Thursday, July 30, 2009

Power of Imagination

What can imagination do for you? Just imagine and you might find out:

Imagination is powered by our experiences, intuition and a powerful inner tool called brain. The brain is very much programmed for survival instincts first and then, for any other needs. The signals received by this organ are analyzed in this order before any instructions are sent out to other organs in millions per second. These instincts of survival give the body its resilience in adverse circumstances. Through experiences, we have survived by being wary of the unwanted situations using these survival instincts. Evolution process has strengthened these instincts. Nothing comes before the survival is ensured. These instincts are always present in our minds and make us argue against any 'non-normal' imagination to keep us from 'unknown harm'. That's why, accomplishing certain 'unimaginable' wonders outside of our normal functions requires training of this brain under discipline. Very few venture in such training.

But, what would require such training? Imagine the following circumstances:

* Strong desire to succeed -- Be it in your life, ventures or even relationships. Strong positive desire can do wonders. But, mind, being surrounded by survival instincts including fear, also presents negative results. History is full of examples of continuous failures of people who just did not know how to give up. Their persistence and determination brought bigger obstacles to knees. To achieve such miracles, brain must be trained to withstand long periods of hard work (or penance) because good things do require a test of the strength of your desire.

* Painful experience of the body and/or mind -- Normal would be to cope with the grief in stages over time. Extra would be accept it sooner as destiny and search for a 'worthy' lesson outside of own emotions. Every experience is part of the process that has sharpened our survival instincts. The training of the mind also comes during these periods. In dirt hides the diamond. You just have to find these diamonds, polish them and then you'll see their real beauty in the broader picture of life.

* Fear of change -- This is what keeps people stay put. Not many like the change because of its unknown parameters and consequences. But, as Gita says, 'Change is the law of Nature'. If you lose your own stubbornly-held perspective, you can dream and imagine the possibilities of the future. Actually put yourself in the shoe of the other person to understand their reaction/behavior. But, when the fear of change sets in you, introspect to learn what good will it bring after the change. Same goes for relationships. As we grow older, some habits start to firm up around which everyone searches for compatibility. But, what ensures easier match is the flexibility in our approach towards the other and some imagination of great unseen possibilities.

It is very hard to imagine any bad event is for your own good. And, if you appreciate the gift of life enough, you will later understand how that event was 'good' in shaping the course of your life. Our granths have repeatedly advised us to have faith and remember the impermanence of life. This brings coherence in our thought process and removes the curtain of doubt, fear and negativity.

Albert Einstein once said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create."

On the other note, think about what Blaise Pascal said, "Imagination disposes of everything; it creates beauty, justice, and happiness, which are everything in this world."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Faith and Logic

People look for inspiration in many corners and many forms. Everyone has their own method to getting it, be it the right way or not. I find a lot of inspiration in the beauty of character, emotions and faith in our hindu scriptures. But, some argue that reading such religious scriptures should be reserved for old age. I feel that people relate these religious books to offering prayer to the god. However, that perception may just point to the lost meaning of the originality of these books in their minds.

In fact, a book like Ramcharitmanas should be studied to understand and adopt the great character (charit) of the idealism shown by lord Ram. The real meaning of its dohas and chaupais can only be understood when analyzed in depth, and not just in literal sense. It cannot just be recited in hurry to complete with belief that you'll please the god through such actions. The words are decorated by Tulsidas ji using Alankar (or adjectives) that beautify the meaning and show the real depth of emotions. Unless you've really immersed yourself in the meaning of these emotions by putting yourself in the situation, you can hardly realize the beauty of their depth, guiding thoughts and real life lessons. Giving others your love is one of such lessons; Having faith is another.

Faith, in my opinion, is the least realized strength of much of the population. Faith cannot be explained by logic. It forms through strong belief and gets better through life experiences, devotion and discipline. But, it can be severely challenged by the human psyche that induces logic. One that is hard to understand cannot be fathomed by our own logic which rationalizes day-to-day events for us. In the circumstances of intense negativity, one becomes prone to losing faith over logic. This further induces decision-making based on facts that would make sense to the normal human psyche. On the other hand, faith is the strong belief that brings sanity and optimism. Human mind and body are programmed to rebound from adversities through the eternal evolution process. But, logic prevents us to think highly of our own capabilities in adverse situations. We may think that - situation is so overpowering; there is no god, etc. But, that brings us to the stage of doubt that neither gets you the logical result nor the inner contentment obtained by faith in the ultimate success. This is where religious scriptures play a beautiful role. They demonstrate through examples and guide us towards the best possible virtues.

