One person can make a difference, and everybody should try.John F. Kennedy
I am not religious. I just love God. I see him in fluffy clouds, grains of sand, flowers my friends bring me, in people I interact with, in vibrant cerulean blue, everyday use – shatter proof melamine dishes with a flower painting print, with a finish so beautiful and shiny that it looks like porcelain. In Origins Plantscription skincare line that my friend Mary loves.
When I was young, my parents used to take me to the Gurudwara, a place or temple of worship for the Sikh community. I hardly understood a word of the kirtan (songs of worship in the Punjabi language), but I sat quietly in the women’s section and listened to the music and absorbed the atmosphere of the setting. Young kids like me would run around the rear of the gurudwara and create such a racket that it disturbed me and the connection I was experiencing with a higher power. Knowing that it bothered me, my parents never forced me to go or accompany them. Henceforth, I would join them in a visit to the Gurudwara on major festivals despite immense crowds.
My nanny used to take me to church with her some Sundays and I loved it. Dignified. Orderly. Solemn. Plus, I could rest my eyes on beautiful statues of Jesus and Mary and sit on wooden benches and marvel at the stained-glass windows. With friends, I would frequent a Shiva temple in Santacruz, Bombay and loved it. Something about the holy cow Nandi (vehicle of Shiva) statue, and the energy of the space and the setting in a busy pedestrian market, resonated with me. Once, we also went to Haji Ali, a mosque built in the Arabian sea where women were allowed to enter. Close to my cousin’s home in town, was a shopping center called “Century”. On top of the building was a huge metal sculpture of Atlas. Holding the earth up, on his shoulders, he reminded me of God. taking care of the earth and all it’s inhabitants.
I loved assembly time at school. The day started with a prayer. “Our father in heaven…”
In Grade 1, I received a first prize in ‘Moral Science’. I distinctly remember standing in front of the class and reading a poem. I was surprised that despite being highly introverted then, I sounded confident, and my voice traveled all the way to the back of the room. Perhaps because I believed every word that was coming out of my mouth with conviction.
OLD IS GOLD
Most children of my generation learnt about Hindu mythology from comic books called Amar Chitra Kathas. Beautifully illustrated, I would reach for them over and over. And regularly and aggressively check out books from a neighborhood local library. There was always a moral (takeaway) at the end of the comic book and I imbibed a lot of my beliefs and values based on these.
I used to wonder, did Mahabharata really happen? Did Jesus, Krishna, Shiva really walk the earth?
Sadhguru has an interpretation of the Mahabharata in digital video format. The way he explains things, I get. It sticks. There are so many characters that one gains a better understanding of all kinds of people, different life situation and aspects of living. I have ventured into it trusting wholly that through the eyes of my Guru, the mystic. I have a long, joyous way to explore this amazing gift that has simplified one of the most complicated Epics of the Hindu pantheon, that houses the sacred text, ‘The Bhagvad Gita”.
The one who takes from nature and does not give back can be considered a thief, one who plunders nature.The Gita
Those who meditate on the Gita will derive fresh joy and meaning from it every day.Mahatma Gandhi
I’ve tried reading interpretations of the Gita; the one I liked the most was the Royal Science of God-Realization by Sri Sri Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter Eighteen of the Gita is a summary of all the previous chapters. So, if you have limited time, start there to quickly get a gist of it.
In Austin, during my years as a young mother and professional, I had the good fortune to come across a sixth-grade level Life Application Bible with gold edged pages and large print at the Christian Family store. Prior to that, the other bibles I had come across were hard to read and comprehend, while loving my young son, managing a home, and a career. Unfortunately, when I moved to Bangalore, it did not move with me and found itself in storage, where it lies to date. One day when I find it, the joy I will experience will be boundless. Perhaps, more than winning a lottery.
