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Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Variety of Religious Experiences I'm having

Twenty years ago, I would've never imagined or appreciated a different way of thinking of, praying to God. Raised as a devout South Indian Iyer, God for me was invoked through mantras and felt as a profound feeling arising from the sheer power of vibrations, the great-problem solver of our life problems. You have a problem, rush to Him and there He is ready with an answer to help you. Years have gone by, and so too the variety of my experiments and experiences with religion !!

God would've expected me to recite the Holy Gayathri Mantra in my puja room, or near a riverbank, or in a temple. Indeed it must've been a sweet surprise to both of us (God and Me :-) ) when I got a chance to recite it right the sanctum sanctorum inside the famous Sultanahmet (The Blue Mosque)  in Istanbul, Turkey!

And this year 2010, here in US, I've seen God more in Church than in temples. As a volunteer and sometimes Usher in the FPC, I've had chances to follow the Christian way of worship, prayers of silence, self-confession, proclamation of love and peace with friends - a unique way indeed to feel God. I also had chance to participate in MahaRudram and Lalitha Sahasranamarchanai in Flushing Ganesha temple, first ever in my life which I missed while all these years in India. God (ok..let me be favourite Goddess Lalithambika)..She is giving me all these glorious experiences to appreciate Her Creation, Her World of maya, the lessons She wants me to learn, the Happiness/Sorrow She wants me to experience to finally, one day, break away from the cycle of birth and death on earth and try living the life of an astral being on different parts of this vast Universe.She makes me play, love, hope, enjoy peace, be joyful and spread it with whomsoever I may come in touch with. Such is Her magic and such is Her love for me!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Five states of Human mind

After observing the great vastness of the mind, spiritualists have identified that there are five states of mind: conscious, subconscious, subsubconscious, subsuperconscious and superconscious.

The first state is the conscious mind, in which we perform our daily routines. When awareness is in the conscious mind, we are externalized. This means we take our direction mainly from memory of past experiences, from other people, from newspapers, magazines, radio, television or our emotions. The average man is aware in the conscious mind from the time he awakens in the morning until he falls asleep at night. That's what makes him average. Only when he becomes mystically inclined does he become consciously aware of some of the other four states.

The second state is the subconscious mind, the grand storehouse and computer of man. It faithfully registers all thoughts and feelings that pass through the conscious state, whether correct or incorrect, whether positive or negative. It registers them and acts or reacts accordingly.

The subsubconscious, the third state of mind, is a conglomeration of various actions and reactions that we have experienced in daily life. It is a subtle state composed of two or more vibrations of experience which mingle and form a third vibration. We have an experience. We react to it. Later we have a similar experience. We react to that. These two reactions merge in the subsubconscious, causing a hybrid reaction that lives with us many, many years.

The fourth state is the subsuperconscious mind. Deep, refined and powerful, it filters intuitive flashes from the superconscious mind through the subconscious gridwork. There are times when you want very much to find a clear answer from within yourself. However, being aware in the conscious mind predominantly, awareness is cut off from direct contact with the superconscious. So, you begin to ask questions of yourself. These questions are registered in the subconscious. The subconscious, like a well-programmed computer, begins to search for the right answer from the superconscious mind. Then, all of a sudden, you know the answer from the inside out. Finding solutions through insight or intuition is one of the functions of the subsuperconscious. It also is the source of all true creativity, inspiration, understanding and perfect timing in daily events.

The superconscious is the fifth state of the mind. Within it is one world within another world and yet another. All mystical phenomena and deep religious experiences come from the superconscious. It is the mind of light, beautiful and vast. When one is superconsciously alive, he feels joyously alive throughout the totality of his being--physically, emotionally and mentally--for new energies are working through his nerve system. This state of the mind is available to everyone to be aware in. The superconscious is the mind of bliss. It is vast, pure intelligence. The subsuperconscious mind is that aspect of the superconscious functioning through established subconscious patterns.

As we learn to identify these states, one from another, we also become more sensitive, like the artist who learns to observe depth, color and dimension within a beautiful painting. His sense of enjoyment is far superior to that of the average man who simply sees the painting as a nice picture, having no appreciation of the intricacies of color, depth, movement and technique.

Courtesy: Excerpted from the book 'Merging with Siva'

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ideals of marriage - a lesson from 'Living with Siva'

The Ideals Of Marriage

Marriage is an institution, a business, a spiritual partnership, a furtherance of humanity and a contract--a three-level contract involving body, mind and emotion. Marriage is a necessary commitment not only for the continuation of the human race but also for the furtherance of each individual soul's spiritual unfoldment. The interaction on all levels between the couple, and later their children, molds the good, bad and confused karmas into new dimensions. Saivite marriages involve not only the bride and groom but also their parents, their priest, guru, astrologer, relatives on both sides and the entire community. The feeling of responsibility to the community is ever present. The community's feeling of responsibility to make each of its marriages work out well is also always present.

Why are Saivite marriages different from other kinds of marriages? It is because of the ever-abiding belief in the ever-present oneness of God Siva within each one. God Siva is within you, and you are within God Siva. God Siva is the Life of our lives. This and more the Saivite saints sang. To forget that Siva is within the wife, to forget that Siva is within the husband is to forget Saivism itself. This basic Saivite belief lays the psychological foundation for the husband to see the wife as a Goddess and the wife to see the husband as a God. All other behavior comes out of this belief. Belief creates attitudes, and attitudes create actions.

