Rituals – Why Visit Temples?

You’ll agree there is something rejuvenating about visiting temples.

Temples are an elegant epiphany of art and science combined.

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Aesthetic art [1]

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Marvel of science and architecture. Sunset at equinox [2]

In every aspect of construction, temples exude aesthetic beauty.

The beckoning gopurams (monumental tower entrances),

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The welcoming gopurams  [3]

The tall and wide entrance doors,

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Temple entrances [4]

The broad and open circumambulating corridors

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Temple corridors [5] [6]

The benignly imposing pillars,

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Temple pillars [7] [8]

Every one of them, from the gopuram to the pillars, welcomes my eyes, mind and being itself. “Come on in, come on in” – they seem to say.

The architectural dimensions of height, length and breadth and their relative proportions in every part of the temple are a marvel of aesthetic beauty.

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Aesthetic architecture [9] [10] [11]

And what to speak of the insidious art work in a temple! They embrace you quietly from all directions. From the intricate sculptures on the gopurams and pillars to the artistic paintings on the corridor ceiling, they are a veritable feast for the eyes.

Art gallery exemplar [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]

A temple is truly an art gallery. Each sculpture, each bas relief and each painting tells a powerful and soothing story from the timeless scriptures. Each one reminds me of the caressing fondness of morality and the love of divinity. Each piece of art puts my mind at ease, inspires me to think divine and think of divinity.

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Embracing peace of mind [20]

Subliminally shaped into a peaceful frame of mind, I enter the inner sanctum of a temple.

Here  a form of the Divinity that is formless but dons all forms greets and welcomes me.

Sanctum Sanctorium of religions [21[ [22] [23] [24] [25]

When I focus on the Form Formless, I get a shot of confidence to live my life in a good way. I pray and receive assurance that all is well and will be well. I experience a precious divine moment, fleeting as it may be, completely decoupled from the buzzle of the world.

This is the reason why I visit the temple. The deeply personal and powerful moment, all alone with divinity itself. This moment has no worries, no anxieties, no wealth, no illness, no pride, no self-conceit, no frustrations, no fear, no hope, no relatives, no friends, no enemies, no nothing. Just me and my God.

This precious, rejuvenating moment is fleeting and fickle. But it is addictive. So I go for it daily.

Then one day it dawns on me that during this moment with divinity, my eyes are actually closed. I’m not seeing the form outside of me but within me only.

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[26] [27] [28]

That is when I hear the scriptural teaching from the elders,

The body is a temple. The indweller is divinity itself.

I give up the illusion that I’m separate from It

I pray and experience that I am It

Deho davalaya prokto

Devo jeevas sanatanah

Tyajeth ajnana nirmalyam

So hum bhavena poojayeth

I learn from my temple visits that I must decouple my mind from the external world and turn it inwards to look at the divinity within. The ritual of temple visit then becomes spiritual. To become spiritual is the gift of a ritual.

A ritual is a structured repetitive action. Every day, I’m involved in doing so many things. I think 50000-80000 thoughts; speak 7000-20000 words and do 50-200 actions in a day. But I do not think of God. I do not keep His Company. The ritual of visiting temple is structured to facilitate, to induce and to inspire me to think of God.

When I think of Him, I spend a moment with Him.  

What more do I really need than a moment with God as I run from pillar to post in my daily life?

Of what use are rituals if there is no transformation in one’s thinking and behavior? [Paraphrasing a teaching from Sri Sathya Sai Baba]  

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[ Please also see Dream Temples , Temples-What good they do?]  

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Religious Rituals? Count me out please.

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[Yajna]

Religious rituals are actually pretty important in life. They are like a crutch. I don’t need the crutch once I learn how to walk properly. But till I do, if I don’t want to fall, I must use the crutch. In the same way, I need religious rituals till I learn to live lovingly and non-violently.

I accept several rituals willingly as necessary in the course of my daily life.

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[Image credits 1, 2, 3]

But when it comes to religious rituals, I crib and resist. I abstain and bypass. Why should I do these rituals, I think. They are a waste of time, uncouth and meaningless. I convince myself so and ignore them in my life.

In South India, where I grew up, religious rituals were a way of life. We had daily religious rituals at home. Special occasions piled on additional demands. Birth, death, marriage, barber-shop visits, naming the new-born baby, transitioning the new-born from milk to solid food – all brought on their own additional activities. There were rituals for different phases of the moon, sojourns of the sun, days of the week, dawn, noon and dusk, arrival of the seasons, festivals and celebrations. And whatever else you name, we had a religious ritual for it.

