Wednesday, 26 December 2012

On wonders and magic

Sunday. I sit in front of my laptop. It's quite late in the afternoonand I finally want to capture some stray threads of thought before they escape forever.

Being an Aquarian, I have been rather reliably informed, brings with it a certain susceptibility to flights of fancy, day-dreams and a like of myths and fairy tales. Irrespective of how much truth lies in the above classification, I unabashedly admit to the possession of these traits.The frequent dreamy look on my face suggests, not a profound contemplation on the meaning of the life and similar higher thoughts as it may seem, but rather the fact that one of my flights of fancy has taken off, attained cruising altitude, and the passengers are busily opening their packets of salted peanuts, popping the tabs of their beverages and getting comfortable in the expectation of a serious journey.

As a child, I grew up on a diet of Enid Blyton, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carrol and the like. The lazy vacation afternoons were spent lying in bed, snuggled up with the chronicles of Narnia, the adventures of the Famous Five, the Five Find-Outers, the Wizard of Oz, Alice's escapades and so on. In the evenings I would join my boon companions, and we would sometimes think out adventures and enact them out. The surroundings, such as they were, were often recruited willy-nilly into our fantasies. Thus, the inoffensive tree in the backyard would be transformed, according to the theme at hand, into a mysterious forbidding castle, where a Snoggon-tribe held the prince  ss of fairies as hostage, and we, in our roles as heroes, would wage a stiff battle to procure the freedom of the said princess. We always managed to win.

The tree, too, demonstrated its multifaceted nature by playing its various parts successfully. Thus, some afternoons we sailed the wild seas on our trusty ship (the tree), some other times we tired of the earth and blasted off into the unknown, final frontiers on our trusty spacecraft (the tree), and sometimes, when both earth and space presented little by way of incentive for us to explore, we escaped into our fairy tale world and held off hosts of besieging gremlins, gnarks, goblins and other equally delightful wicked creatures from the safety of our castle -- a structure that was remarkably tree-like to the untrained, uninitiated eye.

As a child, I never tired of miracles, of magic, of the supernatural. Indeed, I never questioned it. Death, for example, was explained to me simply as a departure of a person from earth and into heaven, next to the Gods and I accepted it as such. The world of magic and wonder was always within reach. Compared with such an idyllic childhood, 'growing up' was rather disappointing. First I had to contend with the shocking truth that Santa Claus did not exist and the jolly rotund man who handed out the presents around Christmas was part of an elaborate charade. Then, the various knocks one receives from life during the process of growing up proceeded to harden the part of me that subscribed to the simple world -- a faerie world, if you will -- where wondrous events were the norm rather than the exception, where right and wrong were clearly distinguishable, where there was no grey.

I wonder, sometimes, if a return to the simple life is ever possible. Sure, time pushes forward inexorably. People age, new things are discovered, old things relegated to the trash heap of the past. More and more children exhibit such precociousness and maturity at such an early age that I sometimes wonder how I ever survived, since I was not as smart as they are when I was their age. I am forced, sometimes, to evaluate my beliefs, my hopes and my dreams. Is there any place for wonders in this world of today? Such thoughts are depressing and they bog me down. And then, I think: of the little old woman and her charming smile when I helped her load a carton of purchase into the trunk of her car; of the friendly black man and his little dogs, who greet me nthusiastically and exuberantly whenever we meet on the street; of the cashier in the supermarket who smiles and puts an extra purchase bag 'on the house' once in a while; of the lady at the diary who, when I sampled and asked for the price of a particularly
excellent cheese, proceeded to mark it down to half the price. This 
too, is magic, these little things, these wondrous things. Perhaps the simple life we seek does not need any extra door, that it is here, in front of us. We just need to see it... maybe!

....rather long write up of mine from many years ago... 
i was trying to blog then. What do you think? - nilesh

Sunday, 26 February 2012

And God Shows the Way: Gerald DCunha

Anupam is my good friend Uday's nephew. Way back in 1989, when I had just started THE DAWN CLUB, I had started it not because I knew how to carry out all those activities on personal growth, but because, my heart was propelling me to do so. I did not know how to go about it... Still, I had started it. Hundreds of students had come around me to cheer me up... and, that was my greatest strength. But then, that could have been my potential doom-device too! I could easily succumb to the pressure of expectations from all my well-wishers!

No, it was not supposed to be so. If your intentions are right, God shows the way. I knew, and I would tell it loudly to everyone around: "I am sure, God will send to me wonderful people to help me out."

And, God did. Within months, these wonderful people started coming into my life, all on their own... Believe me, without any effort from my end!

Shri Uday Acharya - just Uday, to me - was one of them!

Those days, like me, Uday too had just started his Vedanta classes in the city after completing his learning in his teacher's Ashram. He had heard about me from one of my students and, along with Shri. Ram Mohan, his batch mate and pal, come to see me.

go to link

For more musings of Gerald Dcunha, visit

Uday Acharya

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

What Lies Within Us - Ralph Waldo Emerson?

What Lies Behind Us and What Lies Before Us are Tiny Matters Compared to What Lies Within Us

Albert Jay Nock? Ralph Waldo Emerson? Oliver Wendell Holmes? Henry David Thoreau? Henry Stanley Haskins? William Morrow? Expelled Wall Street Stock Trader?

