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.

Measuring my spirituality

The older I get, the more I analyze my spirituality. 10 years back, I was probably in a ‘honeymoon phase’ with my spiritual journey and today, I seem to reflect that I honestly don’t know how much I have achieved spiritually speaking. It’s easier to guess how successful you are materialistically, you can look at your wealth in your bank balances, the cars you own, properties, investments etc. But with spirituality, there are no milestones, it is not like you can be a quarter enlightened, half enlightened or almost enlightened. Either you are enlightened or you are not. How do we measure things like peace, bliss and joy? Is it shown through our values? Is it presented through the vibes that we give out? Is it the way we speak to others? All of these things can be subjective and projected through someone else’s perception and life experiences.

Spirituality is completely a gray area and it is obvious that spirituality isn’t a game of words or proclamations. Announcing to the world that you are enlightened is not enough. If I heard that, my spiritual sense would be telling me that something is rotten here and that I must observe the other person with little or no bias of my own. But how do I attain that sort of perception where there is no personal bias? It is by observing my own self diligently and with absolute honesty. Have I been able to get rid of my own prejudices? Do I get swayed like a pendulum in terms of opinions and views? Do I react instead of respond. Do I get offended by criticism and get carried away when praised? Even though some may say this level of balance may be difficult but the swaying isn’t healthy either. A balance has to strike otherwise, the ego really will always win and the efforts to dissolve the ego is futile. Therefore, a balanced mind is necessary and somehow I find that speaks volumes once you speak to someone. You can guess it by the attention they give, the words they say, the facial expressions and body language. It is only by fully knowing our own self that we can know others.

Therefore, if I do not know myself, is it right for me to pass judgment on others as how can I know them. Well, there are always tell-tale signs of anyone that is a spiritual delinquent. You know if someone is dishonest, or they cheat others, or they have a short temper. Sometimes, we can see the political motives of others and you don’t have to know yourself to see this. It is evident through actions and a sharp mind.

It’s hard to know where I am spiritually today. Sometimes, I feel that there is progress and sometimes it feels like nothing is happening but I trust the process completely. Maybe that is all that matters. Trusting the process that eventually I will know where I am spiritually and I can be at peace with that. All I know is that I am not at peace with myself spiritually. I feel there is a lot more that I can do and can achieve. Sometimes, I ask myself if it is worth it? It just seems so lonely at the top or maybe aloneness is the true oneness with all.

With Baba Ji – my journey continues…

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You can wake up in the morning, everything will occur as normal but something is missing, something just doesn’t feel right. That is how I feel everyday since my Spiritual Master left His body three years ago.

His kindness, His humility and His loving personality won many hearts and it definitely won mine. I spend time thinking about Baba ji, my Spiritual Master very often in the day. Whether it is a walk down the corridor, I think of Him and my eyes well up with tears. I am in the car and I look at the clear blue sky and a flash of His image appears in front of, obviously from my own mind, but yet a sign to say, nothing truly dies. I am sitting in my temple, and a thought that Baba ji gave is heard and my heart skips a beat, as if not knowing what to do with the thought that He is known in the past tense now.

He was someone where my spirituality began, where my spirituality continues and where my spirituality will one day end. He is my past, my present and my future. I haven’t loved anyone as much as I have loved Him and I know so many, that feel the same way with me.

The great thing about Baba ji was that He somehow was able to reflect however you saw Him. If you saw Him as a cool person, He was just a cool person. If you saw Him as a person you admire for His sincerity, that is what He reflected. For me, I was fortunate, very lucky by fate or my own faith that I was able to see Him as my Satguru, my Spiritual Master of Truth. For me, He was a God and much more. Maybe this is why there is a lot of pain in the physical loss as right now, I am in growing pains, I am trying to realize the subtle form of His that I know He had planted into me when I was initiated with His wisdom.

I have often said that I reached a peak of one mountain when He was alive and when He died, He took me from that peak and placed me at the bottom of the largest mountain one can ever perceive. For some, they may find that Rahul isn’t as spiritual as He used to be, he was calmer before, he didn’t get so angry but actually I have started climbing this mountain, which I literally have no map to guide me with except my own self. All I know and what I totally have faith and trust in is that I have to find the compass of the inner guru within me – sooner, rather than later.

I am now content in that I cannot change anyone, inspire anyone, or even truly advise them on their spiritual journey except for what I know and like I said right now, I don’t know much as I am climbing this mountain, of which I have climbed only a few steps up. So everyone literally has to bear with me here.

What I have learned is that these three years, which was literally about abseiling down the mountain of which, I had reached my peak. I had to take the valuable lessons and be thankful for they have taught me so much. Now the Master is going to advise me from within but the foundation of all that will be advised from now is literally from what I learned from my Spiritual Master before His passing.

All I now know and what I knew before was that it was all up to me. I had to have the faith and I had to be in charge of my growth. Nobody could take me there. I recall a conversation that I had with Baba ji when I was around 19 years old. We were walking at the Center for Oneness, West London and for some strange reason, Baba ji stopped walking and stepped inside as we were in mid-conversation. It was only me and Him. I poured my heart to Him and said “Baba ji, I am struggling. I am doing sumiran (remembrance) but I am not connecting. I feel my faith is weak.” Baba ji looked at me, smiled and in a quizzing manner. “Rahul ji, I don’t understand how your faith is weak when it is so strong?” I just stared into His eyes for a few seconds, my eyes moist, lost in His humility, His love and His mercy I bowed and touched His feet for around 10 seconds, to which when I was getting up, He was holding my shoulders and He gave me the biggest hug. As we pulled away from the hug, we both gave the biggest smiles to each other and we both bowed as I stepped away so another devotee could talk to Him.

