Saturday, December 13, 2008

Vipassana for sanity

Can we see prisoners as lesser beings?

The line that separates them and us is very thin. When people do not maintain awareness of their thoughts and actions, anything can happen.

Thousands of prisoners at India's once-dreaded Tihar jail did the Vipassana course initiated by Ms.Kiran Bedi. Many of them say that had they known Vipassana earlier, they wouldnt have been here now.

Here are photos taken from Vipassana courses conducted at Tihar Jail, New Delhi. The end of the ten-day course witnesses many dramatic scenes.You can see a prisoner crying on the shoulders of a police officer, after doing the Vipassana course.

Image Copyright:
Vipassana Research Institute, Igatpuri, India.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The value of everything

I had a friend during my college days who was a voracious reader. He used to read heavy books. I remember him buying Churchill's complete speeches at a book fair. I was incredulous: How would he read them ? Makarand was blind.

At that time we (his classmates) took turns reading the books to him. Later he was gifted a software which helped him read alone. He could scan the text and feed it into his computer. The software read out the entire book to him.

When I heard of how much struggle he went through just to read a book, I was struck with a sense of shock at how people gifted with fully functioning organs spend their days. They have fully functioning eyes, ears, tongue, hands, legs and brain.

Have we ever stopped to realise the value of the gifts given us? And how we are using them ?

Friday, August 29, 2008

The two-rupee miracle that kicked my smoking forever

NOTE: This is an inspirational true story. It happened during the author(Ashis Kumar Gupta) visit to a temple in India. Well, it was not the diety in the temple who did it, but who knows ? Who has seen a diety to recognise one? Read on...

SOME years ago, on the last leg of the Rajasthan tour, we were headed towards Pushkar.Pushkar is famous for its Brahma temple. Pushkar is the only city in India(and the world) with a Brahma temple.

As we neared the desolate area, sandy landscape made way for people dressed in a riot of colours.Typical of rajasthani villagers.

We reached the Brahma temple, where a serpentine queue awaited the darshan. While some from our group of friends went looking for a ‘quick’ way to get entry, others tried to use the opportunity for a cup of tea, a cigarette or paan(something like chewing tobacco). Like other temple cities, we were chased by beggars for alms on every street.

As my friend and I lit a cigarette standing at a nearby paan shop, a grey-haired, spectacled and wrinkled old beggar woman approached us, leaning on a long stick. She wanted one rupee to help her buy lunch. We looked at her in distaste and refused to oblige. At that moment, a friend called to ask us to hurry up for darshan. We crushed the cigarette with our shoes, I took my son in my arms and asking my wife to follow, left for the temple gates.

Behind me,I could overhear the woman say that, “these young men will burn more than a rupee for their bad habit, but will never give a rupee to a hungry person.” I left the place nonchalantly. However, during the darshan, her remarks resounded in my ears. I began wondering if there was some truth to what she had said.

On our return, I found the old woman standing near a shop. I beckoned to her and she came promptly. I asked her who would give her lunch for a rupee. She replied, “At an alms house. It's virtually free, but they have stipulated this token amount for each meal. We have to deposit the amount before lunch.” I gave my son two rupees to give it to her. Before accepting the money, she promptly took my son's hand in her own and embraced him in her emaciated arms with love and affection, ran her fingers through his hair and prayed to the Almighty for his well being and prosperity. Tears of happiness rolled down her cheeks.

I had never witnessed such heartfelt blessings and could never have believed that two rupees(about 5 US cents) could reflect such unbounded joy in a person's eyes.

About an hour later, as we were returning to the hotel after lunch, we found the old woman having her lunch sitting on a stone under the shade of a tree. A little girl in a dirty, torn dress sat beside her, who also she was feeding. I went up to her and asked, “Amma(Mother), who is that girl?”. She replied, “Sir, this poor girl is new in the city and yet to learn how to beg a rupee from the tourists. She couldn't manage a rupee today. So, I have brought lunch for her out of the money you gave for dinner. Don’t worry, God will arrange for my dinner.”

