Why do we seek attention and how to overcome it?

After food and sleep, what kids really look for is attention. They will be playing at home, but the moment some guest comes, and the parents start talking to the guests children will start their tactics to draw the attention of their parents. Because the parents' attention is somewhere else and children are unable to tolerate that; they want to draw the attention towards themselves. This hunger for attention is there in every child.
Wherever you've already got attention, the mind doesn’t stay there. It looks at places where you are not getting attention.
Sometimes when people give you too much attention also, you are unable to take it, digest it, handle it. This is also an issue. Many marriages break because of this. Not because of some dispute, but because they feel stifled. Husband loves the wife so much, or wife loves the husband so much, that they start policing each other. Then at times you feel it’s so suffocating and break up.
Similarly, with parents, where mother or father give too much attention to their children. I have seen many kids coming here, saying: “I just want to get out of my parents home. I love them, they are too good, but I can’t stay with them” Why? They are unable to take the attention and digest it. It feels overwhelming.
In one's old age, people become even more miserable because they feel that they are not getting attention. They think, “Now that I have become old, nobody takes care of me, nobody asks for me, nobody talks to me.”
This hunger for seeking attention remains until death. Liberation means getting rid of this hunger. If we are content, then we become liberated or free. As long as we continue to seek the attention of others, this hunger will not get satisfied. Until the hunger is gone, there is no contentment. If there is no contentment, there is no freedom. If there is no freedom, then there is no happiness. How can one be happy when a person is stuck in bondage? How can one be blissful? There is no chance at all. That’s why, we should first of all identify if whatever we are doing, we are doing it to seek the attention of others or not. We have to ask ourselves this question.
We should see that there is an energy (shakti) which is looking at us every day with thousands of eyes. That is why this shakti is called Virupaksha. One of the names of Lord Shiva is Virupaksh, which means the one who has eyes but no form, just like our mind.
Mind is seeing, listening, but does the mind have any form? There is no form. Whatever the eyes see, it is only the mind that perceives it. If the mind is elsewhere, then even if the eyes are open you don’t perceive anything. When this realization – that there is somebody who is giving us attention and taking care of us all 24 hours, whether we like it or not and that they are our very own – dawns on us, then we see no meaning in seeking attention from others. There is no desire in seeking attention from others. This habit of seeking attention from others will appear very foolish and it disappears. Maturity in life comes when you don't crave attention from anybody.
When you don’t crave attention from others, then you are so fulfilled, then you are so centered and then you start becoming a giver. Till then we are beggars and want attention from people. But when we are centered and settled, then we say, "I am here to give. Come on, take what you want to take."
We should not think that others do not love us. If they do not love us, then it is their stupidity. In this world, if someone does not love the other then it’s his/her stupidity.
Just like the air outside you is connected to the air inside of you, the mind inside you is connected to the mind in the cosmos. The cosmos has a mind of its own. Just recognize – this little mind of mine is part of the one mind – gives enormous strength. It gives you such confidence. It gives you such satisfaction that nothing whatsoever can give. It gives you such immense dignity, strength. Words fails to describe what it is.
You don’t have to do anything, you only have to recognise it.

Purpose of fear

Nature has built a little fear into all living beings. This fear makes life defend itself, protect itself. Like salt in food, a little fear is essential for people to be righteous.Fear of hurting someone makes you more conscious. Fear of failure makes you more keen and dynamic. Fear moves you from carelessness to taking care. Fear moves you from being insensitive to being sensitive. Fear moves you from dullness to alertness. Total lack of fear may lead to destructive tendencies – a distorted ego knows no fear. Nor does one with expanded consciousness.
While the ego dismisses fear and acts in a destructive manner, the wise one acknowledges fear and takes refuge in the Divine. When you are in love, when you are surrendered, there is no fear. Ego, too, knows no fear. But there is a difference – like the difference between heaven and earth – between these two types of fearless states. Fear makes you righteous; fear brings you close to surrender; fear keeps you on the path; fear keeps you from being destructive. Peace and law are maintained on the planet because of fear. A newborn child knows no fear – the baby relies totally on its mother. When a child, a kitten, or a bird start becoming independent, they experience fear and this makes them run back to their mothers. This is inbuilt by nature to sustain life. The purpose of fear is to bring you back to the source.

If you are willing to look beyond what is already known.....

The mature intellect brings forth devotion that is always in awe of creation. When something is unfathomable, the intellect is in awe. When the mind takes rest in the vastness of consciousness, only then can it know the Truth. This can only happen through Shraddha.
Shraddha is not just faith, it is to love something that is beyond the purview of knowing. And if one is willing to look beyond what is already known, then the vast wealth of knowledge embraces them.
The mind keeps wandering from one sense to another in search of satisfaction. It is only when you realize that this joy is caused by something greater, you can be centered. There is a saying that when one appreciates a flower, the flower feels sad as the creator of the flower is not being appreciated.
In Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna declares himself as the cause of all the joy of the senses. The intellect keeps getting stuck in the senses but when the mind, intellect and chitta get fixed on the Divine, the highest can be attained.
If one is unable to be completely fixated on the Divine, then one can establish devotion through sadhana or spiritual practices. However, any practice has to be done continuously without exception and with respect. Mental tiredness gives rise to the inability to do any practice. Many people do either only Sadhana or only Seva, and Lord Krishna does not spare either. He says, ‘If you work for Me then you will not be tired, this is for sure!’
Lord Krishna treats Arjuna as a friend and gives him options saying, ‘If you cant even maintain your practice, then at least be part of Me. Feel total oneness with Me.’ The body, mind and emotions are a result of karma. Good and bad things will happen, but be detached.
Take refuge in My connection with you and don't ever question this relationship.

