My definition.

 Britain’s partition of India and Pakistan is [ “terrorism” ]
 Britain’s creation of Israel and uprooting of Palestinians is [
“terrorism” ]
 Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine is [ “terrorism” ]
 The West’s blind support of Israel is [ “terrorism” ]
 The USSR and USA’s occupation and destruction of Afghanistan is [
terrorism” ]
 USA’s invasion of Iraq is [ “terrorism” ]
 China’s usurpation of Tibet is [ “terrorism” ]
 The West’s blind eye towards China’s atrocities is [ “terrorism” ]
 The USA’s unabated support of the Pakistan regime for the past 7
years is [ “terrorism” ]
 Casteism and reservations in India is [ “terrorism” ]
 Religious fundamentalism is [ “terrorism” ]
 Rampant corruption in India is [ “terrorism” ]
 Being held to ransom by the MNS and Trinamool Congress parties is
[ “terrorism” ]
 The inept, inadequate and bankrupt police and judicial infrastructure
in India is [ “terrorism” ]
 Living in Pune, the onslaught of 2 wheelers on the road is [
“terrorism” ]
 Driving on the roads of India is [ “terrorism” ]
 The sight and sound of politicians in India is [ “terrorism” ]
 The mob mentality in India is [ “terrorism” ]
 The invasion of processed and genetically modified foods is
 The havoc caused to Indian farmers and farmland by hybrid seeds
from the West is [ “terrorism” ]
 The arrogance, greed and stupidity of the American bankers that
caused mayhem in the lives of millions around the world is
 Pollution is [ “terrorism” ]

So, my fellow citizens, do not shed your crocodile tears for what
happened in Bombay on 26th November, 2008.

We have been living daily with terrorism in modern times. Assaults on luxury icons affecting the privileged sections of a privileged city alone is not terrorism. Receiving hundreds of phone calls from your friends and relatives from all over the world expressing their “concern” for your safety, sitting in airconditioned comforts around your TV, sipping tea and watching and discussing the events in South Bombay like a soap opera, lapping up the verbiage of juvenile and hypocritical discussion panels on TV, does not make you a victim of terrorism. It is
not a badge of honor to have experienced “India’s very own 9/11”, as the juvenile media has been portraying, throwing the urban Indian’s American fixation to a nauseating nadir.

If 10 young men from across the border can hoodwink the entire security apparatus of Bombay and create this mayhem, it will take just a few hundreds of the awakened Indians to gather up each and every Minister, MP and MLA all over India and throw them into the dustbins to rot. Our country has been held to ransom by the politicians for too long. In any democracy, the people get the government they deserve. We have brought this state of affairs upon ourselves through our apathy, indifference, lip service, callousness, inertia, kowtowing to the authorities, taking refuge in temples and mosques and churches, and aping the West.

It may already be too late, but better late than never. India is sacred, she is our karmabhoomi. She cannot be left to the vultures to destroy her.

Wake up from your slumber!

Taking Stock

The past few months have been brutal for all those who are invested in the stock market one way or the other. With a few exceptions, it has been the same all over the world. So it did not matter whether you were in the USA or India or elsewhere. It has just been a difference of degree. As always, there are dime a dozen conventional explanations for the stock market gyrations from the usual culprits….. analysts, money managers, media, economists, brokers. The explanations range from internet bubble burst, technology downslide, economy slowdown, and Japanese recession to Greenspan, Bush, proposed tax cuts, blah, blah, blah.

I have been equally affected by the stock market in the last few months as I have been in the last 17 years since I invested my first hard earned $ 1,000 in the market through a mutual fund in 1984. I have also had the good fortune to be on the inside of this business during this same time through my career in the financial services industry. I
have since digressed into philosophy. The parallels I see between the stock market and life is amazing. The guiding principles for life apply directly to the stock market. It has helped me deal with the stock market and manage my investments much more effectively. I thought I would share this with you.

 Instant gratification of any kind in life almost always causes pain sooner or later. It only helps to put the senses on a high but also numbs the most important one, common sense. Ultimately the only thing that matters is how one leads and lives the entire life and what karmas and sanskaras are built up as we go along.

Short-term market movements are very painful. This is an age old and time honored axiom in the investment world, yet completely ignored by the experts and the gullible common investor. The only strategy that works in the long term is a disciplined approach to investing. Assess your returns for the entire portfolio and for your
entire investment period.

 Embrace everyone in life. We are all made of the same flesh and blood and nothing but a different manifestation of the Supreme Self. Broaden the outlook and open ourselves to new ideas and thoughts. There is no single path to nirvana. Be all inclusive and you will find nirvana sooner. Diversify, diversify, diversify! Diversification is the key to sensible investing. Do not concentrate on any sector at any time. Fads come and go. The only factors which survive in the long run are thoughtful management, sensible product/service, profitability and common sense. Concentrate on these and you will be ahead of the curve.

 Indian scriptures emphasize the importance of a guru shishya relationship and finding the right guru. This is for nothing. The path to nirvana is strewn with obstacles and only the enlightened or realized one i.e. the Guru can help lead us there. The all-knowing Guru is also within each of us. We have to recognize and nurture it so that it can show us the path.

Follow the herd mentality in investing and you will regret. Avoid the indices or any fund which replicates an index. Indices have now become nothing more than tools to determine a fund manager’s compensation. Find a real expert who correctly reads the pulse of the market over a long enough period and does not hesitate to
speak the truth. He ignores short-term peaks and valleys for long term stability. He is a beacon of light during the dark periods like the present, but leads his followers safely through. An annual return of 15% over 10 years is far healthier (for the portfolio and the body) than a 100% return in Year 1 followed by a 70% drop the next year.

