This is part two of the adventures in Advaita Vedanta... will you travel with me a while?

Whispering Wednesday

Hari Om

Today the word that is making itself known to me is ऋतु/Rtu - "season." We enter September and there is a definite sense of the planet shifting gears from the middle months to those which start to shut down the year. 

In these northern climes, it is traditional to call the seasons four - spring, summer, autumn and winter. Yet there are also periods between them which are neither one nor the other - particularly in this second half of the year. One wonders if the Indian system might not apply more widely? (Climate change notwithstanding.) 

India has six seasons defined. In Sanskrit, these are vasanta/spring, griishma/summer, varshaa/monsoon, sharad/autumn, hemant/cool season, and shishira/winter. The transition from the heat of summer into autumn brings much rain in the north too. These days, some of them are quite monsoonal in nature, as the preceding summers get hotter. It is also the case that autumn seems rather a long season here and, actually, there is a time in November that seems to be neither autumn nor winter. It absolutely fits into the concept of hemant. 

There is something about the changing of seasons at any time which seems to trigger a sense of urgency to certain tasks... spring cleaning, harvesting, food preserving... and so many festivals in India celebrate these tasks as much as they offer up praise to the Higher. There are a plethora of utsavas during these few months - we've had Janmashtami, Onam, soon Chaturthi and Navratri and Diwali... It is good to acknowledge that everything we have is but a gift to us. Even time...

Textual Tuesday

Hari OM

One of my favourite songs of praise today. It highlights the singular nature of Consciousness and how, in attempting to reach an understanding of the Higher Essence of being-ness, mankind applies all sorts of identity.


Ya< vEidka mÙ†z> pura[a>

#NÔ< ym< matirñanmahu>,


y< äü zBden ivinidRziNt.1.

zEvaymIz< izv #Tyvaecn!

Ya< vE:[va iv:[uirit StuviNt,

vuÏStwahRn! #it vaEÏ jEna>

st! ïI Akaleit c isKosNt>.2.

zaSteit keict! kitict! kumar>

SvamIit mateit ipteit _aÄya,

y< àawRyNte jgdIiztarm!

s @k @v à_auriÖtIy>.3.



yam vaidikaa mantradRshH puraaNaaH

indram yamam maatarishvaanmaahuH,


yam brahma shabdena vinidirshanti. (1)


shaivaayamiisham shiva ityavochan

yam vaishNvaa vishNuriti stuvanti,

buddahstThaarhan iti bauddha jainaaH

sat shrii akaaleti ch sikkhasantaH. (2)


shaSteti kechit katichit kumaaraH

svaamiiti maateti piteti bhattayaa,

yam praarThyaNte jagadiishitaaram

sa eka eva prabhurdvitiiyaH. (3)


The ancient Rsis of the mantras of Vedas call Him as

Indra, Yama, Matarishvara, theSupreme.

Vedantins say That cannot be explained,

but we gave a name as Brahman. (1)


Shaivites call Him Shiva,

Vaishnavas say Vishnu,

The Buddha said ‘no God’, the Jains say Mahavira

And the Sikhs say Sat (existence) Shri (sacred) Akaal (timeless). (2)


Some call as Kartikeya or Great Master

Others say Great Mother, or Father of All –

If any name is called it must be done devotedly

For only The One will hear. (3)

Meditative Monday

Hari OM

It is not necessary to reach transcendence to benefit from the practice of meditation. The control of thoughts, the strengthening of intellect and the discipline of ego that it engenders can only serve us well as we then carry on with our daily, transactional lives.

Sunday Statements

Hari Om

Blessed Krishna Janmashtami to you all.

Saturday Satsang

Hari OM

A life organised for the discovery of the potentialities already within ourselves, and the ordering of our behaviour so as to nurture and nourish them, is a life well spent. Herein our success depends upon the amount of transformation we can successfully bring about in our personality and character.

The vital question is not how many talents each one of us has, but how much of our existing talents are we capable of exploring, developing and exploiting. An individual may have many talents, and yet, he can be a miserable failure in life. That person is successful who makes a practical use of at least one talent that he possesses.

