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22 October, 2008

DIVALI OR DIPAVALI – A Festival of Lights


INDIA is a land of festivals. Divali is the festival of lights, a festival of the Hindus traced back to ancient times. It is the most gorgeous festival celebrated all over the country.

‘Divali’ is derived from “Dipalavali” meaning ‘a cluster of lights’. The celebration of Divali is marked by illumination everywhere. Rows of rows of small earthernware lamps are seen in every home. Divali is also known for fireworks which go on practically the whole night. In every house the children, even elders, light fire crackers. That night sounds like a battle-field everywhere.

Every next morning before sunrise, every member of the family takes the holy bath and wears new clothes. From the poorest to the richest Indian, wearing new clothes is an established ritual. Thereafter all of them visit relatives and friends where gifts are exchanged and sweets consumed with much gaiety.

Divali, or more correctly Dipavali, is a joyous celebration of the death of the Titan of hell, Narakasura at the hands of Lord Krsna. Narakasura, known as the son of the earth, was all-powerful. He was an intolerable menace to the gods, sages and all men of piety. He looted and plundered not only the earth by heaven as well. He carried away 16,000 fair daughters of the gods and imprisoned them in his harem. The gods led by Indra approached Lord Krsna and supplicated the Lord to destroy the demon. Krsna readily greed. He fought a fierce battle. After destroying thousands of demons Krsna slew Narakasura. Thereafter, he rescued the imprisoned damsels and at their earnest prayers took them as his wives.

This festival, like other festivals and rituals, explains the inner personality of man and his ignorance and ego to attainment of his supreme nature of God-realisation. The darkness of the night represents man’s total ignorance of his Self, ignorance of his Godhood. In that darkness reigns the desire-ridden ego which destroys peace and brings about sorrow and misery in the bosom of man. The 16,000 damsels represents the desires that arise in an egoistic man. Desires dwell in ignorance under the control of ego. All these desires cannot find fulfillment in this limited world. They remain frustrated. Thus man is driven to a state of sorrow and suffering by his own negative tendencies.

To pull himself out of this state man has to employ his positive tendencies to direct his attention to the higher Self. Every man has within him both positive and negative tendencies. They have been represented in almost all religions as gods and demons respectively. The gods’ approach of Krsna for help signifies man’s positive tendencies reaching for the Self. When man turns introvert and seeks the inner Self his negative tendencies get destroyed one by one. His desires get annihilated. This is represented by the fireworks on the night of Divali. The battle with ego, the fight with the negative tendencies, the destruction of the desires goes on the whole night, that is as long as ignorance lasts. With the rising of the sun all darkness is dispelled, all ignorance removed, all desires destroyed. Ego, the Narakasura, is killed. Man is transformed to his original Godhead.

The bath at the dawn of Divali indicates the cleansing of the egoborn, egocentric desires. The new clothes signify the newly acquired Godhood. That transformation brings about gaiety, joy, bliss represented by eating sweets and merry-making. The visiting of relatives and friends the next morning carries this new vision, the vision of Divinity, the vision of the Supreme Self in one and all.

Collected from the Book of “The Symbolism of Hindu Gods and Rituals” by Swamy A.Parthasarathy.

18 October, 2008


You may not want to know yourself because you are afraid of what you may find out. Many people have a secret fear that they are bad. But nothing you can find out about yourself is you. Nothing you can know about you is you.

While some people do not want to know who they are because of fear, others have an insatiable curiosity about themselves and want to find out more and more. You may be so fascinated with yourselves that you spend years in psychoanalysis, delve into every aspect of your childhood, uncover secret fears and desires, and find layers upon layers of complexity in the makeup of your personality and character. After ten years, the therapist may get tired of you and your story and tell you that your analysis is now complete. Perhaps he sends you away with a five-thousand-page dossier. “This is all about you. This is who you are.” As you carry the heavy file home, the initial satisfaction of at last knowing yourself gives way quickly to a feeling of incompleteness and a lurking suspicion that there must be more to who you are than that. And indeed there is more—not perhaps in quantitative terms of more facts but in the qualitative dimension of depth.