 The Gita identifies greed, lust and anger as the main obstacles to realization. These feed the ego, which is the biggest hindrance to nirvana. Gita also teaches us about contentment from the basic necessities of life. Anything beyond that is a source of misery.Stock markets can never sustain triple digit or high double digit returns beyond the short term. Only the speculators and the shortsighted mistake it for the real market. The investment guru
and his smart investor see it as a red flag and immediately take appropriate action. If a stock tip or the nvestment returns are too good to be true, they probably are! Stay away.

 There is no free lunch. We reap the fruits of karma. As you sow so you reap. Krishna counsels in the Gita that good company is as important as good actions.

No matter how many ways anyone tries to analyze or dissect, the only factor that determines the stock price of a company is its profitability. Everything else is nothing but a figment of imagination of the investment bankers, brokers and analysts who all work for the same employer. The banker concocts the story and prices it, the broker sells it and the analyst sustains it through reinforced fiction. In the process they and their employer have been enriched and have long disappeared, leaving the gullible investor holding the stock. If you or your fund manager buy the stock of a company with no profits, or worse no revenues, you become the laughing stock. The banker, the broker, the analyst and their boss are all laughing all the way to the bank! And finally,

 Vedanta tells us that life is an illusion. The reality lies beyond what we can perceive with our senses or think with our minds. It can only be experienced by the realized.

The stock market is a fiction. It is nothing but an amalgamation of individual perceptions. In short it is a zero sum game. Only the ignorant think they can swim in its turbulent waters and reach the other side safe and sound. If one lives by the stock market alone, one should also be prepared for its watery grave. Om tat sat.

Guru Dakshina

Pradeep follows the age old tradition of ‘Guru Dakshina’ prevalent in India. ‘Gurudakshina’ refers to the tradition of repaying one’s teacher or guru after a period of study or the completion of formal education, or to spiritual guide. This tradition is one of acknowledgment, respect, and thanks. It is a form of reciprocity and exchange between student and teacher. The repayment is not exclusively monetary and may be a special task the teacher wants the student to accomplish.

‘Guru Dakshina’ emanates from the ‘Guru Shishya’ concept in India. This tradition or parampara, denotes a succession of teachers and disciples in traditional Indian culture and religions such as Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. It is the tradition of spiritual relationship and mentoring where teachings are transmitted from a guru “teacher” (Sanskrit: गुरु) to a śiṣya “disciple” (Sanskrit: शिष्य) or chela. Such knowledge, whether it be Vedic, agamic, architectural, musical or spiritual, is imparted through the developing relationship between the
guru and the disciple. It is considered that this relationship, based on the genuineness of the guru, and the respect, commitment, devotion and obedience of the student, is the best way for subtle or advanced knowledge to be conveyed. The student eventually masters the knowledge that the guru embodies.

A Guru does not expect any benefit from sharing his knowledge and wisdom with the student. In other words, there is no dependency between the teacher and the student. He does it from his heart. In a reciprocal manner, the student is free to offer whatever his/her heart desires, after the study is over, based upon the perceived value or benefit.

Chardham Heaven or Hell

In Zen we say, ‘Not a leaf moves without reason’. Everything that happens all around us and in our lives is part of a grand plan. Nothing is random. Every cell of every creature, every grain of every stone is connected to each other, has a role to play and a story to tell.

For readers of this magazine and for many who are on the spiritual path, all of the above may sound as clichés. But therein lays the truism. And the evidence appears before us regularly. The latest being the Uttarakhand havoc and fury unleashed by Nature. There are two ways to look at this happening.

 The Resolute Indian Belief System Indians by the millions are part of this system. According to this belief,
God (does not matter which one) exists or lives in certain spots scattered around India. This belief has been perpetrated through a liberal dose of mythology mixed with a potent dose of vested interests from religious zealots and corrupt politicians. Year after year, there is a mad rush for Amarnath, Vaishonevi, Chardham and Kailash Mansorovar yatras. There are numerous others, but these are the stars that clamor most attention, partly because they are accessible only for short periods of time and partly because they all involve navigating through some very treacherous mountain areas in North India.

Each of these yatras has had its share of tragedy and controversy over the years, including natural disasters that have befallen them. But none come close to what we have seen in Chardham this year. Thousands have perished. These are people, who were part of this belief system, who had supposedly gone on the yatra to experience God, be with God or at least feel closer to God. Shouldn’t God have been happy that His devout followers had come to pay obeisance, braving such hardships? Shouldn’t He have been pleased and showered his blessings on these fortunate few who get to come for his darshan? So instead, why did he rain fury? What happened to the deeply entrenched Indian belief system that attracts thousands of Indians from all over India to this part of the Himalayas seeking salvation or penance for their sins or praying for something or the other? This is the land of ‘attithi devo bhava’. God Himself is not supposed to behave in this destructive manner. So what happened?

Are you sure God resides in these abodes?
 The Law of Karma
India is one of those intriguing places where people will have animated and heated discussions even on the most complicated topic as if they were the originators of that thesis! Karma is one of the most popular topics that people bandy about all the time. Most have no clue what the Law of Karma is all about. Ask them and they will conveniently retort, “Oh read the Gita, it is about Karma”! Since this is something that resonates so well with most people here, let us look at the second way from which to understand this disaster.

If you believe in the most simplistic version of the Law of Karma which suggests that your fruits are the results of your action, then this tragedy is really easy to understand. One only has to shift one’s gauze from the individual micro level to the macro level. The Law of Karma is not dependent on a belief in God. It transcends the Gods themselves who also become subject to this Law. After all, even Krishna had to pay a price for the various lies and deceit he indulged in the Mahabharata war. Indian mythology (part of the Indian Belief System above) is
replete with stories where various Gods use this Law in one-upmanship to establish their own superiority. Narad Muni is the notorious catalyst for this. So, if man plays havoc with Nature, man will bear the fruits of that action. And it has, in Uttarakhand.