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Religious rituals galore where I grew up. [1] [2]

Paucity of funds never stopped or even slowed down these activities. No, not at all. The religious rituals hummed along merrily throughout the day, week, month and year.

Some of these rituals provided a blanket of comfort and peace. Some brought the excitement of anticipation and the joy of fulfillment. Some brought sheer thrill in their wake. But several of them, I must admit, were outright boring.

When I moved to a far away land, I left the religious rituals behind. Rather the rituals left me. Number of years later, a time came when I missed them. I wanted to bring these rituals back in my life. But before I did that I was curious to understand why I missed them. What is it about these mostly boring and time-consuming activities that I really longed for them?

I wondered what these rituals actually mean. And was humbled to discover that each one of them was only an action of peace, generosity and well being. Peace and well being not only for me and my family but for the whole world. I can’t deny that I felt a sense of awe and gratitude to my ancestors who have given me such wonderful things to do in life. Truly, what can be more gratifying than an activity that promotes the wellbeing of all?

The selfless goodness in these religious rituals was what was beckoning me to get back to them. I realized that a ritual has been prescribed to train and develop me into a selfless good person.

  • The various rituals with which the Lord is worshipped with is for the satisfaction of the mind which craves for personal contact with the Supreme.
  • These are karmas of high order that lead to spiritual wisdom.
    • First start with the idea, “I am in the Light”
    • Then you experience, “The light is in me”
    • This leads to the conviction, “I am the Light!”
  • That is supreme wisdom!  

– Sathya Sai Baba

I’ll share a few glimpses of the goodness that religious rituals offer in the upcoming posts.

A scratch, an itch and the “99 Club”

I know scratch. And I know itch. But I did not know about the “99 Club” till recently. I learned about it through a whatsapp forward. I also learned another fact I did not know – that I’m a life member in it!

The “99 Club” must be one of the largest clubs in the world in terms of membership, I think.

The story about this club goes something like this.

99 Club.00199 Club.00299 Club.00399 Club.00499 Club.00599 Club.00699 Club.007

This is the “99 Club” I also belong to at present. Always looking for that 100th coin. And losing my happiness and peace of mind in that process.

Wanting money scratches the skin of my mind. If I scratch it repeatedly, it becomes the itch of greed. Then I join the “99 Club”.

Greed is not worth it. Seriously. It can give more wealth, power and an exalted position in the society. But it robs my happiness. People may bow down to me. But I live devoid of their respect and love. With greed, I live only a false life, a life of pretenses, anger, fear and even a touch of cruelty.

The “99 Club” is, in a sense, a mental hospital only. The members are patients with the mental illness called the greed-itch. Greed is a doorway to hell itself, says the Bhagavad Gita [lobhah narakasya idam dwaaram… 16. 21 ]

The only medicine that will cure this itch and get me out of this hospital is the cooling balm of contentment.  

Contentment is a very good thing. In fact, it is the most precious gift I can give to myself. Adi Sankara teaches this succinctly and powerfully in Bhaja Govindam.

99 Club.008I have enough. Really. Once I realize I do have enough, I regain my happiness and peace of mind. Then life becomes the wonderful and amazing journey that it really is.

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[Images sources 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8]

 

 

 

Marriage and World Peace

World peace is not the impossibility it seems. It is very much doable. I just need to build its foundation, the family unit, properly. That’s all. The mansion of world peace will rise on this foundation by itself.

How so? How does building the foundation of a good family help in building world peace?

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[Photograph – author. Image Insert source]

I learn the first step to world peace, “righteousness in heart”, in my family.

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My family [Source]

Family is founded on the sanctity of marriage. Most of us lead married lives only. Married life has much power. It also has bountiful responsibilities. It shapes and gives life-helping pathways to human beings.

My family environment can bring out the animal, the human or the divine in me. My conduct, shaped in my family, contributes to peace or violence in the world.

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating      What is a “family”?

To the new born, it starts with the mother, then expands to include the father and siblings. 

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating     Where does “the family” end?

With the experience and awareness that the whole world is one family. Vasudevaika kudumbakam.

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       What! How is that possible? I’m overwhelmed.

