Thank You and Goodbye 2020

2020 has had it’s fair share of challenges and gifts too. Nobody could guess that a pandemic like Covid-19 would bring the world to its knees and it seems that most of the world hasn’t been able to stand up again.

My mum from the UK was able to visit us in the US and spend time with us. It was before the pandemic and she returned to the UK before the world came to a standstill. It was wonderful for her to see my life here and it was nice to have her blessings! I just wished I worked from home more at the time.

This year has allowed me to move to a new position at my workplace which I am grateful for. My new team is great and I appreciate them a lot. Earlier in the year, I was facing redundancy due to a restructure but my new manager saw my skills and brought me onto his team.

Working from home has allowed me to become healthier, take care of what I eat and has also given me the time to meditate more, read more, exercise more and most of all, spend time with my wife Manisha ji more. We watched films, TV shows together and read (different) books together. We cooked together and I loved those moments, I felt like I was in the first year of my marriage again. It has also allowed us to spend time with our niece, Ekta, who is an absolute joy to be around. Spending time with the extended family has definitely been important for us.

But a bigger shoutout to my wife, who is on the frontline as a nurse. Not only is she working in a critical time, she is also studying for her Master’s and the way she has balanced this is truly remarkable and inspirational. She is an absolute gem and looks after me a lot. She also allows me to be lazy at times, which I definitely appreciate. Most of all, I love making coffee for you in the morning because I see the joy that it brings to you!

I have gained new friendships in this time and strengthened existing friendships . Two new friendships have been one where spiritual concepts are looked into deeply and we try to discover ways to further our spiritual journey. These conversations have been beneficial for me. In fact, overall my friendships have got stronger as we focus on spending time with each other. Before the pandemic, we could be together but our phones would be in the way. This time, I noticed we talked more, we interacted more, it was more personal. I really value all of my friends.

Let me thank you all for reading my blog, reading my work on Instagram, I truly appreciate your support and may this community grow stronger.

But 2020 has had it’s challenges and one of the challenges for me was when my youngest brother in the UK was in the ICU with a rare lung infection, he was on the brink of death. Being here in America, it was tough to not be there with my parents, my brothers to deal with this. Positive thinking did help but I was also ready to face the reality if my brother didn’t make it. I am thankful for the healthcare workers, the doctors that put everything into saving him. Thankfully, my youngest brother is at home and we have weekly catch up calls, which never happened before. So even though this was a challenging time with ups and downs, we made sure that we got the best of the situation. I am so thankful that my youngest brother recovered and is alive and well.

There have been deaths this year, some people I knew personally, some whom I didn’t know but my friends or family had lost someone and I felt the pain of loss that they were going through. This was definitely a difficult year in processing death. Losing people is hard enough but in the midst of a pandemic, we have had to evolve our ways in saying goodbye. I take this moment to pray that anybody that has lost somebody in their family, in their friend circle, may they be given strength and acceptance. I also encourage them to seek professional help if needed and to let go of any taboo that surrounds it.

So as we go into 2021, let’s start it on a powerful note. I started this morning with listening to the Gayatri Mantra and spent some time contemplating on this.

Aum
Bhuh Bhuvah Svah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yo nah Prachodayat

Aum,
Physical, mental and Spiritual existence,
That, which is Radiant Light and most Beautiful, 
I meditate upon That which is Illuminating and Divine,
Enlighten our intellect. 

To understand the above, let’s dwell on it. Aum symbolizes the Ultimate Impersonal Reality – Brahman. So in the beginning of the mantra, this is what we focus on. Then we acknowledge that Brahman has It’s existence on the physical, mental and spiritual dimension. As we contemplate on It’s Fullness, we see That as the most Beautiful and Radiant Light. It is referred to as Tat (That) so it remains Impersonal, it remains Formless. By acknowledging It’s radiance and beauty, we lead ourselves to meditating on That, which illuminates everywhere and is divine in nature. We then ask Brahman to enlighten our intellect so that we can embrace wisdom. It is wisdom that enlightens our intellect and that wisdom itself is Brahman.

With this prayer, I thank 2020 and welcome 2021.

In the Realm of Love

This past Sunday, I decided to listen to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan after a long time. I don’t know what made me do it but I put on a song that he had performed. The lyrics are by a great poet by the name of Allama Iqbal.

Dayar E Ishq Mein Apna Maqaam Paida Ker
In the realm of love, build your place.

This is a powerful line when we think about it. If we considered this Earth to be the realm of love, the dimension of love and built our life around that, then there would be peace, contentment and prosperity all around. In fact, to be established in love is the closest way to experiencing the Truth.