The knowing that each one has come into life to work out certain karmas they brought with them in this birth, and that karmas are generally worked out through other people, gives a challenge and a goal--to resolve these karmas and receive the reward of mukti, freedom from rebirth. Because of this belief, this understanding, the husband and wife blend their energies more constructively. Their attitudes are naturally more generous, forgiving and understanding, their actions and interactions more harmonious and mutually supportive. A woman gives her prana, spiritual energy, to her husband, making him strong. Children give their prana to their parents, because to them the parents are Siva-Shakti, the first guru. The wife, always attending to her husband's needs, sets the pattern for the children. By focusing her energies within her family, she builds up a great spiritual vibration in the home. In fulfilling his purusha dharma, the husband gives his prana, love and loyalty to his family, and he benefits the community through his service. He never, ever raises his voice in the home; nor does he show anger in any way. He is the model for the entire family. When his sons come of age, they join their pranas with his, and as a result, the family, the community and the country flourish.

Believing in reincarnation, the parents know that their relatives--and they themselves--will be born back into their family again and again to work out their unfinished karmas. A Saivite home is a karmic factory, a recycling of souls, a mill that grinds exceedingly fine the seed karmas of this and past lives.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Midnight Run - A run for service (6-August-2010)

This is my second run for the Midnight mission. It was a little different as summer has set in US. Accordingly, we mad a change in the food. clothing and free drink relief we were offering to the homeless in New York city.

This time I rode along with a passionate volunteer, a preaching minister of christian religion, a former retired teacher. Though years could touch her age, it couldn't seem to have dampened her spirit. It was enlightening to hear her experiences while driving and sharing my own perspectives in return until we reached NY city.

We went to the same places we went last time, but the expectations were different. New homeless and no familiar faces. We distributed the relief and finally by 12.35 we started. She rode me through the Times Square and I realised that the Times Square is never desolate in any hour - lively, kicking and buzzling with crowd always.

I reached home by 1.15 the next day and had a peaceful and satisfied sleep coming from the good work done hours before :-)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Writing.. for hope..for yourself and a fellowman

Volunteering. I can't fathom how much variety of experience this hobby of mine is going to give me this lifetime. An experience of a kind and first-ever for me - I wrote letters. You may ask me - are you kidding? Writing a letter. We all write letters (more of emails now) every day. Sheets and sheets of paper, pages and pages of email.. So what's special :-)

The special thing here is to write to someone, somewhere whom you may never meet or never see face-to-face. Now that's interesting isn't it.. And what if say that they are for prisoners!

Today I was taken to the Scarborough Church by my friend Barbara ( a friend in FPC, Ossining) to write letters to people who are serving their sentences in the prisons of USA. These people whose life took a turn for ever when they committed some crime/illegal act violating a serious law either in consciousness and cold-bloodedness or just in a fit of rage, passion, ignorance and clouded thinking - crimes that can chill you - killing innocent women, children, old men and other people, robbery, drug wars etc. - the big world of devilish crime.... and can't fail to realize that they are fellow human beings who are supported by the same mother earth, breathe the same oxygen from the air, drink the same water to sustain blood ..the difference only in where you are, and having freedom - Freedom of living your way ..we all take for granted more often.

Writing letters - to people who've not been visited by any family member, loved one or friend for years, denied permanent parole, 23 hrs a day locked in confinement behind steel walls, who may have all but forgotten what it means to see another face, face-to-face with love, speak a word, express a thought...these again we take for granted !!

Barbara and her senior lady friend explained to me the purpose. how your letter with a sincere intention to help can bring relief and peace to the person who receives it, the happiness the person may feel on thinking that someone out there in the world considered important to write for him, though they never have any relation whatsoever. We held hands in prayer asking God to help us with the Spirit to give us words of hope, love and understanding to be written in the letter to make that person feel better and realise that the world still awaits him/her and can feel loved.

I wrote to a person Jelio (name changed to protect identity), who was doing good, allowed permission to work and earn in another block of the prison...but after having found a weapon in the room by the jailors ..had been detained in 23 hr locked confinement until further assessment. The despair he poured out in his letter, not knowing who did it or how it came into his room and the sheer frustration of being wronged when things were going all fine ( the same feeling he once gave to another person when he participated in an armed robbery!!). I'm reminded of the eternal law..what you sow you reap..what you give out..comes to you in return.. but yet i felt compassionate enough to cheer him up. He said he has turned to reading bible and more hours of prayers and with tears (he had never cried during his days of crime), tears of sorrow and repentence. I wrote giving him encouragement to start speaking to God and listen for answers in the quietness of heart, which I did when I lost my parents.

Another letter to Stevens(name changed to protect identity), seems to be well-read, a son of a pastor with a strong religious background, never appreciated religion then, entered into crime and now in prison. After reading bible and interacting through several letters with the ministry of church, he now feels why he doesn't have the 'fire for jesus' like devoted christians have and feeling frustrated being unable to sustain faith being in prison for the last 15 years, not allowed for parole. I gave him the example of how every river has to chart its own course to reach the ocean but its sure to reach. His path of faith may be different than a devout christian outside prison, but he too will reach the same God through Jesus, like every human being will do one day.

