MAHATMA GANDHI – A GREAT SOUL OF OUR TIMES

MAHATMA GANDHI – A GREAT SOUL OF OUR TIMES

Gandhi Jayanti 2017

Every year not only India, but also the world, celebrates the birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi, a man of small stature, experimented with his thoughts and ideas and gave to the world a philosophy for all of humanity. He not only preached the tenets of ‘satyagraha’ but lived and acted them. He showed by actual examples how these basic principles could be transformed to make the world a better place. Mahatma Gandhi made his thoughts and ideas more powerful than empires. According to one writer who stated, “If Gandhi had lived in India thousands of years ago, his life would have wrapped in myths and miracles.” But Mahatma Gandhi was a great soul of our times, “which shows that his origin was ordinary, his childhood normal, his student days uneventful and his early professional career unsuccessful.” Such was the description for this great soul who became a statesman not only for India, but also for the world.

From about the fifteenth to the eighteenth century Britain and other powerful nations of Europe, had intensified their quest for empire building, and as a result expeditions were sent out to conquer lands and people, and to take whatever wealth they gained back to Europe. Whether it was gold or silver, silk, tea, sugar or spices, they were taken to Europe to finance wars, beautify the women and enhance the exotic tastes of Europeans. With such aims in mind, certain countries became prized possessions for the foreigners. India was one such country.

Beginning with trading posts that opened up trade with India, Britain eventually gained political control over India. The conscious ‘foreign’ element was always in the mind, if not in all, but in a majority of Indians. According to one historian who states, “from the time the British took political control over India, Indians whatever their religions, castes, or regional origins may have been were immediately conscious of the ‘foreign’ character of the white Christian sahibs who ruled their land.” With foreign minds alien to the Indian social, economic and political conditions, one sees the influx of missionaries, English education replacing the Indian education, and trade with the outside world as a process of British unification and modernization. Such changes only served to intensify Indian perceptions of their ‘native’ differences, cultural, socio-economic and political, from the British rulers. Under such conditions men like Surendranath Banerjee, Rande, Gokhale, Phadhe, Mehta, Naoroji and others began to emerge. Later men like Basu, Tagore, Roy, Tilack, Nehru, Patel, Bhave, to mention only a few, rose to rally with Mahatma Gandhi not only to free India from foreign domination, but also to kindle a re-awakening of the deeply rooted thoughts and ideas found in the ancient Indian philosophical system. As the famous Martin Luther King in describing Gandhiji said, “Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought and acted, inspired by the vision of humanity evolving towards a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore him at our own risk.”

Professionally, failures in India caused Gandhi to accept a post in South Africa where he was legal counsel to a leading Indian entrepreneur. It was when he was there that racism awakened his consciousness to national identity. He developed the unique system of ‘satyagraha’. ‘Satyagraha’ according to one writer, is a non-violent method of non-cooperation and civil disobedience, and tapped the deepest roots of India’s cultural heritage. His ideas of ‘satyagraha’ further expanded to include ancient yogic powers of truth, ahimsa (non-violence to any living things in thoughts, word and deeds), meditation, fasting and silence. It is therefore a force born of truth and love. Such thoughts of Gandhiji gave him a tower of inner strength to stand against the might of the foreign power that ruled India, to be honored with the title of Mahatma, to bring social changes to India, and to be ranked amongst the statesmen, not only of modern times, but of all times.

Mahatma Gandhi was a man with inner wealth, and allowed an insurance policy on his life to lapse. When his wife was given an expensive piece of jewellery as a gift in South Africa, he stayed awake all night thinking about its safety. Eventually, all the expensive gifts given to himself and his wife were sold and the money was used for the establishment of a fund for the benefit of the Indians in South Africa. His simple attire of loincloth, wooden chappals, a bowl and a walking stick were the possessions of this politician cum saint. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Bhagavad Gita became his spiritual dictionary that probably exercised the greater single influence on his life. Aparigraha (non-possession of material wealth) inspired Gandhiji so immensely, that it was not surprising that he did not see material wealth as the answer to his problem, nor the problem of humanity. By his action one cannot deny the fact that he was a Karma Yogi.

The word ‘truth’ which forms the basis for Gandhiji’s experiment, is derived from the concept that nothing exists in reality, except ‘Truth.’ Truth is God and God, Truth. Gandhiji sees God as an “indefinable mysterious power that pervades everything.” Furthermore, Gandhiji sees God in everything around him and though everything is ever changing and ever dying, there is underlying all that, that change is a Living Power which is changeless, which holds all together that creates, dissolves, and re-creates. This Living Power is God (Gandhiji). His thoughts on the Unseen Power transcend the senses. He stated that for God to be God He must rule the heart and transform it. If Gandhian concept of God – which is universal – is realized, then the transformed heart will transform the world.

In honoring Gandhiji today, let us pay homage to this politician who became a saint of modern times, and always reflect on his teachings for the good of humanity.