Acquiring knowledge is one of the consequences of reading ancient sacred books like the life application bible, or the media bundle of Sadhguruji’s interpretation of the Mahabharata. But that is not the intention or the goal. My exploration of the world around me does not require me to even “Believe” these events did really occur. It comes from a place of how one can process, integrate, and gain a profound understanding of self with the goal of evolving into the type of human being I strive to be.
I do not like reality shows in general. So, I was astonished when I came across one, ‘Married at first sight’, and found it riveting. Soon I was binging season after season.
It’s a show about how people put their trust in a team of experts that include, Pastors, Rabbis, Sociologists, Sex Therapists, etc. with a solid understand of human behavior. With their depth of experience, and wide resources, they scientifically match people based on rigorous questionnaires, home visits, core values and beliefs, among myriad other factors. The couples know nothing about their match, not even their name and the first time they meet is at the altar. The camera then follows them over the course of their honeymoon and as they venture and start to move in and build a life together. At the end of six weeks, they get to decide if they want to remain married or get a divorce. The experts support the couples during this period and in some instances, beyond with various tools and exercises that fall under the broad, highly stigmatized genre of counseling.
I watched four seasons of the show. I’m at the start of season 5. Observing people’s faces, the words they choose to communicate, made me really understand that knowing how to navigate conflict in a relationship is paramount. On introspection, I became aware how two people despite their best intentions and apparent total commitment to each other, struggle to live peacefully. Joyfully. I became aware about how people shutdown and internalize their pain when they fail to understand each other. In other words, they, self-sabotage.
Listening is good, but so is the ability to express your needs. Everybody has a different love language. There are lucky few couples in the world that do not need to communicate verbally what they need to thrive, those where each partner inherently, intuitively knows the other and meeting each other’s needs in various categories is effortless. For most others, it is hard work. At least at the start as you build a solid foundation from where you start to build out your boat and row, row, row it, together, gently down the stream.
GOOD, BAD AND THE UGLY
I watched all seasons of Michael Schur’s NBC production “The Good Place” on Netflix. This fantasy comedy series captivated my mind and its philosophical bent. It packs a whole lot and simplifies complex theories of Western philosophers like Aristotle, Plato, Kant, Freud, Nietzsche and Bertrand Russel among others. We witness the evolution of four individuals in the afterlife and their journey in overcoming their central flaws of self-centeredness, motivated for the wrong reasons, impulsiveness and indecisiveness. Their struggle with “What it means to be good” is to say the least, thought-provoking. Sprinkled with clever references and jokes, it does an excellent job of going deeper into examining existentialism and evolution of human beings.
YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE FAITH
Spiritual evolution is the building block of humanity. A family will thrive with its support.
Spiritual support and guidance in a marriage early on in life is essential to ensure a robust marriage. But it is always a positive step, no matter if you’re at Year 1 or Year 30. The strength I found in my reverence and love for God sustained me through difficult times in my marriage. I’m happy to report that my love for my partner grows and so does my patience and perseverance to leave no stone unturned to find bliss and peace in the union.
Adopt any methodology that speaks to your core values. Evaluate if it’s working for you. Then integrate the core of it into how you live your life, in everything you do, every step of the way.
There are tremendous resources of guidance for every situation and phase of your life. Do not reject ancient knowledge and interpretations e.g. A life Application Bible, or organizations like the Promise Keepers, Isha foundation, Bahai faith, Art of Living, Avatar to name a few, by making a blanket statement, “I don’t believe in religion”.
WOULDN’T IT BE LOVELY
Loving God is so easy. He made trees. And the cardboard boxes that things I need come to me in. Wouldn’t it be lovely if Amazon, Flipkart, etc. could pick up the collapsed cardboard boxes from my previous orders at the time they deliver the next order? Why put the boxes to another recycling process, when they just need to be taped and reused? All you need is bigger trucks delivering and picking up the cartons. However, financial constraints, strategies dictated be a robust share price, and how every decision affects the bottom-line always trumps commonsense. But I am thrilled to hear Jeff Bezo’s commitment that by year 2025, Amazon will power all their operations with 100% renewable energy. And by 2040, Amazon will have achieved net-zero carbon emissions.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if the city of San Jose would also recycle kitchen waste and repurpose it into compost? Like Palo Alto, CA does. It would be golden if it happened while I’m here in the Golden state.