Thursday Thoughts

Hari OM

I was reminded yesterday of the old Greek word for 'hatred,' which is "misia." It is generally appended to subject/noun words, such as in something I read yesterday when it was put together with the term Hindu. Hindumisia. I am not going to point to the article that generated it, for that itself was a disturbing piece. It was just another little tile in a mosaic building in the deep recesses of thought.

There are tears, throat-grabbing heartache when I spend too much time within those recesses. It seems that the entire world is determined now to find reasons to Hate and not Love. 

The very word misia looks and sounds like misery, does it not? For that is what Hatred engenders. Hatred, and its concomitant feeling of anger, do not only bring down pain upon those subjected to it. The effects upon the psyche of the perpetrator are equally damaging - perhaps more so. The twisting of the personality must draw towards it the very thing it is attempting to project. It is a given law of being-ness that, in the casting of Love, one finds it is reflected back. This is equally true of Hatred. Indeed, by the very incendiary nature of it, Hatred flares readily, while Love has to be built. Hatred is for the lazy. Love is for those willing to put effort into being a human being. 

Far too many folk these days are in love with the immediacy of feeling, wanting that quick fix of adrenaline or endorphins, and Hatred offers a quicker fix than Loving does.

There are many and complex factors for the state of the world... but consider this. You are in a family. That family expands. You are all forced, by whatever circumstance, to share the one building as your home. The family, by the nature of these things, continues to expand. The home that once seemed like a palace becomes a mansion-house. With each successive generation, the home feels ever more constrictive. Each part of the family seeks to mark a given room as theirs and theirs alone. There is trouble when a cousin or uncle tries to enter without appropriate permission. Not only are the boundaries challenged, but within each 'territory,' the family members are starting to grumble and argue and build up grudges as they each struggle for a bit of space within the room to call their own. 

Arguments break out. Fights result. There starts to be hitting and kicking. Violence escalates...

Overcrowding has brought about family discord and factionalism. Particularly where any one part of the family thinks it has rights to greater amounts of the territory of that home. 

How many of us correctly understand that this planet is that very home..?

Fortunate are the families who have elders to balance the battles and barter a truce. Where are the elders of this earth? Who will rise to brave the anger and temper tantrums bursting out everywhere?

One thing I know - because history is constantly writing it - every time the pot boils, without someone to adjust the pressure, the lid will blow. This... this is what sits in the dark recesses and causes the tears and the throat-grabbing heartache. It would be so easy just to wallow in misery, spitting out at the world, "what are you doing?!!" This would not serve my own psyche well - neither would it satisfy the spiritual imperative nor saadhana. 

For that, in my own small corner of our home, I choose to emanate the aforementioned Love. I call upon all that rests in my Higher Self to manifest that Love. I seek to radiate the light of that Love. May this lamp light other lamps, and they, in their turn, light still more. In meeting that spiritual imperative, for saadhana to manifest it, I will keep writing of this Love. I pray that all my deeds meet the words and become the example that is wished for. 

What each of us alone can do is a tiny drop, but oceans are created from billions of tiny drops! Will you join with me... start a tsunami of Love?

I am blogging this over at Wild YAM as well today. Not from laziness but because I feel strongly enough to have owned up to this deep ache, and it deserves to reach widely... if you read both blogs, forgive this reproduction.

Whispering Wednesday

Hari OM

Watching the opening ceremony of the Paralympics yesterday, I was struck by one word that kept arising in the commentary... ABILITY. Not, you note, DISability. 

In English, we tend to have only those two terms to define an aspect of life that is actually very complex. You will not be surprised to learn that there are over thirty offerings available in Sanskrit! Some have a fine line of difference, but all have a purpose and are specific to distinct factors in one's capability (ah, there's a third word in English!) The word I would most apply to the parathletes, perhaps, is शक्तितस्/shaktitas. Many of you will be familiar with shakti as meaning power. Tas is an adaptation of tat - meaning 'that.' When used in conjunction, it is not simply 'that power' but the potential for that power - it could read more as 'resulting from that power' or 'as a consequence of that power.' 