 

Urmila Das (My Wife)

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SPIRITUAL MEANING OF SERVICE

SPIRITUAL MEANING OF SERVICE

DO WE QUALIFY?

All religions teach that to serve others is of paramount importance. Some people feel that we must first serve God, then we can serve others. But if we examine service to God properly, we would find that we cannot really serve God. God is not in need of anything. In fact in, one way or another, God supplies us with all of our needs. We can then say that God is serving us. To truly serve God we must serve others. God needs only our love and our submission to his will which really means to submit to the laws of cause and effect. Whatever we sow, that is what we will reap. In other words, we are creating our own destiny, and we need to accept whatever comes to us as a result

Service may mean different things to different people. For example, some people feel that when they are engaged in their job, that is, rendering service. For example, in Canada 73% of people are listed as employed in “services.” In contrast, China and India list 60% and 63% of the population engaged in agriculture. This does not leave too many people employed in the “services.” Canada lists only 3% of the population engaged in agriculture. This is to show that the services I am discussing in this article are not the employment of people in order to earn their living. People in all countries need approximately the same degree of “services” rendered in a religious or spiritual sense. It is in this latter sense that I am discussing services in this article. But in order for service in this sense to be rendered adequately, there are certain guidelines that we can list as follows:

Service done for personal gain is not service
Service done to impress others is not service
Service done to satisfy ego is not service
Service done in a condescending manner is not service
Service done with strings attached is not service
Service done with hesitation is not service
Service done grudgingly is not service
Service done after persuasion is not service
Service done with boasting is not service
Service done with criticism is not service
Service done because of guilt is not service
Service done as lip service is not service
Service done for fear of criticisms is not service
Service done only to earn a living is not service

Perhaps it is good to mention here what Satguru Kabir said about service:

“Service rendered without being requested is equivalent to milk.
Service rendered after being requested is equivalent to water.
Service rendered after being requested, and you argue about it, is equivalent to blood.”

Perhaps you can add others along the same lines to show what are not services as long as there are personal motives involved; then we can say that it is not really service in the sense in which this article presents the subject

We may then ask the question what is service? We can give an approximate meaning of what service is. We can say that service is any activity, in thought, word, or deed, which is rendered unselfishly, purely for the welfare of others. It means to give of yourself in every way possible to promote the welfare of others. It is in serving others we can truly serve God. In this context it would be well to remember John Wesley’s Rule which states the following:

Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can.

(John Wesley was an 18th century Christian Methodist leader in the Church of England)

There are many examples in the world of people rendering this kind of service. A notable example is the late Mahatma Ghandi of India who remained poor, but served others unhesitatingly. All the great spiritual teachers, saints, and prophets have served others not for any personal gain but only because of love for others. There are many people who volunteer their services, often in foreign and poor countries, for the welfare of others

Why is service so important? Service to others enables us to purify our own actions. We must not have ego and seek personal gain. We need to realize that the soul dwells in all, and that the soul is divine. Recognizing this divinity in all beings allows us to serve them purely for the love of God and his creation. This type of service gives a sense of wellbeing and meaning to life. It makes life sublime and divine.

Jagessar Das

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CORRUPTION

CORRUPTION

 

We hear of corruption in high places,

But it is equally present in “low places.”

It’s a cancer eating away at spirituality,

And it does not spare morality.

The ones in high places are those in power,

Whether in government, or religious calling.

They abuse their power in seeking bribes,

Or peddle influence on the unwary.

They deviate from the ideals of society,

Selling their souls for transient gains.

Where is empathy, where is compassion,

When others must innocently pay the price?

Corruption is a cancer that invites itself

Into the hearts of the heartless!

It has the power to cloud judgment,

And to lay aside God-given intelligence!

It drives away guilt and shame,

And makes entitlement the alluring goal.

Sad to say! Their karma lies in wait,

And will inflict severe punishments!

Loss of good character inevitably follows,

And loss of goodwill becomes a calumny.

But there is corruption in “low places” too,

As is evident in the thief and drug gangs,

In domestic violence and elder abuse,

In cheating spouses and children’s abuse!

Should we not mention modern slavery,

And people-smuggling as a trade?

And black marketing when others starve?

The mind grows weary with mental fatigue,

If we ponder on the web of corruption,

That has ancient roots, and still viable.

So to maintain composure and self-respect,

Let us allow karma and our justice system,

To fulfill their legitimate calling!

 

Jagessar Das

 

Prakashmani Gita

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REALIZING GOD ENDOWS SELF-CONFIDENCE

In the line of Indian saints, Satguru Kabir Saheb’s name is at the top. That is why he is known as “Sant Shiromani.” His 14th-century teachings are relevant and a real pathfinder even today.

In the context of mushrooming of personal Deras, and the so-called, ‘religious shops’ Kabir’s one Doha is an eye-opener and a panacea of all the evils and can save humanity from religious catastrophe.

“jyon til mein tel hai, jyon chakmak mein aag,

tera sain tujh mein, jaag sake to jaag.”

Just as oil is in sesame, and fire is in the flintstone, just so God is in you. Realize it if you can!

