Selfless Service – Best Antidepressant

Why do we have the mood swings – against which was the very reason why we took up such practice in the first place. This question was posed  by an ardent devotee to the Master, His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar – (you can follow HIM on twitter here @SriSri or through the official Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/HHSriSriRaviShankar)  Many of us get into suspicion mode as to why despite so much of sadhana (spiritual practices like yoga, classical music etc) we are not elevated.

HE went about explaining the phenomenon saying, sadhana raises energy levels to such high levels that unless it is channelised productively, there could be some restlessness and uneasiness. The most productive channel is to be of service to others (Seva). Seva thus  is the panacea for these kinds of ills. But then to sustain Seva levels regular Sadhana is a must – therefore both of them go hand in hand. While on the subject, here is a nice story on selfless seva and its benefits to the sevak later on. (The original story is in German and here is the best translation that I could manage – all Credits to the original author for this wonderful story)

The Clouds

One hot summer morning a little Cloud rose out of the sea and floated lightly and happily across the blue sky. Far below lay the earth, brown, dry, and desolate, from drouth. The little Cloud could see the poor people of the earth working and suffering in the hot fields, while she herself floated on the morning breeze, hither and thither, without a care.

“Oh, if I could only help the poor people down there!” she thought. “If I could but make their work easier, or give the hungry ones food, or the thirsty a drink!”

And as the day passed, and the Cloud became larger, this wish to do something for the people of earth was ever greater in her heart.

On earth it grew hotter and hotter; the sun burned down so fiercely that the people were fainting in its rays; it seemed as if they must die of heat, and yet they were obliged to go on with their work, for they were very poor. Sometimes they stood and looked up at the Cloud, as if they were praying, and saying, “Ah, if you could help us!”

“I will help you; I will!” said the Cloud. And she began to sink softly down toward the earth.

But suddenly, as she floated down, she remembered something which had been told her when she was a tiny Cloud-child, in the lap of Mother Ocean: it had been whispered that if the Clouds go too near the earth they die. When she remembered this she held herself from sinking, and swayed here and there on the breeze, thinking,–thinking. But at last she stood quite still, and spoke boldly and proudly. She said, “Men of earth, I will help you, come what may!”

The thought made her suddenly marvelously big and strong and powerful. Never had she dreamed that she could be so big. Like a mighty angel of blessing she stood above the earth, and lifted her head and spread her wings far over the fields and woods. She was so great, so majestic, that men and animals were awe-struck at the sight; the trees and the grasses bowed before her; yet all the earth-creatures felt that she meant them well.

“Yes, I will help you,” cried the Cloud once more. “Take me to yourselves; I will give my life for you!”

As she said the words a wonderful light glowed from her heart, the sound of thunder rolled through the sky, and a love greater than words can tell filled the Cloud; down, down, close to the earth she swept, and gave up her life in a blessed, healing shower of rain.

That rain was the Cloud’s great deed; it was her death, too; but it was also her glory. Over the whole country-side, as far as the rain fell, a lovely rainbow sprang its arch, and all the brightest rays of heaven made its colors; it was the last greeting of a love so great that it sacrificed itself.

Soon that, too, was gone, but long, long afterward the men and animals who were saved by the Cloud kept her blessing in their hearts.

As seen, the fruits of seva continued to linger in form of blessing of the people and animal long after our existence – in case of the clouds the blessings ensured continuing supply of clouds to the mankind. How many songs or verses are written everyday in praise of Clouds to this day.

While we involve and indulge in seva and sadhana, it definitely raises our spirits (the extent of seva should be so high that we should’t have time to worry about our silly problems). We also find that our problems which were insurmountable (in our minds, of course) compares pitiably to the problems many other face much more bravely than us.

Seva is not a duty – it is an Opportunity! I am blessed with loads of opportunity that keeps coming my way, almost every moment. It has indeed enriched and enlivened my life. I am sure it does that to everyone.

To summarize, It pays to serve…It pays to do sadhana

PS: The photograph clicked from a flight in Chennai Skies on return flight from Colombo