I was astonished at her generosity and could not utter a single word. It was a true lesson. The woman who was not sure whether she would be able to arrange a rupee for her dinner did not hesitate to feed a hungry girl. Her remarks were correct and the proof of how the cost of two cigarettes could feed two hungry people was before me.

For the last time, I tossed the half-burnt cigarette and crushed it under my shoes. I got the strength to quit the habit at that moment. No ‘statutory warning’ on the cigarette packet could teach me the lesson that the beggar woman did that day.

- Ashis Kumar Gupta-

Thanks to Sushanta for forwarding this article.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Affirmation music to the rescue !

The idea has been there for quite a while.It was that no one had taken the initiative to make it real. Not just initiative, there had to be a combination of talents: musical, composing, internet technology and team play. Plus, a good intention. An intention to really benefit people.

Ken Laderoute just happened to be the person who could do all of these things together. He and his team of musicians(his wife, a talented singer included), have brought out what could well be the first affirmation music cd ever.

I happened to listen to a sample of his music while searching for affirmation music online.I felt that repeating affirmations could become a mechanical chore, losing its effectiveness, while music can gently ease them into your mind. Soon your mind will be humming the affirmations by itself, surprising even you !And this is exactly what Ken Laderoute's music does.

I have by now made it a habit whenever I am working on my computer or elsewhere to switch on Ken's affirmations music. And I am able to focus easily.All tension melts away.

You can check out the sample on Ken's web site here, at Affirmation Power.

And don't forget to read this fine blog as well.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Catch that ball !

Each moment, life throws us a ball that we can choose to do with whatever we wish: shoot it out of the court, ignore it, or basket it.

It is like being handed a blank cheque every second: you can write out an amount, botch the cheque or tear it up or throw it away- it is up to you.In other words - you create your future each second.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sticking to a personal development program

While working on our personal transformation, we need to be infinitely patient. As the saying goes, “Be patient with all things, but most of all with you”. Our attitude has to be : I will not hate myself even if I fail a million times or more. I am still lovable and acceptable. I accept myself still, even with all my defects. I am a magnificent being.

We need to repeat this self talk to ourselves as much as we can. For we do not work at improving ourselves because we do not feel good about ourselves. And why ? Because we are not saying the right things to ourselves.

When you make repeated attempts, along with self encouraging and supportive self talk like this, you can notice gradual improvement in your performance, in whatever field that you have chosen.

Writing affirmations is another effective tool, that helps us to keep on track towards our goals.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Befriending your feelings

We live in an era of repressed feelings. We are taught that our feelings are not ok, from child hood, so we are afraid of expressing our feelings freely. The child expresses itself without fear, without reservation; that is why it is attractive.

The first step in asserting your right to be an individual is to be comfortable with your feelings. We need to recognize and accept that it is ok to be angry, that we have a right to be angry. In fact, we need to honor our emotions. I do not remember where I read that, but that is a very important point.

When we learn to accept our feelings as normal, we come to accept our worth as individuals, as unique beings. Unique does not become just another word. We recognize our uniqueness as the uniqueness of a diamond.

When you feel intensely negative feelings building up inside, do not try to stifle them; instead, keep asking yourself: Why do I feel this way? Again and again. It will be useful to write down the question many times. The subconscious may reveal the answer at an appropriate time. But, as you keep questioning yourself without being critical or angry with yourself, you will feel the pressure of the negativity gradually melt away.

This is not a panacea, not a one-time-solution. You have to work at it day after day, may be a minute at a time, or as much as you are comfortable with. It can bring out latent talents you never thought you had, it can transform you into a more peaceful person. When we are comfortable with ourselves, we can be comfortable with others.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Gift of Relaxation: Free music

Here's a piece of excellent music by David M.Pierce. It is a rare treat of relaxation music, the instructions are given in a pleasantly soothing voice that gently lulls you into a state of profound care free state. It is ideal for a pre hypno or pre meditation session, or just to sit back and relax ! Relaxation is a precious free gift that you give yourself, as David says. Good Work,David !