Mankind has pillaged and plundered and destroyed and raped the beautiful Himalayan mountains and its meandering rivers that all rush down to become the mighty and holy Ganga. We swear by the holiness and divinity of this great river, yet turn a blind eye when its various siblings that originate in the Chardham area are held bondage and
captive through unbridled building of dams and their impact on the adjoining ecology. The thousands of pilgrims and other residents in the area flush and throw tons of plastic and other garbage into these pristine rivers and the forests surrounding them. Poorly designed and executed roads are cut into the mountainside with scant respect for
topology and geology. The already fragile infrastructure that can barely sustain the number of year round residents in the area is expected to handle throngs that are many fold that number. The fumes from the thousands of vehicles that clog the roads each summer are enough to choke the hardened and jaded urban dweller. Mother Nature is not used to this. Dwellings and structures of all kinds, most of them precarious and of very poor quality, dot the landscape in every habitable area. Many of them are built right into the rivers. River beds are eroded and river banks are intruded into without proper reinforcements. Even a very famous ashram in the most spiritual town of Rishikesh has not hesitated to reclaim a part of Ganga as its own so that it may accommodate ever growing crowds for its famous Ganga aarti. That structure too was swept away by the mighty force of Ganga! The Law of Karma never fails. As you sow, so you reap. Mother Nature is unrelenting. She will not allow mankind to tame her. Every once in a while she makes it clear who is supreme. But it is the unfortunate fate of mankind in India that it continues to remain in this self-imposed stupor.

I went on the Chardham yatra more than 30 years ago when I was still a student. Even at that time, it was miserable. I reached Kedarnath but refused to go to the temple. I came back to Joshimath and refused to go to Badrinath. Gangotri and Yamnotri were out of the question There was litter and human waste all around. . I swore I will never come back. I went to Kailash Mansarovar 7 years ago. I saw people falling sick all around me, some returning to Kathmandu, some dying. I made it to Mansarovar but not Kailash. Some of us had to be evacuated by
helicopter. As an atheist, I did not go on these trips to seek God, and sure enough did not find him lurking behind some tree or hiding in some temple. Much later, as I continued along on my spiritual journey, I found sitting inside me all along!

Dhyana or Meditation

Is meditation same as dhyana? If yes, does one ‘do’ dhyana as one ‘does’ meditation? If not, which came first? I got introduced to yoga over thirty years ago, mainly through asanas and pranayama. During this time I have  xperimented with various forms of yoga from different traditions all over the world. I have read various books and scriptures by many teachers and masters that touch upon yoga. It became increasingly clear that yoga, as I had learned in the beginning, was not just asanas and pranayama. It was a way of life. There was an element of meditation built in each yoga teaching I attended.

Some of the more traditional ones gave greater importance to it. Many ignored it all together. One thing that stood out consistently throughout my yoga practice was my inability to sit in meditation for more than a few minutes. It was not because my body was not flexible and supple (I was able to perform various asanas quite well). It was not because I was not used to sitting on the floor (I grew up in a household where it was common to have meals on the floor, and to this date I prefer sitting on the floor instead of a chair or couch). I had tried all kinds of meditation, transcendental meditation, vipassanameditation, kundalini meditation, and plain simple sitting cross legged in padmasana or ardhapadmasana. Nothing ‘worked’. So what was it that was missing? Or what was it I was doing wrong? The only answer I would get from the teachers is, keep practicing.

I got my answer only when the answer to the eternal question ‘Who Am I’ was  derstood by me. I Am That. Yoga as a way of life was taking deep roots within me well before I gotthe above answer. While it did not bother me much that I was not ableto do meditation, it did rankle me a bit since meditation as a technique to achieve certain results (better health, lower blood pressure, calm mind, ability to focus deeper, hidden answers to eternal questions etc.) was being talked about everywhere. So why was I not able to meditate? Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the Bhagwat Gita were my guides as I learnt and adopted yoga as a way of life. Patanjali is the source of all yoga teachings. Even Krishna refers to this in the Gita. Dhyana is the seventh of the eight sutras mentioned by Patanjali. Dhyana, a Sanskrit word, has been translated into meditation, an English word, and interpreted to mean, for the most part, sitting in meditation and focusing or concentrating the mind. It became a verb, an action.

Dhyana in  anskrit or Hindi is a noun, not a verb. It is a state of mind, not an action for the mind. From dhyana comes  hyanachitt which means mindfulness or awareness. In Hindi we say ‘dhyana se’ which means with awareness. When  Krishna talks about dhyana in various places in the Gita, he is talking about performing action with dhyana, i.e. with mindfulness and awareness of Him all the time. In fact Zen, the philosophy that alone represents Buddha’s teachings in its purity, is derived from dhyana and in Chinese is pronounced very similar to dhyana. So how did dhyana  ecome meditation and how did it get lost along the way. The problem was the English language with its limitations. Just as various other concepts from the Indian scriptures (karma, dharma, yoga etc.) have been loosely translated into  nglish and interpreted according to the English meaning of that word or using yet other English language words, so also dhyana.

The English language does not have the richness of the nuances and subtleties of the Sanskrit language to do any justice to these very rich and meaningful phrases and concepts from the Indian scriptures. It is for nothing that Sanskrit is called the mother of all languages, and Hindi and various other Indian languages that are a direct offshoot of Sanskrit are equally rich. Unfortunately, those who are responsible for translating words from Indian languages tend to do a word for word translation, meaning each word in Sanskrit e.g. dhyana would be translated into a single word in English i.e. meditation. The fact is that even an entire paragraph in English may not suffice to bring out the full and proper meaning of a single Sanskrit word. It has been said that a language can be understood only by living its words, not by uttering them. In the modern times, meditation as a technique first took root through
Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation (“TM”) that quickly became a raze with his followers. The focus was to quiet the mind using a mantra. When I got my TM initiation, it was never mentioned to me what was the deeper purpose, if any, for this technique. It was presented as a mechanical exercise that would give results.