Yes, other words in the shabdkosha would apply also, but this is perhaps the most encompassing. Every one of those athletes has used everything in their power to overcome their obvious obstacles and the wider ones of society, bureaucracy, financial, and logistical. The very same things their full-bodied contemporaries have to face...on top of their immediate personal obstacles. 

The determination, will, and power they have to have within themselves to represent their nations leave most of us looking anything but powerful! If one had but a fraction of that power in one's sadhana, imagine the possibilities...

So let the games commence and may all, every single one, of those competing revel in their opportunities and take home the pride (if not a medal) of having achieved at such a high level.

More power to them!!!


Textual Tuesday

Hari Om

In providing the morning prayers thus far, only a few have been shared; there are quite a lot that could be utilised! The important thing is to get the awareness levels raised and our little selves attuned to the Higher Essence of our being. There is one more essential prayer to be used every time something is to be taken into the mouth. "Grace," or offering thanks for the sustenance. 

Here, only the basic prayer is given. Other verses can be utilised. Indeed, at Sandeepany, no meal was taken without chanting the entire 15th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, plus this following shloka, which is none other than BG 4:24.

ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्म हविर्ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम् |
ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना || 24||

brahmārpaṇaṁ brahma havir brahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam
brahmaiva tena gantavyaṁ brahma-karma-samādhinā

For those completely absorbed in God-consciousness, the oblation is Brahman, the ladle with which it is offered is Brahman, the act of offering is Brahman, and the sacrificial fire is also Brahman. Such persons, who view everything as God, easily attain him.

Now, it has been asked often what has this to do with the food on the table? Read again... Advaita teaches us that all is One. That which we term Brahman is contained in everything. Thus, the very cooking fire is Brahman. The food itself is Brahman. The preparation is Brahman. That by which we serve the food is Brahman. When we take that food into ourselves, where does it go? To Brahman!

There is a wonderful clip of Gurudev explaining this in his erudite and entertaining fashion... let us share it.

Meditative Monday

Hari Om

The foundational regime of the serious seeker is the saadhana chatushtaya. Viveka, Vairagya, Samaadi-shatka-sampatti, and mumukshatvam. The first is discrimination - know what is appropriate for spiritual advancement and what is not. The second is the moderation that Gurudev refers to in this quote. Vairagya is self-control. Having made a decision from our viveka, we must follow through with our action. Turn away from temptations outwith the boundaries we have set ourselves.

Do not think this applies only to the physical. The mind needs to be kept contained also. No flights of fancy or indulgence of imaginations unfitting! Keep it focused on the purpose of improvement and uplift. A mind without focus is not a mind that allows for meditation.

It is not easy. This is a world that flings every obstacle before us. How determined are you?

Saturday Satsang

Hari OM

There should be concentration on the work undertaken. If you cannot execute the work because your mind is clogged, your effort will be wasted. The clogging dissipates the dynamism. There are three causes for the dissipation of mental energy – 
(1) Regrets of the past 
(2) anxieties for the future 
(3) excitements in the present.

The mind can be liberated from these clutches by surrendering itself at an altar, a goal or an ideal. Once having surrendered the results of an action to the altar of your dedication – be it God or the nation or a profession – the results no longer belong to you. The action becomes an act of worship.

In this surrender, you have surrendered your anxieties and fears, so the work will come out efficiently. Your work will have quality, beauty, fragrance and perfection. You, too, will become a genius. This is called karma-yoga.

Self-effacement is the secret of inspiration. A genius at work is he who has established a perfect identity of his own mind and intellect with the work in hand. The best can come out of an orator or a painter or a sculptor or a musician or a writer, only when he forgets himself and gets lost in the work at hand.

Everyone with knowledge exerts, sweats and toils. But only a few succeed in life. They generally forget that the mind is the doer in us, and the body is but our tool.

Learn to bring your mind where your hands are working. Then see the results! Actions become excellent, and success is the tribute life pays to excellence.

Thursday Thoughts

Hari OM

Thoughts have to be guarded very carefully. Today, let us hear Gurudev's view on the subject.