Secret of Love, Fear, Hatred and Surrender

Surrender means an unshakeable confidence. Surrender simply means unconditional love. When there is love, there is no fear, know it is one energy that functions in three forms, either love, fear or hatred. When there is hatred there is no fear. When there is fear, there is no love or hate.
With all these three, the sensations in the body are at a particular place, the heart, whether you are in fear, in deep love or in hatred. And they are interchangeable. One changes into the other. You love somebody and that love slowly changes into hatred or you love something very dearly and the fear rises, thinking, "Oh, I may lose it."
Whatever you love most you hold onto. So, the same love has changed itself to fear. 
So, true surrender happens. You cannot do anything about it. If you love something, very deep,  true surrender. Surrender is not a burden, not a fear, not something which comes out of force. It is a spontaneous happening. Only the strong can surrender, the weak can never surrender.
We seem to understand it the other way. We feel that if someone is weak they will surrender. I am powerful. How can I surrender? No. To surrender it takes great courage and power, strength and confidence. Only then can you surrender. 
Surrender is always unconditional. It’s not that “I will surrender, so I can have peace of mind or bliss or whatever”. That is not surrender. If you love someone, because of what they have, then you don’t love them, you love the quality.
Love is a very deep, intimate phenomenon in your consciousness. It just flowers. It cannot but flower. There is no way you can meddle with it. You go near love, you dissolve, you simply don’t exist. That is the definition of love. Either you are there or there is love. You can never meet love or you can never love. Either you remain as love or you remain as somebody.
See, in conversation we say, “See, I love that because...” It is the most stupid thing. You love something and say "because"? "I love you because you are very good? I love you because you are honest?"
You are not loving that person, you love those qualities. And there is nothing great in you loving those qualities. And I tell you, you seem to love those qualities which you don’t have. That’s how people make ideals and they remain far away from ideals.
When we remain as a small pond, a stone will create a big ripple. If somebody says something, that can blow your peace off. So the peace is thrown off by people around you. But when you become an ocean, even a big mountain falling into it, does not affect it. Being an ocean, we behave like a pond – that is the wonder. The greatest wonder is man who is an ocean of peace and joy, behaves as though he is a little pond when he is disturbed by any little small thing.
You go crazy over little insignificant things and that worries you over and over again, day and night, for several years. Once you have surrendered, there comes a depth in you and nothing whatsoever can throw you off.

The secret behind your cravings

The association of a particular sense object over and over again creates a sense of craving for it. If you are used to drinking coffee every morning, then even though you are not born with a coffee fervor you have begun a habit within you that has created a craving. How did it all start?
The habit of drinking coffee didn’t happen in one day! Addiction starts with a repeated experience of a particular object. It becomes a habit — and the nature of habit is that it does not give you joy. It gives pain. Therefore, drinking coffee will not carry you to heaven but if you don’t have it, it can take you to hell!
The repeated experience or association of a particular sense object makes you want it more. You think about it — and it creates a sensation of more wanting. Wherever you put your attention in the nervous system, the craving for that begins. With association comes desire. And with desire comes anger. Whenever a person is angry, behind that anger is a desire. Whether fulfilled or unfulfilled, desire leads to anger.
So you get angry with somebody. The next step is that you get attached. Now, whomever you are angry with, sooner or later you will regret. Regret brings more attachment. By regretting, you do not move away from the person or situation, you move more into it. All this happens in a subtle way. Have you ever observed that whomever you are angry with or hate, you think of that person more than yourself? And as you think of this person, you get agitated or distressed. On the other hand, if you think of someone you love, you have a nice feeling and your nervous system assumes that form.
When your nervous system assumes either of the forms, it becomes like that and you get drawn to those kind of people. This is entanglement. Therefore, an obsession brings anger which in turn brings entanglement. Entanglement clouds intellect. Your wisdom and judgment are lost; your ability to understand and access the situation is lost. This is a chain reaction and it happens in such a subtle manner that you don’t even realize it.
Entanglement, whether out of craving or aversion, clouds the intellect. And a distorted intellect doesn’t let you be in peace. Such an intellect does not even bring up the emotions — the subtle feelings within you. Any feeling you get will be gross and will make you heavy.
With a clouded intellect, the memory of pleasant things is lost. Life has two sets of memories: memories of pleasant things and memories of unpleasant things. Children often have pleasant memories more than the unpleasant ones. That’s why they are so cheerful. But as we grow up and lose our innocence, our unpleasant memories increase.
Spiritual practices help bring back the pleasant memories more and more, and reduce unpleasant memories to almost an insignificant amount. Therefore, it is important to meditate regularly. Once the memory of “Who am I” is lost, the memory of “What do I want in my life,” the “reality” and “seeing life in context with the universe” is lost, wisdom is lost. Then there is no happiness and peace. The role of meditation and other spiritual practices is to withdraw the mind from sense objects. This is critical for success in life. The knowledge of coming back to the Self; the self referral value of consciousness makes it rich, energetic and beautiful.