No need to be. Even a marathon is run with one step at a time. One step at a time.

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       What is this one step?

The step of dharma. The step of righteous conduct.

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating      Where do I learn this step?

I don’t learn it. I’m born in it, with it. 

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating      If I already have it, then what do I do with it?

I must practice it. I must ensure my conduct is righteous.

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating      Where do I practice it first? 

In my family.

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating      How so?

First, the family is set up by wife and husband in a righteous way. It functions in a dharmic manner, spreading love and harmony. The wife fulfills her dharma and the husband his. Together they sacrifice and build this fantastic mansion called the family. This mansion really becomes one’s home on earth. 

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       Umm, interesting! Then?

Second, they bring forth another human being in a righteous way in to this family

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       Why do they do that? There are already too many human beings on this earth and most of them are suffering too much!

That’s exactly why!  To reduce the sufferings in the world, to help and care for the needy, to promote goodness and love, a child is brought into this world.

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating        A mere child can do that?

Of course! Not any child. But a good child.

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating        But a new born doesn’t know good or bad!

Exactly! This is where the mother and father teach through their own trials, preach through their practices. So the child can imbibe easily.

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       What does the child learn?

When the mother and father conduct themselves with righteousness, then …

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       Then, what?

Then, the child grows with righteousness in heart

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       If the child has righteousness in heart, then what?

Then, there is beauty in its character!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       So? Then what?

When there is beauty in character, then, guess what?

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       What?

There will be harmony at home!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       Harmony? Seems far-fetched. Impossible!

Not really. Very much doable. It is no different from joining a fitness club to work out my muscles so they become stronger and do things that were not initially possible.

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       How so? Which fitness club should I join to achieve this?

The 24 Hr Fitness club of course.  We are all members in this automatically.  We call this fitness club “the family”!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       What muscles do I exercise in this club?

The Muscle of Righteousness. The Muscle of Character. The Muscle of Harmony.

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       What exercises are prescribed for them and how does the Family unit help ?

The Muscle of Righteousness becomes stronger the more I use it. The more loving and selfless thoughts and actions I practice, the more loving and selfless I become. 

The Muscle of Character becomes stronger the more I use it. The more I do things beneficial to others, the more selective I’m in keeping good company, the healthier my character becomes. 

The Muscle of Harmony becomes stronger the more I use it. The more I understand and harmonize difference of opinions, the stronger the togetherness and harmony.

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       The family unit is the gymnasium to develop this togetherness and harmony?

Absolutely!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       The child imbibes this life principle in the family unit?

Absolutely!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       And develops into a good person?

Absolutely!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       Who else benefits?

The mother and father also benefit, of course. 

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating        Let me get this. A man and a woman  – two absolute strangers – meet, get married, start a family unit and live righteously. The result is not only they become better human beings but they inspire goodness in another human being also. Right? 

Absolutely!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating        Why get married to do this? Why not “live together” and achieve the same end result?

No, it is not possible to achieve the same result that way. The sanctity of marriage is like the driving license to drive a car. I can drive without a license but I’ll not have peace of mind. I will incur difficulties. Marriage is the building block of righteousness, moral discipline and duty in the society

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       You are long-winded! Let me summarize. The role of the family unit is to promote righteousness in heart which gives beauty of character and results in harmony in home. Correct?

Yes. 

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       But there are bound to be ups and downs in family life. There are bound to be differences of opinions and arguments. How can there be harmony? Doesn’t harmony mean absence of differences of opinion?

No. On the contrary. The enchantment of the world lies in its variety. No two people think alike always. The game of life lies in harmonizing these differences. The mantra is “understand and adjust”. The beauty of this harmonizing act and result are to be experienced to be believed. It is really great!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating        Ok, ok. We get harmony in the home. Then what?

When there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation.

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating        That makes sense. If every home is harmonious, then there will be order in the nation. Then, what?

When there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       What a powerful truth! Let me get this straight. The world’s peace is built upon order in nations, which is built on individual home’s harmony which shines in the beauty of character arising out of dharmic behavior of individuals in the family. So the peace of the world, the well being of my fellow human beings and myself, is directly dependent on the family that I build?

Absolutely!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       So, a man and a woman joining together in marriage is more than a physical union?

Absolutely!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       It is more than a mental union?

Absolutely!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       It is more than an emotional union?

