How Science Helps Me Be Spiritual

The fundamental thing about science is, to observe. Patiently. With childlike curiosity and fascination.

Science is not about analysis, mathematics, logic, problem solving, learning a bunch of theories, learning what is right and wrong. They follow sometimes, naturally, as a result of observing keenly and patiently — but science is not about these fundamentally.

It is not the scientist’s duty to achieve anything. Observe — that is the only fundamental duty of a scientist. It is also not the scientist’s job to label things as good or bad. This is happening, whatever the ‘this’ is — that means it is worthy of being observed.

When we do that, when we observe, patiently, with childlike curiosity and fascination — we automagically become spiritual. Fundamentally spiritual. Not spiritual as in the following of some rules. Not spiritual as in talking about God. But fundamentally spiritual. Spiritual in the sense of connecting to a force larger than our limited self. Spiritual in the sense of loving — for to keenly observe something means to love that thing.

We can choose to observe anything. Scientists study the clouds as well as the soil. They study beautiful flowers and creepy crawly insects too. One is not more worthy of being studied than the other. Scientists make the political forces the subject of their keen observation too — and music, painting, dance they study those too, with fascination.

And the cool dude scientist observes and studies her own thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and actions. Patiently. Keenly. With childlike curiosity and fascination. Without labeling any thought, emotion or physical sensation as good or bad.

When we do that, when we observe our thoughts emotions and sensations, we become all the more spiritual. We end up loving ourself. We end up knowing that we extend far beyond our limited selves. We end up knowing firsthand, without anyone telling us, that we are an intricately woven mesh of ever dancing energy.

We can all be scientists. It is not hard at all. In fact it is very easy and super fun. All we need to do is to observe — anything. Patiently. Keenly. With childlike curiosity and fascination.


Image credit: hjrivas at Pixabay.com

Served Breakfast By The Universe

It happened one morning in Manipal that I was served breakfast by the universe. That morning still lives in me.

I sat down on the floor with my glass of sattu, almonds and fruits ― and then this thought stream started ―

Thank you Papa for buying this sattu again and again, thank you Mummy for packing and sending it to me. Thanks to you my day starts comfortably.

Sattu is roasted chanaa, powdered. I have it as a drink in water every morning, with lemon, jeera (cumin) powder and salt. It is available in eastern India ― eastern U.P., Bihar and Bengal. When it comes to cooking, I have always been rather lazy. So my parents would regularly send packets of sattu to me when I was living alone in south-west India, so that my day could start with something substantial and energy-giving.

Then, with the food still untouched, the thought stream continued ―
Thank you to the man down the road who stocks these fruits that I am eating. Thank you to the man who transports the fruits in the mini truck to this shop. One by one my mindheart automagically stepped from one stone of gratitude and acknowledgement to the next like a quiet child in a beautiful garden.

Thank you to the people who manufactured this truck, on which the fruits came ― the people on the factory floor and the people who managed the people. Thank you to all the people who manufactured the raw material for the truck ― the metal and the rubber tyres… Thank you to all the people near and far, in space and time, who designed the vehicle in layers and layers of innovation and refinement, starting from generations back to when a wheel and a cart were made.

Thank you to the ones who have grown this fruit, the farmers who tend to the plants each and every day. Thank you dear earth and all the natural process by which fruit grows and makes metal malleable that it can be used in truck.

Thank you to the people who feed and have fed my parents that they could send me the sattu for this morning, to the people who have fed the man in the shop down the road, the man who drives the truck, the people who feed and have fed the ones who manufactured and designed the truck, the ones who grew the fruit…

Thank you to the ones who have fed them not just food, but education, love, companionship ― to all the moments and people who touched and connected to bring this food here.

And as I sat on the floor about to eat, imperceptibly but significantly feeling myself to be pure, innocent as a child, it seemed as though all of humanity, past, present, *and future*, and indeed through them, all of the Universe is standing before me.

They placed the plate before me, and with hands gently stretched out, said a single word, “पाईये” (receive).

I Have Many Mothers

Hindi is my Devaki, English is my Yashoda. Marwari is my grandma, Bengali, my maasi-maa (mother’s sister) — and Sanskrit is my great-grandma. Each of them, in their own way, have nurtured me. They all have a very significant place in my life.