It never stayed with me for more than a few weeks. After TM became popular, many more teachers and gurus in India started teaching how to ‘do meditation’. The audience was mainly the Western world and they were being taught in English. It was a rare teacher like Swami Muktananda or Swami Chinmayananda who tried to weave in meditation into their teachings, not as a technique but with its deeper meaning attached. Osho offered many forms of meditation (kundalini, vipassana, dynamic, nadabrahma) for the uninitiated. He gave them what they had heard about and come to expect. But even these forms of meditation he made playful and fun to do. He wanted them to be aware of the entire body during meditation while dancing, swaying, walking, and humming. However, for the initiated he said, “One cannot do meditation.

One has to be in meditation”. Zen uses koans and haikus to get a point across. A common one says, ‘If you are chopping wood, chop wood’. Do whatever you do in the moment with total focus and attention. That is true meditation or dhyana as Patanjali meant. However the image of the Buddha sitting in padmasana has become so ingrained in the minds of most students of Indian spirituality, that it became a posture to be attained and  aintained for as long as possible in order to achieve whatever they were seeking. So what is this deeper meaning of meditation? Dhyana is ‘to be in a state of mindfulness and awareness’. This can be reached only when a certain discipline (niyam) and way of life has been achieved. This way of life is achieved by purifying the body and mind through pratihara, asanas and pranayama. Having purified the body and mind, the path is now open to rise higher and seek the answer to the eternal question ‘Who Am I’? Having obtained the answer to this question through advaita or Zen or some other teaching, and having fully understood and accepted it, one has reached the state of awareness or dhyana. It is awareness of ‘I Am That’.

One then remains in this state until one is ready for samadhi. So dhyana is awareness of the Truth, ‘I Am That’, and living moment to moment with that awareness. This is also called mindfulness in Zen.
Meditation as a technique is merely a physical action resulting in futility. To do meditation is an action and therefore requires physical effort, the effort of sitting in a certain posture with eyes closed and without moving for a certain period of time. Meditation is taught and done with the help of many props like verbalization (chants, mantra) or
visualization (focus on an image) or rosary beads. My own experience showed me that the focus remains mainly on the correct use of these props rather than the meditation itself. What happens when one completes ‘doing’ this meditation? Has it created any awareness or taken you to any higher plane? Most of the time the only awareness it
creates is that of physical pain in the joints and whether the stipulated time for ‘doing’ meditation is over or not! Those who are able to sit for long periods without much agony do so primarily because of their excellent physical condition similar to maintaining any asana for a long time. None of the advaita masters, Adi Sankaracharya, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Osho or Ramesh Balsekar talked about the need for meditation as a means to spiritual growth. Nor does meditation feature in Zen.

Zen talks about mindful sitting, mindful walking, mindful eating, in other words every action every moment to be done in a mindful manner, i.e. dhyana. So when I finally realized the eternal Truth of ‘I Am That’, the agony and misery of trying to ‘do meditation’ finally dropped, and was
replaced with dhyana, a state of bliss from moment to moment all the time. The simple truth is that one cannot ‘do meditation’. One has to be ‘in meditation’ all the time.

Spirituality on Call

Spirituality is now a billion dollar worldwide business. Yes, you read it right. Spirituality, the essence of human spirit, has become a business, and one of the fastest growing at that. It comes in all shades and colors, shapes and sizes, in all languages, in any and all media format. Buddha, Patanjali, Shankaracharya, Dr. Usui and other
original teachers must be all wondering what has come about of the knowledge gathered by them after years of enance and contemplation. What does Buddhism today have to do with Buddha’s four noble truths? What does hot yoga have to do with Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga? What does theta and karuna and other forms of reiki have to do with traditional reiki of the Medicine Buddha as rediscovered by Dr. Usui? What has happened to the four muths set up by ankaracharya to propagate and protect the advaitya teaching of Hinduism?

It is the so called New Age! I have never really understood what is this age new with reference to? To me it refers to ‘capitalism meets spirituality’. Religion had long back become the biggest business in the world. Spirituality is fast following in its footsteps. Just as God was kidnapped by religious zealots and made into a universal urrency of organized religion, the human spirit (backbone of what separates spirituality from religion) is at the same risk of being hijacked by the so called New Age teachers and sucked dry completely. Organized religion was more blatant and direct, and worked directly on the most potent of human fears, death. Sin, karma, heaven, hell, reincarnation, purgatory were all created out of thin air to instill the sense of fear in the human mind, such that instead of living their present life in full glory, it was more concerned about the next life and the previous life. New Age teachers are far more opaque, talk in mumbo jumbo language, and play primarily on the second main insecurity of the human mind i.e. health.

The human being suffers from four main insecurities, death, health, relationships and money. Religion deals rimarily with the fear of death, but touches upon the other three as well, and promises succor if certain rites and rituals accompanied with lots of donations are undertaken. Spirituality is more subtle, and deals primarily with health but also touches upon relationships. In a state of mind that is based upon fear, the human mind becomes very gullible and vulnerable, and falls easy prey to anyone who offers solutions. It is also proven human psychology that the value of something is determined in terms of what it costs, rather than the other way around. This creates obvious and immediate barriers and classes and runs totally contrary to the entire concept of spirituality. When money becomes a factor for ‘acquiring’ spirituality, it also sets up expectations and therefore disappointments.
Today, it is possible to attend workshops, seminars, courses, classes all for a price. You take your pick with what suits your calendar and your budget. However, these ‘events’ rarely touch upon the depth of Indian scriptures, the vast knowledge of the Indian sages and masters, the wonderful tradition of Indian oral wisdom rarely comes through. There is more a sense of instant gratification and quick answers than in depth sharing and dissemination of sacred knowledge and experience. Of course there are exceptions, and many. But these are rarely advertised and for the most part are known only by word of mouth and accessible to only a handful of people.