Absolutely!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating        It is a spiritual union of sacrifice, discipline and duty?

Absolutely!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       It is a journey of mutual understanding, adjusting and harmonizing?

Absolutely!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       It is a beautiful process of becoming better human beings?

Absolutely!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating       And all this to build the edifice of world peace with the family unit as one indispensable foundation block? 

Absolutely!

are-you-ready-for-biker-dating        Wow! Married life – what an efficacious tool I have to build world peace!

Married life is

  • A beautiful thing
  • A treasure to be protected
  • A sapling to be nourished
  • A machine to be regularly oiled and repaired to be in top-notch shape
  • A sacred life of togetherness and harmony
  • A powerful journey to live in human values
  • A supporter and server of society
  • A bed-rock to lay the foundation of good family
  • A home where  where goodness in human beings is shaped
  • Where one learns to be peaceful and contented
  • Where one learns to make the world peaceful
  • Where one learns to make peace with the world

Mindfulness Moments: Cooperate or compete at work place?

A good friend recently asked  – how do I cooperate with my team members to achieve the team’s goal while simultaneously competing with them to get a better performance review rating for myself?

This seems like a dichotomy, doesn’t it? But it need not be. Both are two distinct and unconnected opportunities for self improvement only. Let me explain.

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Do I love performance reviews or what? [Source]

Performance reviews are fundamentally nothing more than a charade. But they do provide one use. They offer a rational platform for allocating the meagre salary increase budget among employees.

  • Employee performance is a continuous thing. So, a good manager must monitor, guide, coach, strengthen or appreciate employee’s performance on a continuous basis.
  •           A good leader knows his or her people better than their mothers do and cares for them even more  – Sathya Sai Baba

Performance reviews in most companies are done annually. They lack the immediate and continuous care an employee can benefit from. Only when the employee is well cared for, will there be performance excellence in the true sense of the term.

  • My promotions, transfers, demotions and termination are done not based so much on annual performance reviews but on the organization’s changing needs and the preferential likes/dislikes of the boss.

The fact of the matter is, I can control only my performance – not its review.

  • How well do I perform, really?  I must seek ways to improve my performance continuously. To do that, I need to compete with myself, not with others.
  • “Win from within” says Usain Bolt, the Olympic champion.
  • Work done well is a step in peace. Yogah karmasu kowsalam – Bhagavad Gita [2.50]

When I do my job to the best of my ability and not be concerned with how the result turns out, how can I not be but peaceful and happy?.

Instead of dreading the annual performance review,  I can train myself to – however weird it may sound – actually welcome it. I can accept the comments that have merit in improving my ability and reject the rest without a bother. And then move on to continue doing the best job I can, for my own peace of mind.

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Is this me? Really? [Source]

A bad or unfair performance review, especially one with a difficult-to-get along boss, can be unsettling. If this happens, it is time to change the boss or the company. Or go inwards to “win from within”.  Performance reviews, both bad and good, are nothing more than passing clouds. What is constant is my inherent ability to inspire myself to continuously learn and do better, without being agitated about the results. The results come of their own accord  – no point in sweating about it.

In short, performance reviews are not worth losing sleep over.

 

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Some of us love team work, don’t we?[Source]

Team work, on the other hand, is a gold mine of opportunities to develop the skills of togetherness and empathy with others.  How do I harmonize the different opinions, working styles and personality pulls among the participants? How do I learn to let go of my own desire to control results and others’ behavior? How do I neutralize time pressure? How do I navigate through the varying levels of competencies and contributions among the team members? How do I develop and sustain a balanced mind-set in the face of provocation? And so on… Team work offers myriad mindfulness moments to expand my heart, to care for and serve others.

Truly, no man is an island. Man thrives only in the spirit of “togetherness”. A favorite vedic prayer of mine exhorts this truth:

May we live together. May we grow together. May we achieve great things together. May we shine in the resplendence of togetherness. May there be no disharmony among us.

saha naavatu. saha nau bhunaktu, saha veeryam karavaavahai. tejasvinaavadheetamastu. maa vidvishaamahai.

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“Togetherness” – Part of one body [Source]

When I work in a team with this spirit of “togetherness”, regardless of whether others approach it the same way or not , then I’m able to cooperate with others in a natural way, much like the flow of a gentle breeze. Then the differences in the working styles, personalities and opinions of the team members impact me less. In addition to enthusiastically fulfilling my responsibilities, I’m then able to truly work for everyone’s success, not just mine.