We often make decisions without even consulting that place of love that is within us. Normally, we react with anger, jealousy or envy. When we understand that the realm of love is all around us, when we are more aware of it then our response to life and its happenings would be completely different. Once we have built our place, made our mark, established ourselves firmly in love then we live a more awakened living, a more truthful living, an honest and simple living.

When Nusrat sings this poem, he emphasizes on ‘Apna Maqaam Paida Kar’ and when I was listening to this I was thinking about the Formless, about Nirankar. I was wondering about how can I get established in this place of the Ultimate Reality? How can I build my place? Then all I really could do abide in silence and the building of awareness was occuring by itself.

Tomorrow, I will share some other lines that I liked from this great poem.

Happiness and Creative Work

Attention and a critical eye is necessary for any form of writing, whether it will be for a blog, for a book or even for social media. Today, as fast as we scroll on Instagram or Facebook, it seems that we write just as fast with little consideration of what we have typed. Sometimes, what I read cannot be termed as poetry but for the sake of thinking art is evolving, I accept the few words on a blank space to be as great as Whitman. I read captions to a picture or to a video and sometimes I am impressed with the content that it makes you wonder and analyse your own life. In these moments, social media seems worth the time that it demands. Then I read some captions and I don’t know what I have read and wonder if the person has checked what they have written. It seems like that captions can be for the more attentive folk, and some write paragraphs knowing that nobody is really checking it. Then comes the story feature (which I like), however it dims our attention span even more. We click to the next story without any bother of what the person may have asked. I am completely guilty of this too so I am no saint here.

I recently thought about sharing more on Instagram and thought it would be good to write a couple of poems a day and as much as it is creatively inspiring and some poets on Instagram are impressive poets, who have words that make you think deeper about the subject in their poems, it just didn’t feel enough for me for my own writing. I found more joy in caption writing and sometimes I asked questions and only one or two people would respond and this saddened me a little. I would explain my point of view behind the poem I had written and it solicited minimal return. Therefore, I led myself to question how can I make myself happy with my creative work.

I can easily add that I am lazy too. To create 3 or 4 poems a day takes some effort and even though I could do that, I felt it took time away from doing the more sacred things for me like writing a book, writing on my blog that I love and often abandon, for the sake of hoping that I will get recognized on social media. Therefore, turning to the quick option of writing poetry on Instagram. To become the next successful Instagram poet is less about poetry but about working the algorithm but what makes someone different is who they are as a person. When I thought about how do I express myself the best then it would be through blogging.

So what do I intend to do? Write as much as I can on this blogging site, even if it means more than one post a day and maybe include one Instagram poem/post a day. The joy is in the mix of things and excelling in anything we do, not for the popularity but for the improvement of one’s own art.

We may live in a world where we want the fastest results done in minimal effort but I miss putting the effort into effort nowadays. The joy has to be more in just feeling that joy yourself. The moment you feel tired from something, it is best to take a break and question it’s validity and what it is doing for you and your whole life in general, not just what it is doing to your creative juices.

There are some great features on social media like IG Live or Facebook Live, even the stories are interesting for a snapshot of your day or promoting your awesome art. The ability to make short videos and just show your personal side is incredible. Things have moved forward and that has been awesome for creatives. However, at the same time, the element of mystery can become extinct and when this is extinct, we lose wonder. Sometimes, I want to look at a picture or read a caption and feel the same joy that I felt as a kid that looked up at the blue sky and wonder at it’s blueness.

Not everyone has to be spiritual

Is spirituality for everyone? It may be available to everyone but it is not necessary that everyone will be spiritual.

When someone has found something spectacular in their spiritual journey, when they have walked a path, which has benefited them, we wish to share that with everyone we know, like we do with the latest phone we have. We tell our close friends and our family about it. Likewise, this may be the case if a member of your family or close friends come across a spiritual path that benefitted them, they feel it may benefit you too.

In some cases, you are born into following a particular path and you do as your parents tell you. You reach 16 years and want to make your own choice and you may even choose to follow a different spiritual path. Is that wrong? No. You may choose to drop being spiritual. Is that wrong? No. Even though there are benefits to being spiritual, it is not carved for everyone.

I feel it is better to be honest and the quicker you realize whether spirituality is for you or not, the better. However, I do give a warning that you shouldn’t ‘throw out the baby with the bath water’ so soon. First ensure, that you go to someone that is spiritual in your view and ask them questions. Ask them about their journey and how they have benefited them. What did they gain? Or even what did they lose? The important matter is that we should ask before we choose that being spiritual is not right for us.