The mind is like a mirror

The mind is like a mirror, whatever comes in front of it is reflected in it. But a mirror doesn’t cry, “Oh, I got dirty!” when a dirty picture comes in front of it. And it doesn’t jump up and say, “Oh, I have got these wonderful qualities” when something good is reflected.
When you’re driving, you can see in the mirror that there is a garbage can behind your car. Just imagine the mirror identifying itself with the garbage can. Or, imagine the mirror identifying with some beautiful scenery. In both cases, what would you say? It’s a stupid idea, it’s not the case. The mirror is neither the garbage can, nor the scenery. And that is exactly how it is with our own consciousness.
Our consciousness is like a mirror. Different images come onto it, and they all move away. Know this, and be free. When we get attached to any of those images, that is bondage. So, wake up and see – the mind is a mirror.
Anybody you think of, their emotions and their state of mind latches on to you and is reflected through you. If you keep thinking about happy people, you get happy. Thinking about unhappy things, you feel unhappy. That’s why I have said, “Don’t hate anybody.” Not for the sake of the person whom you hate, but for your own sake. Your own mind, your nervous system, will assume the form, shape, and color of that person. The most intelligent thing to do is not to hate anybody, because whomsoever you hate, you get those impressions embedded in you.

Two things that make you dance in your life

One is your desire, another is love.

Your desires keeps you on your toes, makes you dance all your life.  A desire gets fulfilled and gives rise to ten more, and you run all your life to fulfill them one after another. It makes you go on a merry-go-round (misery-go-round).  If you look into it and become aware of the dance that your desires make you do,  you will be amazed. It may be a very subtle desire and they get in to your heart and make you dance.

Then there is another type of dance that comes out joy, that comes out of love. 

That deep love makes you dance. In this dance, you do not get tired. Shraddha (faith) grows when a desire is fulfilled but when one desire does not get fulfilled the faith gets shaken. In love you don’t get shaken. You shake the whole world. Not just the world, but the entire universe.  You make the angels and the Gods dance.
You are supposed to dance after Chandi Homa, in the evening. Usually when people do yagnas they force themselves to dance or hire some professionals to dance. But here in our ashram – how spontaneously everyone get an impulse to get on their feet and dance! That is sattva, the positive energy. That is the truth. Here everything is authentically done and the dance happens automatically as a spontaneous natural phenomenon.
You have everything you want, so just be and radiate. When you are contented you automatically radiate peace.
Move on in life with the confidence that you will be given everything in abundance, and that you are being protected by the Divine. There is a divine armor around you that is protecting you; you have nothing to worry about. Know this and keep walking ahead in life with satisfaction, confidence, joy, patience, fullness and faith.

Navratri - the inward journey that nullifies our negative karmas

The festival of Navratri is a time for self-referral and getting back to the Source.

During this time of transformation, nature sheds the old and gets rejuvenated. According to Vedic sciences, matter reverts to its original form to recreate itself again and again. The creation is cyclical, not linear; everything is recycled by nature – a continuous process of rejuvenation. The human mind, however, lags behind in this routine cycle of creation. Navratri is a festival to take the mind back to its source.

The Mother Divine is recognized not just as the brilliance of intellect (buddhi), but also the confusion (bhranti); she is not just abundance (lakshmi), she is also hunger (kshudha) and thirst (trishna). Realizing this aspect of the Mother Divine in the entire creation, leads one to a deep state of Samadhi. Through wisdom, devotion and nishkama karma, one can attain advaita siddhi or perfection in the non-dual consciousness.

Though Navratri is celebrated as the victory of good over evil, the actual fight is not between good and evil. From the Vedantic point of view, the victory is of the absolute reality over the apparent duality. In the words of Ashtavakra, it is the poor wave which tries to keep its identity separate from the ocean, but to no avail. The Inward Journey nullifies our negative Karmas.

Navratri is a celebration of the spirit or prana which alone can destroy mahishasura (inertia), shumbha-nishumbha (pride and shame) and madhu-kaitabh (extreme forms of craving and aversion). They are completely opposites, yet complementary. Inertia, deeply ingrained negativities and obsessions (raktabeejasura), unreasonable logics (chanda-munda) and blurred vision (dhoomralochan) can be overcome only by raising the level of prana and shakti, the life-force energy.

The seeker gets back to the true Source through fasting, prayer, silence and meditation. Night is also called ratri because it brings rejuvenation. It gives relief at the three levels of our existence – physical, subtle and causal. While fasting detoxifies the body, silence purifies the speech and brings rest to the chattering mind, and meditation takes one deep into one’s own being.

Though our life is governed by the three gunas, we seldom recognize and reflect on them. The first three days of Navratri are attributed to tame guna (intertia), the next three days to rajo guna (activity) and the last three days to sattva guna (tranquility). Our consciousness sails through the tamo and rajo gunas and blossoms in the sattva guna on the last three days.

Whenever sattva dominates in life, victory follows. The essence of this knowledge is honored by celebrating the tenth day as Vijaydashmi.

Recognising the one divinity in every form and being is the celebration of Navratri. Hence, special pujas honoring all aspects of life and nature are performed during this time.

Difference between the mind and the soul

Mind is just a projection of soul. Soul is your whole consciousness, the life force in you. The part of it which is listening to me right now, which is asking the question, which is perceiving – we call it the mind. So if your mind is elsewhere, though I’m speaking and the words are falling into your ear drums, still you don’t get it because the mind is elsewhere. So it’s through the mind that we see, smell, taste, hear, and experience the sense of touch. That is what the mind is.
The mind has another function which we call intellect. As I’m speaking, something in you is saying, “Yes, I agree”, or, “No, I don’t agree with this”. There is something in you which is accepting and rejecting, judging and accommodating — that is the intellect.
There are seven layers to our existence: Body, breath, mind, intellect, memory, ego and the soul. See, we keep breathing but many of us don’t even know that we are breathing unless we have an asthma attack or some problem. We don’t realize how important it is for us to breathe deeply.
Body, breath, mind, intellect, memory, ego and the soul or self. The self is that total consciousness. There is something in you that doesn’t change, which is the reference point for all changes. Your thoughts are changing, your emotions are changing, your body has undergone so much change. If you look at a 25 years old picture of you, you can’t say it’s the same body. It’s much different than what you are now, but still you are the same person. So there’s something in you that is not changing in spite of all the changes. That non-changing aspect in you, or the reference by which you recognize the changes so to say ‘this is changing’, there should be something that doesn’t change, and that is what is the soul.
When we go deep into this, it’s amazing, amazing, and amazing! An arena opens in front of you. And the way to go deeper into this is meditation.