This New Age fad is likely to cause more damage than good. It gives false hopes and raises unrealistic xpectations. Any kind of esoteric practice that is rooted in some sort of mysticism can only be imbibed by personal experience and practice. While a teacher is necessary for guidance, that is all he can do, i.e. guide. He cannot ‘sell’ nything since there can be no price attached to something so sacred and personal. As far as the so called talks are concerned, they are nothing more than ‘blah, blah, blah’ the kind that can now be heard 24/7 on various TV channels. As I meet and talk with some of the attendees from these talks and seminars and workshops, they go about their life in the same aggressive manner, devoid of even a ripple of awareness, flouting traffic rules as they head home, abusing people verbally, littering garbage all around and heading to the nearest fast food place to satisfy
their pangs of hunger from the long sessions. At the same time they start sharing their newly acquired knowledge with all and sundry as newly anointed experts of the subject matter. Osho rightly said, “It is very difficult to get through to most Indians, they think they know everything”. Half knowledge is worse than ignorance. In Zen, ‘no mind’ is the beginning and end of all seeking. In the final chapter of the Gita, Krishna exhorts Arjun (and thereby all readers) never to share the secret knowledge revealed in these verses with certain people (simply, people who are not ready or will not understand or will not value). My own experience has been exactly the same. People approach me wanting to be initiated into Reiki over a weekend or to be cured for something or the other. They always point to many others who promise this, and I politely ask them to go there. Intuition, awareness,awakening, consciousness come in an instant. But it takes years of penance, practice and patience before that moment arises. In India spirituality like religion, is taking on the herd mentality bordering on fad mania. There is uperficiality and shallowness surrounding it. A true sadhak never follows the crowd. He makes his own path and has his own experience.

Indian spirituality is deeply rooted in the ashram pranali. The ashram pranali refers to the sacred relationship between the guru and the student. There is no solicitation or monetary exchange of any kind. At the end of the teaching, when the guru is satisfied that the student has learnt what he came for, the guru will accept guru dakshina. It is an offering. It is not a price. Indian mythology and scriptures are replete with examples of a guru declining any guru dakshina for some reason or the other, or accepting it in kind or accepting or extracting a promise to redeem it in the future. When it came to sharing his knowledge with the students, he made no compromises or exceptions. It did not matter what was the student’s background or whether he could ‘afford’ the teaching since there was nothing to ‘afford’. However a guru was intuitive about whether a prospective student was worthy of his
teaching, and he declined those whom he felt otherwise.

There are still many ashrams and other institutions in India who religiously follow this tradition. There are many individuals as well who follow this practice. This is the noble path. Spirituality cannot be a profession or business or trade or a means of livelihood. Those who offer it on that basis are best avoided because their motivation can never be selfless service. It will always be dictated by monetary needs, no matter how good the teacher may be or how sacred the teaching may be. Offerings received by voluntary donations are far more satisfying for the true teacher than earnings from tickets to his talk, that too of different denominations depending on how close you get to sit to him!

A Zen master once said, “Of the hundred people who take the tentative first steps on the Path, only ten continue. Of the ten that continue, only one makes it to the end.” To that extent, the New Age teachers are playing an admirable role in getting people to take the first tentative steps. However, a real sadhak needs to wait for his guru to provide him better guidance to continue further. This is the contrarian view. This is my view.

Living in Awareness

There are generally two kinds of individuals who come on the spiritual path. The first is one who is running away from something and looking for an escape. The second is one who has questions and is seeking something.

The first is what I call the negative seeker. He seeks out the spiritual path as a temporary retreat from whatever he may be trying to escape. Generally, as soon as he gets the respite, he is back where he came from. For this individual, spirituality is like a balm to sooth frayed nerves or a pill for the headache. But it is rare that he stays on the path and goes further and higher.

The second individual has a calling within himself that typically starts with many questions, Who am I, Why am I here, What is the purpose of life, What is this manifestation etc. When he is unable to get answers from the traditional sources like parents, school, college, teachers, religion and others, he seeks out the spiritual path. It is a positive seeking.

Along the spiritual path, one comes across various concepts like moksha, nirvana, enlightenment, realization, salvation, liberation. Depending on the specific path he is on, or the teachers and masters he encounters, or books and scriptures he reads, one of these concepts becomes a goal to be achieved. Most of the time the questions that
arose at the beginning of the journey drop out and the only thing that remains is the single minded focus on achieving one of these lofty goals.

If he achieves one of these goals, then what comes next? What happens to the rest of his life? Is this goal really for something after death or for the next life? Is it for sharing with others through teaching? Is it for acquiring some supernatural powers so as to be able to perform miracles? Or is it plain and simple an ego booster with a
sense of achievement and accomplishment? And how does one know when one has achieved one of these goals. Is there a certificate given out at the end that provides testimony to this effect? It is the rare master who will help a student with this aspect. Most teachers guide a student along this path with the sole purpose of achieving one of these lofty goals. And they leave them stranded along the way. Many students have a vision of sitting in the mountains or in the caves in constant meditation, or becoming a renowned teacher with hordes of followers. None of this may happen.

A true sadhak will find awareness along the way and realizes that it is the path that is important, not the goal. The path does not come to an end when the goal is reached. It continues until the last breath. An awakened individual will even stop thinking of those lofty concepts and goals. He will focus just on living his life from moment to moment. He will live in the present moment.

How does an awakened individual live his daily life? He starts vibrating on a much higher frequency. The daily life goes on as always. But the higher frequency results in various changes that appear subtle but are very deep. What is this higher frequency?

Those who are familiar with the metaphysical world or those who work in the field of energy healing are aware that the human mind/body combination is nothing but a solidified manifestation of energy waves. It is a microcosm of the Universe itself that vibrates at different frequencies. Each cell in the body is a microcosm of the entire Universe, and each mind/body is the sum total of these cells. Each cell is an energy wave and vibrates at a certain frequency. The frequency at which each cell is vibrating is a function of one’s acquired genes and up to date conditioning that is happening each moment. Therefore the body/mind itself is vibrating at a frequency that is the sum total of all these individual frequencies.