There is nothing wrong with psychoanalysis or finding out about your past as long as you don’t confuse knowing about yourself with knowing yourself. The five-thousand-page dossier is about yourself: the content of your mind which is conditioned by the past. Whatever you learn through psychoanalysis of self-observation is about you. It is not you. It is content, not essence. Going beyond ego is stepping out of content. Knowing yourself is being yourself, and being yourself is ceasing to identify with content.

Most people define themselves through the content of their lives. Whatever you perceive, experience, do, think, or feel is content. Content is what absorbs most people’s attention entirely, and it is what they identify with. When you think or say, “My life,” you are not referring to the life that you are but the life that you have, or seem to have. You are referring to contents—your age, health, relationship, finances, work and living situation, as well as your mental-emotional state. The inner and outer circumstances of your life, your past and your future, all belong to the realm of content—as do events, that is to say, anything what happens.

What is there other than content? That which enables the content to be—the inner space of consciousness.


Book on “A NEW EARTH – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose “ by ECKHART TOLLE.

11 October, 2008

Everyone inhabits a reality of non-change lying beyond all change


At the moment, the only physiology you can maintain is time-based. However, the fact that time is tied to awareness implies that you could maintain an entirely different style of functioning—the physiology of immortality—which would correspond to the experience of non-change. Non-change can’t be created as a product of change. It requires a shift out of time-bound awareness into timeless awareness. There are many gradations to this shift. For example, if you are under extreme time pressure at work, your body’s reaction to the pressure is not automatic; some people thrive under time pressure, using it to fuel their creativity and energy, while others are defeated by it, losing incentive and feeling a burden that will bring no satisfaction compared with the stress it creates.

The person who responds with creativity has learned not to identify with the time pressure; he has transcended it at least partially, unlike the person who feels constriction and stress. For him, identification with time has become overwhelming—he cannot escape the ticking of the internal clock, and his body cannot help but mirror his state of mind. In various subtle ways, our cells constantly adjust to our perception of time; a biologist would say that we have entrained, or locked in sequence, a series of processes embracing millions of related mind-body events.

It is all-important to realize that you can reach a state where time-bound processes can be realigned. A simple analogy demonstrates this: Look at your physical body as a printout of signals being sent back and forth between your brain and every cell. The nervous system, which sets up the kinds of messages being sent, functions as the body’s software; the myriads different hormones, neuron-transmitters, and other messenger molecules are the inputs being run through the software. All this constitutes the visible programming of your body. But where is the programmer? He is not visible, yet he must exist. Thousands of decisions are being made in the mind-body system every second, countless choices that enable your physiology to adapt to the demands of life.

If I see a cobra on the path in India and jump back in fear, the visible apparatus controlling this event can be seen in the muscle reactions I display, which are triggered by chemical signals from any nervous system. My increased heartbeat and panting breath are other visible signs that the hormone adrenaline has kicked in, secreted by the adrenal cortex in response to a specific brain chemical (ACTH) sent from the pituitary. If a biochemist could track down every single molecule involved in my fear reaction, he would still miss the invisible decision maker that decided to have the reaction, for even though I reacted in a split second, my body didn’t jump back mindlessly. Someone with entirely different programming would exhibit entirely different reactions. A snake collector might bend forward with interest; a Hindu devotee, recognizing a form of Shiva, might kneel in awe.

The fact is that any possible reaction might have occurred—panic, rage, hysteria, paralysis, apathy, curiosity, delight, etc. The invisible programmer is unlimited in the ways he can program the visible apparatus of the body. At the moment I stumbled across the snake, all the basic processes of my physiology—breathing, digestion, metabolism, elimination, perception and thinking—depended on the meaning that a cobra held for me personally. One sees the truth in a saying from Aldous Huxley: “Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.”

