Saturday, 27 November 2010

Reminiscences of my student days

My Pranaams to Gurudev Pujya Swamiji, my lifelong teacher and guide from my school days onwards. I remember attending one of his earliest public talks in Bombay on Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 9). The first verse alone is what I remember from the talk... Rajavidyaa Raajaguhyam. Subsequently, our Vedanta youth group had an opportunity to meet him at a private residence, and we were regaled by his frank, humorous, and perceptive observations. His story of ‘Annammal and therefore logic’ still rings fresh in my mind.

The ‘Teenagers’ Group’ was very cohesive and enthusiastic, and we didn’t miss an opportunity of attending lectures and satang. Group members included Geeta (Swi. Brahmaprakashananda) and Ram Mohan (Sw. Brahmavidananda) and many others who have studied Vedanta from Pujya Swamiji over the years. My father S V Acharya was our ‘Saarathi’, driving us in his Ambassador to most of these sessions. Our group met at least once a week and shared and the precious learning gathered from the discourses. Doubts were debated and unresolved questions were reserved for Pujya Swamiji to answer.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Wisdom to Know the Difference

Q. In the serenity prayer, though one is asking god for serenity to accept certain things and to change certain things and wisdom to know the difference, isn't that wisdom a question-mark? The attitude of surrender is so difficult.

I agree with you that wisdom is a vague word. As long as we live, we are learning, and our wisdom grows (hopefully) in the process. Ultimately there is no end to learning, and we do make mistakes. Real wisdom is the humility to admit that we were wrong or that we made a mistake. Only then are we ready to change or make amends.

Maturity, growth, wisdom - all these words reveal a degree or extent of a particular progression from ignorance towards knowledge, from conditioned thinking towards free thought, from beliefs towards facts. Ultimately, we require that much wisdom as will make our lives better, harmonious, functional and fulfilling. Is this asking for too much?


Serenity Interactive
Topics of Interest

Fear      Beliefs      Control Dramas      

Distinctions - Complacency vs Contentment

A couple of years ago, my friend dropped in with a proposal for a multilevel marketing scheme. “There’s a lot of money for you to make, Uday,” he said. When I politely refused, he insisted, “You should change your attitude and think positively. You can be as rich as your heart desires. Invest now and see your wealth grow beyond expectations.”
That got me thinking. Am I putting this proposal off due to my middle class background, or am I genuinely not interested? There are some people who will never know their potential until they take the decision to buy in. Then there are other people who will struggle their entire life and not reach the promise they hoped despite having bought in.
So the question remains: What made me say no? Fear? Competition? Public opinion? Past conditioning? Inability to visualize riches? Complacency or Contentment?

The Heart of Acceptance

Acceptance requires that I come to terms with facts - I need to face the truth no matter how bitter it is. Acceptance does not mean approval or agreement. When my heart rebels against what my head says is true, I help the heart see what my head knows. The heart can then look for alternatives in co-operation with the head.

Acceptance is not easy. It implies my being able to confront disappointments and sadness. Life is a series of experiences to be assimilated, not a tragedy to be borne. Suffering is one side of life. Joy is the other. I have to deal with the one and value the other. Suffering is to be managed and minimized - I certainly do not have to suffer for suffering's sake. Suffering should motivate me to find solutions - not make me feel helpless and miserable. I am invested with the power of choice - I can choose wisely or foolishly. I responsible for making the appropriate choice - my choice can make or break my life.

In a hopeless situation, acceptance means that I register the fact, cut my losses, and move on to rebuild my life. I need to assess my loss, to realize its full implication, to experience in-depth the feeling of grief, and to finally to let it free to go its way.

If however the situation is redeemable or reversible, I take heart and meet the situation squarely, letting go of blame and dejection. I may wish for miracles, but I keep my eyes wide open to see, and my hands all ready to act.Acceptance does not mean compliance or defeatism. Life is like a computer game that starts from the beginner's level and progresses to higher levels of skill and difficulty. The challenge in life is to move on to the to the more difficult levels once the elementary levels are mastered. But no matter how skilful, there is always a level where I am out of my depth - I have to strike a balance between hitting out pointlessly and surrendering too easily.

Acceptance is what is implied in the serenity prayer. Where I can, do; where I can't, let go. I can use the word "tolerance" in the same way in the broadest sense of the word. Both these words have a upside and downside. I use the word "acceptance" in a positive sense rather than in the negative. The positive reveals a healthy attitude towards a difficult situation. The negative indicates the defeatist attitude of a person who has thrown in the towel and passively bears the brunt of the situation without looking for answers. Tolerance has the additional meaning of live and let live. One can tolerate difference of opinion and idiosyncrasies without having to accept or subscribe to those beliefs.

In the short run, I may need to minimize my pain so that I can get on with my life. This I can do by putting pain on the backburner, while I attend to necessary urgent affairs. I do not have to be a victim, paralyzed by pain. However, over the long term, I need to attend to the pain and heal myself. Acceptance requires that I to take the time to process my sorrow, and to eventually emerge a winner. It requires courage to deal with unpleasant issues in my life. But in the long run, I can make my life happy and fulfilling.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Karmanyeva Adhikaaraste Maa Phaleshu Kadaachana

Dear A....,

Regarding the Gita verse that you have explained:

Bhagavad Gita - 2 - 47

You can control (i.e. freely choose) action.

You are right about the confusion about the words adhikaara. General understanding is that you have a 'right or 'duty' to act but no 'right' over results. Adhikaara as choice or control makes for better meaning.

Never over the results.

We can contol actions but not results. The results accrue because of universal laws of cause and effect. I can push a button to switch on the light, but if there is power shut down, mere pushing buttons cannot give me light. I have to find some other way.