are the greatest gifts of God. Here is a poem that truly touched my heart.
HEAVEN’S VERY SPECIAL CHILD
A meeting was held quite far from Earth!
It’s time again for another birth.
Said the Angels to the LORD above,
This Special Child will need much love.
His progress may be very slow,
Accomplishments he may not show.
And he’ll require extra care
From the folks he meets down there.
He may not run or laugh or play,
His thoughts may seem quite far away,
In many ways he won’t adapt,
And against him will the odds be stacked.
So let’s be careful where he’s sent,
We want his life to be content.
Please LORD, find the parents who
Will do a special job for you.
They will not realize right away
The leading role they’re asked to play,
But with this child sent from above
Comes stronger faith and richer love.
And soon they’ll know the privilege given
In caring for their gift from Heaven.
Their precious charge, so meek and mild,
Is HEAVEN’S VERY SPECIAL CHILD.
The attitude of gratitude
Her name was Kamlesh. She stayed in our outhouse with her parents and her two daughters for little over three years. Although she was the only person working for us in the family, we let them stay out of kindness. A month ago, Kamlesh told me that her aunt’s family of three, was moving into town. She asked me if they could live in the outhouse with them. We refused politely saying that eight people living in our outhouse was not actually possible. Within a week, they not only found another house to move into, but Kamlesh quit her job with us, without giving us any time to find a replacement for her. What disappointed us was not this, but it was the fact that on the day they shifted out, they did not even bid a proper farewell nor did they tell us things like that they were feeling sad for leaving us or something. We had neither charged them any money towards rent nor for all the water and electricity they, for that matter, misused. We not only paid her well, but we even paid for her daughter’s school fees. What we did was unconditional, then why was it so easy for her to forget all that we had done for her? Was it just because we did not permit her to keep her extended family with her in our outhouse that she could move out without any sense of guilt and regret? Did she think we were inconsiderate? Did she not have any feeling of thankfulness for the three years they spent with us, protected and well looked after? I couldn’t stop thinking about it and was upset for a couple of days. I thought about how ungrateful and selfish people can get. How very thankless. I then told myself that these people did not really deserve to be in my thoughts. They did not deserve the time I was wasting thinking about them. I snapped out of my sadness and moved on. But this incident set me thinking about the virtue of gratitude in people, or rather, the lack of it. I had always believed that gratitude was an inherent quality present in everyone. Sadly, I have been proved wrong time and again. No wonder they say that gratitude is a sign of noble souls!
Gratitude is the deepest feeling I have experienced in my life. Even deeper than love. It is an overwhelming emotion. When you are truly grateful, your eyes swell up and your heart overflows with love and peace. This is the reason when we go to temples and the ‘Aarthi’ takes place, we feel tears rolling down our cheeks. Somewhere deep within ourself, we let ourself drown in gratitude. It lifts us to another level of awareness… it changes our whole perception to life. What an amazing feeling it is to experience it! The immense energy is almost therapeutic. That is why people who have an attitude of gratitude, rarely if ever, are depressed.
Being grateful opens new doors to the Universe that we didn’t even know existed. It brings what we sincerely want into our life. When we give out vibrations of deep gratitude, the Universe not only fulfills our desires, but also ensures that those blessings remain in our life. We should never allow what we want, make us forget what we have. Only when we are grateful for all that we already have in our life, will we be given more to be thankful for. Sometimes when I sit in solitude, I count my blessings. And trust me, having a grateful heart is one of the biggest ones I am thankful to God for blessing me with. I call it a blessing because, nothing else even comes close to giving the kind of peace and contentment that a grateful heart does.
When you are grateful to people, make it a point to express your gratitude. It not only makes the person you are grateful to, happy, but it also makes them feel whatever you are feeling grateful for, has been worth spending the time, money or effort on. It makes them feel appreciated and encourages them to do better. Gift your child the attitude of gratitude while they are still young. Only then will they be able to respect all the good things present in their life. They will also start appreciating the small things in life and begin to value people even more. They will learn to count their blessings even during the toughest times in their life and it will stand them in good stead.
Not all people are born with a grateful heart, but gratitude is something that can be cultivated over a period of time. When you visit your friends you could send a note of appreciation for their hospitality the very next day. When you receive a gift from someone, let the giver know how much you value it. Begin your day with a grateful heart and end it with one. Thank God for yet another breath, yet another day, yet another meal, a roof over your head, a clean heart, the wonderful people in your life, the job you have, the sunshine, the flowers, the laughter, look around yourself and you will find a dozen more reasons to be thankful for. But most of all, thank Him for giving you a heart that appreciates. For they say, “ Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues but the mother of all others ”.
Here is one my favourite poems which is a simple and a touching one on gratitude.
The Things That Count
Count your garden by the flowers,
never by the leaves that fall.
Count your days by garden hours,
don’t remember clouds at all.
Count your nights by stars, not shadows.
Count your years with smiles, not tears.
Count your blessings, not your troubles.
Count your age by friends, not by years.
I hope this Diwali lights up your life with the bright flame of thankfulness and enormous gratitude.