Where can you locate a meaning? The quick and easy answer is to say that it is located in the brain, but this organ, like every other, is in constant flux. Like migrating birds, billions of atoms are flying in and out of my brain every second. It swirls with electrical waves that never form the same pattern twice in a life time. Its basic chemistry can shift if different kinds of food are eaten for lunch, or if a sudden mood swing is experienced. Yet my memory of the snake doesn’t dissolve in this sea of change. My memories are available to the programmer who stands above memory, silently observing my life, taking account of my experiences, always ready to entertain the possibility of new choices. For this programmer is nothing but the awareness of choice. It appreciates change without getting overwhelmed; therefore it escapes the time-bound limitations that arise in the normal cause-and-effect world.

The “me” who is afraid of snakes learned that fear somewhere in the past. All my reactions are part and parcel of the time-bound self and its tendencies. In less than a thousandth of a second, its pre-programmed fear arouses the whole sequence of bodily messages that produce my actions. For most of us no other “me” is apparent, because we haven’t learned to identify with the decision-maker, the silent witness, whose awareness isn’t defined by the past. Yet in a subtle way, we all sense that something inside us has not changed very much, if at all, since we were infants. When we wake up in the morning there is a second of pure awareness before the old conditioning automatically falls into place; at that moment you are just yourself, not happy or said, not important or humble, not old or young.

As I wake up in the morning, this “me” dresses itself in the mantle of experience very quickly; in a matter of seconds I remember that I am, for example, a 46-year-old doctor who has a wife, two children, a home outside Boston, and ten minutes to get to the clinic. That identity is the product of change. The “me” who is beyond change could be waking up anywhere—as a 5-year-old in Delhi smelling my grandmother’s cooking, as an 80-year-old in Florida listening to the wind rattling the palms. This changeless “me”, whom the ancient sages in India simply called the Self, serves as my real reference point for experience. All other reference points are bound by change, decay, and loss; every other sense of “me” is identified with pain or pleasure, poverty or wealth, happiness or sadness, youth or old age—every time-bound condition that the relative world imposes. In unity consciousness, the world can be explained as a flow of Spirit, which is awareness. Our whole goal is to establish an intimate relationship with Self as Spirit. To the extent that we create this intimacy, the experience of ageless body and timeless mind is realized.


05 October, 2008

Time is not absolute. The underlying reality of all things is eternal, and what we call time is really quantified eternity.

Although our bodies, and the whole physical world, are a display of constant change, there is more to reality than process. The universe was born and is evolving. When it was born, time and space came into existence. Before the instant of the Big Bang, time and space didn’t exist as we know them. Yet the rational mind finds it nearly impossible to ask questions such as “What came before time?” and “What is bigger than space?” Even Einstein, when he was a young physicist working out quantum principles for the first time, held on to the old notion, embraced by Newton, that the universe existed in a steady state—time and space were eternal constants, never born and never dying.

This steady-state version of reality is still the one our five senses report back to us about. You cannot see or feel time as it speeds up or slows down, even though Einstein proved that time does this; you cannot sense space as it expands or contracts, yet this too is part of a rhythmic universe. To go even further, to imagine those dimensionless regions where time and space are born, requires a radical shift in perception. This shift is forced upon us because the universe had to have some kind of timeless source—and the same holds true for us.

You perceive yourself as existing in time because your body is composed of change; to change, one must have a flow or sequence. In this sequence there is a before and after—before this breath was the last breath, after this heart beat will be the next heartbeat. But theoretically, if you had the time and the equipment, you cold make an EKG of all the heartbeats someone has had in a lifetime, and by holding the printout in your hands, you would have past, present, and future contained in one place. You could look at it upside down or backward; you could fold it in half so that the last heartbeat and the first one were next to each other.

This kind of manipulation is what quantum physics reveals about the most basic space-time in Nature. As they exchange energy states, two particles can move backward in time as easily as forward; things that happened in the past can be altered by energy events in the future. The whole notion of time as an arrow shooting inexorably forward has been shattered forever in the complex geometries of quantum space, where multidimensional strings and loops carry time in all directions and even bring it to a halt.