The full explanation is given below:

Zile Singh

Ambassador (Ret’d.)

 

Believe Yourself

“Believing in oneself is a Magic.

If you can do that, you can make anything happen.” – Johann Goethe

In the English language, the word Believe is a Verb. It means to accept something as true or as conveying the truth, and have faith in the existence of something that can perform acts of providence. Belief, on the other hand, is a Noun meaning faith, conviction, an opinion or an assumption.

Beliefs are thoughts underlying our conscious and sub-conscious mind. We start to gather and build up beliefs from our childhood. Belief may not necessarily be correct or accurate based on logic and facts. In order to establish one’s belief, one may consciously or unconsciously look for evidence, or other coincidental incidents that may confirm and reinforce that belief, and save oneself from being wrong. The outside environment, which can be religious or non-religious has made all efforts to take you out of your inner nature of logic and practicality, to make you believe in anything according to the norms and conventions of the society at the cost of your own will and individuality. In other words, the belief and faith have been acquired at the cost of one’s intuition, free will and self-inquiry. Over time, the correct or incorrect belief system becomes so strong that an individual finds it impossible to get rid of it. Instead, it becomes an inseparable part of day-to-day life and takes the form of rituals and superstitions. In religious field some beliefs compelled human beings to perform human and animal sacrifice to propitiate deities. There have been numerous social evils in the name of beliefs.

There is no unanimity of beliefs in different regions and religions. Belief systems have affected people and societies to a large extent. Almost all people believe in something or the other; like fate, afterlife, previous life, destiny, hell, heaven, gods, omens, ghosts etc. People go after a belief when they feel that they have nowhere else to go to get some relief from their illness, or some benefit in business. Belief justifies their actions and brings them comfort. To justify and uphold their beliefs, religions and sects have fought with each other for supremacy. History is witness to the fact that humanity has suffered a lot on account of false beliefs. Whosoever tried to awaken the masses against these rituals, blind faith and illogical practices, had to face severe difficulties in their lives.

To protect society from such unfounded beliefs, it is necessary to understand the value of “Believing in Yourself.” Believing in oneself is a magic that dispels the darkness of blind faith, and paves the way for a clear understanding. If you do not believe in yourself, you sabotage yourself. It induces in you a lethargic and inferior complex, dependent on outside forces, including non-existent phenomena. And inferiority complex pushes you towards failure and self-pity as you start believing in certain non-existent power. Dependence on any outside element, especially an unfounded belief, leads to slavery and low esteem. The world is trying to make you somebody else than your own-being. To be nobody but yourself is to fight, and fight the hardest. But by nature, an individual has avoided genuine struggle as far as possible. Therefore, it is necessary to respect yourself enough to walk away from anyone or anything that no longer serves you, empowers you or enhances you. Also, remember that a person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in a place that no one has ever been before. That is why it is necessary to “Believe in Yourself.” It is SOS vs SOS situation. Save our Souls vs Sense of Self. In the former case, you pray to somebody else for your safety, whereas in the latter case your own effort is the panacea for all difficulties. We have to create a society where we are not swept away under the carpet by manipulative and cunning elements all around in the name of false beliefs. Flood of thoughts and emotions, based on false assumptions, needs to be managed carefully. Scientific attitude and believing in oneself are the handy tools to overcome the age-old false assumptions based on blind faith. Nowadays there is mushrooming of sects and congregations that are taking advantage of the innocent public in the name of religion, ethics, morality and spirituality. Outwardly, these establishments look appealing, but inwardly these are dens of corruption whether it be moral or financial or both.

Believe in yourself and walk on a track carved out by your own logical understanding, and the calling of your own conscience based on scientific temper. Your destiny is in your hands. You are the maker of your fate.

The following two quotes will sum up the article:

“I do not want to give advice to people about their religious beliefs, but I do think that it is not smart to bet against the power of science to figure out the natural world. It used to be a thousand years ago that if you wanted to explain why the moon moved through the sky, you needed to invoke God”. – Sean Carroll.

“The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning, but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, but I did not observe it, until this moment. Now I see that I will never find the Light unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel.” – Bruce Lee

Zile Singh (Ambassador ret’d)

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LIVING BY THE GRACE OF GOD!

LIVING BY THE GRACE OF GOD!

(Guest Blog)

We often hear many people say the phrase “By the grace of God” when they refer to their life going not well. They are actually expressing an implicit faith in God being thankful to God for everything that is going on in their life. In broader terms, it is the acceptance that everything that is happening is by virtue of God’s will to which we have to submit. It requires a lot of courage to declare the same phrase when people are hot hard by life. Would people say “By the grace of God” when calamities like hurricanes, floods, storms decimate their livelihoods? Although the implied meaning of that phrase is to accept whatever happens as God’s will.

To be conscious or having consciousness is by grace, It is not by coincidence or by our own will. In Kabir Panth, we strongly believe that being in the company of Saintly people, by welcoming Saints and Sages in our homes, by visiting our Guru, we are attracting grace in our life. It is the harmony which is created by being with Saintly people that makes us feel the grace of God.

