Patient emerging of purpose to uplift a community

For the first decade of my life, I grew up in Wealdstone, an area of Harrow that has since significantly changed over the years. With some spare time this afternoon, I visited Wealdstone and sat on a public bench opposite the Holy Trinity Church, a building I was always intrigued by when I was a young boy.

As I sat, alone on the bench with a hot coffee in my hand, keeping my backpack close next to me, I recollected the times growing up in the area, the trip to the local bakery or the bank or the shoe shop with my mum and brother. I remembered going to the park, accompanied by my dad who taught my brother and I how to ride a bike.

As I continued to sit this afternoon, on World Mental Health Day, I observed the local community, some on their way back home from a long day at work, mothers and their children walking home from their after-school activities, others humming while cycling, or those walking while engrossed in their phone screens.

I also witnessed young men subtly exchanging what looked like small brown packets and bank notes. I noticed other young men, sipping on a can of beer concealed by a plastic bag. I saw elderly men, some sitting alone, appearing so lonely, talking to themselves. I saw other elderly men in groups, prising open a bottle of whisky and twisting open a bottle of water to dilute the whisky (thereby making the drink last that much longer).

Witnessing all this loneliness, this lack of purpose, this need to numb their pain through alcohol or drugs of some sort, made me feel very sad. In some ways, I wanted to help them out of their suffering and in other ways, I wanted to just let them be.

Looking closer, I noticed something beyond the sadness, beyond the loneliness, beyond the pain. I noticed that majestic spirit, trapped, concealed, enslaved, but still there. It was present in the everlasting beyond the transient. It came through in the way the man sitting alone tapped his legs on the paving on the ground. It showed clearly in the way the group of men engaged with each other. It was apparent through the interactions, through the gestures, through the eyes, through each breath.

It’s in that moment that I felt a sense of calm, a sense that the town I grew up in, has perhaps not degraded in the way I first thought, as it still houses the very spirit that has the potential to uplift the entire community. In that moment, I witnessed hope, joy, wisdom and a sense of purpose, eagerly seeking to emerge.

Quinoa and broccoli – easy vegan lunch

When my aunt sent me a link about the benefits of quinoa for vegetarians and vegans, I knew I had to try it for lunch.

Inspired by the article, I prepared a simple but tasty lunch using just 5 ingredients:

  1. quinoa – prepared on the hob just like rice, for 15 mins.
  2. broccoli – gently steamed on the hob for 3-4 minutes, slightly undercooked – perfect.
  3. water – to prepare the quinoa and the broccoli.
  4. salt – freshly ground rock salt.
  5. pepper – although meal would have been perfect without it too.

Cooking time: 20 minutes

The quinoa was a great substitute to rice – lighter and a slightly nutty flavour. Delicious and filling.

Quinoa and broccoli lunch

Today

Today you’re the oldest you’ve ever been.

Today you’re the youngest you will ever be.

As the oldest you’ve ever been, live life with purpose, clarity and the wisdom of an elder.

As the youngest you’ll ever be, live life with curiosity, wonder and the enthusiasm of youth.

Within you, bring together the elder and the youth, the wisdom and the wonder.

Today is the oldest you’ve ever been and the youngest you will ever be.

Live today with purpose and enthusiasm. Tomorrow do the same.

Let Simple Be The Mantra

In a recent blog post by Chris Brogan, titled Simplify and Package the Sale, he stated “Let simple be the mantra. Make your contracts brief, small, simple. Make your projects short, finite, and clear. Make your deliverables obvious, simple, and measurable.”

Simplicity in thought, speech and action with everything we do is becoming incredibly important in a world where our diaries are blocked out to the max doing things that we think would make us happy, but where we are in fact squeezing away time to do the very things that will serve us long-term.

Simplicity in thought comes about through reflecting on the nature of the world around us, just how impermanent it all is, and seeking out the source of abundant bliss within.

Simplicity in speech shines through when we hear of wise people who neither speak without being asked nor interrupt when another person is speaking.

Simplicity in action is the ability to perform our everyday duties and rising above all the elements that are pleasing or displeasing to our senses. Having taken care of these simple everyday duties, our time and focus can be put towards seeking fulfilment from the treasury within.