In energy healing, channels that have become blocked are cleared through various modalities like reiki, pranic, chakra cleansing, sound, aroma, regression etc. These blockages affect the individual at three levels, the physical, the mental or emotional and the spiritual. Physical blockages manifest in various diseases. Mental/emotional blockages result in mental or emotional instability, outrages, interpersonal conflicts etc. Spiritual blockages, that are mainly in the aura or subtle body, do not allow the individual to progress to his full spiritual potential. Each of the seven chakras has a direct bearing on these blockages. The first three chakras (mooldhara, swadishthana, manipura) have mainly to do with the physical blockages. The next two (anahata
and vishudhi) have to do with mental or emotional blockages. The highest two chakra (ajna and sahasara) have to do with the spiritual blockages. When these blockages get removed gradually, the individual starts vibrating at higher frequencies. All the static in the form of impurities has been cleared. The vibrations are much clearer. Just like a radio or TV reception. With total awareness and awakening, a person vibrates at the highest frequency. This is labeled as moksha or nirvana or enlightenment or realization or salvation or liberation.

So what does it really mean to vibrate at higher frequencies? Is this a state to be achieved by itself? How does it translate into daily living? Daily living involves interacting with other individuals and with the environment in which one lives. This includes the food we eat, the home we live in, the activities we indulge in and the Nature all around us. Once the awareness of ‘I Am That’ has been realized, one sees oneself not as an island unto oneself, but as connected to the whole, i.e. the Universe and the entire manifestation. The waves are constantly reaching out and coming in. However since this state of awareness means vibrations at higher frequencies, one becomes more
sensitive and subtle, and vibrates in consonance with other similar higher frequencies. It starts to reach out as well as receive higher frequencies from wherever they may be emanating; other individuals, animals, plants, food, space and the general environment. As a corollary, one starts shirking away from anything that is transmitting a
lower frequency.

We intuitively become more comfortable with people at the same level and connect with them easily. We avoid people with gross tendencies and characteristics. We are able to see through people more clearly, and thereby understand them much better. This becomes true with family as well as friends, colleagues and strangers. We enter a space
and immediately back off, repelled by the lower frequencies vibrating there, either from the people in the space or the materials used or the shape and form of the space. We start saying, the vibrations here are not good or the opposite. We are able to discern between saatvik and tamsik food and our food habits change such that only saatvik food satiates our need for nourishment. We no longer indulge in frivolous activities that have no higher purpose. We are drawn more and more towards writing, reading, teaching, arts. We are drawn towards Nature and spend as much time as possible interacting with her. We are drawn towards the energies of animals and plants, and fully aware that they are as much part of the Whole, we adopt a more nurturing approach towards them. We cringe at the thought of any harm caused to them.

Attachment to people and objects disappears, replaced by nonjudgmental observation as a mere witness. We do not lose our emotions; we still feel sorrow and pain and joy and happiness, but tears stop shedding. Knowing full well that everything is transitory and an illusion, we move on to the next moment. The past has no more relevance. The future is not here yet. We savor each moment in the present.

Intuition, sensitivity and the sixth sense get sharper. Silence, equanimity and nothingness become second nature.
When all the questions have dropped, one starts living in awareness. Life is beautiful. It is a grace. It is meant to be lived to the fullest, each moment full of awareness, ‘I Am That’. There are many masters who have reached this state of full blissful awareness. But only some of them continue to live their normal life. There are also many other individuals who have reached this state and continue to live their normal life, quietly and inconspicuously. This is living in awareness.


Maa Shakti is the divine goddess that gives birth to and nourishes all human beings.Shiva is the divine male form who is the paramour that courts Shakti and protects her.The two energies join together to manifest the unmanifest. It is really as simple as that.If the laws of Nature were allowed to follow their natural course, there would be no conflict between Shiva and Shakti, and the divine raas leela symbolized by Radha and Krishna would go on uninterrupted. But Nature has also bestowed upon man, stronger physical strength and instead of using this to protect his beloved, he has time and again used it to attack her, as symbolized by Duryodhana and his brothers against Draupadi. This has continued for generations, and the results are there before our eyes in this kalyuga.

Laws are being enacted, protests are being held, voices are rising, women are raising arms, sympathies are flowing all around. And the cycle of anger and angst and remorse and pain continues unabated. And it will continue unabated. Nothing will change with the present degeneration of Indian culture in this kalyuga. It requires a paradigm shift in awareness and consciousness.

No laws in the world can control the unbridled energy flowing within each human being. No police, no courts can take any action against this highly potent energy lying coiled at the bottom of the spine in each one of us. This energy in the mooldhara and manipura chakras can either take the form of divine kundalini energy rising up the spine and connecting all the chakras with the sahasara chakra and thereby with the Supreme Consciousness, or it can take the aggressive, violent form and attack the female energy. Of course there is a third possibility that it stays dormant for the most part, as with celibates and renunciates, but that requires a very high order of awareness and consciousness that is absent even with many high profile individuals in this category. The sexual energy that sits in the bottom two chakras has two and only two specific purposes under the laws of Nature. The first obvious purpose is for procreation so as to keep the manifestation going. The second purpose, which is highly sacred and esoteric and steeped in mystique, is for bringing the male and female energies into a spiritual union such that they become one with the Universe. This is the essence of Tantra. So long as Tantra was alive and mainstream, as depicted in the temples of Khajuraho and Konark, mentioned in many scriptures and reflected in various art forms, man worshipped the woman and treated her as a Goddess. When Tantra mysteriously disappeared into the background and became a taboo subject, the male domination over the female commenced its journey and has continued until today.

