2020, The year of the COVID, has been long and hard and all things good or bad have to pass. Nothing is permanent. We have to trust in life and not succumb to despair. With patience, grit, and calmness we will overcome this as well! I had the inherent urge today to review my notes from 2018, to assess my progress in my self-realization and gratitude towards life goals. I soon realized that some of my self-Realization assessments from 2018 were still on point, some a work in progress, and others did not seem of enough relevance at this stage of my life and were even superficial and superfluous. There were new areas that I found this year that allowed me to understand myself better and grow as a person which included the study of the Holy book Gita. I have found most of my thoughts and actions this year getting tempered by reasonings and teachings from this great book and I have found myself looking for answers in this Ancient text whenever faced with any dilemmas. I updated my notes today and I share them with you humbly.
1. I have gratitude for the beginning of self-realization of the importance of the"present moment".Each moment is filled with grace and potential. When I am fully immersed in the present in the here and now, nothing is ever enough. I am ever so thankful for the joy of simply being here with family, friends, and nature. I want to be able to make space for gratitude in the middle of the simplest of everyday deeds.
2. I have gratitude for the beginning of self-realization that "Joy and its energy" gladdens my heart and awakens gratitude every moment. I seek laughter and I will strive to radiate joy. Daily, I will seek happiness more and more in my mind and less by material things. I have realized that the reason why some people are perpetually unhappy and some always happy is as it is a learned habit. Mental attitudes and perspectives shape that. A heart full of gratitude, wisdom, and knowledge of God is the path to joy and happiness. I am beginning to realize that happiness lies within. Happiness is a state of mind. Having an open mind, positivity, discipline in thoughts and perseverance in pursuit of your goals lead to joy in any act however stressful it may be. Having faced trying and confusing times during my early youth, I have reveled in challenges almost as if I have been proving a point to myself since then. I find myself most enthused and almost in a state of " high energy" when I am cornered or challenged.
3. I am thankful for the beginning of the self-realization that"I am not an island".My individuality expands to universality. I genuinely have begun to have reverence for life and the greater mystery of being alive with people who live, look, dress, speak differently than I do. I am starting to respect more, a lesson I have learned from my dearest eldest child, my daughter Nikhita, when she was in high school and her initial college days, that times are different, cultures are different, generations are different but what remains quite the same with some modifications is our value system. I am accepting of many norms that were taboo ten years ago in my mind but I still am not ready to give up on imparting my values and duties as a parent and protector of my children. I need to be clear about behaviors/traits I want my children to exhibit.
Also Knowing what both my wife and I, in unison, consider important and paying attention to how I can communicate that to our children will allow us to be more intentional in passing on those values. Various ways that work are using daily situations to help our child learn how to exhibit a value. Also to recognize and use teachable moments that occur in daily life. Involving our children in the charitable work we do also lets them know what is important for us. Also calling attention to positive behavior by labeling it is something that I have found myself doing more often.
Using a balance of all three of the direct ways ie teaching, modeling, clarifying, to impart our values would be the ideal way. On the flip side, importantly, we must give them some leeway to either accept and act upon the value or discard it. Also important is to share our family stories that demonstrate values we want to instill.
4. I am grateful for the beginning of the self-realization that for me along with being close to nature and physical exercise, spiritual growth would be the most essential tool for growing in life and broadening my horizons. This basic rule in the life of looking for happiness and contentment mimics a law in Economics, "The law of diminishing marginal returns", which states that adding more and more factors of production in business results in smaller increases in output."This principle was equated to all worldly pursuits, Money, fame, status, being acknowledged all these are achieved to a certain level after which one still does not feel that inner peace, despite getting more of it. The best way to fill that void is to start one's pursuit of spiritual life.
5. I am grateful for the beginning of the realization that in retrospect everything that worked out for me in my personal and professional life in the last 3-4 decades was when I willed me for success. My dearest wife Namita has been one of the most important amongst a few other people who have been my guide, philosopher, and friend in this journey. Beginning to have resolute thoughts has been probably a great learned attitude that has been helping me in this process. I would credit "Sankalp Se Siddhi"(Resolute thoughts manifest), a technique of reality creation. It is making use of thought power to consciously imagine, create, and attract that which one chooses to happen in your life. Your imagination becomes the engine of your thoughts. It converts your thought power into mental images, which are in turn manifested in the physical realm. By internalizing and applying this truth, that your thoughts create your reality, you will grant yourself the power to create the changes you want to see manifest in your life. In "Sankalp Se Siddhi" thoughts here have to be resolute with absolute clarity, focus, steady mind, energetic body, deep passion, relentless action and, follow up. There is no negativity here, you train your mind to always think positive.
6. I have gratitude for the beginning of self-realization for "life", which has given me the capacity to love everything that it has given to me in its entirety. We know our time in this life is limited. It is my very sincere realization that a "Successful Life" is nothing but management of "limited time" using "optimum energy" to stay in a state of "sustainable joy and happiness". Like my wife, Namita says, "Just like you have to prepare for a marathon or to compete in the Olympics, you have to prepare to be a Bad Ass 90-year-old "! We better take great care of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health right from our Middle age". Most of us are in the early 3 rd phase of our lives, the Vanaprastha or retirement age ( age 48-72)based on the Hindu system of Ashrama. It's most important to start giving up responsibilities to the next generation and to start understanding our spiritual nature and giving back to society in the form of voluntary work. The four ashramas are Brahmacharya (student), Grihastha (householder), Vanaprastha (retired), and Sannyasa (renunciate).