“Saadhu bare parmaarathi, jyon ghan barse aaye
Tapan boojhaawe aur ki, apnon paaras laaye”

Saintly people are benefactors who want the welfare of everyone just like rain clouds which benefit everyone indistinctly. As benefactors, Saintly people relieve people of their sufferings and at the same time transform devotees into pure souls. Similarly, prayers are not answered because of the prayer itself, but by the grace of God. In other words, everything happens by the grace of God; we need to be in harmony with our true Self to be attuned to that grace. One does not wake up in the morning because of his/her actions (good or bad); the time for him or her to depart from this worldly plane has not come, therefore one continues to breathe. Being thankful to the breaths we take is acknowledging the grace of God which allows us to fulfill our mission in this world.

But then we may ask the question : “If everything happens by the grace of God or by God’s will then why should we do prayers?” Acts of devotion such as prayers, selfless service, worship and so on are reminders of our human existence, of our identity, of the Universal presence of God and of our duty to perform good actions to ultimately attain our goal of salvation. Even people who have committed sins their whole life and happen to realise that they were on the wrong path and intend to redress themselves, they can be graced by God.

There was a noble gentleman who was kind, and always helped the poor and needy. He was always involved in doing good actions. However, he never prayed or went to temples. Everyone knew him as a very kind and loving person. It so happened that he was framed and was caught by the King’s soldiers, accused of theft. In the King’s court he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He became very sad and upset and thought to himself that God does not exist. As he was serving his sentence in the prison, his wife who was very religious went to her Guru, explained the situation and asked for the Guru to help her husband to be freed. The Guru told her that by the grace of God, everything will be fine. The Guru further requested that he visits her husband at the prison. After a week, the Guru was granted permission and went to see the gentleman at the prison. The latter was so upset that he did not want to meet with the Guru in the first place. Finally, he accepted to meet with the Guru. The latter told him that he should believe in the grace of God and he will soon be a free man. The Guru gave him a prayer mat and asked him to do prayers daily and that in 3 weeks or so, he will be free. After the Guru left, the prisoner thought to himself how he is going to do prayers, he who has never prayed in his life. Nevertheless he opened the mat daily and looked at it. After 10 days or so, he realised that the design on the mat was in fact an escape plan from the prison. Thus after studying the plan on the mat he was able to find his way out of the prison and was a free person again.

Of course this is just a story, but it contains a fundamental message of how being in contact with saintly people we can find our path to liberation. Just being in the presence of Sants, Sages, Saadhus we experience the positive vibrations which make us live by the grace of God. Saguru Kabir Saheb taught us to find God in the form of Saadhus and Sants.

“Jo Chaahe saakaar tou, Saadhu partach dev
Niraakaar nij roop hai, prem priti se sev”

God is formless (niraakaar) so we cannot see Him; but if we want to see God in form (saakaar), then meet with Saadhus/Sants. They have all the divine qualities that God has. Sants grace us by their presence and bring relief and happiness to us. Just like in the story, Sants unlock the door to liberation for us. It is our duty to perform selfless service to them. Their grace in indescribable yet immensely beneficial to us.

Mahant Jay Jaggessur
Kabir Association of Toronto, Canada

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Satguru Kabir Saheb and the Indian Constitution

Satguru Kabir Saheb

and the Indian Constitution

Shri Hazur 1008 Ardhnam Saheb, a monk who studied at the Banaras Hindu University and obtained his Shastri and Sanskrit Philosophy degrees previously known as Vijay Das, was appointed in 2007 as the eighteenth Acharya of Satguru Prakatya Dham, Kabir Bagh, Varanasi. Shri Hazur Saheb visited Surrey from August 24 to September 2, 2017. He delivered three Parvachans at the Kabir Association Canada situated at 14473, 58   Avenue Surrey. Dr. J. Das, President, Kabir Association, invited me for one of the Parvachans on August 24. For me it was an opportunity to listen to the teachings of Sadguru Kabir Saheb. Kabir’s teachings are evergreen and very much relevant even today. I spoke on “Satguru Kabir Saheb and the Indian Constitution” a subject somewhat new and unknown to many.

The Constitution describes India as a secular and welfare State and guarantees certain Fundamental Rights to all citizens. The Directive Principles of State Policy further strengthen the concept of a welfare State as they are to be borne in mind while making laws and implementing them. Social welfare and wellbeing of all the citizens are the essence of the Indian Constitution. In this context the teachings of Satguru Kabir Saheb are quite relevant even if these were preached in the 14th. Century. Kabir perceived certain ideals to be the first foot- steps on the path to a welfare state and to eradicate inhuman exploitative practices during that time. He was not only a religious teacher but also a social reformer for Hindu-Muslim unity, equality of caste and gender and, at the same time, a revolutionary against the blind faith in the forms of illogical practices and rituals performed both by the Hindus and the Muslims. To sum up, as an enlightened visionary, he advocated a new social order on the basis of Equality, Liberty and Fraternity.

Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the Chief architect of the Indian Constitution was greatly influenced by the lives and teachings of the Buddha, Kabir and Jyotiba Phule. Dr. Ambedkar was brought up in a family who were the followers of Satguru Kabir. From his childhood Dr. Ambedkar was well aware of the significant role Satguru Kabir played in awakening the consciousness of the ignorant masses. Dr. Ambedkar enshrined the essence of Kabir’s teachings in the Constitution. Kabir’s logic and Ambedkar’s scientific approach are the same. Right to Equality is an important Fundamental Right provided in Articles 14 – 18 of the Constitution. Article 15 states that no person shall be discriminated on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

“Kabira khada bazar mein, sab ki mange khair.

Na kahu se dosti, na kahu se bair.”

Kabir stands in the open market place and impartially wishes the welfare of all. He is neither a friend nor a foe to anyone. All are equal to him. It is worthwhile to note that Kabir is not making a sermon from a temple, mosque or a Dera but from a place easily accessible to everyone. Market is a place frequently visited by all irrespective of religion, caste, gender and social status.

On Equality, Kabir further teaches:

Awal Allaah noor Upaaya Kudrat ke sab bande.

Ek noor te sab jag upjaya, kaun bhale kaun mande. Kabir logically emphasized that everyone is the creation of God. All are equal to Him. The division and classification of the society is man made and is in violation of the Law of the Supreme. How beautifully Kabir said on gender equality: Nari ninda na karo, nari ratan ki khaan. Nari se nar hot hai, Dhruv, Prahlad samaan.

Further the Constitution enumerates the Right to Liberty. Kabir, throughout his life, practiced the liberty of thought, expression and profession. He took the liberty to exhort both the Hindus and the Muslims about their way of worship:

Pathar puje Ram mile, to mein puju pahar.

Tate chakki bhali, pees khai sansar.

Also: Kankar pathar jor ke, masjid lai banai.

Uppar chad mulla bang de, bahra hua khudai?

Kabir loved his profession, thought to be low, till his last.

How beautifully Kabir Saheb described Fraternity (Prem: love) in his following Dohas:

“ Poothi padh padh jag mua, Pandit bhayo na koye

Dhai aakhar prem ke, jo padhe so pandit hoye.”

“ Kabir yeh ghar prem ka, khala ka ghar nahin

Sees utaare hath kar, so pasey ghar mahin”

Reading and writing do not make any one wise, but love, harmony and tolerance are required to be wise. This land is a house of love. It is not your Aunt’s house. Only those who have dropped hatred and ill-will can stay here. Fraternity among all citizens is required. It is an attitude of respect and reverence towards all human beings. In her book ‘A Weaver Named Kabir’ Professor Charlotte Vaudeville stated, “Kabir is one of the best-known and most revered names in Indian tradition. From the Panjab to Bengal and from the Himalayan frontiers to South India, he has long been hailed by Hindus and Muslims alike as a great mystic and bold religious reformer….In Indian religious history, Kabir is unique: to the Hindus, he is a Vaishnava bhakta, to the Muslims a pir, to the Sikhs a bhagat, to the sectarian Kabir-panthis an avatar of the Supreme Being; to modern patriots, Kabir is the champion of Hindu-Muslim unity, to neo-vedantins a promoter of the Universal Religion or the Religion of Man…” He was, as he once said himself, the son of Allah and of Ram.

Zile Singh

Ambassador (Retd.)

 

Kabir, Ambedkar, Indian Constitution, Allah, Ram, Hazur Ardh Nam, Hindu-Muslim Unity.

 

 

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SAHAJ YOGA OF KABIR SAHEB

SAHAJ YOGA OF KABIR SAHEB

Late Mahant Jagdish Das Shastri
Jamnagar, India

(The first quality was Friendliness, previously posted in FB)

The next quality is compassion. Compassion is the hallmark of the saints. Read the stories of their character: Compassion of Mahavir, compassion of Buddha, compassion of Guru Kabir and others. When you have compassion you will like to improve the world. You will like to help someone else who is in trouble, who is in pain. Have you ever seen any child who is crying on the street and you go and wipe his tears. If you can do that you are following the path of compassion. And because of compassion, a person becomes a saint. When Christ was crucified he said, “O God, forgive these people for they know not what they do.” He said more than that. He said, “O God, please forgive me, for saying to forgive these people. O God, these people are very good really, and what they are doing is removing the distance between you and me. So I am very grateful to them”. And when that kind of knowledge is there, that is really compassion, which also comes from the inside.

Think of Mahavir. People tortured him, threw stones on him, and nailed his ears, but he did not say anything against them. He had only compassion for them, as that was his nature. His nature was just like that of a tree. You throw stones on the tree laden with fruit, and it will return fruits. He was vivasht -unable to do what other people can do. He could not return their cruelty, because he had no hatred.