Tantra celebrates the free spirits of Shiva and Shakti, and while recognizing them as individuals, also emphasizes the importance of them coming together as a form of cosmic union. It is highly symbolic, highly esoteric and highly potent. In order to understand this cosmic union, it presupposes that the human being has evolved to a much higher plane of consciousness to understand and appreciate this cosmic union. When this higher level of consciousness is absent, the only purpose left for sexual energy is procreation. And if procreation is not desired by a couple or if procreation cannot be the purpose of all copulation, then we are left with a problem. This problem is lust.

Lust has been mentioned as a human weakness in all religions in some form or the other thereby recognizing that this can be the cause for mankind’s downfall as evident from today’s headlines. It brings mankind down to the level of a beast. When lust takes over, intelligence that separates mankind from the animal world disappears. Chakras close up. There is no flow of any energy, just raw sexual energy waiting to unleash itself at the first target. Even within the lowest of the three gunas, the tamsik guna, it is at the bottom of the pile.

Lust is the result of many factors, the most important being repressed sexual energy. As I mentioned above, sexual energy needs an outlet. It cannot remain inert. It is the potential that needs to manifest itself in some form or the other. Other than the spiritual rising of the kundalini and the procreative energy, most societies have provided various avenues for this purpose. These have not been the result of some organized effort by society but rather evolved in a natural manner. These include a healthy interplay of man / woman relationships outside
of marriage, access to arts, literature and various media that depict sexuality in an aesthetically pleasing manner that can be appreciated and enjoyed. Meaningful sex education in schools plays a very important role in removing any taboos towards human sexuality. When boys and girls are brought up together, intermingling with each other
freely, it helps create a healthy understanding and respect for the opposite gender. When they are segregated at each step, an element of curiosity and wonder starts taking over, and since the male energy is physically stronger, it starts making untoward advances. Public gatherings are segregated for men and women, there are separate lines
everywhere for the two, and in almost every walk of life there is a separation between the two. There is no healthy touching and patting and hugging. My workshops start and end with hugs. It is really funny and sad to see Indian women give side hugs (that barely last a moment) instead of a full frontal hug (that can last an eternity)!
Sex is taboo in India.

Something that is the very basis of life and a cause for celebration and joy and happiness, has been termed ‘dirty’ and relegated firmly behind closed doors. In the name of modesty and coyness and shame, the human body has been firmly locked behind the purdah. Parents do not discuss it at home and with families. Teachers shy away from it. The media only uses it for titillation. Whatever exposure that comes is mainly from the internet. There is an entire strata of society, mainly the lower middle class in the semi urban semi-rural areas, that has access to the internet. But this strata of society consisting primarily of males in the 15 to 25 year age group is disenfranchised, disenchanted, disillusioned and displaced and only partly educated. Until they get married they have no avenues for releasing their raging hormones. Frustration in an illiterate mind is fertile ground for giving rise to sexually violent thoughts. The result is inevitable. It has very little to do with promiscuous dressing by the opposite sex or portrayals on TV and in movies. Many societies around the world, including far less developed ones than Indian, are far more promiscuous but have a far healthier attitude and approach towards this very basic human activity. Yet, the incidence of sexual violence is nowhere near what we see in India.

It is all in the mind. The mindset needs to change. In spite of the deeply entrenched intolerance for human sexuality outside the conjugal world, there are significant changes taking place in India. This is coming about primarily as a result of both the genders of the younger generation studying and working side by side with an
increasing number of women joining the workforce. There are more opportunities for interaction and interplay, and the dynamics are changing fast and for the better. This is both good and bad. To the extent there is better tolerance and understanding of each other, this is a very healthy development. However, biologically and spiritually, a woman’s role is that of a nurturing mother full of unconditional love and compassion. To the extent that is sacrificed at the altar of equality of sexes, it only contributes to cosmic imbalance. The feminists who
strive for equality in all walks of life are as misplaced in their zeal as the masochist men who only believe in physical domination and abuse of women. The balance between Shiva and Shakti in accordance with the laws of Nature, that is the basis for manifestation itself, needs to be reestablished.

India is the land of Kamasutra and Tantra. Indian scriptures and mythology are replete with stories and anecdotes portraying free, noncommittal love and physical relationships between the two sexes. In fact many of the stories revolve around the very same gods and goddesses that are so revered in India. But unlike the sex of today, it was spiritual and uplifting and a play of the senses. Royalty and the common folks all equally indulged in this most basic of human instincts. Tantra is the masterful treatise on this subject, something that was looked upon by the entire world with awe and inspiration. There was no Sodom or Gonorrhea, but there was no repression either. It was
clean and sacred. There was a long prelude to the actual sexual act which itself took on numerous forms. Many of the yoga asanas are based upon strengthening the sexual organs and opening up the energy channels in the lower chakras. The kakasana is just one example of this. Food and nutrition, music and dance forms were in many ways
geared towards arousal of sexual energy.

Today, religious fundamentalism and intolerance along with the tamsik lifestyle have played havoc. On the one hand, he so called guardians of religion have woven a tight noose of intolerance around human sexuality outside of their control and on their terms, and on the other hand, the typical nutritional input in India is so abysmally low, that
there is no possibility for any saatvik nourishment for the chakras to open up. Instead they become more tightly clamped abetted by the tight clothing fad prevalent today. It is not possible to breathe free, and the only result can be frustration and resort to violent behavior. This is made all the more complicit since most Indians today have access to all forms of titillation through movies, TV, internet and other media, but heir real life has not kept pace with what is depicted. The social mores are still of the Victorian era. Religion, parents, politicians, teachers are all responsible for this total disconnect between Shiva and Shakti. In my sojourn around the globe, except for the repressed and oppressive Muslim countries, in no other country have I seen such sexual repression and such intolerance for public display of affection.