Did man create God or God create Man?

Well, I think it is both. God created man in his own image and man started creating God in his own image. There is nothing wrong. There is a term called ‘co-creation’.
Man has created God, it is not a crime. Many times we think that man created God, that means he doesn’t exist, this is not so.
 All the art forms, sculptures, imaginations, philosophy and even science, has all sprung up from man’s mind.
What do you mean by God? God is a principle, an energy which is creative, transformative. God is the generator, operator and destroyer. Doesn’t man do all these three things? Does he not generate, operate and destroy? So, where is the difference?
You think that God is something different from you; sitting somewhere up in the heaven to give you a little finger and when you try and catch Him, he runs away. This concept of God is what is troubling, and this is the concept that gave rise to communism and atheism. Or (the other concept is that) you think that God is in only one shape and one form. No! You can adore Him or Her in any shape and any form. God is the basis of existence of all that is!  in fact it is existence itself.

Life is both free will and destiny

Life is a combination of both destiny and free will. For example, your height is your destiny and your weight is your free will.
An intelligent person will always see the past as destiny, and the future as free will. If you think that the past was about free will, then you will only sit and regret in the present. And if you think that the future is all destiny then you will have no enthusiasm to do anything in the present. So fools think that the past was free will and the future is destiny, and get depressed and become unhappy
Someone once asked me, “Did you become a Guru by choice or by accident?”
I said, “By accident!” — so that is the destiny. Knowing that the past is destiny, the future is free will, you should live happily in the present moment. This is wisdom.
A strong body can carry a weak mind, but a weak mind cannot carry even a strong body. Clarity in the mind and purity in the heart are the signs of happiness. Having these will uplift your spirit, and it has not left anyone untouched.

Finding a balance in life through meditation

How does one find balance in life? Through meditation. Today scientists say, if you meditate even for eight weeks at least once a day, the grey matter in the brain increases and the structure of the brain changes. That's what I have been saying for the last 35-40 years. Today scientists have said the same thing, they have authenticated it in some way – that meditation does so much good to your nervous system and it does so much good to your brain. It creates a positive energy around you, it uplifts your spirit and alters your behavior pattern.

World Health Organization says that the biggest challenge that mankind is facing today is depression, and by the year 2020 depression is going to be much more prevalent. If half the population are on anti-depressants, then that is going to be terrible. Even anti-depressants work for some time and then they stop working. So, we need to bring a lifestyle change in people by making them understand how they can handle their own mind, their energy and their vibrations.

We live in era of quantum physics and today quantum physics says this is all about vibration. The whole world is nothing but vibrations, and this is what spirituality also says – it's all vibration. So, we need to teach people how they can shake off all the stress that accumulates on a day-to-day basis.

30 years ago, when I would talk about yoga or meditation, people would say, “Wow, that's not the normal thing to do. Someone who is crazy would go for all this”. That was the paradigm, that was the assumption people had. Today it has changed. Today, big companies like Daimler Chrysler, Benz, etc., show someone in a meditative pose to depict happiness in their advertising. Relaxation and happiness has become synonymous to meditation. I feel there's a big change in the mindset of the people.

Truth and Lies

What is a lie? Something which keeps changing is called a lie. If you said something yesterday, and today you say something else, then that is called a lie.
Now what is truth? Truth is that which is unaffected by time. Something which remains constant and unchanging through the three phases of time (past, present and future) is what is truth.
If you look around and see, everything is changing. The way you were yesterday, or ten years back, you are not the same today. In a year’s time, every cell in our body changes.
So, when I say ‘Everything is a lie’, it means everything is changing.
Now, when you understand that everything is changing, then there must be some reference point which doesn't change, through which you can know that everything is changing. And what is that reference point? That reference point is you.
If everything in you changes, then how can you say ‘I have changed’? If everything in you changes then you have become another person itself. So, you need some reference point for change to be observed, otherwise you can't even know change. There is something in you that is not changing, but what is this that is not changing is not very clear.
We usually say, ‘I went to this school 20 years back’, or, ‘I did this job 25 years back’, but who was that person? Even if you look at a picture of you taken around 20 years back, you will not find much resemblance. Your body, mind, intellect, thoughts, feelings, everything has changed. But certainly, there is something which has not changed because of which you can notice this change.
That is why I say, first identify the changes that are happening within you. Once you identify these changes, then slowly you will be able to identify that what is not changing. And once you identify that which is not changing, then you will realize ‘This is what I am, this is what I have been searching for.’

Story of Mullah Nasruddin and his grumbling

Mullah Nasrudin used to grumble all the time. He was a farmer, so he would grumble, “Oh, there is no rain.” There was no rain in California for so many years. He’d say, “Oh, there is no rain, no crops are coming, it’s so difficult and…” He was grumbling.

That year, there was very good rainfall, and he had great crops in his fields. People thought, this year Nasrudin will not grumble, because his crops have come on so nicely, so good, and so high. There’s no problem. They said, “He must at least be happy.” So people went to greet him, “Oh, Mullah, how are you? You seem to be doing very well, lots of crops. Your field is simply flourishing and so attractive.” But Mullah had the same long face. He said, “Yes, now we have so much work to do. All these years I didn’t have to do anything, with no crops. But now so many crops and I have to do this, go to market and sell them. It’s a big headache!” He was still grumbling. Whether there were crops or not, his grumbling continued.