When everyone in the team fulfills his/her role well in this spirit of togetherness, results can be fantastic indeed.

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Wow! Team work at its best. [Source]

Life is largely team work only. If I engage life with the attitude of “togetherness”, then it is a peaceful step I’ve taken.  Team work is the “24 x7 fitness club” in my life to develop my mental muscles, expand my heart and become better at being “together”.

So, do I cooperate or compete at work place? I should do both. Not only at work place but throughout life itself.

  • Cooperate with others to help them succeed.
  • Compete with myself to do better.

Critical thinking

 

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The Thinker [Source]

35 to 48.

That is how many thoughts I think per minute! Every two seconds, I go through one thought and well on my way into another one. The next second brings an additional load of thoughts. And so on.

Which one of these thoughts is really important? How can I weave a critical path through this maze of myriad thoughts? How do I manage the onslaught of the seemingly never-ending thoughts?

Critical thinking helps me do that.

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[Source]

To think critically is not to be critical of others, myself or the stuff of life. It is not picking an argument for the fun of it. Rather, it is the ability to think clearly, rationally and decide what to do, what to believe.

The World Economic Forum in its January 2016 report “Future of Jobs” tells me that critical thinking skill will be one of the top three skills in demand within five years. The mind-boggling advancements taking place in areas like artificial intelligence, 3D printing, nanotechnology etc will demand critical thinking ability to integrate and leverage these developments.

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution [Source]

Can I identify the importance of these  various ideas and sort out which one is relevant, which one not? Can I detect inconsistencies and errors in my reasoning? Can I solve problems systematically? Can I logically connect the various dots and get a peep into the future?

According to Critical Thinking Web,  thinking skills such as these that are based on sound logic and data will be very important in my life, starting now.

My sense is this sort of critical thinking skill is only like a super structure of a building. It is only as good as the foundation it rests on. Thinking exclusively on the basis of rationality, data and logic can take me only so far. I must resort to wisdom also. I need to ensure my rationality and logic, however good they may be, rest firmly on a larger and firmer substratum. I need to ensure that I don’t mistakenly overlook an important data in front of me. I cannot afford to let an important thought in my mind pass me by and lose it.

Critical thinking is more than the lucidity of logic, the rhythm of rationality or the dance of data.

Critical thinking is thinking that calms the mind first. 

Only a calm mind gives the clarity I need to build on data, logic and rationality properly.

How to think in a way that calms the mind? Bhagavad Gita shows a facile way.

I must learn to do my work without being obsessed with its result. The result will come of its own accord whether I desire it or not. Decoupling from my desire to achieve a certain result but focusing on doing the work well instead calms my mind. As I practice doing all work that come my way in this manner, I learn a very useful work-skill. This skill calms my mind instantly and gives me eternal peace itself .

karma phala thyagaat santim anantaram [Bhagvad Gita 12.12]

Critical thinking is thinking with the heart.

It is the heart that reaches the goal. Follow the heart. A pure heart seeks beyond the intellect. It gets inspired. – Sathya Sai Baba

Heart-based thinking seeks the well being of others over mine. It revels in sacrifice. This expansive outlook not only pacifies my mind but actually rejuvenates my life and work skills. It simplifies the solving of complex problems. Logic, rationality and the understanding of data and their analysis then fall into place easily.

Critical thinking is thinking that results in a calm mind and an expansive heart.

Critical thinking is thinking that gives genuine happiness. It opens the irrepressible joy of life that is mine for the asking.

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Critical thinking is togetherness  [Source]

Critical thinking is the thinking that seeks togetherness. In the comfort and solace of togetherness lies peace of mind.

In the 50000 or so thoughts that pass through my mind in a day, the ones that promote togetherness are the ones I select and hold on to. Selecting critical thoughts to hold on to is vital to developing critical thinking skills. In togetherness lies all success and growth. The vedic prayer that has been a guiding beacon in my life says

Let us live together. Let us grow together. Together let us achieve great things.

saha naavavatu, saha now bhunaktu. saha veeryam karavaavahai

What can be more critical than this?

 

 

The art of forgiving

Life has unforgiving rules. When I disobey them, I pay a price. Life also has a tremendous forgiving nature. When I obey its rules, it forgives all past transgressions and puts me happily in its lap.