Unless this sacred connection between Shiva and Shakti is reestablished in India through a collective conscious shift of the social paradigm, Maa Shakti will continue to be abused and raped. It has nothing to do with revealing attire or flirtatious behavior. No laws or other action has the power to stop it. The evidence is right before our

Stop Playing God

In the beginning there was the Word, The Sound, “Om”. Naada Brahma This was the potential energy that got activated. This became a vibration and took the form of kinetic energy. Prana had now become unleashed. This became Ether or Akash, the First Element. Ether gave rise to Air or Vayu, the Second Element. Air gave rise to Fire or Agni, the Third Element. (Tej) Agni gave rise to Water or Jal, the Fourth Element. (Apa) Water gave rise to Earth or Bhu, the Fifth Element. (Dharti)

The entire manifestation is an illusion, a maya. These five elements are perceptions of this illusion. Air, Fire, Water and Earth gives it an illusion of physicality. Ether, which is Prana, glues them all together. Every living cell has these five elements. All of these five elements are interconnected. One cannot be without the others.

Everything is perfect. Everything came out of perfection. If you take away something from it, what remains is perfect. If you add something to it, what becomes is perfect. Nature is perfect.

The human being is also a product of Nature, But also saddled with intellect and ego. And therein lays the imperfection. Mankind has used this imperfection within himself to play God. Stop playing God. Let Nature take its course.

India was the cradle of civilization. India was a land of riches. India was a land of wisdom. India was where the saptrishis were sent down by Brahma. These seven sages carried with them All the knowledge that made up the entire Universe, The entire manifestation, without a beginning and without an end. This knowledge and wisdom was ingrained in the Five Elements.

This is the oral tradition of India. It made its way to every corner of the world. The Five Elements helped disseminate this knowledge, Like the Ganges and its tributaries spreading water all over India. It spread because it was simple. It was simple because it was intuitive. It was intuitive because it could be experienced. It did not require proof and laboratory tests.

The falling of every leaf from every branch of every tree is pre destined. The leaf can only flutter until it falls down. Fluttering is its nature, its swabhav. We can only act and behave according to our nature. Be that individual self, With full awareness of your connection with Nature. Be the change that you want to see happen. Do not try to change the course of Nature.

Stop playing God.

Dropping Off 5

The spiritual journey continues.

Next stop satsang.

One of the most important aspects of any serious spiritual ascent is the value of satsang. Satsang simply means company of the saatvik or the purest, highest self. As the chakras charge up, the energy starts flowing more vigorously up and down the sushmana nadi, and it starts to vibrate at a much higher frequency. This higher frequency now starts to seek out similar higher frequencies, so that it can resonate in synchronicity like a well-tuned orchestra where every instrument and player is in complete tune with each other. It transports each player to
a different plane where they forget their individual self and become one with the entire orchestra. As dancer Nijinsky famously said when asked how he could dance so sublimely, “When Nijinsky dances, there is no Nijinsky.”

As habits and conditionings drop off, what remains behind is the true self that increasingly starts to turn inwards. Noise becomes abhorrent, silence becomes a solace. Words start to lose their significance. The body and the spirit start to speak through the emanating energy from the open chakras and nadis. This language of awareness and consciousness can only be deciphered and understood by others who are in the same plane. But since one has now discovered the Self and hopefully got the answer to the question, ‘Who Am I’, there is no loneliness. It is a blissful existence with full awareness that, ‘I Am That’. The company of others becomes irrelevant.

As the social interaction, the attire, the food habits and other aspects of my individuality changed or dropped off, there was no longer any inclination to be with someone who indulged in small talk and mindless chatter, or had anything meaningful to contribute to my spiritual development. This was misconstrued as arrogance and aloofness by
many. It did not bother me. I found it easier to interact and communicate with a child or a teenager than with an adult. As Osho said, “It is very difficult, if not impossible, to get through to someone who has his mind full than one who is mindful”. I got involved with students in schools and colleges, mentoring them, providing guidance,
pointing them in the right direction in consonance with their own nature (swabhav). I challenged them to think about whether they wanted to be just educated or did they also wish to be literate. It became a very fulfilling use of my time. Some institutes would insist on having a teacher or professor present during my interactions with the
students. I refused. They would be a drag. Students would become inhibited and would not open up. The satsang we created at each session was special.

When I returned from the USA, many childhood friends and other acquaintances were keen to reestablish a connection. There was nothing in common. Only one friendship survived. We hardly ever meet or talk, but the connection is strong. When we do meet, it is the easiest for us to pick up from where we left off. It helps that his wife is
on the same wavelength, so we connect seamlessly. New connections have been established, mainly from my workshops and sojourns around the world. I get drawn to individuals who have either discovered their true identity or are firmly on the path towards that. There is much in common to share and discuss. In true satsangs, hugging comes
naturally and spontaneously. The chakras are generally open, so energy moves freely creating a comfort zone for everyone. As soon as someone walks into this space with blocked energy, the antennas go up, looking for some vibrations on the same frequency. Finding none, we walk away.

I belong to a very large extended family, and we have frequent gettogethers. We are generally a very close family with a lot of love and affection and caring among everyone that transcends all generations. This is primarily thanks to my parents who imbibed this feeling in all of us as we were growing up. Like all large families, there are a couple of black sheep, and there is a fair amount of disagreement among us. We yell and scream and shout and get angry and upset. But when we meet, we have satsang. We reminescent and talk about our parents, we cook and eat until we fall asleep. This is not the spiritual satsang of chanting and discourse, but it is satsang for me nonetheless because it overflows with joy and happiness and something that I look forward to. My satsangs take many forms. We have dance and music and chanting and other creative activities in our satsangs. We have cooking and
potlucks and eating together. We practice yoga and pranayama together. We learn archery and tai chi. We perform reiki circles and other healing activities. The male and female energies come together like a cosmic dance in our Tantra satsangs. We go for long walks in the forests, go hiking, climb mountains, sit by the fireside. We sit in silence in satsangs. Words become irrelevant in satsangs. Silence connects everyone. We sway and breathe like one, all connected to that one Consciousness.

My favorite satsang is the satsang of solitude, when I am all alone with
myself and I can hear Krishna playing his flute in my ears. This is

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