Saturday, August 27, 2011

Addictions: To Overcome or Not?

Most of our lives, we try to satisfy the demands of our senses. We go sight seeing and watching movies, gorge on foods and drinks, fragrances, and a myriad other entertainments-treats for the eyes, ears, tongue, skin, nose, and the sex organ not the least. Often, we find ourselves indulging-even when we know deep inside that this is not good for us-or for our goals. Our senses take command over us and nudge us forward...enjoy it once more..just this one more time.

I've been fooled by this 'just once more ' argument many times-be it that tempting slice of chocolate cake, or while getting up early, or while skipping a TV program for a more productive use of time. It was as if the sense organ takes control over me, convincing me with its rationalizations. That is, until recently, when I started listening to the inner dialogue of the senses:

I realized they had only one voice: more..... more...... more.......Remember the creature Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy ?

It was just a never ending "more..........". The senses just want you to indulge till you drop down fatigued, till you are satiated to redundancy or exhaustion. Obviously then one cannot indulge anymore. It seems as if apparent wisdom awakes in the person within as he looks with some detachment towards indulgence. But this is only for a short while. As soon as the energy levels are restored, again the clamor starts:

This is to say that the arguments the mind advances in favor of enjoyment are just fallacies with which the person fools himself.

I recently lost a relative to alcoholism. He was a nice man within, eager and ready to help everybody. However, he did not try to face the issues within him which made him take relief in alcohol. He was too proud to accept help either. Each time he gave in to the temptation, he would say: "this is just one more time that  I will drink...I can stop whenever I see?".

Hardly past 50, he suffered multiple organ failure: failure of the lungs and kidneys, dipping blood pressure and high blood sugar-a tragic testimony to the tyranny of the senses. The dance of desires is the dance of death- I remembered what I had read somewhere.

If we could enjoy pleasures without it being the other way-pleasures enjoying us-we can avert such tragedies. It is wise to take precaution and start spiritual practices at the earliest.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Humbling Lesson

Today while searching for my blog in Google, I found a post labeled Inspiration by another blogger named Sudhir. Intrigued. It was a moving story, which was also humbling. The upshot was that I decided to make amends with my mother, against whom I'd been cribbing for giving me a heavily restricted childhood. Here is the story for you:

A story on appreciation - Inspirations by Sudhir Krishnan

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Visitor from the Skies

It was when I opened the gate that I noticed the strange bird on the ground. I had wanted to fill the water bowl for the stray puppies.

On closer scrutiny it was found to be an eagle. It was trying to reach the water bowl. It sought rest and a little water, but was unable to even drink from the water bowl. It seemed to have been crippled by heat stroke. Delhi's heat in May spared neither humans nor animals.

Badly hurt, it couldn’t even stand straight on its legs. But that didn’t seem to mellow its ferocity even a bit. When I came too near, it flapped its wings violently and reared up, baring big, sharp beaks.

It was in stark contrast to the zealous display of friendship with which the stray puppies  greeted. The eagle was of an entirely different character. Perhaps it had no acquaintance of humans, being a bird of prey.

We (my wife and I) felt it needed to be kept in a safe place until it heals.There were large dogs in the compound which could harm it. Also the heat was there.

But the bird didn’t seem to appreciate the idea: it reared up on its hind legs, beaks flashing, wings flapping- a picture of menace.

It looked up with its black dotted golden eyes. There was no hatred, though there seemed to be some distrust. 

Cautiously I tried to grab it from behind, but it beat its wings fiercely. It was unnerving, but then it fell back down the next moment, head lolling.

I stealthily moved up my hands from behind and grabbed it with both hands.

It was built a make-shift shelter to shelter from the merciless sun and also from the dogs. 

For three days it rested, not moving, except to drink water, to which we added turmeric. We felt turmeric being medicinal, would help to heal its inner wounds if any.

It drank the water without any protest, allowing us to feed it in teaspoonfuls. But the wariness was always there, never allowing humans to become too friendly.

Occasionally it would gaze intently into our eyes as if trying to say thanks. But it had an air of ferocity about it always. Perhaps it was asserting its independence.

We were not sure it'd become better, for it was really weak. But on the third day it hopped out a few meters outside, and then collapsed. This photo was taken at that time.

I coaxed it to allow me to take it back to the shelter.

A few more days of rest, during which it drank only water. It was risky to try feeding it solid food. Sick animals have the instinct to know when to end the fast. Also, we had once found a small bird's dead body, with the stomach split open, and inside there were a lot of food grains.

The day it left, I was preparing to leave for some work outside.

I needed to open the gate-but was startled to see the eagle perched on top of the gate, in all its majestic grandeur, gazing intently. It was then that I saw its full size, about two feet long, and with a wingspan of three feet end-to-end.

It didn't move when I approached.

Ok buddy, you stay here... I will be back. I very gently opened the gate; the eagle just sat there, not scared, not trying to fly off. It was still there while I took out the car and closed the gate.

All the while it gazed, as if expecting something, but I couldn't get it. Anyway it could fend for itself.

By the time I returned home, it had left.

It continued to visit us for a few weeks afterwards. It’d announce its presence by noisily flitting about on the Neem trees in the frontyard.

This encounter was memorable for the awe this bird inspired, and the dignity with which it carried itself.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Which is Easier-Enlightenment or Riches?

Enlightenment is available to all. All that you have to do is open yourself to life and train your mind to observe. This requires sustained practice. When your inner gaze is steady and undeviating to passing attractions, you see the Truth of yourself as it is. However, few people seek enlightenment.

Worldly riches, on the other hand, are sought by vast numbers of the human population. Here the prevailing beliefs are that the toughest competitors, the ones who can blow their trumpets the loudest, win the trophies. This triggers a sort of unhealthy rat race as can be seen in web sites' trying to gain no1 Google search rank by loading themselves with key words. This sometimes can create content unusable to human beings.

This is also what advertisements are continually prompting us to do. However, this form of success is short lived and does not give satisfaction. Enduring success can be built through honest and hard work.

After all, worldly success is not a permanent companion. Your mental training and character are.
The point is, it is more worthwhile to strive for permanent benefits (spiritual development) while at the same time, make a living by providing honest service. It is sure to become a lasting support for you. You will build up your reputation and success with peace of mind, enjoying your work, while at the same time you develop yourself spiritually.
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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

How to Write Without Judging Yourself:Invisible SOC Writing

You might need this tool if you are a writer who uses SOC (stream of consciousness) writing. Stream of Consciousness writing requires you to not judge your writing, so that you can write non stop, letting your subconscious speak.

The best way for this to work is to make your writing invisible to you. You can do this in the following way:
  1. Download the Dark Room software from CNET. It's free.
  2. You can keep the Dark Room  app on your desktop (no installation needed).
  3. Run it by double-clicking.
  4. If the app runs full screen, reduce it by pressing Esc.
  5. Click Edit, and then, Preferences. A dialog box opens (see Figure below).
  6. The Preferences dialog box
  7. You need to change the font color to the same color as the background. Here the default font color is green (Marked in red in the figure above).
  8. Click on the color tab (green here). A color palette opens.
  9. The Color Palette
  10. Select the black color and click OK (because the background is also black).
  11. Start writing SOC.
  12. When you have finished, remember to save the file.
  13. To view what you have written, either copy and paste to Microsoft Word (or any other text editor), or change the font color back to the default green.
That's it! No Rocket science.
You'll be writing in a screen looking like this:
    Darkroom invisible writing 
    If these instructions are not clear, do let me know. I shall be glad to post more screenshots.

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