It's the same way in your life. You are unhappy about things you have and you are unhappy about things you don’t have. Isn’t it?

Someone who doesn’t have a car is unhappy, because he doesn’t have a car. Someone who has a car is unhappy, because he has to maintain that car and it is such a big headache: pay the tax, do this, maybe get a ticket… I could simply take public transport and go as before. Now I have to do the cars service and keep it somewhere when I get out. If the battery goes down, do something about it. A hundred and one things!

Develop the habit of being happy. You have to do it. Nothing else can give you that. Nobody else can do it. If anybody else or anything else does it, it will only be very temporary.

Story from the Puranas about the two gatekeepers of God

There is a beautiful story in the Puranas. It’s a mythological story. In the abode of God, there were two gatekeepers. And the gatekeepers did not allow entry to some devotees who wanted to barge in. The gatekeepers stopped them. 
So when the devotees were stopped, they got angry. They got angry at the gatekeepers, cursed them and said, “You go and be born in the world!”  And when God came to know about it, he pleaded with those devotees. He said, “Please forgive my doorkeepers.” This is very beautiful that God is pleading with the devotees for the gatekeepers. 
Because devotion is so much higher. It’s very precious. Even God loves devotees. He runs behind the devotees, it is said. Because of the devotion the devotees had for God, because the very presence of God made them complete, all their anger vanished. 
God called the two gatekeepers and asked them, “What would you like? Do you want a hundred lifetimes as a friend or three lifetimes as an enemy?” And they choose three lifetimes as an enemy, as long as they could be liberated. Then God told them, “Okay, you will be born, you will have intense anger towards Me. And in that intense anger, you will think about Me all the time. Soon I will be with you. You will be liberated. Because when you have such intense anger towards me, I will occupy your mind constantly. And so you will be liberated.” 
It’s very beautiful. The principle is, when you’re angry at somebody, that person is occupying most of your consciousness very strongly. 
See, when you get a blister from your shoe, you don’t get angry at the shoe, do you? The shoe doesn’t occupy your mind, though it has caused a blister on your foot. But if somebody else did something to you, that somebody occupies your mind all the time. So whoever you are angry with, they occupy a major part of your life. So it is better to direct that anger towards God. Because in reality, God is responsible for all the different emotions in different people. And God is the charm behind every life. If somebody is very charming, if they look very charming, what is behind that? It’s the Divine that makes them charming. So, if you see the Divine behind them, if you see a charming person, a boy or a girl who stirs your mind, then you say, “Behind this is the Divine.” 
In this way, constantly the Divine rolls in your mind— through the lust, through anger, through arrogance. If you feel proud, be proud of the Divine. Be proud of one thing— that you are very dear to God and you belong to the Divine. Thus, you can integrate whatever is happening inside you into one whole, without feeling bad about yourself or bad about anybody else.

The secret to handling your mind

Just let it be! That is the secret to handling the mind.
If you try to get rid of the mind, it becomes a monster. If you just let the mind be, it will vanish! When you are not aware of the tricks and the mumbo-jumbo going on in the mind, then life is misery. This is because life is based on the mind.
When you recognize that all this is in my mind (judging people and situations, holding concepts about the self and others); you recognize that you are making a mess of everything in your mind.
‘This is how it should be’, or, ‘It should not be like this’, whenever such thoughts come, it means the mind is coming into play; this is all part of the world. This is where you need to latch onto that non-changing, abstract, invisible energy or power. When you latch onto it, you are no longer caught in the grip of the mind. When we are in the grip of the mind, we make ourselves and others miserable.
Look back at your mind, not at others, and see what drama and pain has been caused by it. When you do that, it is no longer pain, it is entertainment. It is like a multi-channel television, a movie channel that has caused so much comedy, suspense, drama, and misery in your life.
This is the reason why all the great saints and poets always addressed their own mind, ‘Oh, my dear mind, how fascinating you are, why do you get caught up in so many things! Why do you not recognize that which is so magnanimous, and so beautiful?’ Rumi, Kabir, all the great saints, have sung about their own mind.
In the Bhagvad Gita also, it is said that the mind is responsible for your freedom and bondage.
The mind is a friend and an enemy. When the mind is your enemy, it ties you down to your past impressions and experiences, because it does not let you see things with a fresh new eye. This is because everything we perceive is through the mind; even knowledge is perceived through the mind. When the mind is your enemy, it makes you judgmental, brings misery, stiffness and unhappiness.
When the mind is your friend, it brings happiness, freedom, and liberation. So, the mind can be our greatest enemy or our best friend.

What is it that you have to surrender?