Uday Acharya

Friday, 10 February 2012

Right or Wrong? Changing Perspectives.

Who is right..!

(or... why we are what we are! Blame the universe)

The universe is infinite, where as the mind is finite. The universe comes in multidimensional, whereas the mind is aware of just a few. Hence the disparity. 

Human beings try to see meaning in phenomena and get nonplussed. Animals accept the universe and live out their lives in harmony.

Wisdom is the ability to see other perspectives beyond our own - to see harmony where the mind sees contradiction.

The ability to see the other side, without abandoning our own, helps in building better communication and interpersonal relationships. It also helps in better stress management.

Emotions: Positive or Negative?

Emotions of Happiness and Love are not necessarily positive;
and emotions of anger, fear and jealousy not necessarily negative.

Emotions simply reflect our condition and environment and give us feedback to deal with ourselves and our world. How we respond to anger, fear and other emotions is what makes these emotions positive or negative.

There is an objective element to anger, fear, etc. as well as a subjective component. Situational emotions are what cause most people to respond to the same situations in similar ways. Everyone responds in alarm when a terrorist attack occurs, or celebrate in common an olympic gold medal.
Habitual emotions make people respond differently to the same situation. One person responds to a health problem with confidence while another responds to the same with despair. In a habitual response, the angry person gets angry, the fearful gets scared, and the unhappy person becomes sad in most situations.
What sets of our emotions, and how we express our feelings, are determined by our attitudes, beliefs, and habits.
The more positive our attitudes and beliefs, the more we experience comfortable emotions and steer through difficult emotions comfortably. Negative attitudes and beliefs on the other hand compel us to keep experiencing uncomfortable emotions and expressing them in troublesome ways.

Acceptance of Pain Makes Life Pleasant

Life would be more pleasant if we accepted that there is no intolerable pain.

All pain is tolerable.... else we would not be alive today. Pain feels untolerable, but we all live with it at different levels of coping. Some of us suffer silently, others verbally, and yet others through the sharpest notes on the musical scale.

Intolerable pain renders a person unconscious.... a natural mechanism that switches off when the system gets overloaded. When the load is removed, we are back in business.

Pain is a signal that all is not well with us. Life without pain is lifeless. Alternately, a life without pain is utopia... pain is unnecessary in heaven!

Pain is not meant to be ignored or denied. Pain is meant to be addressed and treated. Pain is meant to be dealt with in the best way possible. The first steps to managing pain is to acknowledge pain, accept the fact of pain, recognize that pain can be managed, realize that one has choice to manage, explore the various options of coping, and courage to execute the necessary measures.

People respond differently to pain according to their own background. Some persons respond by withdrawing and licking their wounds, others by unburdening their sorrow and speaking about it. Some complain in order to feel better, and some go into spirituality. Counseling, alternative healing systems, medication, humour are all helpful coping methods.

Self Knowledge, Beliefs, Habits

Cognitive knowledge does not depend on play of emotions or lack of emotions. Cognitive knowledge depends only on the conditions of knowledge - e.g. seeing involves eyes, the power of seeing, the light conditions, distance from the object, size and nature of the object, corrective lenses etc. Emotions interfere when our beliefs and perceptions are contradictory. If you see a perso...n who is alive but whom you believe to be dead, it is difficult to believe what you see, right? Vichaara is when you verify what you see and resolve the contradiction. Either the person is really dead and you are seeing a twin person, or the person is really alive and your belief is a mistake.

A different form of emotional interference is when you know and see that a person is no more, but find it difficult to accept the fact. Here the mind is holding on to the past and is unwilling to let go of it. Reality requires a strong heart to stomach, and requires an reorientation period to get completely used to. Usually this period can vary from a few days to a few years, depending on how much we have been holding on to. Willingness to confront reality, awareness of the present, emotional healing practices, spiritual awareness, counseling etc. an all help.

In Vedanta, the truth is tough to digest because it is so different from all our experiences. Whereas our happiness and sadness depend on conditions internal and external, the freedom of Self is unconditional. It takes both verification (vichaara) as well as reorientation (nidhidhyaasana) for us to accept the truth logically as well as emotionally. It is difficult to believe that our worst fears about self is unfounded and based on wrong understanding. Vedanta reeds to be reviewed repeatedly in order that the truth sinks in fully into our conscious and subconscious minds.

Monday, 6 February 2012


These words came to me, as I was listening to Pramodiniji and Himanshu ji's "Aaj Sakhi Shyam sundar"..

To the readers here, who are yet to hear this song, please catch a will take you away, like it did to me..


My very being is Vrindavan,
I have become the flute.
His music flows through me,
and then there is my purpose - to be and feel all at once.

In stillness I hear him,
In stillness he plays,
The sound that resonates in every cell- alive.

There is a lilt, there is mischief, there is joy and then some –
My heart is that distant drum,
When my being is Vrindavan…

It drenches me in a timeless rain,
I shall not move, ‘lest I get lost,
My breath only exists to smell the flowers…
In my being ..Vrindavan