We the Sinners, or Not

From the childhood we are being introduced to the word Sin. We have been told that if you perform some bad acts, then you are doing a sin and God will punish you. There is a long list of sin one performs and there are related punishment as well. Every religion and every country have their own list. I believe that we have misunderstood the word sin. The word sin has weakened us and has created fear of God in our mind. Instead of acting as a path finder, it has been used as a punishment.

Many Hindu religions propagates that eating non veg is a big sin and we can never come out of its effects. If you try to explain this to a Christian or a Muslim, then they will not agree to it. The reason is that, in their religion this is not written anywhere. We are looking at only one side which is our side. Instead, if we try to look from the chicken which got killed for our food, then we can explain it better. It is said that animals have lower level of intellect and hence their energy mainly lies in senses. They feel more pleasure while eating the food compared to men. Similarly they feel more pain when they are hurt compared to human beings.

If I keep aside the sin, then I need to examine the effects of that act has on my body and my mind. Chicken comes to know that it is going to get killed and when a butcher kills it, the last thoughts in chicken are of fear and death. This affects their body and the same body is consumed by many people. Can you imagine what kind of energy is passed on to our body and mind? If I explain that it is a sin to eat non veg, then many people might ignore it due to various reasons. Some are atheist and they do not believe in God, so they are not worried about the punishment. Some feel that they have already done many sins and one more will not make much difference. Instead, if we can try to create compassion towards animal in the heart of those people, then we might have a better chance to convince.

We also talk about heaven and hell. We say that if you do sin, then you will go to hell and if you do good work, then you go to heaven. Many people have gone one step ahead and have also described what exactly happens in heaven and hell. They say that God stays in heaven and evil in hell. Not sure how many of them have actually visited either heaven or hell. The problem is that we never question on all this matter because sometimes that is also considered a sin.

You must have observed that there are two ways in which we can get the work done from kids. One is of love and another is of punishment. Some parents slap the kids to stop them from doing some of the activity which are harmful. Many times parents remind them the same punishment to stop them doing such activity in the future. There is a possibility that in the ancient time sages might have started using the word sin to stop people from doing things that affects the mind. If you observe closely, then you will find that all the religion and spiritual practices works towards purifying the mind. That is the only way to attain God. However, people have forgotten the entire meaning of the origination of sin.

Swami Vivekananda has said that we should ignore anything that make us weak and only accept that makes us strong. Here, he is not talking about physical strength, but the mental and the spiritual one. The concept of sin might have worked in the past. If we want to make changes in today’s world, then we need to create love and compassion. We need to show people as how to purify their mind, which is one of the main aim of religion. We need to show that God is not a punisher, but is the source of eternal love.

We need to realize that bad thing that happens to us is due to our Karma and not because God is cruel. The law and order will always be needed to keep us civilized. Above all we should always remember that our aim should be to purify our mind and raise our consciousness to go beyond our senses.

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The Joy of Solitude

We all love company of other people. We all enjoy with friends and family and that is very normal. However, how many of us actually like the company of our own? How many of us can actually have a conversation with our own mind? To many it may sound insane, but in reality we all need sessions with our self daily. We all need to know what is really going inside our mind. The real harmony comes when there is no struggle between what we think and what we live.

Solitude is different from loneliness. Sometimes we feel alone even in the company of many people. Loneliness is a negative concept whereas solitude is the positive one. In loneliness, we feel sad and depressed. In solitude, we feel connected and peaceful. We are living in an era where we are continuously bombarded with new information every second. We feel stress and chaos all the time. Out of all these nuisances we need to take out some time for our own self and with our own self.

Practicing solitude is difficult because we are scared in our own company. We are afraid to know what is going in our mind. Have you ever noticed that you are sitting alone in a room and you cannot spend even one second without getting into activity, mostly using smart phone or watching TV. As soon as we sit still, our mind force us to get into activity so that we do not disturb all the crap going in there. The question is why should we practice solitude and why not enjoy the time with family or with smart phone. I am not sure about the smart phone, but the quality time you spend with family will definitely improve once you start practicing solitude. First, we will see how one can introduce solitude in day to day life and then we will look at some of its benefits.

One way is to isolate yourself from the people and find a place where there is no disturbance. Explain to your family members to not disturb you for next 10 to 15 minutes or for as much time you need. Take few deep breaths and try to let go of everything externally. Now try to go inward and observe what kind of thoughts are going in the mind. To many people it may come as a shock as what all useless thoughts we are having and sometimes they are scary as well. Do not fear and just observe in the starting.

After some time, your mind will calm down and you will feel the peace. This is the time you inject the thoughts you actually want to have. Thought like goals you want to achieve, the life you want to live or the places you want to visit. Start with one thing and then mind will give you related thoughts. The important part is that we stay focused on what we want to think. We can also reflect upon what we have achieved or how we have spent our life. This helps in identifying if we are on the right track or not.

We can also reflect upon what we have become and what kind of relationships we have with people around us. We find our own individuality rather than getting influenced by all the nonsense going around us. It gives us time to take a step back and really understand what we have become compared to what we wanted and we can change the same with great commitment.