Personally, I feel that the very people that guide us down a spiritual path need to be exemplary and there should be as little hypocrisy as possible. The issue we may find that there are contradictions in all aspects of spirituality and therefore we need to mark someone based on their actions, their reactions more than their words.

Many people I know who have turned away from spirituality have done so because their parents or older siblings were not the best example of the spiritual ideals. They claim things which don’t go hand in hand with their behavior. Even worse, in this of rationality and logic, a simple answer isn’t provided or the humility to accept that one doesn’t know.

I do believe that one has to carve their own path and I have certainly done that with my life. I have made choices that are different to my parents and people would regard me as quite a spiritual person. I am a very rational person and so if something doesn’t go along with science then I come up with reasons why I don’t agree with it. However, I think spirituality is something that is invoked within you, it has always been there and it wants to reach its peak of spiritual enlightenment. You have to be natural in it, you have to be in the flow of it. It has to be born from within you and not something you simply cook up.

I will end it here and that is if you have a child that doesn’t believe in your spiritual path, it may say more about where you truly are in spirituality and how important you do find it. Just because one may meditate a lot or go to places of worship a lot, that doesn’t mean that one’s behavior has changed? It doesn’t mean that one has attained bliss and joy. If all that anyone sees of you is misery and anger, then being spiritual loses all of it’s credibility.

Pseudo-Wisdom

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It has been a long time since I have written on my blog and I will not lie but I have missed it. There is something about writing your thoughts every day and how it connects you to your own self. It’s quite an interesting way to introspect.

I have been spending time away from posting on social media too and I feel that now the likes of Instagram, Snapchat etc are more for businesses than individual content. Facebook still has it’s place as we find out news about our friends and family, or generally the political climate in our home country or abroad. However, Facebook is not something a 18 year or under runs towards now.

I have started to stay away from Instagram and I used to write poetry on their daily. Eventually, I found that the thoughts I expressed had lost it’s original voice and depth. A few may disagree but I really felt I wasn’t doing justice to the actual thoughts that I had.

I have noticed how individuals are trying to be content creators or influencers and as much as I applaud the efforts, I find that it is more narcisstic and definitely spreading more pseudo-wisdom than anything truly worth remembering. I often wonder would one find the Buddha or Lao Tzu or Krishna ever enjoying what they see on Instagram and the like? They would probably like to retreat to a cave and I must say that it may be the first time ever in my life where I find staying in a cave more interesting than going through the torture of social media.

However, I do find it funny and I do laugh at a lot of people’s attempts of being something special. It is a bit sad and I must add this, that some people on Instagram provide amazing content and it’s a little unfortunate that their talent that is screaming is being drowned by the mediocrity that has become the mainstream.

As I remain more of a spectator of social media than an active participant, it’s wonderful to find out good news on dear friends and family. It brings me a lot of joy when I see genuine happiness and that is what I really look for.

I certainly do not look for wisdom on Instagram and I must say that it is nearly impossible to find it anywhere on social media. I have resorted back to reading on my Kindle, reading about the deep hindu philosophy of advaita vedanta, reading poetry or works by great mystics and therefore increasing my concentration on focus.

In a world today that loses it’s attention span so quickly, I am doing the opposite. I am working on increasing it. This is obviously aided by meditation. Maybe this is why I see the frivolty of so-called influencers and content creators. The biggest question that they need to ask is am I going to be relevant a thousand years from now. If that is a stretch then 100 years from now? If not, then the few days of success will end up being a lifetime of failure. Which will only increase anxiety and possibly, mental illness because when someone loses relevancy, it hits really hard.

For years, I have thought about how to be relevant in today’s day and age. How can my poetry reach far? Then I remind myself of the above. My success lies in how long my work remains. Will it remain for a few years now as a fad or will it be something of an eternal nature. All I know is that I have a lot of work to do internally and on myself and that is what my focus is on.

As much as my discourse above has been based upon the state of social media from my perspective, I do appreciate the entertainment it provides even if they are trying to be serious. It is a little scary too and sometimes I have seen posts talk about mental health issues and the advice provided is not appropriate or even shows a little understanding of the actual issues that people go through. What needs to be understood that the shallowness of their thoughts or pseudo-wisdom cannot comprehend the issues that run deep in the human mind. In topics where professionals’ advice must be shared, others should either spread those professionals advice or not write about it at all.

There is a lot that I want to share with you. All that I share is what I know and whatever I feel helps, I will share that. I want to be authentic and honest and these are the basic values I strongly hold on to. As I grow in my spiritual practice, there is one thing that I am more transparent about and that is ineptness and I am quite vocal about the dangers of such matters. Being genuine and straightforward is better than sugar-coating. Although, my personal philsophy is to sugar-coat first and if someone still doesn’t get it, I just share what I feel in it’s less filtered state. After all, one has to respect the feelings of others even if their pseudo-wisdom will eventually do some harm.