There was a saint Al Hallaj Mansur. There is no saint in the world who was tortured like him. The king did not want him to live on his land, and also wanted to kill him. First, he ordered that people should throw stones on him. Everyone threw stones on him as he walked down the street. His gurubhai (spiritual brother), Junaid, knew that Mansur was not wrong, but if he did not throw something, then the king will punish him. So, instead of throwing a stone he threw a flower, and Mansur cried out in pain saying that the stones did not hurt him, but the flower did, as it was thrown by one who loved him, whereas the others knew no better. Mansur’s skin was peeled off, his hands and legs were cut. His eyes were dug out, and ultimately he was put on a pointed iron that pierced his body. At that time he said, “O Lord, I know that these people cannot take away love from me. This king cannot take this love from me, and I know that you are here. I have love for you and I am coming to see you now. And I know that you are coming to me.” He said that the pointed iron was the staircase to enter into his Father’s kingdom. He had no hatred. He was full of love and compassion.

Now comes the third quality which is cheerfulness. Cheerfulness is very important in order to have pure emotions. When your emotions are pure then you will be cheerful. When your emotions are impure you will never be cheerful, even if you try. But it is better to be cheerful.

A man in Bombay had a gloomy face, so when he took over his father’s business he started to lose business because his face was always gloomy, never laughing. People did not want to talk to him. Then somebody told him that he should learn to smile to improve his business. But the man said that his face was like that – and he could not smile? Then his friend advised him to get plastic surgery to make a smiling face. He liked the idea and had the plastic surgery, and his face was now smiling all the time. Now his business started to grow and he became rich. Whether people bought of not, he was smiling, and people liked his smiling attitude. One day he got a telegram from the village that his mother passed away. He went to see his mother and everybody was standing around his mother’s dead body and was crying, and he was smiling. Everybody was asking why he was smiling? He said, “I am crying.” They said that he did not look like he was crying, but smiling. They did not like his smiling at such a time, and they threw him out. You should know where you have to smile. You cannot laugh at a person who is falling down. If you laugh at that person it means that you don’t have compassion. You need to know where to be cheerful by using your discretion. Some saints taught that you have to live in this world with happiness and spread happiness all over.

There was a saint in India who was always joyful. Whoever came in contact with him experienced that joy. He said that nobody should have a gloomy face. Have cheerfulness, have joy, rejoice in the world. He had many followers. They loved him very much because he was always full of joy which he shared. A time came when he was about to die. Three days before, he called all his disciples and told them that he was going to leave this body and that they must not cry. Make his death jubilant, enjoy it, and celebrate it. For three days he told many jokes, and made the people laugh heartily. On the final day he called them and said, “When you place me on the funeral pyre, do not remove my clothes, and do not bathe me. Just place my body on the funeral pyre. They obeyed his instructions, but they were feeling sad. When the fire ignited, fireworks were displayed. He had worn a long coat with many pockets in which he had hidden firecrackers. The people were surprised and marveled at the display, and they all laughed. Even in death this saint made people cheerful. All saints do not want people to be unhappy. They themselves endured suffering with equanimity, and have taught others to accept adversity with cheerfulness.

The last quality to develop is gratitude. Can you imagine how you would feel if someone is ungrateful to you when you have done something good for him? Gratitude encourages people to be helpful towards others. When someone is ungrateful you do not feel like doing anything for him. But gratitude should go way back to God for giving you the gift of life and the air, water, sunshine and food that grows by His power. Next you should be grateful to parents who brought you into the world, loved, and nurtured you. You need to be grateful to teachers who are the means for you to get knowledge. Similarly you need to be grateful to the government, the police force, the civil authorities that take care of various needs of society, and also to anyone who shares your sorrows, or has words of wisdom for you. To be grateful requires the giving up of ego, pride and vanity. Develop humility, and gratitude will become natural to you.

Once you develop the above qualities, make them a natural part of your personality, and sense the presence of God in your heart, and in the hearts of all beings, then Sahaj yoga is your natural accomplishment. Peace, contentment and happiness will be your rewards.

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RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND PRACTICES- MY OBSERVATIONS

RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND PRACTICES- MY OBSERVATIONS CONT’D

(First written in 1990)

Many people, throughout the world, follow certain practices for which they do not have any logical understanding or foundation. We must examine our religious practices and try to follow those which make universal sense. They must also adhere to the basic precepts taught by all the major religions, e.g. the sanctity of life, non-violence, love for God and all beings, kindness, etc. Let us examine some more practices.
Take for example the sacrifice of animals to God, or to various other deities. Before sacrificing animals one should ask a few simple questions. Who or what is God? Does He require your sacrifice of animals? Where is God to whom you offer sacrifices? If God created the animal, as he did you, then would He not much more prefer to see the animal living than it being killed? Isn’t the religious teaching “thou shalt not kill”?

God does not take pleasure in smelling the burnt offerings made to Him as was practiced in ancient Rome. God does not have nostrils like you and I, or even like the slaughtered animals so that He may smell the “aroma”. God does not take pleasure in seeing the spilt blood of the fearful animal that is killed forcibly, when it is in a helpless state. All other deities or gods are creations of man’s mind under the influence of “Maya”. It is funny that man should create deities that have no real existence, and then kill animals which do have a real existence, and offer up the innocent lives to imaginary beings.