You can visit his site at

To listen :The audio will start playing as soon as this page is loaded. Click the Pause button. Wait for a few minutes. Then click the Play button.This will allow you to listen without interruption as the music downloads.Enjoy !

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

On the Slow dance

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round
Or listened to the rain
lapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down
Don't dance so fast
Time is short
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask "How are you?"
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done,
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast
Time is short
The music won't last.

Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow
And in your haste, not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
'Cause you never had time
To call and say "Hi"?
You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast
Time is short
The music won't last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....
Thrown away...
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

David L. Weatherford

This is an afterthought on the poem given above, ”the Slow dance” by David L. Weatherford.
Along with many other things that resemble or follow their own rhythm or nature’s rhythm, are the wisps of smoke wafting up from an incense stick, flowing water in a stream, the gliding eagles, the floating clouds, the willowy palm fronds and the blades of grass that sway with the wind, the frolicking calf, playing children, the breeze that sighs in the woods and caresses us, the rising sun and stars- all these have no set rhythm or pattern to adhere to- hence they are delightful and liberating to watch.
Do they have a goal ? Does'nt seem like they have-yet they convey immense joy to persons who behold them;some of them are also the sources of life to living organisms. What beauty! What are our million and billions worth before these specters?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Best skill in life to have

The ability to detach and attach at will is one of the best skills to possess.

Imagine you are in a distant city and you have missed the flight back home. You have an important interview scheduled the next day morning in your home town. What would you do? Or rather, could do ?

Most of us would spend the rest of the day fretting and fuming about the impending loss.But suppose we are able to forget about the issue for some time.Like, say you ask a travel agent to book the next available flight. He says, he is not sure, but will try and get back to you.

Now you have a few hours to spend before you get his response.If you are able to switch off the issue from your mind, and focus on something else, you have a rare ability that will benefit you at times of trial.

To spend this time, you went to a restaurant and ordered a hot drink. As you sip it, forget everything else and focus on the drink.Inhaling the aroma, savoring the taste(or distaste)...will lift your mind out of its frantic will experience a rare form of peace in your heart.

An excellent zen story that illustrates this art of being in the present is that of the monk who lifted the woman across the stream.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Give Yourself Non-critical, Non-judgmental Listening

The title could well be Why do you get angry ? As yet, we do not know really the answer to that, but we can do something about it.

Each of your movements, the varying speed of your breaths, the tension in each part of your body, has significance. It requires you to be aware to realize their presence. For example, we need to be aware of the batting of our eyelids. It is not a grabbing of the events in our mind and body, to be aware of them. It is just letting the attention drift over them. Many events occur in our body-mind complex every second. We possibly cannot be aware of them all, in our present state. But our attention will flit from one of them o the other. Be aware of where your attention is at the moment. It can only be on one thing in a given instance.

If you study body language, you will have some idea of the emotions associated with each part of the body.

Coming back to non-critical listening and its healing power, recall the time when you were with a person who really was non-critical, non-judgmental. It might have been a doctor, and elder, a teacher or a friend. Remember how relaxing and reassuring was their listening. You felt totally accepted.

You can give that listening to yourself. You need to realize the importance of the events in you. Each movement, each breath, each emotion, each tension, each thought…Do not be alarmed if negative emotions surface. Just make a mental note of their presence. A Zen master said: Your feelings, your breath, your movements…are your treasures. You need to be aware of them.
Want to hire me to write for your blog or online publication? You can find my contact details here: About me
Are You Really Listening?: Keys to Successful CommunicationThe Wisdom of ListeningThe Non-Judgmental Christian: Five Lessons That Will Revolutionize Your RelationshipsJc & Me: A Dialogue on Nonjudgmental LoveLoving Yourself and Others: Discover the Art of Loving Yourself as Who You AreThe Art of Loving Yourself,The Manual for LIVING THE BEST TIME of Your lifeLoving Yourself: Four Steps to a Happier YouLoving Yourself for God's Sake (Spirit Life Series)Learning to Love Yourself: Finding Your Self-WorthThe Nine Rooms of Happiness: Loving Yourself, Finding Your Purpose, and Getting Over Life's Little Imperfections

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