All the languages of India, indeed all the languages of the world are my maasi-maa. There are many among them that I have never met, but I know that when we do meet, we shall become friends – because they are my maa-see, like my mother. If I offer their children – the speakers of that language – a smile, they shall offer one or two of their words in return. I have experienced this first-hand. When I was in USA, I experienced it with Spanish, in south-west India, in Udupi-Manipal, it was the same with Kannada. If I see the beauty of my maasee with fascination, if I hear her carefully, I shall recognize her – I will learn that language. This shall happen with any language that I care to see with love. I know. Every language of the world is my very own.

Why do we believe that we have only one mother – that we have only one mother tongue, one culture, only one religion? I have many mothers.

I feel a deep sense of gratitude towards these languages that have enriched my life — specially for Hindi, English, Sanskrit and Bengali.

Most of my school friends shy away from Hindi, and that is such a pity. They have convinced themselves that it is tough. So they deprive themselves of the beauty that is for their taking. It leaves me deprived of sharing half of myself with childhood friends.

At the same time, I find people referring to English with bitterness in the Hindi forums I frequent, in the articles I read in Hindi magazines. My heart protests immediately, but most times I remain silent. English is my mother tongue, and yes, whether anyone likes it or not, English is an Indian language.

When we feel a sense of pride for our culture, our heritage, that pride does not demand that we feel bitter towards another culture and heritage of this world. That other culture is also our wealth. All the beauty that emerges in this world, is all our wealth. Why do we keep ourselves limited? Our heritage is “vasudhaiv kutumbakam” – this world, this whole earth, is our family.

I am proud of my heritage. More than pride, my heritage gives me a sense of security. This heritage includes music, poetry, history, mythology, arts, eastern science – and they all give joy and a feeling of being with my self. Above all I feel proud of Vedanta. Whether my being will ever proclaim “I am That” or not, that Vedanta is there, that knowledge is there, means I am safe.

This hypothetical scenario arises in my mind at times – what if something drastic happens and all of the heritage of India fades away, its classical music, dance, poetry, Hindi, Sanskrit, all its stories and history… what if the message of Vedanta, termed as Vedanta is on the verge of being wiped out – and I am told that I can keep only one gem of my heritage, what would I choose to keep?

I shall choose two words: vasudhaiv kutumbakam. The world is my family. Even if those two words fade away on the path of time I ask that the thought, that truth, remain shining in me – that all humans, all beings on this earth, are my family.

I know that with this thought in my heart, wherever I may go, I will meet family. My needs shall be met, wherever I may go. All of the 13 years that I lived alone, away from my official family, this has been my experience – in each city, at every step. I did not just befriend people, they did not just help me at the time of trouble – from each interaction, with each person I felt – you are family. If that feeling did not arise at that time, it arose later when I was able to understand that interaction in greater depth.

I received education in an English medium school. Every day in the morning, at assembly, we used to sing one hymn. There was one singing class per week too. Our singing teacher taught us various fun songs like Audrey Hepburn’s All I Want Is A Room Somewhere, and she taught a few more hymns. At home dad read Bachchan’s Is Paar Us Paar, and Raskhan and Bihari’s Meree Bhav Baadhaa Haro in such a soulful manner in the evening, that it left an indelible impression on me. Mom taught Sanskrit to my brother and me. Sanskrit stotras and the creations of Tulsidas are a regular affair at home. The result is that now, even after all these years, all of a sudden words of hymns rise up in me as spontaneously as lines of some Sanskrit stotra or bhajan.

Jesus I give You, my heart and my soul
I know that without You, I’ll never be whole
Master You opened all the right doors
I thank You and praise You
From earth’s humble shores
Take me I’m Yours

These lines are as much my own, as these –

आत्मा त्वं, गिरिजा मतिः, सहचरा: प्राणाः, शरीरं गृहं …
यत्-यत् कर्म करोमि तत्-तत् अखिलम्, शंभो तवाराधनम्
करचरणकृतं वा, कायजं, कर्मजं वा
श्रवण नयनजं वा, मानसं वापराधम्
विहितमविहितं वा, सर्व मेतत् क्षमस्व
जय जय करुणाब्धे श्री महादेव शम्भो।

So I am a Hindu, and a Christian – and I am neither.