My sense is we all have been let down by someone or another in our lives; or been harmed “unfairly” by others.

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[Source]

When I’m deceived, let down or harmed, I have been taught not to go for “tit for tat”; not to get angry at others for their deceit, not to blame myself for my naivete, not to quarrel or blow up the situation.  I’ve been told instead to apply the balm of forgiveness.

Forgiveness seems to be a big deal in life. It can mean so many  different things.

 

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[Source]

When I forgive, do I pardon the harm committed?

To be able to pardon I must have the requisite authority which I don’t have. Mistake-bound myself, what authority can I claim to pardon the mistakes of others? No, I cannot forgive this way.

When I forgive, do I let go the harm committed and not hold on to it?

The Greek word for forgiveness, aphesis,  actually means “to let go”. Letting go of the harm done is a beautiful thing to do. But is the harm present in other’s action or in my reaction to it or both?  How do I let it go? I’m unable to forgive this way because the pathway is not clear enough.

When I forgive, do I condone a harmful action?

Absolutely not. Condoning it only breeds further harmful actions.

When I forgive, do I pretend the harmful action never happened?

No.  Whenever I pretend, I cannot be happy.

When I’m harmed, deceived, let down or treated unfairly, I must meet what happened head on and act in a dharmic way. I must do this for my own happiness and peace of mind.

First, I need to understand the real reason for these hits in life. Kulasekara Azhwar in Mukunda Mani Maalai tells me why these happen.

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[Source]

Whatever is happening and whatever will happen are the reactions of my past actions

Yat yat bhavyam bhavtu bhagavan poorva karmaanu roopam

That every action has an equal and opposite reaction is not a law limited only to the realm of physics. It is an inviolable law that supports and sustains the entire cosmos. It controls all aspects of life – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

When I hit my head against a door, the reaction in the form of pain appears immediately. When I eat stale food, the reaction in the form of indigestion appears in a few hours. One bout of anger weakens my body to such an extent that its reaction lasts for three months. The reaction to one cruel word I utter takes a life time, and sometimes even longer, to manifest itself.

The harm that is done to me, the deceit and the conning I experience at the hands of others, the unfairness I grumble about – all these are manifested reactions of my past actions. When and how they appear depends on how I did what when. [The past includes this birth and all previous births.]

By the same token, if my past actions were good and beneficial, their reactions, whether they appear promptly or delayed, will also be equally good and beneficial.

This is the inviolable law of life. I do good, I reap good. I do bad, I reap bad. I do cruelty, I reap cruelty. I do harm, I reap harm. I do compassion and kindness, I reap compassion and kindness.

The truth of the matter is, I get what I deserve.

With this understanding, I can now receive the harmful action done to me, the humiliation showered on me and the let downs by people I trusted  – all in humility and worship. They are nothing but forms and shapes of my own past mistakes. They remind me to be careful not to repeat those mistakes again in life. They teach both practical living skills (yukti, smartness) and practical life skills (bhakti, devotion).

To improve my living skills:   When deceived, I learn to be careful; when harmed by bad company, I learn to run away from bad company; when humiliated, I learn to reduce my ego.

To improve my life skills: I need to surrender the harm, the humiliation and the seeming unfairness of it all to the prompting of Love within me. When I suffer from remorse and guilt for harming others, I surrender that too to the Divine prompting of Love within me. Surrendering this way, I focus on strengthening my loving outlook, come what may; on becoming more of a loving person every day. I also evaluate what harm I’ve done to others – if I have slighted and offended them, if I’ve let them down in their time of need. These life’s knocks strengthen my determination to conduct my life better so I become a better person – a person who doesn’t harm others.

There are so many lessons that a hurt, a slight or a harm coming my way teach me. If I’m open to receive them and learn from them, I can become a better person.

I’ve heard the prayer, “Forgive them, O Lord, for they know not what they do”. But my grandmother’s prayer hits the mark better I think – “O Lord, grant a good bent of mind to all and the wisdom to do good to others always”. The “all” in this prayer includes me of course.

This good mind set is a wise one. It avoids bad harmful company. It runs away from cruelty and bad habits. It does not hurt others or itself. It does not let down others in times of need. It humiliates none and respects all. It seeks the company of the good only. It seeks  Love. Seeking that it spread the fragrance of Love only.

Forgiveness is not where it is at in my life. Love is.

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