Anyway everything belongs to the Divine already. But when you think that something belongs to you, then I say, ‘Let go’. When you are holding onto something so tight, that is when I say, ‘Hey, relax’. Relaxation is called surrender; it is nothing else. If something is bothering you in your head, offering that botheration is surrender.
It is just like offering aahuti (the act of making prayerful offerings to the sacred fire). So whatever bothers you or troubles you, offer that as aahuti to the Divine.
That which you cannot handle by yourself; that which has become a burden for you; that which you are tired of carrying on your head, just put it down and let go! That is what is meant by surrender.
Otherwise what is there to surrender? Your body belongs to God. Even your mind belongs to God. Everything belongs to God. But you think it belongs to you, Just let go, relax and smile. Letting go, relaxing and smiling is what the meaning of surrender is.
In Buddhism, it is said ‘Buddham Sharanam Gachhami’, which means whatever burden you cannot handle by yourself, offer it to Lord Buddha, or offer it to God, or offer it to the Guru, or offer it to anyone who is dear to you. This is for you to feel that there is someone who belongs to you and is very dear to you, and you are very dear to that person.
I will give you an example.
A child, when it knows that mother is at home, it feels so comfortable. The child will roam about here and there and play happily. But when the child does not see the mother, and mother has gone somewhere, then it starts looking for her and starts crying.  Though nowadays the children actually become happy when they find that mother is not around! Then they can do even more mischief. But this happens when the children grow a little older.
Small children often keep a watch to see whether mother is around, isn’t it so? One eye will be on the mother. This is because the child feels comforted to know, there is someone for them, who is sitting there.

How to achieve perfection? A great secret revealed by Ashtavakra to Janaka

Tānyupekshya yathāprāptavartī siddhimavāpnuyāt.
Contentment, perfection and siddhī dawns in that person who is happy and contented with whatever has come; who does not hanker for something more.
It is so strange, and yet very true! Be contented with what you have and you will see perfection or siddhī dawning in you. If you hanker for siddhī, you will not attain it. You may think you will be fulfilled and satisfied when you have siddhī. But it’s the other way around. When you are satisfied, you will get siddhī. You may think that achievements follow siddhī(perfection), i.e. when you get fulfilled then you will achieve. Or when you achieve something, then you will be fulfilled. But Ashtāvakra says, ‘Be satisfied now’. Achievements will dawn in you. Siddhī(perfection) will dawn in you.
He was revealing a big secret to Janaka. Be satisfied and perfection will dawn. You will become a siddha. You cannot ever achieve siddhī by your hankering, your restlessness. Be happy with what you have. Your hankering is always for what you don’t have. And there will always be something you will not have. So your hankering has a continuum and, thus, there is a postponement of your perfection. Ashtāvakra says that by dropping the hankering and being fulfilled and satisfied, perfection will come rushing to you!
Krishna said the same, that when you are fulfilled then all the desires and their fulfillment, and their achievements will flow towards you, just as all the rivers flow into the ocean. And this is our practical experience! Just look at your life. Take one step back and look at your life. Has this not happened?
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Significance of Nataraja and the Chidambara Rahasya

Nataraja, the dancing form of Lord Shiva, is a very beautiful symbol of the union of nature and the Divine.

Nataraja holds fire in one hand, representing the fire element. A damaru in his other hand depicts the space element. Many forces in the universe are represented by a shape similar to that of a damaru, like a chromosome, or shapes of galaxies and so on. Time also is said to have a conical representation. ∞ is the symbol (shape of the damru) and represents infinity.
Shiva’s hair is open and flying representing the air element. One foot on ground symbolizes prithvi (earth element), another in the air. One hand is the symbolic abhaya hasta offering protection and the other points to his feet symbolizing surrender. With one foot already in the air, he has already taken a step towards the devotee. He says “You are dear to me” even before beginning. Even in the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna – “You are very dear to me”. When you know that you are dear to someone,  trust and love arises in the heart.
Shiva is dancing. Life should be like this. If both feet are stuck in the ground then you cannot dance. Even to walk you need to take one foot up.
The entire creation is full of bliss.
The entire creation is dancing in bliss.
The entire creation is longing for bliss.
Nataraja represents the Ananda Tattva (bliss) that the whole world is longing for.
Every atom in the world is filled with the potential for action yet it is at peace. Shiva, the principle of infinite peace and bliss is not inert. It is peaceful, yet dancing.
Underneath his feet, there is Apasmaar (the demon symbolizing desires). He is standing with his foot on top of desires. If desire eats us up then we are in trouble. Only when we rise above desires and we are dancing on it, then it is a dance of joy and bliss. This is not just imagination. This is the truth. This energy awakens within us and we rise in dance. This is true. The Divine energy pervading the entire creation is eternally dancing.

Chidambara rahasya

Chidambaram is the place of Shiva symbolizing the akasha tattva (the principle of space). Space is formless. In the sanctum of this temple, there is a veil. Beyond the veil there is nothing but empty space. Tthe secret of Shiva tattva can be known only by going within. When you remove the veil of illusion and desires, you experience the vast infinite inner space. For a few moments your mind becomes free from thoughts. You realize that there is some secret of which you have had a small glimpse, like a flash, and this experience brings a transformation in life.
There are three types of space that is described. Bhutakash – the physical body, Chittakash – thoughts and emotions and Chidakash – the vast, Supreme Consciousness. The life-force energy is awakened in the Chidakash. The secret of the Chidambara can only be experienced through self-effort on the spiritual path.

How to deal with blame

There is a very beautiful poem in Kannada that says:

“What do you say to a person who is scared of noise but has built his house in the market?

What do say to a person who has built a home on the seashore and hates waves?

What do you say to a person who has built a home in the forest and is scared of animals?”

In the same way, what do you tell a person who lives in society and is scared of accusations, blames and praises? People blame and they say things, what can you do? Educate and ignore.

Even when you have done nothing wrong still people become your enemies. How many of you have experienced this? You did not do any harm to them but they have become your enemies. Similarly, you have not done any big favors for some people but they have become your friends, isn’t it?! Becoming a friend or an enemy works on some other special law and that is Karma.

With Karma you cannot have a reasoning or explanation for certain happenings. That is just how it is. So don’t worry if people blame you for things that you have not done. Don’t get disturbed.

It is easy to say don’t get disturbed. You do get disturbed, but at that time this wisdom will help you – ’It is some strange Karma, let it be there. So what, what can we do? That is the nature of the world.’