At the moment, pseudo-wisdom is definitely winning and it is gaining huge popularity but the lack of real transformation will eventually lift the veil on the reality of the ‘wisdom’ that was once so inspiring. This is why I go back to the ancient folk because the Truth doesn’t belong to time and therefore, you can be in the world today and practice those pointers without worrying if it is relevant in a modern society. Being enlightened is transcendence and therefore trnascends all apparent limitations.

Anyway, this post was longer than I had anticipated and I just hope that whatever you are doing is the best for you. Keep it real. Keep it authentic. Keep it honest. May joy and happiness be with you in every step that you take.

Love.

High Pressure and Awareness

Days like today are when I find that I am less mindful and more reactive. It was a tough day at work, where misunderstandings are aplenty and very little is achieved. This is when I find myself exhausted because I am trying to keep my peace of mind but like a virus willing to spread itself, stress likes to outsmart me.

This is why living with awareness is tough because you can see someone’s ego, your own ego but the other person probably doesn’t even know they are acting out of ego. That is when you always have to be the better person.

However, there are times when the pressure is there and you feel that it is weighing you down. I would always say that mindfulness helps if one remembers to do so. Sometimes, we have to vent and get things off our mind but seldom are we ever understood.

In circumstances like this, it is hard to deliver your very best because you are expected to juggle a 100 things in a limited schedule. This is when I believe quantity definitely overpowers quality and that is with anything in life. As they say, less is more.

Transform this one attachment

The past couple of days and the next few days, including today,  are days where I am extremely emotional. I still remember the morning of May 13th, 2016 and being told that my Spiritual Master had left His body.

Since that day, I have never been the same and my life has never been the same. It was a difficult time to embrace many changes but the one change that ruled over all of them was that the physical presence of my Spiritual Master was no more. I will never hear His voice again, give Him a hug again, touch His feet with my head.

Although, years prior to His passing, I had understood that the Guru, the Teacher is not the physical frame but the Spiritual Wisdom that takes one towards self-realization, the death of my Spiritual Master hit me really deep. Even though, I had seen the presence of my Master in more subtle realms of the mind, for some reason, I felt I had lost something.

It is coming up to three years and what have I lost? That belief that I can reach self-realization. Why? I always said and felt that it will only happen through Him. He will be the Spiritual Master in which self-realization will occur. The biggest battle in my mind right now is that He is physically no more and now what do I worship?

I have accepted His successors and my deep respect and reverence goes to them. However, my words, my statement that only Baba ji will give me self-realization always comes to the forefront. I know that eventually as one deepens their spiritual experience, the Spiritual Master lets go of the disciple and the final part of the journey towards self-realization is between you or myself and the Formless, Unseen One. If you get there, you get there and if you don’t and you fall, the Spiritual Master is the net that will protect you from the fall. That is what I believe right now, it is subject to change.

The reason why I say this is because today, more than spiritual, I am a conflicted man. If my Master could leave so suddenly, then where is the hope for me. If I was to go suddenly, would I remember the Formless One that my Spiritual Master instructed will lead me to own realization. He used to say that realize the Formless, and you will realize your own true self.

Maybe the biggest issue I have is that I placed too much emphasis on the external guru that I completely ignored the internal, subtle form of the Guru, of the Master. This is why maybe I am at a loss.

However, I miss my Spiritual Master because He was full of unconditional love, He had a personality that was humble and kind. Again, these are all my perceptions of Him and He did the biggest favor upon me, which was showing me the absolute stillness, Formless One.

I have a long way to go with my spirituality, maybe the only way to move forward and transform this attachment is to live the realization. The teachings of Baba ji will follow naturally once the realization takes place.

If anything, I am going to research into whether enlightenment is possible for me. I cannot say for others but is it possible for me. Where does it lead me to? I am open for any possibility now.

The hypothesis is simple – can Rahul attain self-realization that his Master once gave him the key for?

Practice is Key

There will always be the Light of Truth and it is all about how you can get yourself there. Don’t look upon anyone to give you the truth, to take you to the next stage. Accept that it is solely your responsibility.

The Spiritual Master simply gives you that wisdom, which opens the ground for a practical realization of the Truth. The Spiritual Master simply guides that the Truth alone should be worshipped. In fact, worship of the Truth is the only way to worship the Master. All other means are simply your own devotion but has nothing to do with true worship.

We have such powerful minds that we can do anything if we truly desire to do so. It is best to focus our desires on a fruitful life that is lived in an enlightened realization. It is okay to have all the riches of the world but a life of enlightenment is what makes life become a spectacular journey.