The only absolute left to us is the timelessness, for now we realize that our entire universe is just one incident springing forth out of a larger reality. What we sense as seconds, minutes, hours, days, and years are cut-up bits of this larger reality. It is up to you, the perceiver, to cut up the timeless any way you like; your awareness crates the time you experience. Someone who experiences time as a scarce commodity that is constantly slipping away is crating a completely different personal reality from someone who perceives that he has all the time in the world. Is your day full of time pressure? Do you suffer the breathless, panicky symptoms of “time sickness,” which the body translates into rapid or irregular heartbeat, distorted digestive rhythms, insomnia, and high blood pressure? These individual differences express how we perceive change, for the perception of change creates our experience of time.

When your attention is in the past or the future, you are in the field of time, crating aging. One Indian master who seemed remarkably young for his age explained this by saying, “Most people spend their lives either in the past or the future, but my life is supremely concentrated in the present.” When a life is concentrated in the present, it is most real, because the past and future are not impinging upon it. At this instant, where are the past and future? Nowhere. Only the present moment exists; past and future are mental projections. If you can free yourself of these projections, trying neither to relieve the past not to control the future, a space is opened for a completely new experience—the experience of ageless body and timeless mind.

Being able to identify with a reality that is not bounded by time is extremely important; otherwise there is no escape from the decay that time inevitably brings. You can catch a glimpse of timelessness with a simple mind-body exercise: Choose a time of day when you feel relaxed and unpressured. Sit quietly in a comfortable chair and take off your watch, placing it nearby so that you can easily refer to it without having to lift it or move your head very much. Now close your eyes and be aware of your breathing. Let your attention easily follow the stream of breath going in and out of your body. Imagine your whole body rising and falling with the flow of each breath. After a minute or two, you will be aware of warmth and relaxation pervading your muscles.

When you feel very settled and quiet inside, slowly open your eyes and peek at the second hand of your watch. What’s it doing? Depending on how relaxed you are, the second hand will behave in different ways. For some people, it will have stopped entirely, and this effect will last anywhere from one to perhaps three seconds. For other people, the second hand will hesitate for half a second, then jump into its normal ticking. Still other people perceive the second hand moving, but at a slower pace than usual. Unless you have tried this little experiment, it seems very unlikely, but once you have had the experience of seeing a watch stop, you will never again doubt that time is a product of perception. The only time there is the one you are aware of.

You can learn to take your awareness into the region of timelessness at will—meditation is the classic technique for mastering this experience. In meditation the active mind is withdrawn to its source; just as this changing universe had to have source beyond change, your mind, with all its restless activity, arises from a state of awareness beyond thought, sensation, emotion, desire, and memory. This is a profound personal experience. In the state of timeless or transcendent awareness, you have the sensation of fullness. In place of change, loss, and decay, there is steadiness and fulfillment. You sense that the infinite is everywhere. When this experience becomes a reality, the fears associated with change disappear; the fragmentation of eternity into seconds, hours, days, and years becomes secondary, and the perfection of every moment becomes primary.

Now that meditation has entered mainstream Western cultural experience, researchers have applied scientific measurements to the subjective experience of silence, fullness, and eternity. They have discovered that the physiological state of meditators undergoes definite shifts towards more efficient functioning. Hundreds of individual findings show lowered respiration, reduced oxygen consumption, and decreased metabolic rate. In terms of aging, the more significant conclusion is that the hormonal imbalance associated with stress—and known to speed up the aging process—is reversed. This in turn slows or even reverses the aging process, as measured by various biological changes associated with growing old. From my experience with studies on people using Transcendental Meditation, it has been established that long-term meditators can have a biological age between 5 to 12 years younger than their chronological age.

The most fascinating aspect of this research, which has been ongoing for over two decades, is that the biological process of aging itself does not have to be manipulated; the desired result can be achieved through awareness alone. In other words, meditation alters the frame of reference that gives the person his experience of time. At a quantum level, physical events in space-time such as heartbeat and hormone levels can be affected simply by taking the mind to a reality where time does not have such a powerful hold. The new paradigm is showing us that time has many levels and all are available to us in our own consciousness.