In this way you should make yourself dispassionate. One who is dispassionate always remains joyful.

’Kasya Sukham Na Karoti Viragah’ – There is no pleasure greater than a state of mind that does not seek pleasure.

How should one handle criticism?

If the criticism is superficial, then let it be. It is one of the Navarasas (the nine emotions, which are, love, laughter, compassion, anger, courage, terror, disgust, surprise, and peace).
If you want something bad to happen to another from the core of your heart, from the depth of your being, then you are harming only yourself. The person being criticized won’t be affected. But that doesn’t mean you should be superficially positive, and never point out mistakes.
If an apple is bad, saying the apple is good is insincere. If someone asks you, ‘How was the food’, and you say it was very good, but you couldn’t eat it then that is not honesty. Where there is a problem, it must be pointed out, but without any hatred in your heart, otherwise the feeling will harm only you.
If somebody else does it, then let it be. What can you do? It is their rajoguna and tamoguna which makes such negative tendencies arise in them. But if you become negative towards them because of that, they you will also be in the same basket as them.
The three gunas, rajoguna, tamoguna and sattoguna are an integral part of nature. You just be a witness to their play and display. And if you want to explain it to somebody then do it because you care for them, do it with compassion. Tell them that "You have spent two hours complaining about somebody today, this will severely affect your creative or positive energy. The more you complain the more energy you will lose."
Tell them to complain about somebody for an hour and observe how much energy they have lost. When people start complaining about others they forget the time because they find some form of enjoyment in it. Like a patient enjoys talking about his ailments. If he has ten visitors, he’ll tell all ten people the same thing, ‘All morning I have been having leg pain. I could not sleep all night because of the pain’.
All the crying and drama is repeated over and over again. He should do something else instead of harping on and on about it. Write a poem maybe, or do some other creative thing. Then he can be happy and also forget his ailment.
Anything that is repeated, gets deeper into the consciousness. That is why mantras are repeated again and again. So don’t let complaints get deeper into yourself, instead do some japa (meditative repetition of a mantra or name of a divine power).

Effect of mantras

The chanting of mantras creates an environment of positivity and sacredness. Mantras have an impact at the subtle level also. Our physical body is the gross body, while our subtle body is 1.5 times larger than the gross body. And the Karana Sharira or Causal body is a 1000 times finer and subtler than even the subtle body itself. So we have three kinds of bodies. When the subtle body constricts and becomes smaller than the gross body, then a person becomes restless and miserable. When the subtle body diminishes even further, then a person loses his mental balance and feels like committing suicide. This is the root cause behind suicides.
By the practice of chanting mantras, pranayama and meditation the subtle body grows larger in size and also gets strengthened. When the subtle body becomes strong then one appears normal (physically). And when the subtle body expands much more than its normal limits then one feels that he is soaked in bliss. And as the subtle body expands further, it becomes finer and finer and merges or becomes one with the Causal body – that is when one gets Moksha (liberation or salvation).

How does one get rid of hatred

Put yourself in the shoes of the person you hate. A youth came to me once and said, “I hate my uncle, I cannot stand him”. I said, “Okay, you can continue to hate him, but before that, just for half an hour, behave and act like your uncle”. So for half an hour he acted like his uncle and suddenly he came and said, “You know Gurudev, I feel different now”. So, put yourself in the shoe of the person whom you hate.
Secondly, why do you hate the person? Is it for what they are doing? If they are doing horrible things, either they are ignorant or they are stressed. By hating them, can you change them? People make mistakes and you hate them? Why do you hate them, because they make some mistakes? By hating a person who makes mistakes, can you correct them? No. You cannot correct them when you hate them. Do you want them to be corrected? Yes. So what is the way? Not hating them but by educating them. This is necessary.
People like ISIS, they hate everybody and people hate them. By hating we cannot change them and they cannot change us. They also do not know this. Their idea is to change everybody. We hate them because they are doing such heinous crimes. But by hating will they change? No. Not hating them but educating them.
The young children need to be educated before they get into this kind of mind set. That’s why, harmony in diversity should be part of the education. We need to educate the mind because all crime begins here in the upper chamber. To educate someone you need to have compassion.
See, in your life, you come across many people who think differently, and you want them to change, and by you wanting them to change they do not change. When you say what they are doing is hurting you, so please do not hurt me, they do not change so easily. But when you tell them what they are doing hurts them, and so they should change, that will be much more effective. So love can transform the world, compassion can change the world and this is our experience.

A simple technique to get rid of unwanted thoughts

When a thought arises in the mind, it is not easy to get rid of it. The thought keeps coming back over and over again, and if you decide to do something else, you will feel uneasy until you finish with that thought. It becomes irritating like a grain of sand in the eye.
Similarly, if you are unhappy about something, that sadness does not easily leave you, whatever you do to get rid of it. Even by listening to inspiring discourses that sadness does not go away.  Many times you tell your mind that something is trivial and not to worry about it. But the mind or intellect does not pay any attention. So we can chant a mantra. Our mind takes the form of the mantra that we repeat.
 “Manah trayate iti mantrah” – means a mantra is that which is brought to mind again and again. And to practice this mind and the mantra should not be separate. The mind should become the mantra. If the mind thinks of something else while chanting the mantra, the mantra will not be effective. The mind should be filled with the mantra. The moment that happens, the mind is free from worry. 
 A worry is something that is not in place. It is neither here nor there. A mantra is necessary to drive out worries.  A mantra has strength and spirit. When these are present, the mind becomes the power of the mantra. The power of the mind and the power of a mantra are the same. 
Chittam mantrah” – mind should become the mantra.  The power of every mantra can be felt in the form of vibrations. When an atom explodes, its impact spreads not only for many kilometers, but the effects remain for many years – all this from the explosion of an atom! The mind is a thousand times subtler than an atom. Imagine the power of the mind when it becomes quiet. When the mind becomes quiet again and again, this is called mantra. Mantra is the cure for the mind.
Whether the mantra is “Om namah shivaya” or “Rama, Rama” the effect of the mantra depends on how it is pronounced and invoked.
You can control the mind by using a mantra. With the help of a mantra, the mind loses its smallness and becomes vast; the mind that is dissatisfied becomes content; and the mind that is constantly disturbed by desires is released from them and finds fulfillment.
Although a mantra may be the same, its value is different when given by a Guru. Then you feel the power of the mantra.
When your mind is at peace, you can experience the real power of mantra.

