How to enrich our creative talents and memory?

Yam medham devaganah pitarashcopasate |Taya mamadya medhayagne medhavinam kuru svaha | | -Yajurveda 32/14

O Fire – God incarnate! Bestow on me the brilliance (of intellect), which is prayed for by the gods and the spirits of the ancestors through devout adoration. Everyone is interested to find some sure – shot formula to increase memory power. The student community, in particular, feels its need more acutely. How to memorize a lesson fast? How to retain and not forget what has been learnt? Such questions keep cropping up in the minds of students. In search of their answers, they indulge in all sorts of tactics, including recourse to some medicines/drugs.
The drug companies, too, on their part exploit this vulnerability of the students. Through attractive and high – power advertisements and false promises of miracles they are ever eager to make a fast buck. It is not known whether the really needy ever derive any benefit or not from the advertised drugs.
This much, however, is certain that the so-called recipe of strong memory remains a much sought after mirage. In this connection, we should know and for certain that such wishful miracles do not happen anywhere in the universe. Every action, every event is defined and regulated by set rules of cosmic order, be they in the realer of physical laws or the spiritual.
The same principle operates with respect to memory.
This has a science of its own, it own techniques. Those who know and understand it are able to derive benefit easily, while the ignorant ones waste their time in futile ventures and feel disappointed on crucial occasions. SO it is better that one should thoroughly understand the correct techniques of firmly committing some thing to memory and use them properly. Those who suffer from memory problems have some standard complaints: What can I do, I just cannot memorize; I had indeed memorized this, but forgot it; I can recollect but only piecemeal, and so on and so forth.
There are contrary claims too – of committing a thing to memory in just one reading, or recollecting exactly every detail of what had been read, or memories of long bygone times being still vivid in the mind etc. There is an instructive anecdote, which will help in understanding these diametrically opposite statements relating to memory function. This anecdote is from the life of Vivekanand. Those days Swami ji was in pravrajya (ascetical wanderings) within India. He had a gurubhai (brother disciple of a common teacher) as companion.
A continuous routine of swadhyaya (self-study), satsang (company of the truth seekers) and rigorous tapa (austerities) was being followed. Whenever he could lay his hand upon a good book, Vivekanand would not miss reading it. In every new place, his first search was a good library, and when he came across one he would make full utilization of its treasures. At one place, in course of this pravrajya, a library impressed him much and he decided to stay at the place for an extended period. His gurubhai would fetch for him a variety of books is Sanskrit and English, which the Swamiji would return the next day after reading them. This routine of issuing fresh books daily  and quite voluminous ones at that- and receiving the same the very next day perplexed the librarian.
He enquired of the gurubhai: ” Do you take all these books daily only to took over them cursorily? If so, I will show them to you here itself, why carry so much weight all the way to your place of stay? Hearing this remark of the librarian, the gurubhai replied in all seriousness: “It is not as you think. My gurubhai does read these books seriously before returning them”. Surprised at this reply, the librarian said: “If it is so, I would very much like to meet the gentleman”. The next day, Swamiji met him and said: “Sir, do not be perplexed. I have not only gone through the books, but have also memorized their contents”. Having said so, he handed him back some previously issued books and repeated verbatim many important passages from them. For the librarian, this spectacle was nothing short of a miracle. Very humbly, he asked Swami ji the secret of his super-human memory. Swami ji laughed and said: “There is no miracle or mystery in this. It is simply a technique of mental concentration”.
This technique has certain stages. The first stage is that whatever is read or listened that should be with a calm, composed and concentrated mind. Indeed, the sense organs are mere doors through which messages are sent to the mind. It is the mind which is the real thing. The more the holding power or capability of the mind, the more the information which can be imprinted on it. In fact, memorizing something or recollecting it is but a mere process, which is called memory (smriti). But the storehouse of memory is talent or intelligence (medha). In each individual, this talent exists in direct proportion to his mental composure, tranquility and concentration. For this very reason, things read, heard or seen in a hurry, or in state of instability, or casually and perfunctorily do not register in the mind.
The more clearly and deeply a thing is imprinted on the substratum of mind, the more vivid and detailed its recollection will be. If for some reason, this imprint is not clear in one attempt, the process should be repeated. It will be helpful if the important points are jotted down, since the process of writing, by itself, generates steadiness and concentration.
The third important point in connection with memory power is that one should be conceptually clear about the subject or points which are sought to be memorized, because it is easy to retain in memory those facts or events which touch our inner chord. Interest in and aptitude for the subject matter is another important consideration; again concentration comes as a matter of course when the topic is of interest to us. In addition to all these, an essential requisite is that our nervous system be stable and strong.
Those who lead a regulated and disciplined life are found to have a sharp memory and they can also absorb information very fast. One cannot lay too much emphasize on the distinct correlation between an orderly and disciplined life style and highly developed and sharpened memory as well as creative abilities.