I wrote a lot, cited words of hope, examples flowing through me from the Spirit of God. I realised, obviously, I would never have written such inspiration all by myself and it moved my heart and thoughts.

I felt happy today that my handwriting was good, my english was good enough and all that I read, heard, listened and learnt from people and things around helped me create letters of hope for these persons god made me interact with through paper and pen. And now I eagerly await if they'll read them and respond to me, giving me a chance to reform myself in return and feel blessed!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Castaway Movie - touched my heart

In the last weekend (5-6 June 2010), I got the DVD of the movie Castaway from Ossining Library. This is the first movie CD I ever got from here. Though there is huge collection of movies, so far I'd only taken books, but this visit, something moved me to atleast select one for a try...and boy sure I made a nice choice :-)

Castaway didn't seemed like yet another Hollywood movie. To me it seemed a perfect combination of a nice script, fine actor, excellent film-making team- right from movie locale till the words of every dialogue, this movie is one of a kind. Never miss this movie if you've a chance to see.

I was really moved by all characters - including dearest Wilson and the island. Tom Hanks gives his undoubtedly best performance - a fine actor of our times.

The storyline is not only one of survival when lost in an unknown island cut-off from the world but also one of clearing our views/biases and bring out the real perspective of what we can learn from life - from each moment we live on taking it for granted and the value of relationships over mundane successes in life - through career or business.

I've now started looking back to browse through English movies rather than just reading books and I thank this movie for making this change.

Next time when someone talks to me about movies, sure, I'll recommend this one and I'll feel glad that I did it :-)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Tryst with the Lady of Liberty

It was a bright sunny day, a fine Saturday(24-May-2010) heralding the start of a nice weekend. I took the Metro-North train (supposed to come at 8.38 in the morning, thought I missed it, hoping to catch the 9.04am one I caught this :-) ) starting off to Grand Central. I met an Indian friend who gave me good company during the journey. We talked about weather, vacations, family, work life which kept us engaged throughout the journey.
I reached GC. The station looked wonderful, bristling with crowd - young, aged, multi-culture, mix of tradition and modernity -  a true statement to what this country USA represents.

I took the subway to bowling green and reached the battery park. My bro arrived with my aunt/uncle and his friend and mom. We were all equally excited. After the regular baggage/passenger screening process we boarded the cruise. When the cruiser started, I felt happy seeing the waves rising and falling, building receding far away and felt as if I was in the arms of the mother river and Hudson is truly majestic.

We reached the liberty island and spent glorious time clicking away pictures. Later we went to Ellis Island and learnt its history - how it had served as the immigration post and the life and times of early immigrants to US. the museum hosted some good pictures that took us back to early 18th century.

We returned back to NY city and truly it was a memorable tryst indeed !!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why Vegetarianism... Excerpts from the book 'Living with Siva'

I recently read on vegetarianism, its importance and why humans should adopt it. This is an excerpt from the book 'Living with Siva'.

Reasons for Vegetarianism

Vegetarianism has for thousands of years been a principle of health and environmental ethics throughout India. Though Muslim and Christian colonization radically undermined and eroded this ideal, it remains to this day a cardinal ethic of Hindu thought and practice. A subtle sense of guilt persists among Hindus who eat meat, and there exists an ongoing controversy on this issue. The Sanskrit for vegetarianism is shakahara, and one following a vegetarian diet is a shakahari. The term for meat-eating is mansahara, and the meat-eater is called mansahari. Ahara means "food" or "diet," shaka means "vegetable," and mansa means "meat" or "flesh."

Amazingly, I have heard people define vegetarian as a diet which excludes the meat of animals but does permit fish and eggs. But what really is vegetarianism? It is living only on foods produced by plants, with the addition of dairy products. Vegetarian foods include grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, milk, yogurt, cheese and butter. The strictest vegetarians, known as vegans, exclude all dairy products. Natural, fresh foods, locally grown without insecticides or chemical fertilizers are preferred. A vegetarian diet does not include meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or eggs. For good health, even certain vegetarian foods are minimized: frozen and canned foods, highly processed foods, such as white rice, white sugar and white flour; and "junk" foods and beverages--those with abundant chemical additives, such as artificial sweeteners, colorings, flavorings and preservatives.

