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27 September, 2008


Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to
be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

-- By St. Francis of Assisi (translation anon)

18 September, 2008


It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the elephant,
And, happening to fall
Against his b road and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! But the elephant
Is nothing but a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried: “Ho! What have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ‘tis mighty clear
This wonder of an elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approached the animal,
And, happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he,” the elephant
Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee:
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
“ ‘Tis clear enough the elephant
Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an elephant
Is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an elephant
Not one of them has seen!

Poem by John Godrey Saxe.


The present custodians of religions are like the blind leading the blind. They try to convey their concept of God out of their fanatic beliefs. They are like the six blind men who described an elephant in a Poem by John Godfrey Saxe. These blind men wanted to know what an elephant was. They groped and felt the different parts of the animal. Arrived at different conclusions. That it was like a wall, a spear, snake, tree, fan and rope. And each declared authoritatively his own opinion of the elephant. All of them were right from their view point yet all of them were fundamentally wrong. The above poem convey the message.

Vedanta gives no such names to God as these blind men did to the elephant. Its approach to God is methodical. It systematically bridges the gulf between you and God. It provides you the philosophy to study, contemplate, assimilate and apply it in your life. For you to evolve spiritually. And reach the ultimate state of Self-realisation, God-realisation. The supreme godhead lies within you. It is your original nature. Your ignorance veils your supreme Self. Vedanta gives you the knowledge to discover your self.


15 September, 2008


You and your environment are one. Looking at yourself, you perceive that your body stops at a certain point; it is separated from the wall of your room or a tree outdoors by empty space. In quantum terms, however, the distinction between “solid” and “empty” is insignificant. Every cubic centimeter of quantum space is filled with a nearly infinite amount of energy, and the tiniest vibration is part of vast fields of vibration spanning whole galaxies. In a very real sense, your environment is your extended body: With every breath, you inhale hundreds of millions of atoms of air exhaled yesterday by someone in China. All the oxygen, water, and sunlight around you are only faintly distinguishable from that which is inside you.

If you choose, you can experience yourself in a state of unity with everything you contact. In ordinary waking consciousness, you touch your finger to a rose and feel it as solid, but in truth one bundle of energy and information—your finger—is contacting another bundle of energy and information—the rose. Your finger and the thing it touches are both just minute outcroppings of the infinite field we call the universe. This truth inspired the ancient sages of India to declare:

As is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm.
As is the atom, so is the universe.
As is the human body, so is the cosmic body.
As is the human body, so is the cosmic mind.

These are not just mystic teachings but actual experiences of those who could dislodge their awareness from a state of separation and identify instead with the unity of everything. In unity consciousness, people, things, and events “out there” all become part of your body; in fact, you are only a mirror of relationships centered on these influences. The famous naturalist John Muir declared, “Whenever we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” This shouldn’t be a rare experience but the first building block of everything we know.

The possibility of experiencing unity has tremendous implications for aging, because when there is harmonious interaction between you and your extended body, you feel joyful, healthy, and youthful. “Fear is born of separation,” the ancient Indian sages maintained; in this statement they probed deep into why we age. Seeing ourselves as separate, we create chaos and disorder between ourselves and things “out there.” We war with other people and destroy the environment. Death, the final state of separation, looms as a fearsome unknown; the very prospect of change, which is part of life, create untold dread because it connotes loss.

Fear inevitably brings violence in its wake. Being separate from other people, things and events, we want to force them to be what we want. In harmony there is no violence. Instead of futilely trying to control the uncontrollable, a person in unity learns acceptance, not because he has to but because there actually is peace and orderliness in himself and his extended body. The modern sage J. Krishnamurti lived into his nineties with wonderful alertness, wisdom and undiminished vitality. I remember seeing him bound up the stairs to a lecture podium when he was 85, and I was very moved when a woman who had known him for many years told me, “I have learned one thing about him—he is completely without violence.”

The transformation from separation to unity, from conflict to peace, is the goal of all spiritual traditions. “Don’t we live in the same objective world?” a disciple once queried his guru. “Yes,” his master replied, “but you see yourself in the world, I see the world in myself. This minor perceptual shift makes all the difference between freedom and bondage.”

All of us are in bondage to the disorder we create by seeing ourselves as separate and isolated. The perfect example is the Type A personality with its driven, frustrated behavior its constant sense of being pressured by deadlines. Unable to relax into any kind of acceptance or flow, such a person nurtures his past hurts as anger; this repressed turmoil gets projected into the environment as hostility, impatience, blame and unacknowledged panic. Endlessly trying to control others, such a person reacts to minor stresses with harsh criticism of both self and others. In the act of creating so much chaos, the Type A person, particularly in the business world, is deluded into thinking that he or she is competing successfully. In actuality, the level of efficient work is very low, and as frustrations mount, the feedback the Type A personality receives from his or her extended body creates more havoc within the physical body. Cholesterol and blood pressure rise; the heart is subjected to needless stressful arousal, seriously increasing the risk of a fatal heart attack or stroke.