Let us come back to where God is. God is universally said to be Omnipresent. When God is Omnipresent, is God not present in the animal being sacrificed? God is that indwelling “life force” or spirit manifesting in the animal as it also manifests in you. Realizing this, is it not foolish and sinful to sacrifice an animal to which God gave life by putting Himself as the life force in the animal? Isn’t the animal’s life dear to it, as yours is dear to you? Are we not supposed to have reverence for life? That life is also in the animal! After offering the sacrifices, people usually eat the meat or drink the blood themselves. What benefit does God derive from such a practice? Let us try to be loving towards God’s creatures and lighten the burden of our karmas.

Many people of various religions automatically either say or point that heaven is above and hell is below. One should then ask where is above and where is below? The earth is spinning at the rate of approximately one thousand miles per hour at the equator. If you point your finger upward to indicate up then, as you are standing on the surface of the earth, your finger is drawing a circle. So the direction you call up is changing from moment to moment. If you hold your finger up for twelve hours then you end up pointing in exactly the opposite direction from which you started. Where then is up? Similarly, when you point down, where is it that you are pointing? You may be pointing towards the center of the earth or through the center of the earth to the other side. If it is towards the center of the earth, science knows that the core of the earth consists of molten iron and nickel. If your pointing goes through to the other side then, if you are in the northern hemisphere, you are pointing to countries in the southern hemisphere, such as New Zealand and Australia, or South America. Certainly those countries are not hell. Similarly, somebody standing in New Zealand or Australia and pointing down likely will be pointing to where you are at in the northern hemisphere. Certainly you are not in hell.
Suppose we assume that your pointing indicates only under the surface of the earth or even to the center of the earth. Would that be the place where sinners would go after death? If we can say that sinners go to the inner core of the earth where there is molten iron and nickel, then we can also say that those sinners go into volcanoes where there is molten lava containing rocks and minerals and metals. But we never assume that sinners go into volcanoes. Then again, if God is Omnipresent and present everywhere in this universe, then isn’t God also present inside the earth? Or is he present only on the surface of the earth? Because of His Omnipresence God is also present inside the earth. What is wrong then with a soul going below the earth when God is also there? But of course things are not as we think they are because, as human beings, we are subject to delusion. It was thus that Guru Kabir stated that there was no up and no down; no back and no front; no east and no west; no sunrise and no sunset. Try to understand these concepts, and free the mind from beliefs and practices which are really of no help to you in your spiritual life.

[These essays are an attempt to find “Truth” in spirituality]

 

Dr. Jagessar Das

 

Religious beliefs, sacrifice of animals to God, heaven, hell, burnt offerings

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CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM – MY OBSERVATIONS

CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM – MY OBSERVATIONS

ON TWO CONCURRENT RELIGIOUS EVENTS

(I first wrote this article in 1990)

This is a very special time in the lives of the followers of two world religions – Christianity and Islam. For Christians it is the time of Good Friday and Easter that mark the death and the resurrection of Jesus. For Muslims it is the month of Ramadan when all devout Muslims observe a fast, from sunrise to sun set each day, and then feast at night. We shall examine the significance of each of them in this essay.

Jesus was a great spiritual personality, who was born nineteen hundred and ninety four* years ago (4 B.C.) in Bethlehem. Christians accept him as the Son of God and the saviour of the world. Unfortunately, many people do not know of most of the life of Jesus. They know of his birth, and when he was taken to Egypt to escape death by Herod. They know about when he was brought to Jerusalem at the age of twelve, and when he confounded the Rabbis in the Sanhedrin. The next time they learn of him is at the age of thirty, when he began to preach on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. His teachings culminated with the Sermon on the Mount.

As happens with nearly all saints, saviours and prophets of the world, the average people and the established church or religion, do not understand them. This happened in the case of Jesus when he was persecuted by the chief priest Caiaphas and was handed over for trial to Herod and Pontius Pilate. He was eventually hanged on the cross on Mount Golgotha.

There is evidence that Jesus travelled in those ‘missing’ years to Egypt, the Middle East and to India. He studied the Upanishads of India, and the Yogic practices and psychic healing. One teacher of spiritual healing mentioned in this relationship is Udraka 1. Jesus also learned from travelling holy men with whom he had discussions, as he was growing up.

Concerning his death on the cross, there is some doubt. He belonged to a very close-knit group of Essenes. During the storm which arose, and when all the Roman soldiers fled for shelter, it is felt that his Essene brothers removed him from the cross and nursed him back to health. It was thus that he was subsequently able to visit his disciples, to comfort them and to give them further teachings. If he rose from the sepulchre on the third day and ascended to heaven, then why did he, or what need did he have, to appear to his disciples on earth? He had already instructed them in everything that they needed to know and to do after his departure.