Know Thyself

It is but natural to enquire about the name, village, address, etc. of a person with whom one has to travel or whom one has to accompany for some time. This acquaintance gives freedom from worry and at the same time paves the way for depending on mutual help in emergencies. A total stranger looks suspicious. Ones own entity always remains with oneself. Its physical and mental aspects are so close that they remain with the self round the clock whether one is awake or asleep. Wife is called by many epithets like life partner, better half of the husband, two bodies-one consciousness, etc. but, she too remains with the husband for a few hours that too at some distance from him.
Children come near once in a while for specific purposes but they are considered ones very own and one has to share their pleasures and pains.
A person is always worried about the future of his children and, as far as possible, plans ahead for it. It is strange that our inseparable instruments of expression like the body and the mind, which are always there with us, are neglected by us. Seldom one enquires about their purpose.
The soul has embodied itself in the material plane with some purpose. Do we understand the purpose and consciously and resolutely pursue it? Whenever a bungalow or a vehicle is given to an officer, he is told that these are to be used for official purposes and not for personal work.
If any officer defaults and rents out a portion of his bungalow or uses his vehicle for private purposes, it would be considered immoral and willful infringement of the rules for personal gain and will attract suitable punishment. Human life is precious. It is a unique, artistic creation of the Creator. Such a boon is not available to any other creature on the earth. No other creature is endowed with the faculty like the human intellect, or with two hands with ten fingers that can be creatively and dexterously used? Which other creatures have the ability to stand erect and walk on two feet? Who is capable of earning their livelihood and accumulating the surplus for later use? Which other creature uses clothes and houses? Who else other than man possesses the wisdom to develop an organized family and social order? Whose senses possess such sensitivity? Who possesses the intricately fashioned living garment like the human body?
The fact that a human being has been blessed with special faculties sets him apart from other creatures. Thus it becomes evident that human life has been given to us for some specific purpose willed by God.
We must concentrate on clearly understanding this purpose and then live life in the light of our true identity as a spark of Divinity. If appropriate efforts are not made to know our true selves through the special faculties and instruments gifted to us for this search by our Creator and we squander away these divine gifts in sense-gratification, it would be a betrayal of our spiritual inheritance leading to endless suffering and pain. In order to get started on this pilgrimage of self-discovery, we will have to wake up out of the stupor of self-forgetfulness  Maya.
Here is what Mahayogi Sri Aurobindo has said about self-effort in the path of self-discovery in his marvelously inspiring words: “In all that is done in the universe, the Divine through his Shakti is behind all action but he is veiled by his Yoga Maya and works through the ego of the jiva in the lower nature. In yoga also it is the Divine who is the sadhak and the sadhana; It is his Shakti with her light, power, knowledge, consciousness, Anand, acting upon the adhara and, when it is opened to her, pouring into it with these divine forces that makes the sadhana possible. But, so long as the lower nature is active the personal effort of the sadhak remains necessary.
The personal effort required is a triple labor of aspiration, rejection and surrender- an aspiration, vigilant, constant, unceasing- the minds will, the hearts seeking, the assent of the vital being, the will to open and make plastic the physical consciousness and nature; rejection of the movements of the lower nature- rejection of the minds ideas, opinions, preferences, habits, constructions, so that the true knowledge may find free room in a silent mind,- rejection of the vital natures desires, demands, cravings, sensations, passions, selfishness, pride, arrogance, lust, greed, jealousy, envy, hostility to the Truth, so that the true power and joy may pour from above into a calm, large, strong and consecrated vital being, – rejection of the physical natures stupidity, doubt , disbelief, obscurity, obstinacy, pettiness, laziness, unwillingness to change, tamas, so that the true stability of Light, Power, Anand may establish itself in a body growing always more divine; surrender of oneself and all one is and has and every plane of the consciousness and every movement of the Divine and the Shakti. In proportion as the surrender and self consecration progress the sadhak becomes conscious of the divine shakti doing the sadhana, pouring into him more and more of herself, founding in him the freedom and perfection of the divine nature.
The more this conscious process replaces his own effort the more rapid and true becomes his progress but it cannot completely replace the necessity of personal effort until the surrender and consecration are pure and complete from top to bottom. Note that a tamasic surrender refusing to fulfill the condition and calling on God to do everything and save one all the trouble and struggle is a deception and does not lead to freedom and perfection.