We must carefully note what we are doing with our thoughts, our time, chances and our vital energies. In order to keep the performance of our mind steadily high, we must be attentive to it regularly and command its perfect order. This tuning up of the mind exclusively drains it of its dross and refills it with the sacred and high octane fuel of new thoughts drawn daily from the scriptures. ⠀⁠
These thoughts will compellingly inspire us, projecting us into a harmonious and rewarding relationship with the world about us.⁠

Whispering Wednesday

Hari OM

The word that kept ringing internally this week is व्रत/vrata. This Sanskrit word pertains to temporary abstinence and is most often used to mean fasting. Direct translation is closer to 'vow' or 'resolve' in matters of devotion and can sometimes also refer to pilgrimage (though that is more commonly referred to as tirtha).

Why did vrata pop to mind? Quite simply due to some slightly uncomfortable gut symptoms that gave rise to thinking a little more carefully about food intake in general and sattvika in particular. I seek to maintain as pure a diet as possible; vegetarian, no alcohol, minimal sugar. Age undoubtedly is playing a part now, and I have been given pause to consider quantity, as well as quality. Little and often may be better for slowing digestion. That said, for long now, I have taken only two meals per day.

Breakfast is the best meal of the day, IMHO. I will generally not eat until I am sure the digestion has awoken - so that might sometimes be when others are considering lunch. Then there will be an evening intake anywhere between 5pm and 8pm. 

Vrata can take place around festivals, some of them being several days in duration, but it is also a practice to fast on Ekadashi or Chaturthi. That is the eleventh or fourth day following a full and new moon, so one day a fortnight. Following the moon is not always appropriate for various reasons, so one day of each fortnight might be chosen. (I, for example, opt for every other Monday). Clearly, in dharma, it is performed as a matter of duty and honour to the devata of the household.

However, there are distinct health benefits to a regular fasting day. This has been practiced for centuries in India. Now, the phenomenon has been "discovered" in the west, and it's the next great marketing diet ploy. 

Whether undertaken for health, spiritual or simply appearances sake, it pays to remain present, be consistent and fully honest about the process. Use the non-food day for contemplative or artistic activity. Vrata can be a useful tool in the path to self-awareness and personal improvement. If nothing else, it will test one's discipline... or should I say, resolve?

Textual Tuesday

Hari Om

Continuing the prayer series for the morning we move now to the bathing prayer. Make a cup of your hands and, allowing the water to drain slowly, recite the following.

गङ्गे  यमुने चैव गोदावरि सरस्वति 
नर्मदे सिन्धु कावेरि जलेऽस्मिन् संनिधिं कुरु ॥

ganga cha yamune chaiva godavarii sarasvati
narmade sindhu kaaveri jale'smin sannidhim kuru

O Holy Rivers Ganga and Yamuna, and also Godavari and Saraswati,
NarmadaSindhu and Kaveri; Please be Present in this Water 
(and make it Holy).

image; NSW water

Meditative Monday

Hari OM

Today, not just a quote, but full guidance from the master Himself!

Let the mind run, and whatever the thoughts, don’t try to classify or label them as good or bad or worry about them; just ignore them. Consider that they are a military march passing by, and you, the officer, are taking the salute; or that you are sitting near a river and the waters are flowing by. ⠀⁠
Don’t jump into the river — just watch. When you watch the play of the mind with indifference, and you yourself are not involved, you are no more — as though peddling the mind like a bicycle. The bicycle itself has no movement; you are the one that gives the movement to it. ⠀⁠

When you stop peddling, it loses its momentum until the cycle falls away from you. Remember one thing: that when the mind is running riotously, you should not run with it; you stay put. You hold onto the feet of the Lord, for that is when we need Him. ⠀⁠
It takes time to learn the art of staying detached when the mind produces its thoughts. At that time, for your steadiness, you must have something to hold onto. And that may be your personal God, or deity, or the feet of the Guru. ⠀⁠
This creative altar provided for the mind to hold onto, is called the point of contemplation. Worship is a means of purifying the instruments of the mind and intellect for the higher purpose of deep and intense meditation.⠀

Saturday Satsang

Hari OM

Gurudev was staying in a very nice and luxurious house of a doctor in Kerala. The hostess had beautifully decorated the house with verses from the Gītā. Gurudev had noticed the decoration on the first day itself but kept quiet.