These days I am studying a book called “A Course In Miracles“. It was written in USA around 1970. Through this book I am learning how we can choose love instead of fear every moment, moment to moment. Whatever this book teaches is the same as what Vedanta teaches. This is a matter of satisfaction for me. Some terms in the book are of Christian, the voice of the book is such that it feels as if Jesus is speaking, but content is the same as Vedanta and yet the manner of saying what has been said is very different. I am able to receive the message of this book more easily than some Sanskrit scripture because its manner of explaining is more effective for me. That it is originally written in contemporary English is significant bonus.

So I am a Christian, and a Hindu – and I am neither.

An aged couple were my neighbors in Manipal. An elderly couple were my neighbors in Manipal. The lady had many vegetables growing in her garden. She came to my place one day to teach me to grow vegetables. There were many wild Tulsi (Basil) plants growing in the vegetable patch in the backyard. We were digging the soil and making it ready for planting vegetables. There wasn’t enough space due to the Tulsi shrubs. I suggested were uproot one or two of those Tulsi shrubs.

“Is that ok with you?” she asked.

“Yes. Why not? We need space to grow the vegetables, do we not? What will I do with so much Tulsi? The main Tulsi of the house is at front,” I said – and we started uprooting the Tulsi.

A little while later Auntyji, who is a Christian, said, “But you all consider this holy…”

“Yes, we do consider it holy – so that we may know that it is an extremely beneficial herb,” I replied.

“We lost all this several generations back,” she said in a disappointed voice.

It was sad to hear that. Though I did not say it, I felt like saying, “So what? You can still be devoted to your Jesus and adopt whatever you wish of Hinduism that you consider beneficial.”

Why do we believe that we can be followers of only one religion? If we adopt anything else why do we feel we are betraying our own religion? That sense of guilt, that doubt is so meaningless.

Why do we keep our identities so limited?

My identity comes from the womb of silence. She is my Durga Maa – the language of silence. She is my Radha too.


Image source: From the menu card of The Scoop, New Market, Kolkata

An Ode To You

Dear Reader, this is an ode to you –

***

The body may be hurting but you are as God created you. The Son of God cannot suffer — and you are The Son of God.

You are Perfect because Perfection can only create the Perfect.

You are Whole because the Whole can only create the Whole.

You are Infinite because Infinity can only create the Infinite.

You are not a body. You are as God created you.

You, The Perfect has not been sullied in any way.

You, The Infinite have not become limited.

You are as God created you.

Limitless, Powerful, Peaceful.

The body may wilt but you remain Limitless, Powerful, Peaceful.

You are not a body. You are free. You are as God created you.

You are the One Awareness that permeates this whole Universe. The awareness that is there in every atom. The awareness with which each particle dances.

You permeate the Universe.

 


Image source: speakingtree.in

Does It Happen This Way?

When I feel happy, does that happiness caress you as a gentle breeze?

When I feel content, does it ease your breathing?

When I feel grateful, do your lips curl, ever so slightly, into a gentle smile?

When I feel elated, do you sense a twinkle in your eye?

When I feel happy, do you know the universe is busy loving you?

Happy Independence Day!

I share with you 4 lines I came across in Jaishankar Prasad’s Kaamaayani. (Jaishankar Prasad was an eminent Hindi poet and Kaamaayani is a celebrated mahakaavya of Hindi literature). These are the 4 lines, translated by yours truly –

We were not gods, neither are they –
All cogs in the wheel of change.
Yes, tie yourself up as a horse
To the pride-chariot, as you may.

The original Hindi
देव न थे हम और न ये हैं
सब परिवर्तन के पुतले
हाँ – कि गर्व-रथ में तुरंग सा;
जितना जो चाहे जुत ले।
– जयशंकर प्रसाद (कामायनी से)

Yes, we are precious, special, unique. Worthy of being honored.
And so is everyone else.

Seeing Us With Wonder

I have seen how vast and wondrous you are and that is a permanent. Your present behavior does not change that in any way. You are hitting out wildly in the dark. That will not dent me because I am vast and wondrous myself. I am light. Hitting wildly at light does nothing.

It gives me joy to perceive myself as vast and wondrous. It connects me to something gentle to even glimpse you as something more than your present behavior – something that permeates this whole universe. This joy, this gentle feeling is mine. I will not trade this for any other victory.

Do you wish to be my friend? Tell me of your feelings. Tell me of yourself. Tell me what pains you, what gives you joy. Do not tell me who behaved how. Do not tell me what is right or wrong. That conversation does not go anywhere.