In the past fifty years millions of meat-eaters have made the decision to stop eating the flesh of other creatures. There are five major motivations for such a decision. 1) Many become vegetarian purely to uphold dharma, as the first duty to God and God's creation as defined by Vedic scripture. 2) Some abjure meat-eating because of the karmic consequences, knowing that by involving oneself, even indirectly, in the cycle of inflicting injury, pain and death by eating other creatures, one must in the future experience in equal measure the suffering caused. 3) Spiritual consciousness is another reason. Food is the source of the body's chemistry, and what we ingest affects our consciousness, emotions and experiential patterns. If one wants to live in higher consciousness, in peace and happiness and love for all creatures, then he cannot eat meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or eggs. By ingesting the grosser chemistries of animal foods, one introduces into the body and mind anger, jealousy, fear, anxiety, suspicion and a terrible fear of death, all of which are locked into the flesh of butchered creatures. 4) Medical studies prove that a vegetarian diet is easier to digest, provides a wider range of nutrients and imposes fewer burdens and impurities on the body. Vegetarians are less susceptible to all the major diseases that afflict contemporary humanity, and thus live longer, healthier, more productive lives. They have fewer physical complaints, less frequent visits to the doctor, fewer dental problems and smaller medical bills. Their immune system is stronger, their bodies purer and more refined, and their skin clearer, more supple and smooth. 5) Finally, there is the ecological reason. Planet Earth is suffering. In large measure, the escalating loss of species, destruction of ancient rainforests to create pasture lands for livestock, loss of topsoil and the consequent increase of water impurities and air pollution have all been traced to the single fact of meat in the human diet. No single decision that we can make as individuals or as a race can have such a dramatic effect on the improvement of our planetary ecology as the decision to not eat meat. Many conscious of the need to save the planet for future generations have made this decision for this reason and this reason alone. 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Midnight Run - A run for service (7-May-2010)

Now that I've been associated with the First Presbyterian Church, Ossining for a month, I am getting some real good opportunities to do 'seva' and keep my soul and mind in right shape.

Yesterday, I volunteered in a unique program (very special for me to remember in my current life), called 'Midnight Run'.. now wait its not an overnight marathon of sorts which you may imagine ;-). It is just called so, perhaps, coz you race against/give up the comfortable sleep of midnight, to serve the homeless and needy who may actually have many sleepless/troubled nights due to their poor economic condition!

In this event coordinated by the Midnight ( here in Westchester, NY, our church FPC participated as a donor along with a few other churches like the Briarcliff one. We collect food materials, clothing, tolietries, medicines etc. to distribute among the homeless and needy right in the heart of the affluent New York city!

I was picked up by my nice friend, Bob Supino and his wife, a wonderful service-minded couple in the church with caring hearts. They've been coordinating this for years under the patronship of our church pastor, Lynda.
We arrived in the church by around 7.45pm. We could see a lot of items coming from different churches, family neighborhood arriving at the church. Then the activities begun.

(1) Make food packs - Take bread, cheese, ham, veg. leaves and make sandwiches (like in assembly there were some school/college going young boys/girls enthusiastically working their gourmet/packing skills ;-)), put some fruits, cookies, milk, etc. and seal them
(2) Organizing clothes - arrange by men, women and children clothing and label the sizes - shirts, pants, jeans, inner wear, blankets, jerkins, sweatshirts etc.
(3) Categorize toileteries - soaps, shampoo, oral care, medicines etc.
(4) Packing all into cartons.
(5) Preparing hot coffee/ veg. soup cartons.

After all work, it was time to start (about 9.15 pm). We decided to go as a team of 4 cars..with the relief materials. Lynda introduced all of us to each other, Bob read out the ground rules and safety instructions and finally Lynda gathered us in a small group prayer :-) (very touching)

Then we started off to New York city. I joined Rich (a financial investment consultant with wide industry experience of 20+ years). We discussed a lot during the 1-hour long journey - topics from church, religion, economic meltdown, India and emerging markets economies (and finally got close enough to discuss families :-) )

We reached Manhattan and per plan had four main places to cover - parks, cross-road junctions, church areas and under construction scaffolding where we can locate the homeless/needy. The moment our cars arrived and opened shop we could see streams of people pouring in. Bob told me that as it happened every year, people knew we were coming and also the areas we cover. (this means the same people can follow us and collect relief at all places, so beware ;-)..)

I was in the car, where we distributed sandwich packs, coffee, soup, shoes and blankets. I felt very happy when I gave things to them and was touched when they blessed me and my family !! :-) (i feel that the most precious thing we can ever get in this world is the heartfelt-thanks and blessings from people whom you may never know or see for the first time !!. we can never buy these things with money nor we can get the same love, peace and satisfaction through other means. This is what makes seva, a very special activity. I dedicate all these to Lord Krishna, who's been so kind to use me as an instrument to help the needy He wanted to..Hare Krishna!!)

In the final spot, I was moved to tears, to see people in huts, made of cardboard, paper cartons, stapled/taped together and sleeping under them on a thin rug spread on the pavement!! [However, I feel that the needy and poor in needy don't even have these !! :-( ]. I could see how much blessed we are indeed to have a family/home to return to and take shelter giving us enough hope for the next day to live.

I spoke to a variety of them - some complained about life, harsh govt, heartless people ; some full of thanks for us to come and see them and talk a few nice words to them as they've never been spoken to for months; some really moved to tears seeing us and asking for more support/some job we can find for them; some making fun of us and rather angry with us when we said we can't give more to the same person as we need to give others-- all kinds. I wondered the play of God, making people react differently for the same situation!!.

Life is the same. We all get born into this material world and die once. Same problems, same Maslow's needs, and same human deficiencies - ego, greed, fear, jealousy, at different ages.. but the same material world!!. I wonder how many human beings have undergone the same thing in this universe - but we still feel we are uniquely made by god by our own material standards!!