She thought that Gurudev would say something on the first day because she had made so much effort. On the second day and on the third day also, he did not say anything.

She could no longer resist and said, “Swamiji, I have decorated the house with all these quotes from the Gītā.” He said, “Amma, you spoiled it! Whatever you have done is karma yoga! (He was teaching Gītā, Chapter 3, during that yajña). See, your sevā is directly between you and the Lord.

If you expect praise or applause from people, then it has no value. Now that you have done it, it is finished. I did not want you to lose your puṇya (merits) and that’s why I did not make any comments, but you were so anxious.”

Thursday Thoughts

Hari OM

Living more with less. Have you ever given it a thought? Somehow we have landed ourselves in a pool of 'stuffness'. This is a society that exists for ownership of stuff, stuff and more stuff. 

There are plenty of places to research the cause and effect of consumerism and government economic policies and the power of capitalism. At an individual level, though, can we not take responsibility for what we consume? More and more, I do believe people are giving longer and deeper consideration to their footprint upon the earth, its ecology and environment. 

However, consider also that how we tread upon the earth, the garbage we create in whatever form reflects upon us, the individuals. Whether or not you subscribe to the concepts of karma, there is no question that we leave a legacy, even if that is just a drop in the ocean - after all, oceans exist precisely because there are so many drops! 

I have been engaged in recent times by watching (on the 'tubular') a variety of videos about folk taking to van life. Whether by choice or due to circumstance, there is a conscious decision among them to live as lightly and stuff-free as possible. Certainly, there is an economic benefit to them for this, but it shines out that there is also a lightness of spirit that comes upon them. Not that van life is ideal, and there are all sorts of issues and strategies that apply, which might not if resident in bricks and mortar. That is not my point here today, though. The point is, by releasing the need to encumber themselves with endless amounts of stuff, they are free to focus on those things that truly bring them a sense of joy. For example, simply engaging with nature more. Spending more time on hobbies and engaging in communities to a greater degree.

Can the same lift translate for those of us who are in static homes? No reason why not. The great decluttering movement is a part of that picture. What is important to understand, though, is that simply shedding stuff does not mean we have corrected our thinking. This is the difference between decluttering and surrendering stuff to enter van life. Hands up all who have done the declutter, only to find a year later that you're back in the same position? Stuff will just keep happening! Sometimes the biggest excuse we give ourselves is that the stuff we are accumulating is to help us in our spiritual life... what?! What does the spirit actually need???

We have to reset our thinking also. Learn exactly what is essential to everyday life. Allow, say, five things that are not essential but that do bring pleasure and uplift. Then determinate that all else must not enter. Some stuff may come temporarily but must then be passed on to another home. 

Van life enforces, encourages, encapsulates the very nature of the sadhu - to live more with less. Our challenge, we householders, is to do the same.

...or buy a van...

Whispering Wednesday

Hari OM

After sitting for some time in contemplation and opening myself to any whispered word prompts - or any seen - this week there appears to be a drought. What was whispered was to share a witticism. Fair enough, I trust that inner push!

Textual Tuesday

Hari OM

We are addressing the morning prayers, currently. We have recited the waking prayer, the rising prayer and the supplication. Now for the great prayer, the Savitri - generally referred to as The Gayatri. (You are recommended this post at ch.1 for a broadening of understanding.)

This prayer is not necessarily consigned only to the morning, but this is the optimum time for it. If performing to exact principles, one would be facing east and the rising sun to chant it. For chhandas, click here.

Om, bhuur-bhuvaH svaH
bhargo devasya dhiimahi
dhiyo yo naH prachodayaat.

Om - the earth, the sky, the heavens
and the Supreme Soul, Surya (sun-god) are fit to be worshipped
(you are) the remover of sins and ignorance; as we meditate upon your glory
may our intellect become enlightened

Meditative Monday

Hari OM

Gurudev was a shining example of the meditative personality and the dynamism that can arise from its application. Here are his words on the matter of 'reason for meditation.'