Through simplicity, in all it’s forms, we make life a process of purification. How does simplicity apply in your life right now? What can you simplify to support your quest for permanent happiness?

Extreme Responsibility in your Marriage

How to take extreme responsibility in your marriage and soften it with abundant love and compassionate communication.

Disclaimer: I declare that what I write about in this article is not something that I have mastered yet.  My intention is to fulfil my duty as a husband and a family man, but I also know I have a long distance to travel.  Perhaps if I’m walking down the right path and I’m willing to keep walking, then eventually I’ll make progress…

When in a marriage or intimate relationship of any sort, you experience good days and you experience not so good days.  There are some days you are both all loved up, and others where you can’t stand to be even in the same room as your partner. 

Situations in your marriage can be those which are pleasant to experience, such as a fresh pot of coffee waiting for you first thing in the morning when you wake up every day, or being whisked away to exotic destinations throughout the year. Situations can also arise which are frustrating or painful to experience like your spouse hogging the duvet or something much more serious such as verbal or physical abuse.

So what happens in these situations that makes marriage such a roller coaster of a ride?  Is it time to pay a visit to the ER (Emergency Room) or are you prepared to explore the position of ‘Extreme Responsibility’?

Let me give you the lowdown on part of the karmic process so that you get a glimpse of why certain situations arise in your life the way they do:

You, the Soul, are bound at this point in time by a number of karmic clusters which each have their own pre-determined “time-bomb”.  These karmic particles are roughly categorised as bad karma (paap) and better karma (punya).  

When the karma comes to fruition, you experience in your life a specific situation.  The situation could be that you come home from a long day at work to a loving wife who has caringly prepared a meal for you.  The moment you take your first mouthful, the subtleties of a situation present themselves based on the types of karma that come to fruition.

If the karma coming to fruition was initially bound as a form of ‘punya’, then you may find the first mouthful very pleasing to taste and would continue to enjoy the delicious meal which your wife has so lovingly prepared.  On the other hand, if the karma coming to fruition was initially bound as a form of ‘paap’, then the first morsel of food you consume may contain a very hot chilli, and you may get angry about the experience and throw the plate across the table!

Both of these situations started from a place of warmth and love on the side of your wife, but the first spoonful you are presented with is a result of your own karma coming to fruition, whether paap or punya.

In essence, the Soul is bound by a cluster of karmic particles that result in the fruition of karma at a later moment in time.  This we witness as “life’s situations”.

In The Self Realization (a translation of Atma-Siddhi by Srimad Rajchandra) the interpretation of stanza 82 states that “The Soul’s deluded imagination originates sentient actions such as impulses, desires etc.  They induce the Soul’s energy to work in attracting to it the superfine material elements (Karma-vargana) and the latter intertwine with the Soul resulting in its bondage.  This is how the Soul is said to be bound by material actions.”

So when you, the Soul, delude yourself into thinking that you are the body, desires to do with the body start to surface, and these desires result in the attraction of karmic matter to the Soul.

You may say, “Why should it matter to me?  I’m not to blame for this karma.  It’s my wife’s fault anyway.  Shouldn’t she have thought through the meal she’s preparing?  It’s a wife’s responsibility to keep her husband well fed and looked after, isn’t it!?”  

You see, this is where the problem lies – you’re putting the full responsibility of the experience on something or someone outside of yourself (your wife in this instance).  It was down to your own bodily impulses and instant reactions which led to karma being bound to the Soul in the first place, which in turn led to the same karma manifesting as a situation in your life.  

Now here’s where it gets dangerous…

In relationships and pretty much anything in life, we tend to instantly react to the situation we’re experiencing.  We rarely take the time to observe ourselves and nip this process in the bud.

The enjoyment (raag) of a delicious meal could result in the expectation of every single meal being of this standard, and the dislike (dwesh) of a meal which is too spicy could result in “Why did you have to make it so spicy!?  Don’t you care about me?  Now I’ll have to go to bed hungry!”  

This continuous experience of raag and dwesh, attraction and aversion, likes and dislikes, bring rise to the kashaya (passions) such as anger, greed, ego and deceit.  The way you express yourself through these kashaya (via thought, speech and action) attracts further karma towards the Soul.