(From: The Mother p.8-11)
When American philosopher Thoreau was on his deathbed, his aunt came to meet him. She asked whether he had apologized to God for his sins and whether he had prayed for peace.
Thoreau smiled and said that he had never in his life diverted from the path of righteousness, as far as he remembered and that he had never infringed the Divine principles, hence there was no reason for him to tender an apology to God.


Integration of Science and Spirituality

Imbalance or disharmony in any system, any action, generates problems of one kind or the other. Narrow-minded approach or lack of comprehensive considerations eventually leads to inadequate and problematic consequences, even though it might seem to offer some immediate success.
This is because of the incomplete comprehension or negligence of some of the crucial aspects of a situation. In order to achieve an orderly, well-organized, balanced and fulfilling human life, we need to pay due attention and give proper importance to the necessities of its interwoven physical, intellectual, mental and spiritual realms in the individual and social domains. A human being consists of a marvellous amalgam of matter and consciousness force.
The physical or the gross body is made up of the basic elements and their evolved reactions and results, so its healthy sustenance and vigorous functioning largely depend upon the balanced concentrations and activities of these vital constituents.
The subtle or the conscious body, mind and the inner self, which also lies at the base of the living existence of the physical body, receives the transmitting energy from enlightened thinking and virtuous sentiments. The vedic philosophy emphasizes the harmonious growth of both -the gross and the subtle realms. This comprehensive and integral approach lays the foundation of personal, familial, social and global development in an ideal way. Discrepancies, imbalances or disorder in any sphere of life causes different kinds of complications and difficulties of varied nature, which directly or indirectly hinder, retard and even reverse the graph of healthy soul growth and ascent.
A thorough understanding of human life becomes feasible by a comprehensive study of the interrelationship between the human mind, Nature and the Omnipresent Consciousness Force.
The major schools of thought and branches of knowledge that have emanated from the quest for fathoming this relationship have had entirely different approaches. While the material based modern science has designed sophisticated tools and technologies to shape the gross materialistic facets and external structure of progress, the inner foundation of this outer structure is embedded in the indwelling spirit in the individual and the collectively. Science contributes to the civilization and advancement of materialistic resources and spirituality holds the key to the harmonious and virtuous development of personality.
Science reveals the mysteries of Nature in the manifested world, while spirituality unfolds the secrets and objectives of its subtle existence. Analysis of the structure and perceivable properties of things is the subject matter of the different branches of material science. Decipheration and study of the origin and deepest purpose of life pertains to the fields of spirituality. Thus, broadly speaking, the former deals with answering “What and How?” and the latter with “Why and What for?” Both search for truth in their own fields of inquiry. Like the two banks of a river or two invisible edges of the horizon, both are perennially connected with each other but seem to stand far apart. Mutual cooperation and integration of the two is most desired for their relevance and necessity in human life. Unfortunately, these two gigantic streams of search for truth have, because of the way they have been followed and practiced, largely remained compartmentalized and mutually exclusive. Modern science has exhaustively excavated, extracted and exploited the natural resources and gained enormous mastery in the physical world.
However, for want of the guiding light of spirituality, it couldn’t really make a positively constructive, viable and righteous use of its mammoth wealth of knowledge of the principles underlying the physical phenomena. Matter and the visible world became the prominent foci of its advancement and so the objectives of life and its prime purpose got sidetracked and almost lost from sight. What was really needed was, to also search for solutions to the riddles of human psychology and the complexities that entangle the basic aims of life. Scientific research of the physical world enabled man to understand laws of the material world. But the infinite power of the inner self, the consciousness-force of pure sentiments of love and compassion, noble thoughts, etc remained unknown and ignored. As a result, materialistic civilization overtook the charge of life and the key role of sublime consciousness and associated faculties got neglected in the mist of illusions and ignorance.
It was bound to happen. When extrovert hunt for prosperity in terms of materialistic resources and comforts and their possession became the sole objective of life, why would one bother to understand the importance and utility of noble thinking, virtuous character, and altruistic sentiments? The generous attitude of benevolence, selfless cooperation and adoption of ethical conduct emanate from and expand with the support of spiritually evolved emotions. If one is not even aware of the importance of emotions and intrinsic tendencies in human life, why would he care for their refinement?
The mad rush of self-obsession, rat-race for possessions, power and blind progress driven by the ego and selfishness seen everywhere within and around us today reflect the bankruptcy of the human heart (emotional core) and sheer disregard of the inner self. This is the major cause of the ever- increasing agonies, fears and problems the world is facing despite the dazzling scientific advancement, technological development and enormous materialistic strength and wealth today. The grains of scientific research will serve the real purpose and will be beneficial in the true sense only if it opens its barriers and goes beyond “What and How?” to see “Why and What for?” – to encompass the search for the dignity of humanity and ultimate aim of human life. Revered thinkers and philosophers from different parts of the world have been expressing these views on scientific progress ever since its advent. Eminent talents like Leo Tolstoy and Theodore Roosevelt have commented that scientific quest revolves around “what is it?” of every thing, or “why something happens like the way it does in the physical world”. But it does not quite try to find “for what purpose the thing is existing?”, or “for what objective is something happening the way it is?”, etc. Tolstoy further writes at one place that the childhood of modern science has begun with the quest for “what and how?”; the stage of its maturity will be reached when it also begins answering “why and for what purpose?”.