Friendship means equality. The exalted goal of *every* relationship. Only when we know we are equal can we be one. If there is something other than equality, it means there is something other than love that is also present in the relationship (love is always present). That something else must be removed, for only love to remain.

Irrespective of when you were born and when I was born, we are equal. Even if this body came out of that body, we are equal. Irrespective of our earnings, achievements, occupation, education, irrespective of even words and thoughts we are equal. Irrespective of how you spend your day and how I spend my day, we are equal.

You may be my nephew or niece, you may be my parent or brother, or a stranger who left a lasting impression of whichever kind, but we are equal.

To my niece, nephews, to all friends younger than me – how can I ask you to touch my feet? You are vast, wondrous, infinite! I do not need you to touch my feet for me to feel love for you. I wish only to see your vast, wondrous beauty. I would much rather you stand up for yourself, as my equal. It’s much more fun that way. I love and respect you. I cannot ask you to bow down to me. Please know that you are lesser to no one.

To my parents, brothers and all friends whose bodies took shape before this body – sooner or later it gets rather stale, being ‘elder’. I am sure you have experienced that. It’s much more fun to have a friend. I do not need to touch your feet for me to feel love for you. I would much rather hug you than perform robotic compliance. I would much rather see your vast and wondrous beauty.

I am the wind, you are sunshine. We can only hug each other.

Let us meet and see each other with wonder and child-like curiosity. As a flower is meant to be seen.


Image credit: Pixabay.com

The Lotus Cannot Be Condescending

Lotuses are found in white and pink colors in general and they grow in shallow and murky waters. ~ theflowerexpert.com

The lotus cannot have a condescending attitude towards the waters it grows in. If it does that, it will not be able to grow and bloom. It won’t be any fun either.

Lotus – called by many names in Hindi/Sanskrit is considered to be kind of an ideal to aspire to. One of the words for the lotus is “pankaj” – that which is born of muck. Pank means keechad, muck. The “j” in pankaj means “born of”. That which can grow, bloom, be beautiful even in the midst of murky waters, that whose leaves are such that the water rolls off it without wetting the leaves (i.e., it does not absorb stuff from this world) – sure, sounds like a nice ideal.

But the lotus, the pankaj, cannot look upon its murky waters as muck. If the lotus is feeling happy (which, going by the fact that it is blooming and smiling with the wind, it must be feeling) it must be feeling only gratitude towards the waters it is growing in – it cannot look at it as muck. It must be surely realizing and acknowledging that the water and muck is holding it in place, giving it a place to grow, bloom and share its beauty with the world.

It is aware that it draws crucial nourishment from the murky waters to feed its stem, leaves, petals. It is aware that a lot beyond the murky waters also sustains it. The winds, the sun, the night and that which powers all of this, powers the lotus too. Even then, even though its true source is something more than the minerals from the murky waters, it can only feel gratitude towards the waters it grows in.

It cannot be a Lotus and be condescending of, nor contemptuous of where it grows.


P.S.: Blue and purple lotuses exist too. Our world is beautiful and wondrous.

neelkamal-3

I had saved the white lotus pic as a wallpaper from the internet many days back. The purple/blue lotus is thanks to a friend, from his visit to Thailand.

My Niece Unlimited

A conversation transpired with my niece recently. She was pulling at my swimming goggles.

“Don’t. It will break.”, I said.

“It’s elastic.”, she replied.

“It is rubber.”

“But it stretches.”

“Sure. But everything has a limit.”

“What is my limit?”, she asked.

“You would have to find that out.”
Then I added, “Actually you are infinite.”

“What do you mean by infinite?”

“Unlimited.”

“How is something unlimited?”

“When it has no beginning or end.”

“So I will not have an end?”

“No. You are unlimited.”

“So I will not go to heaven?”

“Why not? Of course you will go to heaven. But you do not have to end to go to heaven. To go somewhere you just have to go there. To go to Bhopal you just go to Bhopal. You don’t have to end to go to Bhopal.”

“I didn’t know I am unlimited.”

“Now you know.”

“Then you too are unlimited.”

“Yes. Indeed I am.”


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Image credit: Pixabay.com

Dear World, Why Are You So Scared?

earth-from-moon

Dear world,

Why are you so scared?