FORGIVENESS – An Invaluable Gem
To err is human and to forgive, divine.
Alexander Pope, the man who uttered the words above must indeed have been an intelligent person. A person who not only understood the fallible nature of humans, but also the extremely important role that forgiveness plays in the spiritual growth of a man.
To forgive a person who has wronged us may not be easy, but by holding on to the undesirable feeling, we would only be burdening ourselves. It serves us no purpose other than dragging us down both emotionally and physically. During the journey of life, we invariably meet a few people who cheat us/ hurt us/ let us down tremendously. This could be financially, emotionally or physically. When faced with such circumstances, we, using our intelligence, have the power to choose the manner in which we handle the emotions the person has inflicted upon us and deal with the situation. We can either carry the negative feelings associated with it within our heart and bear the painful burden like a huge boulder all our life OR choose to release the past and move on. When we cling on to the negative emotion, what we end up doing is subconsciously blocking any flow of positivity into our lives. So we end up paying the price for somebody else’s folly. It is not absolutely essential that we know how to forgive. The fact that we have a genuine desire to do so begins the gentle flow of good energy which increases proportionally to the depth of our feeling of forgiveness. We begin to experience a sense of serenity, lightness and peace that fills our hearts and our being.
‘Sanatana Dharma’ believes in the rebirth or the reincarnation of the soul. The Law of Karma is one of the main foundations this Dharma is based upon. Similar to Newton’s Third Law of motion, which says that ‘ Every action has an equal and an opposite reaction’, the Law of Karma is based on the law of cause and effect. The Law of Karma provides the only plausible explanation to comprehend the distinction between the poor and the rich, the healthy and the sick, the gratified and the lonely etc. Now let’s look at the bigger picture. If we integrate this law into our lives, it makes forgiveness much more easier to practise. When something terrible happens to us, we need to realise that we must have imposed a similar kind of pain and agony on others, in this lifetime or a previous one, or else we would not be receiving it now. The wholehearted acceptance of this theory, that we must deserve what we are being doled out, lifts a huge load off our back. This manner of perception makes dealing with the pain of being wronged easier. We need to release the person from our resentful thoughts, graciously forgiving him, because if we don’t, then the Law of Karma ensures that we take another birth, wherein we will be placed in a situation where we are given a chance to inflict the same kind of pain on most likely the very same person. This happens so that the karmic balance is achieved. This chain goes on for several lifetimes until one of the two people involved, reaches a subconscious understanding of the same and begins to imbibe the lesson that is to be grasped from the situation and decides to let go. So it only makes sense to free the person who has wronged us and also to release the negativity that is involved, thereby liberating us from the negative Karmic chain. ( I would like to write more on the extremely fascinating subject of Karma, but now is not the time).
Forgiveness not only helps us on our spiritual path but also helps us on the physical plane of our existence. We know and recent medical researches have also proved, that there lies a strong connection between the mind and the body. This means that diseases have their roots in emotions/feelings, that our mind experiences and clings on to. People who have aches and pains, especially in the knees and the shoulders, need to look around who it is that they need to forgive. Because invariably, holding onto hatred and having unforgiving thoughts results in the same. And this implies that completely letting go of these negative emotions will result in the miraculous disappearance of the pain. Forgiveness is hugely beneficial to the person who forgives. It results in lowering blood pressure, decreasing stress and anxiety levels and also helps in reducing depressive feelings. We become happier, healthier and grow spiritually when we forgive.
And like the popular adage goes, charity should begin at home. We should first begin by forgiving ourselves for any mistakes we may have committed. For if we do not, then it would be next to impossible to forgive others for theirs. Instead of regret, we need to try to develop an attitude of gratitude for the lesson learned. We need to learn to move on in life.
How do we practise forgiveness in our daily life? We could give the following simple method a try:
At first, draw a list of people we know we need to forgive. The person who has wronged you the most is the first one that you need to pardon. Every night just before you go to bed, sit down with your eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths and visualise the person who has let you down, standing in front of you. Tell this person that although you have been hurt, you choose to forgive him or her. Send the person love and be aware of the peace that begins to envelope you. Wish the person well and let go off the image. This exercise may be very difficult to practise initially. The love you are trying to send across may seem fake, but with time and practice the feeling turns real and genuine. Similarly, if you have hurt somebody and you need to seek forgiveness, visualise the person you have wronged, to be standing in front of you and ask for pardon. Gradually, the bitterness and animosity you feel for the person is replaced with peace and serenity. That precisely is the point at which true healing begins. It is said in our Shastras that holding onto hatred for more than a few days, results in Prarabdhas, which are stronger karmic imprints which require greater effort to nullify. Hence, the earlier you decide to pardon someone, the better it is for you.
Before I conclude this article, I request each one of you to give forgiveness a sincere try, right here, right now. Ultimately it is you, who stands to gain, for like Lord Buddha said, ‘Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; YOU are the one who gets burned‘.
Wishing each one of you luck in practising forgiveness and boosting your karmic balance sheet.