Are we really unique? Aren't our life cycle the same? I think I'm contributing uniquely, but am i not doing the same things others have done before albeit in different settings? Where am I in this universe? Am i a spiritual being having a human experience or am I a human being having a spiritual experience? Questions, questions and questions...doubts, doubts and doubts... Gosh!!

But summum bonum, this has enlivened my spirit. To see things in my life again in a larger perspective..perhaps those office problems - promotion, pay etc.. wouldn't bother me more than they really should do, perhaps I've to be more responsible to my family and towards myself, not take things for granted and realising the prime duty of seva wherever i am.

This experience is changing me slowly - for the better ..and I hope to participate in the next run !!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

About soul, spirituality and religion

ஆன்மீகமும் ஆன்மாவும்
இன்று இந்த வலைப்பின்னலில் நான், ஆன்மீகம் மற்றும் ஆன்மாவின் இடையே இருக்கும் உறவினைப்பற்றி எனது சிந்தனைகளை உங்களிடம் பகிர்கிறேன்.
முதலில் அவற்றின் அர்த்தங்களை ஆராய்வோம். ஆன்மீகம் என்பது நமது மனித உடம்புக்குள் இருந்து ஆட்டுவிக்கும் ஆன்மா எனப்படுவதை உணர்வது, புரிந்துகொள்வது. தனது அத்வைதத்தை எடுத்துக்கூறும் முயற்சியில் ஜகத்குரு ஆதிசங்கரர், ஒரு மனிதரின் விழிப்பு நிலை, உறக்க நிலை மற்றும் கனவு (ஆழ்ந்த உறக்கம்) நிலையை உதாரணமாக எடுத்துரைக்கிறார். விழிப்பு நிலையில் நாம் நமது மனம், உணர்வு,புலன், எண்ணங்களின் மூலம் நமது உடலை மூளை ஆட்டுவிப்பதை காண்கிறோம். இதில் பெரும்பாலோர்ற்கு சந்தேகம் இருப்பதில்லை. உறக்க நிலையில் நமது உடல் படுத்துக்கொண்டு இருக்கும்பொழுது மனம் அலைபாய்வதை உணர்கிறோம். உடல் கிடக்கும்போது அலைபாய்பவர் யார். கனவு நிலையில் நாம் காணாத தேசங்களுக்கு செல்பவர் யார். கனவில் நம்மை மற்றவர் தாக்கும்பொழுது நமது பூதவுடல் காயப்படுவதில்லை, ஆனால் நமக்குள்ளே ஒருவர் வலியோடு அழுகிறார், வேதனைப்படுகிறார். யாரவர்? அவரே ஆன்மா ஆவார்.
உண்மை என்னவெனில் ஆன்மாவே நாமவோம். இந்த உடல் நமக்காக தற்காலிகமாக இந்த உலகில் நமது கர்மாவை கரைப்பதற்கு இறைவன் என்றழைக்கப்படும் ஒருவரால் வழங்கப்பட்டது. இந்த கர்மா கரையும்வரை எத்தனை பிறவிகள் வேண்டுமானாலும், எத்தனை விதமான உயிரினமாகவும் நாம் பிறக்க முடியும். கர்மா கரைந்த  பின்னர் மட்டுமே நாம் சுதந்திரத்தை அடைய முடியும். பகவத் கீதை இந்த உண்மையையே எடுத்துக்கூறுகிறது. கர்மாவை கரைப்பது சுலபமில்லை. பாப கர்மத்தை செய்யும்பொழுது நாம் மனிதப்பிறவினும் கீழான பிறவியை அடைகின்றோம். அந்த நிலையில் ஆன்மாவைப்பற்றி நமக்கு பிரக்ஞையே  இருக்கப்போவதில்லை. மனிதப்பிறவியின் துரதிர்ஷ்டம் நாம் ஆன்மாவை நம்புவதில்லை, அல்லது அறிந்தும் உணர்வதில்லை. இந்த உலக மாயை அவ்வளவு சக்திவாய்ந்தது. எல்லாம் மாயை, இந்த உடல் நானல்ல, அதன் உள்ளிருக்கும் ஒன்றே நான். அது என்றும் அழிவதில்லை என்று கீதை எடுதுககூறும், உண்மையை நாம் நம்பும்போது தெளிவு பிறக்கிறது. இந்த உலகில் நாம் எதிர்கொள்ளும் அனுபவங்களில் மாயையின் பங்கை அறியும்போது, மாயை விளக்கி உண்மையை அறியும்போது, இந்த உலகை விட்டு செல்ல ஆன்மாவுக்கு வழி தெரிகின்றது. அந்த நொடியிலிருந்து நமக்கு நிர்வாண நிலை அடைய நம்பிக்கை பிறக்கின்றது.
ஆன்மிகம் என்பது ஆன்மா மற்றும் ஆன்மாவை இந்த உலகின் சூழலிலிருந்து விடுதலை அடையும் யுக்திகளை எடுத்துக்கூறும் வழியே ஆகும். ஒரு ஆன்மீக வாதி மதவாதியாக இருக்கவேண்டிய அவசியம் இல்லை. தேர்ந்த ஆன்மீகவாதி மதத்தை ஒரு கருவியாக பார்க்கிறார். மதவாதி, ஆன்மாவை உணராமல் தன் மதத்தை பின்பற்றுவது மட்டுமே குறிக்கோளாக எண்ணுகிறார். அதன் மூலம் தமக்கு அடுத்த பிறவியில் மேலும் உயர்ந்த நிலையை கடவுள் அருளுவர் என்று நம்புகிறார். ஆன்மீகவாதியோ, அடுத்த பிறவியே வேண்டாமப்பா, கடவுளே  நான் உன்னிலிருந்து வந்தவன் உன்னிலே மீண்டும் இணைய வேண்டுமப்பா என்று கதறுகிறார்.
நாத்திக வாதியோ, இந்த உலகையே எல்லாமாக பார்க்கிறார். கடவுள் இல்லை. ஆன்மா இல்லை, உடலே எல்லாம் என்று எண்ணுகிறார். கடவுள் இருக்கிறாரா, இல்லையா என்று நான் இங்கு வாதிட விழையவில்லை. இந்த உலகம் எதனிடமிருந்து வந்ததோ, அதனிடம் சென்றடைந்து, மீண்டும் இந்த உலக அனுபவம் ஏற்படவேண்டாம் என்றே ஆசைப்படுகிறேன். இந்த உலகை இயக்கும்  ஏதோ ஒன்று உள்ளது. அது சில விதிகளையும் ஏற்படுத்தி உள்ளது. உயிர்கள் அனைத்தும் அந்த விதிகளை மீற  முடிவதில்லை, மாற்றவும் முடிவதில்லை, அனுசரிக்க மட்டுமே முடிகிறது. மீறினால்
இயற்கை சீற்றமடைகிறது, உயிர்கள் அழிகின்றது. மரணத்துக்குபிறகு உடல் அழுகிவிடுகிறது, அதற்கு முன் எரித்து விடுகின்றோம். அதன் பின்பு ஒன்றும் புலப்படுவதில்லை. இதுவே உண்மை. ஆனால், நாம் ஆன்மா என்று எண்ணும்பொழுது, இந்த உலக வாழ்க்கையைப்பற்றிய பயம் அகன்றுவிடுகிறது. நம்பிக்கை பிறக்கின்றது.  
அதன் பின்பு இந்த உலகம் நம்மை பயமுறுத்துவதில்லை. எதையும் தாங்கும் பாங்கு வருகின்றது. எல்லோரையும் நண்பராக பார்க்கின்றோம். உலகமே இனிமையானதாக தெரிய ஆரம்பிக்கின்றது. இறைவனைப்பார்த்து புன்முறுவலிக்க ஆரம்பிக்கின்றோம். அவரது விளையாட்டு புரிய ஆரம்பிக்கின்றது. விதிகள் புரிந்த பின், விளையாட்டில் ஈடுபட்டு, விளையாட்டில் வெல்ல முயல்கிறோம். அதுவே இறைவனும் விரும்புகின்றார். சிலசமயம் கஷ்டங்கள் கொடுத்து, நம்மை பலஹீனபடுத்துகிறார்
சில சமயம் தோள் கொடுத்து உதவுகிறார். அனால் விளையாட்டை வெல்லும் குறியிலிருந்து நாம் என்றும் விலகக்கூடாது. நாமும் அவருடன் சேர்ந்து விளையாடுவோம், அவரது விளையாட்டை ரசிப்போம். வென்று விட்டால் நாம் அவருடன் ஒன்றாவோம், இணை பிரியாமல் இணைவோம்.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What I felt after seeing these movies