Pride goeth before a Fall

Allow me to start with something that most of  us know – The organization Art of Living, organization may not be appropriate description, since AOL is more a philosophy , founded by great Guru of Joy, Sri Sri Ravishankar (you can follow Him on Twitter here https://twitter.com/#!/SriSriSpeaks )  who gifted basic breathing techniques and profound knowledge in the simplest of terms – helping a layman easily walk the spiritual path without getting lost in the maze – so simple even I am practising them religiously for the past so many years . Like in any place we also have intellectuals coming, doing their 2 bits and then are bent on complicating things and pretending to be more knowledgeable on the subject than what they actually know . Personally if you ask me to pick a great quality of our Gurudev, Sri Sri, it is HIS unfailing ability to put forth very complicated concepts in so simple terms, we look silly for not having thought about it earlier. Read/Listen to HIS commentaries on Narada Bhakti Sutras/Ashta Vakra Gita/Patanjali Yog Sutras/Yogasara Upanishads – you name it. It is prodound knowledge simplified unbelievably for ordinary mortals.One day got back home after my morning AOL followup classes and got a telephone from a friend who happened to attend a spiritual talk from a self proclaimed enlightened soul who was displaying all his oratarial skills in a local dialect laced with liberal doses of hitech Anglicised Sanskrit terminologies. I believe the attempted use of big words were his way of proving to the audience that he was knowledgeable . This person was trying to chart his own course using the tools and knowledge provided benevolently to us by Master Himself, to be guarded against misuse but at the same time ensuring that it is not overprotected in order to reach out to maximum populace especially in these modern times. He started pretending (and worse still believing) to be more knowledgeable than the sculptor who carved a beautiful scultpure with a rough rock that he was earlier. Today he met more than his match, when someone asked him a few questions innocently and trying to wriggle out of the hole he dug himself was a pathetic sight. If only pride had not clouded this man’s judgement, the day would have been saved. But it was not to be, threw into a fit of rage, criticising Guruji (assuming that the questioner was related to his past background of being from that organization) and lost the day. I just recollected a nice story in this gentleman’s moment of truth.
There was a young student-archer who reached such proficiency in his art that he could shoot an arrow into a tree and then cleave that arrow into two with the next shot. He began to boast that he was a greater archer than his guru.
One day his guru, a venerable old man in his 70’s, asked the youth to accompany him on a trip across the hills. The journey was uneventful until they came to a deep chasm.
A single log spanned the chasm. The guru walked down to the centre of the log, unshouldered his bow and taking an arrow shot it into a tree on the other side. His next shot cleaved the first arrow into two.
“Now it’s your turn,” he said, walking back to where his student was standing. The youth stepped gingerly on the log and very slowly and carefully made his way to the middle. But his heart was in his mouth. He knew that if he lost his footing, he would plunge to his death. His hands trembled as he strung an arrow into his bow. Preoccupied with the danger he was in, he found it hard to focus on the target. Consequently when he let go of the arrow, it missed the tree altogether. Whimpering, he turned around.
“Help me!” he shouted to his guru. “I’ll fall!”
The old man walked up to him, took his hand and stepping backwards led him to safety.
Neither of them said a word on the return journey but the boy had much to think about. He had realised that to be a master of his art it was not enough to know how to control the bow, he had to learn how to control his mind (and mouth) too.
As a well wisher of this gentleman, I have just forwarded this story to him. This goes on to prove that Ingratitude towards your Master/Guru has its pitfalls and it is good for each one of us to realize that without HIS grace we are nonentities. Some more examples comes to my mind that goes on to prove that Pride invariably precedes the sure Fall from grace. All the despots, dictators paid the price for their pride and since they seemingly perched so high, greater was the impact of the fall. (Saving a personal anecdote on this theme for a later date). Though very hypothetical considering the IQ of Bush, would the situation of Iraq and Saddam been any different had the inspectors of WMD been allowed to inspect without the false pride standing in the way clouding judgements (by the way, I dont advocate bending backwards to accommodate fancies of a particular nation or person at the cost of national pride – but it was utter stupidity to have put the whole nation at risk just to satisfy one person’s ego). Sadly for me, as much as I hate to admit this, Saddam’s was a case of “from palaces to the pits (literally)”  only due to his personal pride. Today the US of A led by Obama is falling into the same trap clouded by Bush’s misplaced pride.
PS: At the risk of diverting from the basic theme of this entry, I would consider the wheels of fortune to have come the full circle when all the dictators/despots meets the same fate (if only life followed a mathematical equation where 1 + 1 is always 2 – for similar crimes similar punishments or proportional punishments).

Fill The Room

 

A story that I heard from a Senior Acharya of  Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankarji (Follow Him on @SriSri on Twitter)  – combination of imagination, compassion and morals. Enjoy!!!

There lived a businessman in the city. Everything was working for him. A great family – nice wife and three sons. Wife very loyal and caring to the core. Sons were dutiful, good at studies and very good assistants. Business was at its flourishing best. He was very active socially and was an acknowledged Philanthropist. No one went away from his doors without a dose of his hospitality and large-heartedness. There was nothing lacking in his life so to say.

But as the wise men asserted, nothing lasts forever good or bad times. He fell sick and his doctor told him that he was suffering from an incurable disease and the only way left for him was towards the Heaven (of course, that was the way the arrow pointed for his last journey – remember he always did a good turn to the society at large) . He accepted his fate and preapred for this journey. His only reason for worry was his business. He was pensive as to which of his sons could take best care of his business. He then thought of a nice little test

He called all his sons to his room, one day and gave them 100 rupees each. Asked them to go to the marketplace and buy something that could fill this room. The condition was that no money should be added to this and also that they had time only till sunset.

The first son returned by evening with a bundle of hay and spread it out. It covered two walls of the room and the old man was quite happy. Expectantly looked out for the next son to come in. 

The second son dragged in two huge sacks of Cotton, opened it and spread it out. Wow…it covered 3 walls of the room. Old man’s joy knew no bounds.

The last son came in almost empty handed and the old man totally taken aback asked him what he brought. The son replied, “Father, I fed a poor hungry child with a part of the money, a part of it I dropped it as offering in the temple that is being built and I was left with a rupee. I bought a tiny candle and saying so he lit it. 

All the four walls were now covered and the whole room was filled with the light from this tiny candle.

Let’s resolve to make service to the society and compassion a part of our nature and light up our inner walls. Whatever sense of despair we feel at happenings around us, We can be that Candle that can dispel darkness of the society. We can Light up and feel Light. Remember Angels can fly only because they live their lives light

Asatoma Satgamaya
Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya
Mrutyorma Amruthamgamaya
Om Shantih Shantih Shantih