The hidden depths of Nature and life can be plumbed by appropriate and meaningful research on “why and for what purpose?” This type of scientific research in the inner fields of consciousness force will mark the meeting point of science and spirituality. Plato has also observed that the completeness and ultimate progress of science lies in its entry into the spheres of spirituality. Why was this world created? Why the gamut of species of different creatures including human beings produced? Why is the perpetual cycle of Nature running the way it is? For what purpose is every component of the cosmos moving in its specific sphere and order? Who is governing this universal order? Where is the original cause of the manifestation of Nature and the genesis of this ever-expanding cosmic existence?
This basic quest of the existentialists is beyond the scope of the modern material sciences. Leaving aside these rather abstract puzzles, there still remains a plethora of questions concerning the origin, purpose and limitless expressions of human life and evolution of consciousness and the undeciphered layers of mental and emotional cores that are fundamental to the understanding of human life; but are not considered by the modern sciences.
Tolstoy expresses his heartiest appreciation for the constructive contributions of scientific developments to human civilization but he also deplores the near total neglect of moral aspects, value systems and deeper emotional effects, etc in the pursuit of scientific research. In his thorough review-essays in “Science is Not Enough”, the author scientist Vannevar Bush (1890-1974) writes that “the focus and scope of science has largely been confined to the analysis and synthesis of material substances and entities. It cannot claim absolute knowledge of anything with certainty. Its discovery of atom is an evidential example in this regard. It has still not been certain of the structure and functions of the subatomic units and their (further) sub-particulate constituents. Its continual research keeps annulling or deviating its own convictions and thus disapproving the sufficiency of its findings so far”. In the views of the thinkers like Theodore Roosevelt (1933 ) – “Science will be no better than a pool of artificial tools and techniques unless its search begins from metaphysical basis and incorporates the fields of consciousness”. Distinguished scientists like Warsen Beaver also opine that science will have to leave out its prejudices and adopt a broadened attitude for comprehensive research towards revealing the mysteries of Nature and resolving the problems of life. At present its approach is prejudiced in the sense that its search for truth is confined only to the perceivable realities of the world.
Dr. Beaver expresses his views on the reality of sublime consciousness as -” In the moments of deep sorrow, fear or helplessness, we do experience some inner inspiration that induces inexplicable hope and courage. It also gives us strength and light to counter the adversities or find discerning solutions to the acute hardships. This sublime power of inner consciousness is an expression of the Almighty. Each one of us does experience His presence in some form, some time in the course of life”. Science and spirituality have somehow been mutually contradicting in their approaches and have always regarded each other’s principles and objectives as superficial.
This negative competition has deprived both of their complementary roles towards holistic human growth. The convictions and practices of spirituality weaken their authenticity in absence of scientific spirit and openness. The philosophy and teachings of spirituality without having scientific approach lose their relevance and originality in the smog of blind faith and superstitions. Science also remains narrow and incomplete without incorporating spirituality, which is the base of enlightened evolution of the mental and emotional domains. Science without spirituality has no bonds of values and so there is an obvious danger of its becoming amoral and apathetic. This is what we are witnessing today. Science has undoubtedly made grand constructive contributions to the external development of human civilization, but it has unscrupulously invented dreaded products of mass destruction and global devastation. Its unchallenged might and reckless advancement appear to threaten the very existence of life on earth. It is high time the tyranny of this unbridled blind power is controlled and made accountable to humanity. The role of spirituality is self-evident in this regard. Science and technology can generate means of progress but not the means of peaceful co-existence and happiness; neither can these nurture moral values and inner strength. Science and technology may produce material wealth and prosperity but not the nectar of soothing emotions, spring of love and compassion or light of courage, wisdom and sagacity. Unless science is integrated with spirituality to fill-in this gap and both the complementary powers are encouraged to flourish within mutual cooperation, the present trends of progress would be inexorably hurtling towards the suicidal edge of global extinction.
Once a dacoit came to listen to a scholar- preacher’s sermon. The scholar was very eloquent about the virtues of forgiveness and non-violence. The sermon ended. The preacher took the offerings and walked towards his village. There was forest in-between. The dacoit bounced upon the preacher and asked for all the money he was carrying.
The preacher was a brave person and had a bamboo stick in his hands with which he threatened to hit the dacoit. The dacoit got scared and politely asked him that only a shot while ago he was preaching about the virtues of forgiveness and non-violence which he himself was not practicing. The scholar said that the sermon was for law abiding gentle people but for criminals like the dacoit the stick serves the sermon. Looking at the resolutely strong-willed scholar the dacoit took to his heels.

