Interfaith week community wellbeing in Harrow

Hosted by Mind (the mental health charity) in Harrow, members of various local faith groups came together on Friday 17 November to embrace mental wellbeing during Interfaith Week.

It was a relaxed and welcoming session that encouraged us to talk about what makes us happy, how the 5 Ways to Wellbeing relate to our own faith, outlook or personal philosophy, and to share our own favourite quotes and inspiring stories from our own culture.

Scientific studies have shown that happiness will increase when we follow the 5 Ways to Wellbeing: (i) Connect; (ii) Be active; (iii) Keep learning; (iv) Help others; (v) Taking notice.

I found that the session was a wonderful space for connection and a place to enjoy common ground with members of other faith groups. Discussions led to the surfacing of some great gems from the Jain faith such as “athithi devo bhava” (translates to “a guest is God”) and the cultivation of qualities such as universal friendship, appreciation of others’ virtues, compassion for the suffering and equanimity for behaviours we might otherwise struggle to deal with.

This interfaith and wellbeing coffee morning arose from a three day training course I had attended in September for Community Wellbeing Champions, again run by the Mind in Harrow Bridging Cultures project. It was such a joy to meet my fellow course mates from within the local community, continuing to strengthen bonds we had formed in the initial training course.

Keep a look out for other mental health and wellbeing events taking place in the Harrow area over the coming months. These are being run by fellow course mates who are themselves inspiring and dedicated volunteers and professionals.

A fond thank you to the team at Bru Coffee and Gelato for providing a homely space for us and to Emily Danby (Bridging Cultures Coordiator at Mind in Harrow) for organising such a wonderful coffee morning and for treating us all to a coffee!



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.

Overcoming Distractions with Awareness

Why does life get so overwhelming?

We try so hard to do the right thing, follow the right path, and make soulful progress, yet it feels like the world around us is doing everything in it’s power to trip us up.

Occasionally we get a forwarded email that is precisely what we need to read that day.

I was blessed to receive such an email today. The source is unknown but the message is essential. It mentions Satan vs. God, but you could easily exchange these with paap (deluding and destructive karma) vs. Atma (the Soul and it’s nature of abundant, infinite and eternal good and happiness).

Use the message to build your awareness about the distractions and hurdles we face in our Soul’s evolution and through that awareness how to conquer the ‘Devil’s Plans’.

Let me know how you get on…


Satan called a worldwide convention of demons.

In his opening address he said,

“We can’t keep people from going to pray.”

“We can’t keep them from reading their holy books and knowing the truth.”

“We can’t even keep them from forming an intimate relationship with their God “.

“Once they gain that connection with GOD, our power over them is broken.”

“So let them go to their prayers; let them have their covered dish
Dinners,BUT steal their time, so they don’t have time to develop a
Relationship with GOD..”

“This is what I want you to do,” said the devil:

“Distract them from gaining hold of their GOD and maintaining that
Vital connection throughout their day!”

“How shall we do this?” his demons shouted.

  “Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent innumerable
Schemes to occupy their minds,” he answered.

“Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow.”

“Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6-7 days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their empty lifestyles.”

“Keep them from spending time with their children.”

“As their families fragment, soon, their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work!”

“Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small voice.”

 “Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive.” To keep the TV, VCR, CDs and their PCs going constantly  in their home and see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-religious music constantly.”

“This will jam their minds and break that union with God.”

“Fill the coffee tables with magazines and newspapers.”

“Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day.”

“Invade their driving moments with billboards.”

“Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, mail order catalogs, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering
Free products, services and false hopes..”

“Keep skinny, beautiful models on the magazines and TV so their husbands will believe that outward beauty is what’s important, and they’ll become dissatisfied with their wives.

“Keep the wives too tired to love their husbands at night.”

“Give them headaches too! “

“If they don’t give their husbands the love they need, they will begin to look elsewhere.”

“That will fragment their families quickly!”

“Give them distractions to distract them from teaching their children the real meaning of life.”

“Even in their recreation, let them be excessive.”

“Have them return from their recreation exhausted.”

“Keep them too busy to go out in nature and reflect on God’s creation.   Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, plays,
Concerts, and movies instead.”

“Keep them busy, busy, busy!”

“And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences. “

“Crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from GOD.”

“Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause.”

“It will work!”

“It will work!”

It was quite a plan!

The demons went eagerly to their assignments causing people everywhere to get busier and more rushed, going here and there.

Having little time for their God or their families.

Having no time to tell others about the power of GOD to change lives.

I guess the question is, has the devil been successful in his schemes?

Alternatives to Mealtimes in Front of the TV

When a bachelor friend recently visited us, he was saying how, even though he’s bought a dining table and chairs, he has most of his meals in front of the TV.

Until recently, Heena and I have spent most of our mealtimes glued to the TV set too. Such a convenient distraction from life, and a shameful waste of valuable time.

It got me thinking about alternatives to the television during mealtimes either alone or with a partner:

– have a conversation at the dining table
– learn about each others’ day
– picnic in the garden or local park
– eating slowly paying full attention to each mouthful
– listening to music
– listening to inspirational audio
– reading a book
– reading a magazine
– writing lyrics to a song
– writing a blog post
– looking through a photo album
– watching a slideshow of treasured memories on a digital photo frame

Which of the above do you already enjoy doing? What alternatives would you suggest?

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, and follow them on Twitter at