Many people also prefer to walk alone. It helps in controlling your thoughts. Sometimes it is useful to find answers for your problems as well. It is said that our individual mind is connected to a universal mind and it has all the information we need. In solitude, we connect to our mind and then connect with the universal mind. Many scientists and inventors use this technique for their work. Solitude indirectly help us in practicing silence as well. Many times we just utter unnecessary words without realizing the impact. In solitude, we actually observe our inner self and can bring the harmony between what we have in mind and what we speak. We realize that most of the time it is best not to speak.

Solitude is a process in which we discover our self and our individuality. We connect better with other people because we become clear in our thinking.

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Confidence – An Inner Strength

Self-confidence is an inner strength to carry out any activity with complete faith in our own self. We need confidence in every activity that we do on a daily basis. However, confidence is mostly viewed as a productivity tool in either education or in a corporate world. We have been told that if we need to be successful, then we definitely need to improve our confidence. This is 100% correct as it is said that you win half the battle when you know in your mind that you are going to win.

If we keep aside the productivity part, then do we really have a need to build self-confidence? The answer is yes. Sometimes our basic skills are termed as management skills, but in reality we need those skills to live a good life. Our ancestors were hunters and they also needed confidence to go in to jungle and hunt for food. The difference of confidence between two people is only of degrees. What we really need is that we catch the confidence that we have and increase it to a great degree.

Again, there are thousands of books in the market that can help you in improving your confidence. There are many institution who also deals into the same. However, nothing will change until we take a conscious decision and we do practice to build the skill. The idea is that we remove the fear from our mind and increase faith in our own self. It sounds easy, but difficult to implement.

Dealing with fears – Fear is nothing but few negative thoughts which overpowers our ability to act. For, e.g. If we go on a stage to give speech in front of hundreds of people, then we start shivering and stammering. We may also get black out about what we were going to speak. This is a classic example of fear overtaking us. We were confident till we went to stage. However, we started getting thoughts of fear. The thoughts like embarrassment, failures starts flowing in our mind. We remembered entire script, but we cannot present anything as fear made our mind totally blank.

We cannot remove fear from our mind, but we can replace the same with the thoughts of strength and positivity. We only need to think about the effort and not the result. Once we start thinking about the result, our mind also show us the negative result as well. We should only be focused on giving our 100% to the present moment and fear will not have any place. If we are giving the speech, then think about how that will affect the audience and how can you make the difference. Taking few deep breaths helps you in bringing your mind to present moment. Swami Vivekananda says that “Be a Hero, always say I have no fear”.

Having faith oneself – Another aspect of confidence is to increase faith in our own self. Many times in life we short sell ourselves and that has very dangerous effects in our life. We aim very low and accordingly we get our fruit. We need to remind our mind that we have won many fights previously and we can many more in the future. Given proper training and practicing particular skill, we can master anything. Our childhood might have some bad memories, but we have to let it go. Past is buried, present is in our hand and future is bright.

In one of my articles, I have mentioned about mirror exercise of Louise Hay. She recommends that every morning we see our self in the mirror and says few words of love and praise. We can say that “I love you” to your reflection in the mirror. Many times this has very deep impact and many powerful emotions start surfacing in the mind. Similarly we can also say that “I have faith in you and I know you can do miracles”. These are just reminder and in reality we all can achieve greatness in life.

Faith in Supreme – Nowadays people are becoming atheist and have started believing that there is no God. We all know that there is a supreme power who created us and who is running this world. We can give whatever name we want to give it to. The important thing is to have faith in that supreme entity. We need to believe that someone is there up in the sky who will take care of my life. This does not mean that you do not act, but have no worries.

Fine line between confidence and arrogance – It is important that we understand that there is a very thin line between confidence and self-confidence. You do not want to be arrogant and start thinking that others are not better than you. The basic concept is of equality. Even when we are feeling low realize that we all are same and even when you feel high remember that we all are same. This will help us in raising our confidence and at the same time it will teach us to respect others.

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Failures – What I Know

We have so many books and leaders out there to tell us that we should not be discouraged by failures. Everyone has their own theory to look at the failure and how to overcome it. When I started writing this article, I started sounding like those authors and leaders who give motivational speech and give us the examples of some really successful people. That is not what I want to write here, but instead I want to pen down some of my thoughts that I have experienced while facing the failures. Let me confess that I also have the same fear of failure as you all have, but let us not allow it to rule over us and understand what really happens in simple manner.

Gratification of result – We all want the quick result. If we have invested somewhere, then we want the return as soon as possible. Sometimes what we call failure is nothing but the feedback in the early stage of our attempt. Many of us (including myself) joined the gym and left it in the middle because we had a different sets of expectations. We thought that we would get the slim body or six pack abs by just visiting the gym in first couple of months, but the reality is hard-hitting. Will you consider this as a failure? Perhaps not. If we would have continued for six months more, then we would have seen some really good result on our waist.