Business Management, Spirituality

Who Can Be A True Visionary?

Daivim dhiyam manamahe sumrdikamabhistaye Varchodham yajnavahasa a sutirtha no asadvase.

– Yajurveda 4/11

We aspire for the divine intellect, which gives joyous illumination and ensures completion of the yajna (‘sacrifice, or offering’). May that intellect be in our possession!

To be a visionary is to acquire the ability to look far ahead into time and glimpse the future. This ability is a gift of that divine intellect which assesses its potentials and weaves a dream around it. This very dream is the goal of our life; it charts our paths and takes us in the right direction. In those who have this ambition, a unique capability develops. They are able to perform such deeds, as others cannot even imagine. Their vision acquires the power to penetrate the mist of the present and perceive the future clearly.

If you feel an urge to become someone like this, it is just natural. In fact, absence of such a feeling would be a cause of worry because that would be a sign of inertness. If there is any hint of this inertness, get rid of it, and take steps in the direction of becoming a visionary. For this, the first thing to do is to cherish lofty aims and ideals. Only a believer who can clearly visualize the dazzling sun of a summer noon in a dark and stormy night sky filled with dense rain-bearing clouds. In other words, only he who can dare to dream of a glorious future cutting through the forbidding pall of dense darkness of hopelessness can be a true visionary. This requires an integration of a bold and imaginative mind and a subtle discriminative faculty. Indeed, we all have an imaginative mind and indulge in fantasies all the time. Sometimes, in our world of imaginations we become a billionaire, sometimes a record breaker in academic pursuits, another times a famous scientist or even the Prime Minister of the country. The highly fertile mindscape is always a kaleidoscope of colourful imaginations.