This weekend I could get some time to watch 2 tamil movies - those which friends have, a long time, asked me to see. They know that I'm not a movie buff, would read/indulge in music than watch a movie. So I selected these 2 movies - ஆட்டோகிராப் (Autograph) by Cheran and ஆயிரத்தில் ஒருவன் (One among a thousand) by Selvaraghavan for this weekend. For the actual movie stories, better explanations are available in the net (start with the neutral wikipedia and then move on to other reviews)

(1) First about Autograph.
A wonderful movie I saw after another Tamil movie கல்லூரி I saw and enjoyed a few months ago. Cheran is a fine actor without the பந்தா of a movie star but fits into the role like any other common man. Nor does he try to imitate other stars like MGR, Sivaji, Rajni or Kamal which other actors do. This, in itself, makes us interested in the natural story. A different storyline with a thought every person thinks during his time of wedding - Getting old friends to attend it. Though, normally we usually stop with sending invites, calling in phone etc. Cheran goes to the extent of visiting them in person to different places to invite them. His experiences in school where he experienced his first 'love' without realising it via Kamala, the second phase in college where he loves but doesn't have the mettle to convert it into marriage and gruesome acts by fate via Lathika, the third phase, at work, where the girl just chooses to have a different path closer to her heart than a wedded life via Divya - each one of these parts are interesting to watch without any boring scene. Also, songs are apt to the situation. I also liked a few parts not too easy to forget - Kamala's affection and her thrill/anxiety when Senthil visits her home, Lathika in her widowhood crying out her heart - in a mirabai like state, Divya helping senthil during the 2 days of ad campaign when her mother had passed away and hiding it from others (Logic here is doubtful or i might not have watched the scenes properly - did she perform the cremation on the day mother had passed away or she hid it for 2 days without others noticing it?) but whatever it showed to what extent a true friend can act selflessly.
I loved all actors in this movie and no one looked like overacting their part - the biggest asset to a movie after the story line, actors just acting to the role and not like 'stars'.
I would recommend this movie to others anytime :-)

(2) Ayirathil Oruvan by Selvaraghavan
After movies like Kadhal Konden, 7G rainbow colony - yet another attempt by Selva on a subject line others haven't ventured to. This time with history of cholas/pandyas rivalry.