The Lord sends you disturbance so that you can discriminate between
consciousness and thoughts, even in that experience of disturbance. With every disturbance, the Lord is sending you a reason for meditation. The art of practicing harmony is to be applied in the din of the marketplace while we are sweating with exertion upon the narrow path of adversities.



Saturday Satsang

Hari OM

In the Bhagavad Geeta, the word ʻyogaʼ has been forever tamed and domesticated to be with all of us, serving us faithfully at all times in our life. To the Eastern sages, inspired living is the real godly destiny of man, when he lives in perfect unison with the Self within.

A balanced life – wherein we live as an unaffected witness of even our own mind and intellect – is the realm of self-forgetfulness, where instead of becoming inefficient, our profession gathers a scintillating glow of a new dawn. This extra aura in any achievement is that which raises an ordinary success to an inspired achievement.

The yogis of the ancient Hindu lore discovered a technique whereby the mind and the intellect could be consciously brought to steadiness and poise. This technique is called ʻyogaʼ. The Hindus of the Vaidika period knew, practised and lived it.

Thursday Thoughts

 Hari OM

I was struck by a post from blogpal Tomichan Matheikal earlier this week. My philosopher self dug in with a lengthy comment... and I realised the response meant enough to me to warrant being recycled here as my own post. 

As a small background, let me tell you that in some respects, TM and I come from opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum - and yet also have much common thought. Having read a book** I had recommended, which is admittedly on the slightly dippy end of optimism, TM maintains a pessimistic view. Do read the post linked - the arguments are correct for all their darkness. However, this is what arose by way of response.

There will always be a battle between our altruistic and selfish instincts, our openness and our protectiveness. It is a matter of the basic survival instinct to protect what one has. There could be some debate as to a few of the assumptions made by Bregman, bearing in mind he is a historian and not a philosopher, as such. But overall, his point (as is the case with pretty much every philosophy) is that the state of a society reflects the collective reality of the individuals within it. Therefore, to bring about change, there must be a sufficient number of individuals on the 'same page' about the aims for that society for change to be effected. 

“To think [...] it is of no use to attempt to influence the constitution of the government by acting on opinion is to forget that opinion is itself one of the greatest active social forces. One person with a belief is a social power equal to ninety-nine who have only interests.” (One wonders if this is what prompted RB's 1% to 99% observation?

It is also from Mill that the following is quoted (and contains the basis of a much more widely used quote that is misattributed):
"Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends than that good men should look on and do nothing. He is not a good man who, without a protest, allows wrong to be committed in his name, and with the means which he helps to supply, because he will not trouble himself to use his mind on the subject." (In that last sentence is contained that which TM alluded to in an earlier post, and with which I agree - not enough folk are willing to put the work into thinking for themselves.)

It is an unfortunate thing that throughout history, the waves of negative nature have been tapped into by those few who would use the fact that most want to be led like sheep. What history reveals, however, is that such regimes cannot last. The good will prevail again. What is important is that as many individuals as possible educate themselves to their higher possibilities, improve themselves to match the theories and ensure that enough positive opinion is spread to counterbalance the negative.

Do not for one moment think that there is no empathy or that this absolves one from caring for those under any form of victimhood - but that is exactly part of the process of determining what is right and what is wrong. The difference comes when we stop complaining and start acting... if we cannot physically act ourselves, we must do our best to educate those who can rise above their negative and work towards their positive. We do not do this by constantly pointing out the faults. We do this by highlighting the ideals and demonstrating them through our own conduct.

What is happening now - in India, but also in other countries, including the UK (albeit more subtly) - must generate, eventually, the revolution to overturn it. The scale of time is what is in question - how long will it take for "good men to associate to oppose the cabals of bad men." That is the line from Edmund Burke that is conflated with JSM and gives us that quote which needs now to be shouted from the rooftops...

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil 

is that good men should do nothing.”

** Humankind; A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman

Whispering Wednesday

Hari OM

अहं किं करोमि? So often, it is heard, usually accompanied by a shoulder shrug or wrinkling of the brow. "Aham kim karomi?.. What can I do?"