The reason behind such a state of mental jumble is that our imagination is not tempered with the subtle power of discrimination. Only when the two faculties are harmonized do they create a composite and focused dream – a dream which is not a vent for repressed and unfulfilled desires but a correct reflection of the dormant divine qualities within. An illustration of this may be found in the life of the President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Once a child enquired of him whether he had read the Mahabharat. The President replied in the affirmative. The child asked again who among its many characters appealed to him the most. Everybody knows that the multi-dimensional characters of the great epic reflect almost the entire spectrum of human nature. The President, who understood the quintessence of the Mahabharat replied that he was very much impressed with the character of Vidur. “Why?” was the next query of the child. The President explained: “Because Vidur opposed the wrongs of those in authority and dared to raise his voice of dissent when all other stalwarts like Pitamah Bhisma, Acharya Drona and Karna had surrendered themselves to the whims of the persons in power.” This reply of the President subsumed his own dream, which was the product of an imaginative mind and subtle discriminative knowledge – the dream of sculpting his own character in the mould of Mahatma Vidur. Let us ask ourselves whether we can dream such sublime dreams? We must dream of being the best, the noblest, the most sublime, and never allow petty thoughts and ideas to dominate the mind. Whatever we want to become – a scientist, an officer, or an artist – we should add one more aspect to that, and that is cultivation of the noblest character.

To realize this exalted dream, four steps need be taken.

  1. The first is the step of a runner. It means that you should have the energy and spirit of a runner who is committed and determined to show his skill and ability.
  2. The second step is that of a warrior. It is generally observed that a player feels elated at success, but failure gives him disappointment. With a warrior, however, it is not so. His very motto is “a soldier never quits till death.” Valiant struggle and super-human bravery in spite of numerous wounds – this is the message of the life of a great warrior.
  3. The third step is that of the ruler. This is the stage when we have realized our vision of life, have actualized the dream we saw. All that we had desired, all that we had cherished is now in the palm of our hand. Life is at its apogee; now there is only to savour this experience. But the one attendant problem, invariably found at this stage, is that after having reached here people become egoist.
  4. Lest we become one, there is the fourth and last step – the step of a great man. Like a true saint, we should share our glories and accomplishments with others. We should go to those who need us. We should reach out to every door and every home, and help them, too, to realize their dreams. May their lives, too, be permeated with fragrance, may spring breeze come to their lives too – this should be our prayer of LOVE IN ACTION.
Poems, Spirituality

I Am There

Do you need me? I am there.

You cannot see Me, Yet I am the light you see by.

You cannot hear Me, yet I speak through your voice.

You cannot feel Me, yet I am the power at work in your hands.

I am at work, though you do not understand My ways.

I am at work, though you do not recognize My works.

I am not strange visions. I am not mysteries.

Only in absolute stillness, beyond self, can you know Me as

I am, and then but as a feeling and a faith..

Yet I am there. Yet I hear. Yet I answer.

When you need Me, I am there.

Even if you deny Me, I am there.

Even when you feel most alone, I am there.

Even in your fears, I am there. Even in your pain, I am there.

I am there when you pray and when do not pray.

I am in you and you are in Me.

Only in your mind can you feel separate from Me, for only

in your mind are the mists of “yours” and “mine.”

Yet only with your mind can you know Me and experience Me.

Empty your heart of empty fears.

When you get yourself out of the way, I am there.

You can of yourself do nothing, but I can do all.

And I am in all.

Though you may not see the good, good is there, for I am there.

I am there because I have to be, because I am.

Only in Me does the world have meaning;

only out of Me does the world take form;

only because of Me does the world go forward.

I am the law on which the movement of the stars and

the growth of living cells are founded.

I am the love that is the law’s fulfilling. I am assurance.

I am peace. I am oneness. I am the law that you can live by.

I am the love that you can cling to.

I am your assurance. I am your peace. I am one with you. I am.

Though you fail to find Me, I do not fail you.

Though your faith in Me is unsure, My faith in you never wavers,

because I know you, because I love you.

Beloved, I am there.

–James Dilet Freeman

A microfilm copy of this poem lies on the surface of the Moon where it was left in July 1971 by Apollo XV astronaut Col. James B. Irvin
[Published with deep gratitude to late James D. Freeman (1912 – 2003), a true friend and a great teacher, whose moving and musical words have provided spiritual inspiration to millions around the globe. -Editor]


Guru: The True Protector

It is an old story, but the truth contained in it is ever relevant. A Guru  and his disciple were extremely tired due to continuous walking. Seeing a proper place, the master stopped for taking rest. When the disciple was fast asleep, the master was awake. Suddenly a black serpent came hissing and moving towards the disciple. Moving aside, the master tried to divert it, but the serpent had come very close to the sleeping disciple. When the master tried to stop it, the serpent spoke in human tongue, “Oh! Great Sage, I have to bite this disciple of yours; so do not stop me.”