Positive aspects - Movie where you dont feel bored in any scene or would want to doze off for a moment. Visually stunning and audio effects. I liked the part especially when Lord Nataraja's shadow actually shows the path among the quicksand pools. Underlying meaning - life is full of quicksand to pull you under maya, it's Lord Shiva's grace to lift/raise you to the path to reach Godhead. With the shiva mantra in the background, it was apt to feel the 'effect'. a lot of things looked natural - the clash between 2 educated/'urban modern' ladies and what a slumguy thinks about them and vice-versa and the first half was good to watch.

Negative aspects - Second half seemed more like a rush through. Logic, also at several places, seem to fall behind. When the army general could pick up a cellphone to alert the govt and army after receiving his message from Anita - all that GPS stuff and subsequent arrival of troops. Couldn't it be done earlier at every stage to ensure and prepare for safety of dying people?. Even in deserts, forests and seas, modern day GPS is very powerful. Second, portrayal of the Cholas as though they are tribes? :-) A proper research would've shown that the Cholas were at the peak in Culture and Arts. Even if you are cut-off from the world you still could maintain the current level of culture and arts and have refined people? Also the gladiator-like fights in the arena, I'm not aware if the Cholas really had a practice like that and enjoyed them as well. They engaged in fine sword fights and didn't kill innocents in arenas for public fun. Those sections were plain 'repulsive'. And then the black-magic protection which suddenly leaves and make the community exposed? A lot of things like this you'll realise after watching the movie (not during it as I said before - it was visually stunning and audibly engaging). Except for the MGR song and the song sung by the Chola king, others were not pleasing to me. So no comments about them.
On the whole you can watch it once, if you like Selva's movies.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Usher in the Church

Yesterday, the 18th of April, I had a satisfying opportunity of being the usher for the morning service in the Presbyterian church. It might be surprising to you, that what a Smartist like me can do as a usher in the church. Believe me, it is like any other seva we do in our hindu temples and equally satisfying. Some of my duties were:
(1)Inviting people into the church
(2)Providing the service bulletin for the day
(3)Supporting the needs of the elderly and women with babies/toddlers etc. and directing help to them
(4)Receive the offerings of the day and present it to the Pastor for the Lord's blessing.

I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity and thank God for giving me this role to remember and cherish in my life.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Maundy Thursday - April 1 , 2010

That evening after coming from office, I went a little early by 7pm to the church. It was so silent as though filled with a spirit welcoming people into its fold. Soon, the pastor arrived - in a hurry - to set things up. Helped her with setting the table, candles etc. Barbara arrived and soon we set the chairs around the table in a circle. Very close members of the church soon arrived and I went near the entrance to welcome all. By 7.30 pm, by an act of love and grace, the pastor invited me to join the ceremony though I was a Hindu by faith. That moment, I realised how God's act of love can happen and I was invited in the circle !!

We started with reading from the scriptures and singing prayer song with Eric on the piano. After a round of prayers came the most solemn moment - the enactment of the last supper.

We washed each other hands, broke bread, immersed in the juice of fruit, shared in love and harmony. Then we took the blessing of christ and meditated. All the paraments, symbols and candles were removed and there lay the cross draped in black in the centre of the table!

We departed silently in the loving hope to meet again to celebrate with joy, the resurrection of Christ :-)

Prayer in First Presbyterian Church- 28 March 2010-Palm Sunday

Ever since I attended the music concert. I feel drawn to the church - its quietness, the feeling of spirituality and the warmth of the church members. I attended the worship service last sunday (28-Mar-2010) - the prayer and the morning breakfast tete. The pastor had arranged the enacting of Palm Sunday events by children. The time when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem welcomed by women and children on one hand and the Roman soldiers coming to contain crowd on the other. The children were undoubtedly delighted to have the palm stalk in hand and waving happily.
Sam too had come with his sons and we all enjoyed it.
 Later after prayers we met at the cafeteria and it was a warm feeling to meet people and discuss about a lot of things that really mattered - family, social concern, manage daily issues, religion etc. Barbara presented me with a little palm cross which I've added to my little deities :-)
The Church pastor has invited me for the Maundy Thursday service on April 1, 2010.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A magnificent weekend: 20/21Mar2010 - My first Western Music Concert & a church prayer visit

Last Saturday on 20-March-2010 at 8pm evening, I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to Western Music concert held in a Church. It was a different feeling as I've just listen to English music from the net but never listened to a live one.

Here we had a real variety - Opera-type singing of the 'Twelve poems of Emily Dickinson' conducted by the renown Pianist Eric Kramer. After a break we had a Sonata 1 violin play of J.Brahms by Katie Kresek with Eric Kramer in the piano. A true treat to the ears and an evening well spent.