Let us take the example of interest on our saving. We get the interest because we deposit our money with the bank. If you break the investment and withdraw the money, then you are not going to get the interest and may be you might have to pay some penalty. The value of money in investment is created over a period of time. Similarly if we continue our hard work and don’t expect the result soon, then we have more chances of achieving success. Failure is nothing but giving up too soon because we expect the victory soon.

Illusion of overnight success – There is nothing such as overnight success. We only notice a person after his success, but we never try to see how much hard work he has put to achieve the success. We see a cricketer hitting a century or a football player scoring a goal. We see their sparkling careers, but hardly we see the amount of practice they have done over the years. We try to get the same result with very little effort. We charged up and take oath to put all the hard work that is required to achieve the success, but we give up before we reach our destination and we name it as a failure.

If someone tells you that they have shortcut to get what you want, then first thing you should do is run away. There is no shortcut to success and that is the hard truth. What we really need is to stay focused on our work and we will achieve what we want. In between, we might get lots of attractive offers and we should just say no.

Practice – The biggest thing we ignore in our journey is that we need practice to master any skill. The more practice you do, the quicker you master any skill. If I want to become a writer and if I just wish that I become successful like Jack Canfield (author of chicken soup for the soul series), then I will not even become 0.00001% of what he is. What I really need is to practice writing and become a master of it. Doing daily practice of something is not very interesting as we get tempt to live it aside and would like to watch movies for sometime or would like to surf on social media.

Believe me, the people who avoid all the distractions and focus only on their practice becomes the real achievers. We study daily habits of many successful people and there are many articles on the same out there, but in reality what works is their dedication towards their work and their focused practice. Another example to look at is our own. When we were kids, we did not know how to walk. We don’t remember how we achieved that, but we can observe small kids. They will fall down many times and will get up many times. They practice every single day until they learn to walk. In reality, we are practicing the walk currently as well. If we don’t walk for few days, then we will have to put some hard work again to start walking normal.

Enjoying the journey – What if we keep aside the pressure of failure and just enjoy our hard work as we are learning something new every day. We are becoming a better person than what we were yesterday and that itself is a great success. I understand that, society will always tries to show us our failures, but we can choose to ignore everyone’s opinion and that is only possible if we keep our focus on what we want. Only if we change the name of failure to learning, we can get rid of many fears and we can achieve many milestones.

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Darkness inside us and Illuminating Love

Basic human nature is to be kind to others. Generally we all are good people and we care for others. However, we all are aware that we have lots of darkness inside us. We all feel emotions like jealousy, greed, lust and anger. We will never allow someone to pick inside our mind to know what all kinds of thoughts are going on. Sometimes we become a different person and realize the impact only afterwards. Why do we forget our basic nature? Why do we allow the darkness to grow inside us and how can we illuminate our-self?

It all starts from negative thoughts. Many might argue that those negative thoughts are only inside us and we do not express it outside. This is a big mistake. Once you have any thought and if you allow it to stay and grow inside you, then one day it will manifest in the real world as well. We say that some innocent guy became a criminal because of the situation. In reality, situations just revealed his true self. He might be having criminal thoughts in his mind from long time and situation just gave him a chance to take it out in the real world.

What is darkness – Imagine you saw a pool of mud on your way home. The mud is dark, but it is calling you to play with it for once. Out of curiosity you just touch the mud, but slowly slowly it covered your entire body. It sounds like some horror scene or a nightmare. Our one dark thought can force our mind and body to act against our will. Darkness is ignorance. We forget our true self and only can see the black mud.

Is it possible to get rid of the darkness? The question itself is wrong. Darkness is nothing, but the absence of light. Instead of fighting, we should illumine ourselves with love. Similarly we cannot eliminate negative thoughts, but we can simply replace them with the positive ones. Our mind can think of only one kind of thought at a time. We can either think good or we can think evil. It depends on us which one we choose. Now there is a whole science of positive psychology that focuses on how to strengthen our power to choose.

I recently saw a movie which depicts what I just mentioned above. In that movie someone stole the heart of a deity and suddenly a monster appears out of nowhere and the entire world is covered with the darkness. Hero of the movie tries to fight with the monster, but never wins. The main character of the movie is a young lady who is chosen by the nature to put the heart back to its place, to return it to deity and save the world from evil. At the end, young lady realized that the deity herself became the monster when her heart was stolen. When young lady puts the heart back, the deity became blissful again and all the darkness vanished.

How to illuminate love – Now continuing your body with full of black mud, you see a river. The water of the river is shining like diamond. You chose to touch that magical water and your entire body is now covered with the same water. All the mud, all the darkness have no place inside you as light of knowledge has uncover your true self. You feel the complete bliss. This is the feeling of love and kindness. It all sounds good, but we can never hold the thought of love for a long time. We need continuous reminders from nature for the same.

Neither can I tell you any step nor can I teach you as how you can light a candle of love in your heart. That is the blessing of God. All I know is that we have been distracted and in the dark jungle, but we can find a way to the light. Let us all not become the animals and remember our true nature that is of kindness. Negative thoughts are going to haunt us for lifetime, but at the same time thoughts of hope, faith and love are thousands time more powerful. All we need is a courage to take the control of our mind and illuminate ourselves and others.

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