Okay, this may be asked if we seek direction from a supervisor or workmate in a work or volunteer situation. Let that pass. What is being referred to in the thought processes here today is asking this question when we see something happening in the world and are feeling a bit helpless - or are not willing to put effort into discovering ourselves exactly what we can do.

Sometimes events are overwhelming. No doubt about that. Does this absolve us from making some attempt at helping out, at resolving or alleviating, if we can?

KAROMI - the Sanskrit for 'I do' (action). We can take responsibility even for our thinking around events. Let us take, for example, extreme weather events. These are becoming common. They appear on the news with a regularity that has them becoming no more a 'shock' item, but an 'oh dear not again' item. Even a 'sigh - switch channels' item... The further away, geographically, any of these events are, the less we feel we even have to give them any thought. Even when they are within our own countries, somehow it seems that we shrug our shoulders. 

Imagine for a moment, though, where you gave a little more thought to your neighbours, be they near or very distant (we are all neighbours, remember!) You have the empathy of feeling how it might be in their place, with loss of goods, property, pets, family... the shock not of the observer but the afflicted. 

Now ask yourself, "aham kim karomi?" as if you were present on the ground awaiting instruction from a supervisor in the rescue teams. What skills could you offer? It might be you are fit and able and can clamber rubble or swim in strong currents to aid the rescue. It might be you are less physical but have good nurturing and counselling skills. It may simply be that you are a good cook and can brew a ripping cup of tea... and if you were on the ground, would you come forward and offer those skills? It matters not how little you may be able to offer, but that you do actually make the offer in the first place. 

Thus the difference of emphasis of the question can inform our response, is it not? Asking the right question at the right time - and asking that question rightly - can make the difference between playing our part socially or shrugging off our responsibilities.

How do you respond when the question arises as to what can be done?

Textual Tuesday

Hari OM

Having awoken and said a prayer, risen and said a prayer, before proceeding with any other task, it is useful to recite the prayer that is also used at the end of any task, or before going to sleep also. Why place it at the start of the day? For we do not know what our mind has been up to in our sleep! Even if we recall our dreams, the fact is we have no control over our thoughts during this time and they may have been of the sort - or we have dreamed of things which - might be considered 'paapa' (erroneous) so we must seek 'punya' (merits). No chhandas has been hinted here, although there are tunes, for it is sufficient to recite in regular spoken rhythm.

कायेन वाचा मनसेन्द्रियैर्वा बुद्ध्यात्मना वा प्रकृते: स्वभावात्।
करोमि यद्यत् सकलं परस्मै नारायणायेति समर्पयामि॥

Kaayena vaachaa manasendriyairva
Buddhyaatmanaa va prakrite swaabhaavat
Karomi yadyat sakalam parasmai
Naaraayanaa-yeti samarpayaami
Whatever I do with my mind, body, speech or with other senses of my body,
Or with my intellect or with my innate natural tendencies,
I offer everything to the Lord.

to the Lord!

Meditative Monday

Hari OM

For the month of August, let us explore aspects of meditation inspired by quotes from Gurudev.

When beginning meditation, the majority of us attempt it alone - or in a casual group, perhaps. Not so many take up philosophy to go with it. The Mindfulness movement, generated by the Buddhistic approach to meditative activity, has been responsible for increasing understanding of the purpose and practice of medication although now rather commercialised (as the west so often tends to do with eastern culture - the original appropriation). 

Prior to Mindfulness, there was a strong following for the Transcendentalism generated by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; he had developed further the meditative form used by the Rsis and handed down through the centuries from sadhu to sadhu.

Both these systems hold much validity - and they do have philosophy behind them if the seekers search it out. 

What is pointed out by Gurudev's statement here, though, is that to truly gain value from one's meditative practice, it helps a great deal to investigate the whys and wherefores of our mental makeup and the best way to do this is to engage in the study of the philosophy and culture that brought forth the practice in the first place. I know that, after twenty years of hit and miss meditative practice, it was the discovery of Advaita which made all the difference for yours truly!