The next day, I went to the same church, First Presbyterian Church, Ossining NY and attended the morning prayer. A Hindu by faith, I could still understand and integrate into the prayer as it was so soulful and as universal as it can be. God is the same - called by different names and prayer goes to the same God who loves all creation. Met some nice people. The church pastor, Rev. Lynda S. Clemens is a magnificent lady who shared her personal life incidents to teach valuable lessons.

இந்த வாரம் உண்மையிலேயே ரொம்ப இனிமையாகத்தான் இருந்தது.  :-)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

அமெரிக்க ஐக்கிய நாடு வாழ்க்கை

இந்த வருடம் ஜனவரி மாதம் பதினைந்தாம் நாள், நான் நியூ யார்க் நகரம் JFK விமான நிலையம் வந்திறங்கிய நாள் இன்றும் நினைவில் உள்ளது. அதற்கு முந்தைய தினம் தான் நான் எனது ஆருயிர் குடும்பத்துடன் பொங்கல் விழா கொண்டாடிவிட்டு இரவு பெங்களூர் விமான நிலையம் வந்து மும்பை விமானத்தை பிடித்து..அப்பப்பா ஒரே அலைச்சலும் பரபரப்புமான சூழல்.

இங்கு வந்த பிறகு, பாதுகாப்பு ஆய்வெல்லாம் முடிந்த பிறகு ஒரு வழியாக எனது அலுவலக குழு அன்பரால் காரில் Armonk நகரம் வந்து சேர்ந்தேன். ஒரு வாரம் ஹோடெலில்

இருந்து..அப்புறம் நண்பர்கள் உதவியால் வீடு பார்த்து..குடி வந்து..கடும் குளிர் அனுபவித்து..நியூ யார்க் நகரில் எனது சகோதரனை சந்தித்து மகிழ்ச்சி கொண்டு,நகரை சுற்றி பார்த்து, கோயில்கள் சென்று வழிப்பட்டு
..இன்று நிதானமாக வலைப்பக்கத்தை எழுதும் அளவிற்கு தயாராகிவிட்டேன் :-)

குடும்பத்தை பிரிந்து வருவது எவ்வளவு சிரமம், மனதழுத்தம், பிரிவின் தாக்கம் எல்லாம் மற்றவர் சொல்லி மட்டும் கேட்டிருக்கிறேன். இப்போது அனுபவிக்கும்பொழுது 

தெரிகிறது. மனைவி என்பவர் எவ்வளவு இனிய நண்பர்..கூட இருக்கும்போது இதை நாம் சாதாரனமாக அல்லவா எடுத்துக்கொள்கிறோம். ஆனால் அது எவ்வளவு இனிமையான உறவு, நட்பு என்பதை இப்பொழுது நன்றாக உணர்கிறேன். விஞ்ஞான மற்றும் தகவல் தொழில்நுட்ப வசதிகளால் - Skype
மற்றும் கூகிள் டாக் உதவியால் நானும் எனது இல்லாளும் பேசுகிறோம், அன்பைப்பரிமாருகிறோம்.
விஞ்ஞானத்துக்கும், IT க்கும் கோடி நன்றிகள்.

இங்கு மக்கள் ஒரு விதமான இயந்திர வாழ்க்கை வாழுகிறார்கள். அவசரம், பொருளாதார கவலை , பொறுப்புகள் எல்லாமாய் சேர்ந்து வாட்டுகிறது. ஆனால் முன்னேற்றம் மற்றும் இந்த சோகமான சூழலில் இருந்து மீள வேண்டும் என்ற முனைப்பும் பிரமிக்க வைக்கிறது. இவர்களிடம் கற்றுக்கொள்ள நிறைய இருக்கின்றது. உதாரணமாக டிராபிக் நேர்த்தி, காரோட்டுதல், வயதானவர்களை, குழந்தைகளை, ஊனமுற்றோரை நடத்தும் பாங்கு, விதிகளை அனுசரிக்கும் ஒழுங்கு, பிற நாட்டு மக்களிடம் நேயம்.. எல்லாமும். இந்தியாவில் நம்மை விட ஏழ்மையான மாநிலத்திலோ, பிற நாட்டிலிருந்தோ (பாகிஸ்தான், பங்களாதேஷ், ஸ்ரீ லங்கா, பூட்டான், பீகார், உத்தர் பிரதேஷ்..) வரும் மக்களை நாம் எப்படி நடத்துகிறோம் என்பதை பார்க்கும் பொழுது
நாம் கற்றுக்கொள்ள நிறையவே உள்ளது. அதே போல் நாமும் நமது கலாச்சாரத்தை பற்றி எடுத்துசொல்லவும், பரிமாறிக்கொள்ளவும் இங்கு நிறைய வாய்ப்பு உள்ளது.

ஆகையால் வாழ்க்கையை புரிந்துகொள்ள உதவும் இந்த அனுபவங்களை கடவுளின் பாடமாகவே எடுத்துக்கொள்கிறேன். அனால் சீக்கிரம் எனதன்பு மனைவியும் என்னுடம் இங்கு ற்கு அருள் புரிவாயாக இறைவியே. கோடி நன்றி உனக்கு !!