The significance of Ramayana

The Ramayana is not just a story which happened long ago; it has a philosophical, spiritual significance and a deep truth in it. The words ‘rays’ and ‘radiance’ come from the Sanskrit root word ‘ra’. ‘Ra’ means light, ‘Ma’ means within me, in my heart. So, Rama means the light within me. That which is radiant in every particle of the being is Rama.
Rama was born to Dasharath and Kousalya. Dasharath means ‘Ten Chariots’. The ten chariots symbolize the five sense organs and five organs of action. Kousalya means ‘skillful’. The skillful rider of the ten chariots can give birth to Ram. When the ten are used skillfully, radiance is born within.
Rama was born in Ayodhya. Ayodhya means ‘a place where no war can happen’. When there is no conflict in our mind, then the radiance can dawn.
The Ramayana is not just a story which happened long ago; it has a philosophical, spiritual significance and a deep truth in it. It is said that the Ramayana is happening in your own body. 
Your soul is Rama, your mind is Sita, your breath or life-force(prana) is Hanuman, your awareness is Laxmana and your ego is Ravana.  When the mind was stolen by Ravana (the ego) then the soul got restless. Now the soul cannot reach the mind on its own, it has to take the help of the breath – the prana. With the help of the prana, the mind got reunited with the soul, and the ego vanished. 
Though the Ramayan is history, it is also an eternal phenomenon happening all the time.

What can i do when am unable to forgive or forget?

Then just think about your death, that you are going to die.
Even if you hold on (to the situation), still you will be finished; you will go away from this world. Now, do you want to carry that impression? Come on, wake up!
Life is so short and everybody is like a rag doll. They don’t have a mind of their own. Everyone is like a rag doll, and there is a particular force and energy that is working through everybody.
That one Paramakaranakarana is the cause of all causes. The Shiva Tattva is playing, putting different things in different people’s minds. Understand this Advaita knowledge; feel it.
We are all made up of the same substance. All these little minds are there, but the mind is also influenced by a big mind, and according to karma. So, different people act in different ways.
Have you noticed that sometimes, you haven’t done anything wrong to anyone, and still they became your enemies? How many of you have had this experience? Especially people to whom you have done a lot of good to, they become your enemies. You wonder, this person is my best friend, I did so much for him, and this person became my enemy! Isn’t it?
In the same way, there are some people to whom you have not done any special favors, yet they have become your friends, hasn’t this happened? You met someone in the train and then they came out and helped you so much.
So both, friendship and enmity happens with some strange law of karma. That is why friends or enemies are all same, because another power is working through them. Knowing this, relax.
Similarly, when you do good work, there are people who criticize you. There are people who do horrible work, and there are some people praising them as well. You find it so strange.
So, drop them all and relax.

Who is Shiva? What is Shiva Tattva?

I would ask the question ‘What is not Shiva?’ Is Shiva somebody? Is he a form? Is he someone sitting in some place? No! Shiva is the entire universe. He is in every atom of the universe.
Shiva doesn’t have a body, he was never a person at all. To symbolize the unfathomable, the infinite divinity, and to make it comprehensible for young people, for children and others, they made a form. In fact, there is no form to Shiva.
Shiva is a principle (Tattva) from where everything has come, everything is sustained in it, and everything dissolves into it. Shiva is the space, it is the consciousness.
There is no way that you can even step out of Shiva at anytime because Shiva is the summum bonum of the whole creation. That is why Shiva’s body is depicted in blue because blue signifies the sky; the all pervading infinity which has no limits, and no shape.

How do you become more grateful?

First of all drop this more. More devotion, more gratitude, more joy, more happiness, we need to drop this, ‘I want more and more'.

First you are thinking, ‘I want more money, more joy, more happiness and more pleasure.’ Then you shifted your tendency to wanting more peace, more knowledge, more of this and more of that.

As long as you are in the run for more, you are not going to settle. Unless you settle, there is neither peace nor grace. Got it?
So somewhere you should take this whole ‘I want more’ thing and dump it and say ‘okay, that is it!
It is said in the Bhagavad Gita, ‘Yadrccha-labha-santusto Dvandvatito Vimatsarah.’

Whatever is coming to you, you should have some level of contentment and with contentment comes gratitude. If you are discontent, how can you be grateful?
If you are grumbling, you can’t be grateful, and if you are not grateful, how can there be grace? Do you see what I am saying? It all fits one into another. So now, don’t ask me how can one be more grateful? Just stop complaining!

Know that this whole life is like a dream. It is all going to end and everything is going to finish one day. This very awareness will bring a shift in you. ‘This story is going to end someday and the curtains are going to fall’, knowing this suddenly a shift happens from the run to having more to contentment. It will come to that.