Sunday, 23 August 2009

Reminiscences of a father and vedantin - A principled man and fighter to the core

I grew up knowing my father as a strong person who could provide me support and quite acceptance. However, whether due to his or my own communication blocks, we could never really come to intimate terms. A quite mutual respect and admiration for each other was the closest thing I had in common with him.

Dad was inspired to study Gita early on when I had presented him Chinmaya's Gita as a birthday gift. Till then his interest was only in dramatics and he and my mother participated in the Kannada theater in Bombay. He joined our youth group for weekly forays to Powai Ashram and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan for Swami Dayananda's lectures. We 10+ youngsters packed into his Ambassador and had a great time. He joined me in Rishikesh for 3 months during his vairagya period and had to be coaxed back to bombay by my mother and the rest of us. His streak of reclusiveness kept reoccuring but his attachment for family always brought him back.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Conditioning - Baggage from the Past : Childhood Decisions


Natural fears are inborn, not learned. As babies, we instinctively tense up at the loud noise of crackers bursting. We respond to our caretaker’s absence with fear of abandonment. We respond to our parent’s angry voice with ‘fight or flight’ response. Fear is a natural and healthy response to threats to our life and limb. Fear is wired into our DNAs.

However, most of our fears are learned fears. Fear of darkness, fear of falling, fear of getting burnt, fear of insects, fear of crowds – we are not born with these. These fears are picked up over time – we learnt to fear them by experiencing the consequences  like being lost, injuring a leg, burning a finger, getting stung, or getting hurt in a fight.

Conditioned fear is learned and inculcated. As children we learnt to fear the cane – for cane was associated with canings that came as punishment for our wrong doing. We learned the fear of exams – for exams were associated with failure and unpleasant consequences. We learn to fear policemen and bosses for the same reason – by associating them with authoritarian parental figures. They remind us of the threatening father or mother whom we were afraid of as children.

Conditioning also occurs by observing others’ behaviours. Many of my fears have come about by observing and copying my parents’ behaviours. My social anxiety, fear of crowds, fear of darkness, were reinforced by watching my mother respond to such situations. Conditioned behaviour becomes extremely powerful because it is continuously reinforced by experience and example. We grow up with our fears until they becomes second nature to us - we become one with our fears.

Free from Attachments

I came across this line in an article about attachments. I thought it made a lot of sense - "It's not just objects, but desires too - an attachment to always being right, to "knowing" what is going to happen next. They're a waste of energy".

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Swami Dayananda's talk

We had the wonderful opportunity of listening to Swami Dayananda and seeking his blessings, when he visited the Hindu Temple in Minneapolis, USA, last week. The talks are posted as a collection of video files on you tube. I share the link here for the readers to enjoy, share and discuss.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Lead us from Darkness towards Light

An interesting Exchange

I do not want to say OM because I really don’t believe in Indian gods. I don’t think they are real.

They seem like silly fairytale characters. I believe that Jesus is real and not the Indian gods. Jesus is God. The only God. I feel like he can help me more in life.

I think you are a person who knows her mind and will do only what she is convinced about. You do not have to chant Om if you are not convinced. You do not have to worship Hindu gods if you do not have to. I respect your decision. I just wanted you to think about a couple of things if you can:

Do not reject and throw away what you have without examining its worth.

Do not believe something is worthless just because someone tells you it is worthless.

If you wish to question me about Om and Hindu gods, I will be happy to respond. Would you like that?

Monday, 17 August 2009

The eternal value of Trust - Subha Giri

This week, my little daughter is lucky enough to have both sets of Grandparents to play with. Watching her with them brought back wonderful memories of my childhood with my Grandparents and what they call here “extended family”, which to me is really just “family”. 

Complete with Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, I remember more than enough eyes that watched over me and more than enough hands that met my needs. In today’s world filled with anxiety and fear fanned by media and our own mind, I’m amazed at how something as simple as “family” truly helps to build this “web of trust” around this little child.

Trust. To me it is the deepest sense of comfort and well being that emerges from feeling that “everything will be okay in the end”; “ The Universe has a plan”. 

I like the word “trust” over the word “faith”. “Faith”, today is used more as a noun-form with varying interpretations. Also, more importantly, there is a sense of certainty about the word “trust” that the word “faith” somehow does not convey. 

It is this trust, which when shaken, drives anxiety and fear. It is human to have emotions that haunt us from the past and threaten us for the future. But trusting that healing would come through for the past, and the future would happen, as it is set, is very calming and liberating to me.

For my daughter, it is this trust that gets reinforced every time she is comforted when she is hungry or unwell, by all these “extra” loving hands, over and above her mother and father’s love. This “extended” family of inner circle that she learns to trust. It is this “family” that perfectly blends the biological and the social webs of trust for her. 

Slowly evolving from the trust in the family is the value to trust the immediate environment, the next tier of friends and neighbors and then the ultimate trust – the trust on this entire Universe - or “Eshwara”, as Swami Dayandanda would so eloquently describe it.

It is this gift that I got from my family, that I pray for my little girl to have, for her to enjoy sharing in her life. May be this is the reason that most legacy, material or otherwise, goes by the word "trust"?!!

Subha Giri

Personal Pages

Susheela Acharya         Vasudeva Acharya           My student years