Nurturing the planet by becoming a peaceful, joyful, and involved individual needs to be every person’s primary goal. Making small changes to how we have done things in the past, is no longer viable. For me, the Inner Engineering program designed by Sadhguru of the Isha Foundation paved the way by offering technologies that balance the body and mind in a permanent and sustainable way. Keeping up with the practices demanded a mere hour of daily yoga, methodologically taught to me with great care and technical precision.
Someone once told me, ‘Fools live in the past’.
Blaming others, especially the previous generations and the upbringing you had makes you a martyr.
Past is the past. Don’t bring the sorrow of the past to the present and the future.Sadhguru
However, certain amount of reflection is necessary to understand ourselves, our triggers, reactions, and behaviors. If one holds onto “Love me of leave me” or “Accept me for who I am”, we lose the opportunity to realize the patterns of our behaviors that fall under self-sabotage, ineffective communication prevails, as a result there is no opportunity for peaceful conflict resolution. The vicious cycle of then internalizing unresolved pain and hurt remain in the mind and manifests as disease and stress in the body.
The Violet Hues Healing Center in Bangalore told me that is helpful to go through the process of crying privately or on the shoulder of a trusted friend or seek counseling, until one day, along your evolution, you find that there are no more tears left. Unresolved hurt can continue to cause distress in your relationships even if you live in the now.
It is also helpful to reevaluate your belief system if it prevents you from achieving your relationship goals. And like Whitney Houston did at one point, find your strength in love.
SHOW PRAY AND TELL
God is showing us the consequences of how we have lived. Climate Change, Floods, Earthquakes, Unrelenting fires, Pandemic, weakening Gulfstream, unrest. By now, shouldn’t everyone be on the same page regarding what the #1 priority should be?
I think we ought to prioritize our prayers and what we ask God to assist us with. Mine is “God give me the fortitude and strength to do all I can to nurture the planet and each other in any possible way I can. I am sorry for the convenient choices I’ve made in the past in pursuit of a lifestyle to raise a family and be happy”.
This profound insight is a gift from God. I am grateful. I’m reciprocating with this blog by sharing it with the universe. And my smile.
God is in everyone and everywhere. The ultimate destination is to return to our creator and one can adopt any doctrine or methodology to reach him. Missionaries, Gurus, Pastors, Monks, Rabbi’s, and others, all want you to elevate yourself and provide support, so you live your best life and smile every day. I don’t think God likes one religion or methodology over the other. Then why do we live in times where spiritual evolution is a race?
My son, Krish often asks me, ‘Mama, do you think this world is a simulation?”.
I say, ‘If I think the Gods are watching everything we think, say and do, yes beta (son)’. I hope we put on a great show for them this 21st century.
Things I’ve learned over the miles I’ve traveled, with God’s Grace:
- I am in charge of what I feel today. And I choose happiness
- I feed my spirit
- I love
- I respect and love each life that touches mine.
- I don’t sweat the small stuff.
- I love God (good). I see God in others
- I tolerate other’s idiosyncrasies
- I tolerate other’s limitations
- I forgive myself and others for past mistakes
- I focus on today. Today I will be the best version of myself.
- I am my own champion and CEO (Chief Energizing Officer)
- Nothing is unforgivable
- I accept that not everyone gets everything
Playlist while compiling the Blog:
- Colonial Cousins – Krishna
- Alan Jackson – Eye in the Sky
- Don Williams – I believe in love
- Huey Lewis – Power of love
- Kenny Rogers – Love will turn you around
- Whitney Houston – Greatest love of all
- Nadama and Shastro – Reiki Offering
- Raffi – He’s got the whole world in his hands
- Raffi – Michael row your boat ashore
- Norman Greenbaum – Spirit in the sky