“After all you must have some reason to bite him,” the master asked.

The serpent put forth the reason. “In the previous birth he had drunk my blood; now I have to drink his. In the previous birth he had tortured me a lot. It is in order to take revenge that I have taken birth as a serpent. So you please don’t stop me. If you now stop me, I will come at some other time in your absence and do my job”.

The serpent continued – “In the previous birth, I was a sheep. In order to satisfy his selfishness, he mercilessly slaughtered me with a sword and drank my blood. In front of his eyes I fluttered in agony and died.”

“Is the ire of previous birth is still there?” The master asked, as if immersed in deep contemplation. The sage thus explained to the irate serpent bent upon taking revenge, the eternal secret of spiritual wisdom. “Dear One! Our own soul is our enemy and no one else. If you bite him, hatred towards you will be generated in his heart. After leaving this body, he will take a new one and take revenge. You will again die bearing hatred and after death take revenge in the next birth. Then it will be his turn. In this way the chain of hatred will go on forever. And what will be the gain?”

“Oh! Great Master, what you say is true, but I am not as spiritually enlightened as you are. Please excuse me, I will not leave him without taking revenge,” the serpent said.

When, even after repeated persuasions and pleadings, the serpent did not give up his resolve for revenge, the sage said, “Would your blind urge for revenge be satisfied, if I take out his blood and give it for you to drink?”

The serpent agreed to the sage’s suggestion.

The wise sage then sat on the disciple’s chest and holding a cup made of leaves he made a slit in his throat with a knife. Collecting the blood in the cup, he began to feed it to the serpent. No sooner did the knife touch his throat, the disciple woke up, but seeing his master he remained calm and assured. Sitting on the chest, the master was taking out blood from the throat and feeding the serpent. Seeing all this he immediately closed his eyes and lay calm. When the serpent drank the blood to its satisfaction, it went off. Like a surgeon, the master closed the slit and after applying herbal medical paste, bandaged it. When he got off the disciple’s chest, the latter sat up.

Scoldingly, the master asked him, “How deep is your sleep?”

“Yes master, under your protection, I was calmly seeing everything. You were sitting on my chest. You had a cup of leaves in your hand. Making a slit in the throat, you were taking out blood. As soon as the knife touched the throat I became awake”, the disciple said humbly.

“Yes, my son! Why didn’t you speak then?” Asked the master.

The disciple said “I have unshakable faith in you. I have surrendered myself completely body, mind, and soul at your feet. On hearing the serpent’s talk, seeing its deed and listening to your advice to renounce the feeling of hatred my blind urge for revenge, too, was calmed down like that of the serpent. I am blessed.”

He continued “No other harm can touch me as I have taken refuge under your protection. You are not only my spiritual guide, but also the protector of my body. Everything of mine is yours body as well as life. You can use them, as you deem proper. How can I, a mere novice, understand your supreme wisdom? I have fully surrendered myself to you. I have no worry about my well-being and safety.”

Hearing these words of the disciple, blessings poured out from deep within the master’s heart.


Serve Man As God

The only way of getting our divine nature manifested is by helping others to do the same. If there is inequality in nature, still there must be equal chance for all – or if greater for some and for some less – the weaker should be given more chance than the strong. In other words, a Brahmana is not so much in need of education as a Chandala. If the son of a Brahmana needs one teacher, that of a Chandala needs ten. For greater help must be given to him whom nature has not endowed with an acute intellect from birth. It is a madman who carries coals to Newcastle. The poor, the downtrodden, the ignorant – let these be your god.

This is the gist of all worship – to be pure and to do good to others. He who sees Siva in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Siva; and if he sees Siva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary.