It is easy to lose courage, get anxious or sometimes even cry on adverse results. But, think this when you are in such situations that, god is putting you through it to save YOU from something even worse in the future. You are learning it now and will be able to better handle it in the future. This type of thinking will bring you the positive attitude in starting to accept many adverse events as learning experiences rather than failures. Life is never lived in parts; It's a continuous experience over lifetimes. ANY event in our lives should be thought of as our destiny because this strengthens your faith and keeps away negative attitude. As long as we do our karm (duties) right, we should not worry about negative events, as they may come from outside of your control.

In fact, when you read any book (religious or not), read it with the same faith and devotion with which it was written. And, read it patiently, in depth, to understand and enjoy the actual moment that went into its lines and use your imagination to possibly apply those good virtues in your life. And, then you'll find that these are not merely post-retirement reading material, but a collection of rare gems that you uncovered through your own curious soul and true introspection in the depths of your psyche.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

नवधा भक्ति (राम-शबरी संवाद)

राम ने शबरी को नवधा भक्ति के बारे में ज्ञान दिया था:
Shri Ram explains the nine types of devotion or penance:

अवधी भाषा में (रामचरितमानस से)
(सुनिए इस संवाद को
यहाँ पर)

नवधा भगति कहउं तोहि पाहीं। सावधान सुनु धरु मन माहीं॥
प्रथम भगति संतन्ह कर संगा। दुसरि रति मम कथा प्रसंगा॥
The nine ways of devotion, I impart to you. Listen you well and remember it always. The first is, fellowship with saints (or good company). The second, fondness for legends of the Lord.

गुरु पद पंकज सेवा तीसरि भगति अमान।
चौथि भगति मम गुन गन करइ कपट तजि गान॥
Selfless service to the Guru's lotus feet is the third way. The fourth, hymns to the Lord's virtues with a heart clear of guile or deceipt.

मंत्र जाप मम दृढ़ बिस्वासा। पंचम भजन सो बेद प्रकासा॥
छठ दम सील बिरति बहु करमा। निरत निरंतर सज्जन धरमा॥
Chanting my mystic name with steadfast faith is the fifth way as the Vedas reveal. The sixth, is to practice self-control, good character, detachment from manifold activities and always follow the duties as good religious person.

सातवँ सम मोहि मय जग देखा। मोतें संत अधिक करि लेखा॥
आठवँ जथालाभ संतोषा। सपनेहुं नहिं देखइ परदोषा॥
The seventh sees the whole world as the Lord and regards the saints higher than the Lord. The eighth, enjoins contentment with what one has. And, dream not of finding faults in others.

नवम सरल सब सन छलहीना। मम भरोस हिय हरष न दीना॥
नव महुं एकउ जिन्ह कें होई। नारि पुरूष सचराचर कोई॥
सोइ अतिसय प्रिय भामिनी मोरें। सकल प्रकार भगति दृढ़ तोरें॥
The ninth demands simplicity and behavior without deceit with all. And, to have strong faith in the Lord with neither exhaltation nor depression in any life circumstance. Anyone with any of the nine types of devotion is very dear to me. Then, you, dear shabri, have all of the above.

सरल हिन्दी में
(सुनिए इस संवाद को यहाँ पर)

प्रथम संत सत्संग सुहाना। साधु संग से उपजे ग्याना॥
दूजी भक्ति परम सुख दाता। चित्त लगा सुन मेरी गाथा॥

तज अभिमान करो गुरु सेवा। ब्रह्म विष्णु शिव सम गुरु देवा॥
हो निष्कपट मेरा गुन गायन। करे सो पावे राम रसायन॥

दृढ़ विश्वास राख निज अन्तर। राम मंत्र कर जाप निरंतर॥
इन्द्रिय वश कर चरित संभालो। सद्गुण धार धर्म नित पालो॥

सारा जगत राममय जानो। मुझसे अधिक संतों को मानो॥
एक संतोष सकल सुख लाये। सपनेहु गिनो न दोष पराये॥

सरल प्रकृति निष्छल ब्यवहारी। मुझ पर रखो भरोसा भारी॥
कोई भी स्थिति हो जीवन में। हर्ष विषाद न रखना मन में॥

नवधा भक्ति ह्रदय जो राखे। मेरी कृपा का फल वो चाखे॥