That was a rhetorical question. No need to analyse fear to give me a well thought out answer. No need to tell me about Amygdala, Hippocampus, fight or flight programming and all that jazz.

Dear world, see how beautiful you are. I mean really. Come on. With so much of beauty around where is the time or space to be scared?

Why are you so dissatisfied with yourself, dear world?

Yes. You guessed right. Rhetorical question.

Hunger? Fear of a depleting body? Fear of death? Someone might kill you? Even if someone does not kill you physically, someone might stab you with words?

But there is no one else out here other than you dear world. And there are no aliens either. Those ‘aliens’ are a part of you. All that there is, that is you dear world.

World implies all that there is.

An ever present cauldron of transformation, change, metamorphosis – dear world, your transformations are so fascinating. How come you do not marvel at it?

“People are dying”, I hear you say ardently.

No. Cells in a body are transforming. Lava is forming. Like it does. That is what is happening with you these days dear world.

People are not dying. There are no ‘people’ here.

Dear Person,

I can hear you say indignantly – “I exist! How can you just negate my existence?! How can you say there are no people here??”

Yes my friend, I totally agree. You exist. And you always will. You who are reading this perplexing post right now – you. You exist and you will always exist. Your body will transform, your mind will transform, but you – you will always exist. That is so fantastic isn’t it?

And as your body transforms, as your mind transforms, you will get to touch different parts of the world, you will get to travel to different parts of the universe. You will do this physically. You will do this mentally. Same difference really. And wherever you go, whatever you touch, you will become that. And soon you will become the world.

How wonderful is that, isn’t it? This expansion.

“BAM!!!” Some body just pressed a gun and shot a bullet through your body. “BAM!!” Another shot. One more hole in your body. Its not your body really, its ‘a’ body. Anyhow, we will figure out the ownership claim later. Some body shot this body and there is blood pouring out, and intestines, and all kinds of muck. The body has fallen down.

Well, that is what happens. That’s the way the cookie crumbles. That’s the way the body disintegrates when some body shoots some body. Actually mind rather. It’s the mind that directed the body to shoot the body. But we will figure that one out too later. Important question is – what about you? You still exist. Some body shot your body but you still exist.

Check once. No, don’t look down at your body to check. Check your mind. Do you in your deepest self still sense that you still exist?

The body associated with the label ‘Vani Murarka’ has fallen down. You, you dear reader, the one who is processing this information, you still exist.

So dear reader, why are you so sad?

Your body has fallen down (well you still believe it is your body, so ok fine) and now you get to see firsthand, you get to experience firsthand, what happens when a body ‘dies’.

How utterly superb!

Well granted. Being shot at must be a very very unpleasant experience. To consciously die, peacefully, with full awareness, must surely be much much better. I too would much rather be Vivekanand than Gandhiji or Martin Luther King. But whatever the kind of cookie crumbling you got to experience, it is mighty fascinating, no doubt about that.

“You lack compassion! How can you trivialize people dying and all the violence in the word!”. Is that what you said?

Nope, my friend. I am not trying to trivialize people dying and all the violence in the world.

It matters to me that you are sad. It matters to me that the world is sad. When I am sad, that matters to me (don’t ask who I am – that right now is a zillion dollar question).

It is because the world is sad that people are dying and there is violence all around. Sad is not bad though. Sad is part of the “that’s the way the cookie crumbles” ball game – the system so to speak. Certain thoughts create sadness. That is just the way the system functions. Thoughts are powerful. Thoughts create. Certain thoughts create joy. Certain thoughts create sadness. The thought that creates sadness has been thought a lot in the world, so there is a lot of sadness in the world. Sad by itself is not bad.

But coming back to what matters to me. You dear friend, you matter to me. You do not gush at your own beauty – your super awesome utterly fantastic infinite beauty. That matters to me.

When I can see how utterly beautiful you are and I come and tell you and you do not really receive it and you continue to be frustrated with yourself – that matters to me.

When I see your beauty, I feel joy. But then when you don’t accept your beauty, my joy is diminished. You’ll agree won’t you – no one likes their joy to be diminished, do they?

You are beautiful. I see your beauty and I feel joyful. Why should it matter to me that you cannot see your beauty? I am joyful. Why is that not sufficient?

Because we are connected. Because we are one. Because the moment I saw your beauty, I became you.

In you I dwell.

I am you.

I am love.


Image credit: Earth from Moon wallpaper.