The life of Buddha shows that even a man who has no metaphysics, belongs to no sect, and does not go to any church, or temple, and is a confessed materialist, even he can attain to the highest. …He was the only man who was ever ready to give up his life for animals, to stop a sacrifice. He once said to a king: ‘If the sacrifice of a lamb helps you to go to heaven, sacrificing a man will help you better; so sacrifice me. The king was astonished.

‘The good live for others alone. The wise man should sacrifice himself for others.’ I can secure my own good only by doing your good. There is no other way, none whatsoever.

Go from village to village; do good to humanity and to the world at large. Go to hell yourself to buy salvation for others… ‘When death is so certain, it is better to die for a good cause.’

Throughout the history of the world, you find great men make great sacrifices and the mass of mankind enjoy the benefit. If you want to give up everything for your own salvation, it is nothing. Do you want to forgo even your own salvation for the good of the world? You are God, think of that.

-Swami Vivekananda


Nothing Can be Possessed

To enjoy things is not to possess them or to be possessed by them, but to use them. The joy of anything is the use of it. The joy of anything is to take it and make it into something more.

I said to the Master, “Tell me about things. Is it wrong to pray for things?” The Master said, “It is wrong not to pray for things. If prayer is right, then there is no aspect of living that we should not pray about.”

“Pray about things, and you will find that you have the things you need, and you have also the attitude toward things you need.”

Then I thought about things. I saw that it is futile to pray for the possession of things, for things can never be possessed.

Nothing can be possessed. We have the use of things, but we never have the possession of them, however many titles to them we may deposit with the recorder of deeds, however many locks and strongboxes we may use for hiding them. There is nothing that is ours to keep. Not one thing. Sooner or later, we will have to give it away or it will be taken away. Everything. Even our body. Even our mind. Everything was the gift of life. And life asks it back. According to the greatest teacher of all, life asks it back with interest; life expects it to have grown under our care. Life asks what we have done with what was given us. Have we turned it into a trash heap, or into a park?

Life is for us to be alive in. Life is not to build a castle on. A castle is a vast pile of stones, damp, gloomy, and usually uncomfortable. After a short time nobody wants to live there anymore; then it becomes a ruin.
Life is to grow a garden in. A garden changes a bare patch of land into a place of trees and flowers and grass and fountains splashing into pools and singing birds and buzzing insects.
Life is not a thing of stones for stones, but a thing alive for things alive-for mayflies and pine trees and hummingbirds, and you and me.

A gardener knows what a garden is like. A gardener knows that no one possesses a garden.
No one owns the land. In a well-built house the landlord is merely a lodger-with rooms for a week, a year, five years, fifty years.

Generations of mocking birds sing in the branch tops. Generations of moles tunnel the lawns, smelling out the grubs that live here too. The rabbits mock at the fences; the pokeweed lords it in the lot corner; the flower garden belongs no more to the gardener than the bees that sup the flowers. In the limestone of the walls are the remains of shellfish that swam here once, and perhaps … the gardener is content to plant his trees and not trouble himself as to who will lie in their shade.

Till the ground, tend the plant, pluck the flower as you wish. But the garden grows with spring and rests with fall.

You may take the flower, dry it, and place it in a glass case – but it is not the flower. You have only a bit of colored straw, slowly fading, slowly powdering. Keep it long enough and you will have only colorless dust.

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Thus Spake The BUDDHA

Only, while turns this wheel invisible,
No pause, no peace, no staying-place can be;
Who mounts may fall, who falls will mount; the spokes
Go round unceasingly!

If ye lay bound upon the wheel of change,
And no way were of breaking from chain,
The Heart of boundless Being is a curse,
The Soul of Things fell Pain.

Ye are not bound! The Soul of Things is sweet,
The Heart of Being is celestial rest;
Stronger than woe is will; that which was Good
Doth pass to Better – Best.

I, Buddha who wept with all my brothers’ tears,
Whose heart was broken by a whole world’s woe,
Laugh and am glad, for there is Liberty!
Ho! Ye who suffer! Know

Ye suffer from yourselves. None else compels,
None other holds you that ye live and die,
And whirl upon the wheel, and hug and kiss
Its spokes of agony,

Before beginning, and without an end,
As space eternal and as surety sure,
Is fixed a Power divine which moves to good,
Only its laws endure.

[From the great classic: The Light of Asia – by Sir Edwin Arnold]