This one negative reaction to something you dislike has a vicious knock-on effect which leads to more and more conflict and many wasted days of arguments and tears.

Perhaps it’s time you took Extreme Responsibility for the situations you’re experiencing rather than heading straight to the Emergency Room to place blame and create more pain. 

Note to self: 

I am responsible for everything that I am experiencing.  It is due to the karmic clusters which I had previously bound to my soul which are now coming to fruition.  

My words and deeds, amplified by the quality of my thoughts at the time, determined the level of vibration my Soul sent out, which attracted and bound those clusters of karmic particles that bound to my soul, which in turn I am now enjoying or suffering for.  

In my relationship, whether the situation is one of joy or despair, it is down to me to realise that I am the one who attracted it.  I am the one who is responsible for it, the one who has to remain with equanimity, and the one who has to bear it.

 

To emphasise this point, in the book The Self Realization, the interpretation of stanza 84 states that “The results of good and bad actions are unmistakably experienced, enjoyed or suffered by living beings in this world.”

Why do we so frequently put the blame on our partner, the people or the objects outside ourselves, when there’s friction in the relationship? How about taking full responsibility for the karma we’re binding and therefore the situations we eventually experience.

Anything you experience in your various relationships is a direct outcome of karma coming to fruition – the same cluster of karmic particles that were bound to your soul during a previous interaction you have had with the world during this or a previous life, has now arisen as a situation you are experiencing.

Therefore you are directly responsible for every single thing you are experiencing.  

In Twelve Facets of Reality, Pujyashri Chitrabhanu talks about marriage:  “That inner level will also bring deep meaning to relationships. When husband and wife inspire each other, they become beautiful company for one another. Their communication turns into an eternal communion. The idea in marriage is to work out karmas and be a complement to each other. When we live on that inner level, we communicate and find out what is our mission. And when one feels low, the other is a lifting spirit. “This will pass,” he tells his partner. “We have to be patient and wait for the sunrise.” When one person is moody, there is no need for the other to add to the misery. There is no permanent pain nor is there any permanent bubbling happiness. What is permanent? Inner bliss, tranquillity; all else comes and goes.”  

Start from this position of extreme responsibility, rise above the circumstances, apply abundant love and compassionate communication, and there’s your recipe for a healthy marriage.


This article was originally commissioned by Young Jains UK for their February 2009 issue of the Young Jains newsletter which focused on the theme of Love.  You can find out more about Young Jains at www.youngjains.org.uk, and follow them on Twitter at http://twitter.com/YoungJains

Relationships Get Amplified When You Do Something Different

Anytime you do something in your life that’s different, even if it is to empower yourself or improve your health, if those closest to you feel it’s different enough for them not to fit in, then whatever their relationship is with you will get amplified.

This is the core message shared in the following video by Dhrumil Purohit, who highlights the difference in the way his relationship with his (then) girlfriend changed compared to the relationship he has with his father when Dhrumil embarked on a vegan diet at the age of 18.


Food, Relationships and Acceptance from Dhrumil Purohit on Vimeo.

Dhrumil has over the years transformed his eating habits into a primarily raw diet, and has created a supportive community called We Like It Raw.  Dhrumil also shares pearls of wisdom through audio podcasts at SpiritualPlayer.com

Just like Dhrumil, both Heena and I decided to embark on a vegan diet following a PETA video presentation about the maltreatment of cows in India that we both saw at a Jain event. For us, it was at the Mahavir Janma Kalyanak event which we attended in London in April 2008. The event celebrated the birth of Mahavir Bhagwan, and was a time for us to take inspiration from his life and absorb some of the core qualities he lived by.

In the 10 months since this change in diet, Heena and I have found it relatively simple to prepare and enjoy vegan meals, and have been fortunate to have the support of each other and those who are closest to us. There have of course been incidents when even people closest to us have indicated that trying to cater for us has been really difficult, but on the whole we have received love and support from the people who matter.

It appears therefore, that when you make a firm decision to transform any element of your life, if your decision is resolute and unshakable, and if you do not hesitate with the next step you are taking, then the path clears for you to do what it is that you need to do. The relationships where you will receive the most support will, through amplification, reveal themselves.