Never run away from responsibilities, the Truth is given so that you can enjoy every aspect of life – whether that is your family relationships, your occupation, your hobbies etc. Enjoy it all and again, remember that the foundation has to be built on Truth.

The Truth is only understood, comprehended and an embedded part of life until you truly meditate on it. Without meditation, remembrance on the Truth, it will disappear because it is so subtle. How can we grasp the Formless through the limited form of our senses. Going beyond the senses, we are able to grasp the Limitless Formless Truth.

All we need to do is approach a Spiritual Master with the sincerity to practice until the goal is reached. Merely thinking, talking, preaching about the Truth is not enough. Practice is key!

Guest Blog by Niharika Ahuja

Hello everyone!

Today, I am very happy to say that Niharika Ahuja, a very dear friend and a fellow traveller in spirituality has written a blog for me and the readers of this blog. I have known Niharika for years and her wisdom and spiritual understanding is truly remarkable as you will discover when you read the post she has written. She has reached some amazing spiritual heights despite her young age and has been a continuous inspiration

. I have learned a lot from Niharika and I am sure with this blog, you will also learn from her. Niharika also has a blog and catch up on her insightful posts on https://livinginyourlight.wordpress.com


Awareness:

Research indicates as per majority’s beliefs, the average person has 70,000 thoughts
in one day. How crazy is that? That is 70,000 times a day that the average person is
not living within the moment because she or he is thinking about something that
happened in the past or dreaming about something they desire in the future. This
explains why the topic of mindfulness has gained so much interest in society.

Most people will argue why it even matters if they are engrossed in their thoughts?
It matters because the more we let our minds wander to the thoughts of the past or
future, we are taking THAT very moment away from us and our loved ones too. A
second or even an hour after, we will also regret losing those moments we spent
pondering on what could have been or could be, rather than enjoying the
opportunities, people and beauty that surrounded us in that very moment.

Call it awareness, being cautious or more mindful, when every act is done with your
attention in whatever you are doing, you live life in the most enriching and beautiful
way. One may think that doing the dishes, walking your dog, drinking your tea or
even eating may be ordinary things or obligations that do not require our undivided
attention. However, I believe if we do even these smallest acts with our whole heart
and mind, we will start to fully experience the beauty of life and cherish all that it
has to offer.

Research indicates that when we become mindful in whatever we are doing, hearing,
seeing, speaking, eating etc., any depression and anxiety that one may have may also start to diminish and heal. The more I practice mindfulness in my own life, I realize how
many hours on end I wasted being absent from my present moments and a slave to
things I have no control over now. Some moments that are lost can never be
recovered again and soon enough, that will be another grief we will mourn or
ponder over in another present moment, in the future.

An example that I have personally witnessed is where a loved one may be sitting in
front of us trying to engage in a conversation. That person could be going through a
mental illness and may be yearning for a person to talk to for support or any last
sign of hope or love to hold onto. When we don’t give that person our attention and
are too focused on what happened in our own past or how many likes we got on our
picture posted on instagram, we could be giving them (and even ourselves) another
reason to go home and feel worse about their situation and feel more alone than
ever. Every moment and time of ours and others is precious and the less we remain
aware of that, we may be exposed to an entire lifetime of never really living our life
and becoming inspired by things that other people have to offer.

The truth is, we never really know when our last moment will be. It is in our hands
what we choose to spend our last moments doing- living in something in the past, or
could we say that we were fully enjoying and celebrating the greatest present- the
present moment…because it is another opportunity for us to start anew and
experience and create more beautiful memories to hold on to.

The simple habit of putting away our phones when we are meeting with someone,
looking at the smile on your dog’s face when you walk him/her and the sound of the
a loved one’s laugh or nature, mindfulness then becomes not a forced practice or
ritual, but a way of life and an excelled art of beautiful being and living.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Bunch of Thoughts

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here are a few thoughts I want to just express as they enter my mind.

The body is a temple and we need to be mindful of what we eat and the environment that it has come from. Understanding this, we can look after ourselves better and lead a life of health and wellbeing.

Our live can either be a collection of moments that we have fully lived in or a fleeting shadow that is forgotten.

We can watch the behavior of others, observe and reflect and improve our own lives. We don’t always have to make mistakes and making mistakes is part of an awesome journey.

Sometimes when we think we know something with certainty, we find that the truth is something else. It is not bad to change your opinion, in fact it says more about how truthful and adaptable you are over being stubborn.

Love guides us more than we like to believe. Love provides an imprint on our soul that we can never forget.

Embrace mortality, discover your own humanity.