For the Islamic people the fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars that must be observed by the faithful. The other four pillars are: (l) to accept Allah as God and Mohammed as His Messenger; (2) to pray five times a day, turning towards Mecca; (3) to give alms for the welfare of the less fortunate people and (4) to go on pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in one’s life time.

It is all well and proper to observe certain rites and ceremonies, in order to uphold the standards of one’s religion. By fasting the whole day and eating at night has some merit in it, as it teaches forbearance and discipline. But some Muslims eat delicacies at night and gain weight which would negate the good done by the fasting. Another practice of Muslims is ‘Id-al-Fitr’. This is a feast celebrated at the end of Ramadan when animals are slaughtered and, in a festive mood, the people enjoy a sumptuous feast. In order to carry through with their spiritual gain through the month, it would have been more appropriate if they treated the animals by giving them a feast, instead of feasting on them. I think that a loving, merciful, humane and compassionate Allah would like that much better. After all, it is our duty to protect innocent animals, as their lives are just as important to them as ours are to us. The commandment “thou shalt not kill” is not observed in these practices at all.

Recently in our local newspaper, there was a lengthy article on eating to protect the environment and the earth. It gave many reasons why people should not eat meat but should be vegetarians. In that article Dr. Klaper, whom I had known before he moved to the United States, stated: “I will not eat anything that can run away from me and have sex.” This may be a humorous way of looking at the situation but it does make sense. It excludes all animals from the diet.

First and foremost, religion is a path towards a goal, and what one does in religious practices must be geared towards increasing knowledge and understanding of a spiritual goal. It must not bring harm to any living creature. Religion must be understood properly, and people should not feel guilt or fear and thus follow the religion. Christians are told that they are all sinners and that Jesus died for their sins. Driving such guilt into the hearts of adherents is not the way of God. The same Bible also teaches: “As you sow, so also you shall reap.” How can Jesus die for your sins, when you have to reap what you have sown in your life? How can Jesus, who died nearly two thousand years ago, save you from your sins at this time, or save those who existed before him, or those who never heard of him, and who had no clue about him at all? The positive way of accepting Jesus is that he was a God-realized person who gave his teachings for the salvation of humanity, and not to lull ourselves into believing that he died for our sins.

God is All Merciful and Loving and would also like his devotees to be merciful and loving. Both Muslims and Christians will agree with this. Yet, both of them slaughter animals and perpetrate religious wars; some even use chemical and germ warfare against their fellow human beings. Do they think that they can get away with it? How can God be satisfied with their behavior? We must weigh what we are doing and see whether it makes universal sense. Does is fit in with ‘natural law’ which is the preservation and improvement of all life. Does it increase love, understanding, compassion, humility and forgiveness in our hearts, and does it remove the selfish, greedy, hateful and killing instincts from our minds? Be your own judge.

 

  1. #3 And Jesus sought to learn the Hindu art of healing, and became the pupil of Udraka, greatest of the Hindu healers. 4 Udraka taught the uses of the waters, plants and earths; of heat and cold; sunshine and shade; of light and dark. 5 He said, The laws of nature are the laws of health, and he who lives according to these laws is never sick. (The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus, Chapter 3)

 

*as of 1990

 

Christianity, Islam, Ramadan, Good Friday, Thou shalt not kill, Jesus, Mohammed,

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NATURE- THE BEST RECYCLER

NATURE – THE BEST RECYCLER

Think of a world filled with man-made garbage,
Then think that you have to live with it.
And as time inevitably goes by,
You find yourself choked for healthy space.
Non-biodegradables are now companions,
That threaten your health and wellbeing.
You begin to think “What a mess we made,”
But it is now too late –
Since land and water are polluted,
And noxious gases spew into the atmosphere.
That is the land and the water you use,
And you merrily breathe the polluted air.
Then you become sick and wonder why?
You will not blame yourself as the cause,
Since it is the farthest thing from your mind.
Here comes the research scientist and declares,
“This environment is polluted: toxic chemicals abound.”
“Why does the government not clean up the mess?”
You find yourself musing, not accepting the blame.
It would have been supremely wise,
If you had recycled and prevented the pollution.
Now to the rescue comes the city – the guardian angel,
And institutes recycling by political decree.
A cleaner environment is a blessing to all,
And we can now enjoy the cleaner outdoors.
But wait: did nature not teach us to recycle,
As she has done for countless eons.
Perhaps we failed to be keen observers.
She recycles everything that is born and dies.
She recycles you and me, animals and plants too.
The earth is the source of all physical beings,
That are the abode of the spirit and consciousness.
And all have to return to the earth – our mother earth!
Nature also recycles water, and we call it the water cycle.
It evaporates from the waters on earth,
Then returns it as rainfall to support life.
Think of the carbon dioxide we breathe out.
It fills all plants with joy. They grow luxuriantly.
They pay us back with oxygen so we can live.
All things in nature follow cycles – a recycling.
Let us then follow nature’s perpetual recycling,
And diligently recycle to a better and healthier life!

Dr. Jagessar Das

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