7.I have gratitude for the beginning of self-realization that we are "God" or "Atman" or "Consciousness" or "Awareness"! As per our Vedic scriptures our body has 3 main parts
a) Gross or Physical body)
b) Subtle body
c) Atman or awareness or consciousness.
I have begun to accept that our real nature is Atman or Consciousness and we are beyond death, disease, destruction, and darkness. We are immortal and not what we perceive. The physical form of our gross body is the one that perishes when we die and the Subtle body comprising of the mind, intellect, memory, ego, personality, disposition are the impermanent forms which then go over to our next physical form and what remains immortal is the real us-- "God". We are spiritual beings having a human journey. Like Swami Vivekanand said, " We are children of immortal bliss. We are infinite beings blazing forth like the sun". We are all pure bliss, pure beings, and pure awareness pervading everything we experience. So fundamentally everyone you meet is you, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Every experience in your life good or bad is you only. Then whom will you or can you criticize? Whom will you or can you hate and whom will you or can you praise? We are all the same --"God and his manifestations"! when I let this attitude flow into all my relationships and respect all animate, inanimate objects including Flora and fauna, I feel empowered, enriched, lighter, and more forgiving to everyone. The happiness of beginning to understand the God process as infinite, ever fresh, and permanent is described in the Gita as Sat-chit-Anand (pure existence, pure consciousness/knowledge & pure bliss. However, the happiness we experience from the contact of the senses with their objects is the reverse; it is temporary, finite, and insentient. Thus, material happiness is not real happiness.
9. I have gratitude for the beginning of the self-realization that I own my actions and bear the consequences, The law of Karma. Every action affects, either in this life or the next. Swami Vivekanand summed it up well in one of his poems
"The song of the Sanyassin " which he composed in New York in 1895
"Who sows must reap,’ they say, ‘and the cause must bring
The sure effect; good, good; bad, bad; and none
Escape the law. But whoso wears a form
Must wear the chain.’ Too true; but far beyond
Both name and form are Atman, ever free.
Know thou art That, Sannyasin bold! Say –
‘Om tat sat, Om!’
As per the law of Karma, Good Karma or Dharma will lead to Merit or Punya which will lead to happiness or Sukha. Bad actions or Adharma will lead to paap/ (sin or demerit) which will eventually cause dukham or unhappiness now or in the next life. I have learned to see everyone with "kindness and compassion" and the knowledge that we all have more in common than we could ever be different.
10. I am thankful for the beginning of the self-realization that my reality is beyond death and we should not fear death. We are existence, consciousness, and bliss.. we are eternal bliss."Sat or Existence- Chit or Consciousness- Anand or Bliss"So we experience a transition of body from childhood, teenage, youth and old age. We should not be disturbed by death as well. It's just a transition into our next role. Aren't we the minutest finite in the infinite dance of life?
11. I am thankful for the beginning of the self-realization that It's ok to make mistakes. I have made big mistakes. It's ok to Laugh at every misfortune and mistake. Lift the little self to the higher self. Taking ourselves too seriously makes us get in our way. I have learned to not focus on the dark side and to only look at the bright side. Because If you focus on the good, train the good then one becomes good. Giving happiness is just forgiving and no more. The Cosmic law is that you get what you give. Without seeking it happiness will come. Seek happiness more and more in your mind and less and less in the desire about acquiring things. Train your mind that what does not come to you does not bother you.
12. I am thankful for the beginning of the self-realization that thoughts, negative or positive ultimately control our actions and results. Thoughts are recycled impressions/experiences from the time one is born to date and these keep surging randomly in the mind. These can be empowering, or disempowering which are usually useless, unnecessary, or negative thoughts that can be very traumatic and hurtful. Here I have been inspired immensely by Colonel Virendra Swarup's teachings, he says "know that thought directly impacts the quality of your emotions and feelings. Always scan thoughts through intellect before you stay on those undesirable thoughts. If you find that your thoughts are useless, unnecessary, or negative then press the S( stop)O( observe)S( shift) button that is to stop, observe and reassess and then shift your thoughts away from them. The thoughts affect your feelings before affecting emotions, reaction, response, or actions leading to failing or disappointing results."
What do I strive for today amidst all my fallacies?
If anything seems to be missing today it’s also the paradoxical realization that the process of self-realization is evolving every moment and is at such an infantile state. What is evolving is “Me” and my “Self-realization”. Also very clear is the fact that however much I would like to strive to be a Karam- Yogi with Nishkam Dharma or unselfish Karma, I am swathed in innate selfishness and bondage. I am bound to the shackles of the "I, me and mine " paradigm, which is the source of all impurities. The effort albeit sincere is to practice Sukarma or good Karma, which although still means pursuing my own selfish and self-oriented goals, is at least laid out with boundaries of morals and ethics. My ultimate desire which seems far-fetched at present would be to viscerally not feel my innate selfishness, my tendency for deceit, my greed, and my lust. It would be to be able to enjoy selflessness in its pure form and be a " Karam -Yogi"!
Finally, my prayer is:
May the real realization that every soul is potentially divine dawn and manifest upon me in this very life.
May the gratitude that I feel today guide me to the self-realization state where meaning, truth, love exists no matter who or what anyone in my life is, including myself.
May I learn to love and forgive everyone including myself.
May I be free of bondage.
May this cause a great release and also diminish the fear of death.
May my emanating self-realization be my power!
Thank you all for being in my life!