Type A is an extreme example of the harm created by not interacting harmoniously with one’s extended body. As we will see, perceived stress in the environment is directly related to most of the age changes that overtake everyone. What makes us old isn’t the stress so much as it is the perception of stress. Someone who doesn’t see the world “out there” as a threat can coexist with the environment, free of the damage created by the stress response. In many ways, the most important thing you can do to experience a world without aging is to nurture the knowledge that world is you.


06 September, 2008


Creating the body in new forms is necessary in order to meet the changing demands of life. A child’s view of reality, for example, contains much that is unfamiliar, and until he learns more about the world, his body expresses itself in untrained and uncoordinated behaviors. At 3 months old, a baby cannot tell the difference between a staircase and a painting of a staircase. His brain hasn’t grasped what an optical illusion. By 6 months, his reality has changed; babies can recognize optical illusions by that age, and using that knowledge, their bodies are better able to negotiate three dimensional space (mirrors don’t look like holes in the wall, real stairs are to be climbed but not paintings of stairs, roundness is different from flatness, etc.). Making this perceptual shift isn’t just mental; a whole new way of using eyes and hands has been achieved, and the physical dimensions of various brain centers for shape recognition and motor coordination are affected.

As long as new perceptions continue to enter your brain, your body can respond in new ways. There is no secret of youth more powerful. As one 80-year-old patient of mine succinctly put it, “People don’t grow old. When they stop growing, they become old.” New knowledge, new skills, new ways of looking at the world keep mind and body growing, and as long as that happens, the natural tendency to be new at every second is expressed.

In the quantum world, change is inevitable, aging isn’t. The chronological age of our physical bodies is beside the point. The youngest-looking 50-year-old has molecules that are the same age as those of the oldest-looking 50-year-old. In both cases the chronological age of the body could be stated as 5 billion years (the age of the various atoms), or 1 year (the time it takes for these atoms to replace themselves in our tissues), or 3 seconds (the time taken for a cell to turn over its enzymes for processing food, air and water).

In truth, you are only as old as the information that swirls through you, and this is very fortunate. You can control the informational content of the quantum field. Although there is a certain amount of fixed information in the atoms of food, air and water that make up each cell, the power to transform that information is subject to free will. One thing you can own free and clear in this world is your interpretation of it. There are remarkable medical cases of young children, for example, who feel so unloved that they stop growing. This syndrome, called psychosocial dwarfism, occurs among severally abused children who convert their lack of love and affection into depleted growth hormone, in defiance of the fact that growth hormone is supposedly released on a preprogrammed schedule imprinted into every child’s DNA. In these cases the power of interpretation overrides the genetic imprint, causing a change in the body’s information fields.

Interpretations arise from a person’s self-interaction. You experience this as internal dialogue. Thoughts, judgments, and feelings are ceaselessly swirling through one’s mind: “I like this, I don’t like that, I’m afraid of A, I’m not sure of B,” etc. Internal dialogue is not random mental noise; it is generated from a deep level by your beliefs and assumptions. A core belief is defined as something you assume is true about reality, and as long as you hold on to it, your belief will hold your body’s informational fields to certain parameters—you will perceive something as likable or un likable, distressing or enjoyable, according to how it fits your expectations.

When someone’s interpretation changes, a change in his reality also takes place. In the case of children suffering from psychosocial dwarfism, putting them into a loving environment proves more effective than administering growth hormone (their belief in being unwanted and unworthy can be so strong that their bodies will not grow even when hormones are injected into them). However, if loving foster parents can transform the children’s core belief about being unlovable, they can respond with bursts of naturally produced growth hormone, which sometimes bring them back to normal height, weight, and development. When they see themselves differently, their personal reality is altered at a physiological level. This is a powerful metaphor for how our fear of aging and our deep belief that we are meant to grow old may get transformed into aging itself, as a self-fulfilling prophecy generated by a withering self-image.

To escape this prison, we need to overturn the beliefs supported by fear. In place of the belief that your body decays with time, nurture the belief that your body is a new at every moment. In place of the belief that your body is a mindless machine, nurture the belief that your body is infused with the deep intelligence of life, whose sole purpose is to sustain you. These new beliefs are not just nicer to live with; they are true—we experience the joy of life through our bodies, so it is only natural to belief that our bodies are not set against us but want what we want.



03 September, 2008


He, the One, is the flaming torch,
He also is the tomb,
And He the candle set on the tomb,
But the delight of self-annihilation
Fails only to then circling moth.
Thou didst not learn from the nightingale
The secret of independence.
The imprisonment of the nightingale in the garden
Lasts only till it remembers its nest.
As long as I was singing sweetly,
Light filled the garden;
The garden disappeared in a flash.
I am a dust-heap,
Haunted by the fragrance of musk.
Caught up in the cares of the world,
I became a desert.
Do not ask for my boundaries,
They embrace both heaven and earth.
I myself I am the bell,’

Its music sleeps in my veins.
This is my silence
Will end when the caravan moves.
Create he means to expansion.
There are no more eddies and whirlpools
When once the waters area stilled.
The weeping of the melting candle
Does not solicit tear from the eye.
Learn, O heedless one,
That there is sovereign independence
In the melting of the heart.
As long as there is youth,
We are secure in joy and excitement:
Our house is but hired and tenanted.


Swamay Rama Tirthaa.