This conversation changed the whole direction of my spiritual journey. I started questioning my whole belief system a couple of years later in order to get what I perceived as ‘weak’ faith into something so strong that it is unbreakable. However, a lesson I have learned recently is that I was in charge of my faith. I decide whether it is strong or weak and that whatever faith you have for yourself, is how much faith you truly have with the Master. If you feel you are incapable then the Master can do very little to change that because you feel incapable. However, you can feel incapable but you know your Master is with you, within you so now you are absolutely capable and this brings forth a very strong faith.

I have a lot to thank Baba ji for and He knows how much He means to me and nothing can change that. No philosophy, no teaching can change that. Like I said earlier, it ends with Him. We are meant to have full faith in a living Master, to which I absolutely agree with. Living is subject to one’s definition. Does someone have to be physically alive to be living? Or can someone be alive through consciousness itself -in a more subtle form? One of the rules of nature is that energy never dies but is transferred. All that has happened to Satguru Baba Hardev Singh ji on this day, three years ago was that the energy that was physical or gross matter became subtle matter.

This post has come from a lot of reflection with some meditation too. I don’t know if what I believe in right now will give me liberation but all I do know is that I know that is my destination. Thank you Baba ji. Love You and miss You! Your child forever.

Think before you speak

silhouette of man at sunset

I am very guilty of doing this. I just speak whatever is on the mind and I tend to think afterwards that I should have waited, took a few seconds to reflect and then respond. Sometimes, we get angry when we hear something and we react straight away, maybe we should think for a couple of hours before we respond.

Sometimes what we say can truly hurt someone, we don’t know what they may deal with on a day to day basis. We just assume things but to be honest, we should always gather the facts, observe and then speak about something.

We will always get crazy remarks said to us and massive assumptions will be blurted out  but that doesn’t mean that we have to start getting into an expressive battle either. Depending on the situation, we take such action.

My observation from many years has been that silence says it all. The less you speak, the more of what you say has importance unless you always do say wise words, which automatically become important. Silence is very powerful in dealing with matters. We don’t have to show the person in front of us that we are affected by their words. A simple smile, look around you and then walk away. If someone has asked a question, then you will be the judge of whether it is worth answering.

People have a tendency to put others down or when they speak, they are just always moaning and constantly expressing their pain-story, to which majority is thought-based pain over actual body pain. Of these people, I may have to listen but again, you are silent, wish the person well and walk away and forget about it. Don’t reflect on something if it isn’t going to help you.

Silence is golden. It says so much without a single sound expressed. It is the most powerful tool you have at your advantage. Just ensure that no emotion remains inside of you for more than 24 hours. Try to express your feelings in a journal or meditate upon it so it dissolves away.

The power is within you, you choose what to do with it.

Guru Purnima – Poem

happy-gurupurnimasms-wishes-quotesHe changed my life when I looked into His eyes,
He showed me a fresh path ahead of me,
Without a footstep that disturbed the dust,
Nor rain and wind to rustle the trees.

I stared at this Path with His wondrous Self,
I looked into His eyes that smiled freely,
He anticipated my doubts and delusions,
All He did was walk ahead of me as if in ignorance.

I watched a doubt arise and delusion in despair,
He would turn around every time with a smile,
To check if I was still focussed,
Or was I about to lose to the wavering mind?

He stopped by a tree that was ready to blossom,
He touched the centre of my forehead,
A gust of wind appeared out of nowhere,
Stood still by the tree as if seeking permission.

It felt that now that time had stopped,
Was I about to receive the Teaching I longed for?
His compassion and mercy pierced my heart,
I had no desire but to learn of the Artist of this Art!

He didn’t utter a word nor give a sound,
Nor a sign or a hint to offer as a guide.
He closed His eyes and I followed Him,
Little did I know what was in store for me!

I got sucked into a swirling vortex
My senses defeated so who am I?
Everything came to a screeching halt,
Colours of mist appeared never seen before.

My Guru walked ahead of me on the Path,
Not because He is first and I am second.
He made sure nothing hurt me on the Path,
His feet bruised and my feet untouched.

How these visions appeared without intention,
As if the Truth felt obliged to reveal,
My Guru surrounded me yet nowhere to be seen,
What do I do amongst indescribable colours?

A blink of an eye and I was back on the Path,
The Guru with His eyes open featured beaming smile,
The gust of wind stood still like a guard,
A clap and the blossom rained from above.

The path filled with flowers and petals,
This was the moment the heavens celebrated,
Perceptions heightened accessing all dimensions,
I had finally realised who I am.

This only happens with the Guru’s grace,
The Truth comes to you not the other way round.
The Truth in fact is always here,
Do we realise its access is eternal-bound?

Without the Guru the path is dull and dark,
Even realisation will bring you pain and hurt,
Everything is smooth once the task is complete,
Until then the Guru is everything you do not seek.

He will shatter every belief you possess,
Question every ritual you do in spiritual pretence,
Create situations to test your emotions,
Losing your balance is it He that you will hold?

The Guru is the glistening Reality,
That is Self-revealing and Self-created,
It neither needs ‘me’ nor ‘you’
This is the objectivity the Guru requires.

Bliss descends upon you from the Beyond,
This is blessing from the Blissful Beloved,
Standing in front of me with no form to see,
Just a Formless Self an endless Presence.