How does one develop the ability to make good decisions?

There are two main reasons why you are unable to take decisions.
1. When there is some feverishness of desire attached to it; or there is some greed. Then you find it difficult to take a decision
2. When there is some fear in you, then also you are not able to take proper decisions. The mind gets stuck in between greed and fear, due to which we remain in confusion. So just get rid of the fear and the greed. That’s it!
How can you develop the ability to make good decisions? Intuition, intuition and intuition.
How do we awaken our intuition? It happens through meditation.
And remember that which gives you long-term happiness and short-term problem, is right. That which gives short-term happiness and long-term misery, is wrong.
Just look back at your life in the past. This is not the first time that your mind is confused in a dilemma. You have faced these types of questions and situations many times earlier as well; and every time you have received help to overcome it.

Step out from your conversations for a moment

I want you to step aside for one moment and watch all the conversations you have had in your life.

There is a completely different world when you step outside and look at all the conversations you have said and all that you have heard, all the television talk shows you have seen and news you have heard and movies you have seen, and how many things you have heard from people and said to people. Can you step aside and look at that?

You have fought with people, praised people, fallen in love, fallen out of love. Is any of that here? If you think life is all about these conversations then you are surrounded in a delusion! This is Maya. Definitely not wisdom.

If it's wisdom, it leads you to an indescribable space and meditation which is unfathomable. But everything else binds you into some limited concepts about yourself and people. And that blinds you from infinity.

In all those conversations there was justice, injustice, dharma,  adharma. Just think about all the opinions you have seen on TV before the elections (referring to US elections). Your life assumes a bigger dimension when you get out of the limited world of opinions and ideas.

Your opinions have changed, likes and dislikes have changed and all those conversations are gone like the wind. We are harbouring them in the mind and we are limiting the mind. We are going around in a little whirlpool when the vast ocean is available to us!

Wisdom is stepping out of conversations, be centered and smiling!

Lord Buddha says this is all misery. You want to get out of it? The first step is emptiness. From emptiness move to the bliss that is Vedanta. So move on to that pedestal.

For a moment imagine you don't know language! All the problems solved! Just imagine you have forgotten language. Even your communication begins from another level where there is no confusion.

Have you seen how the birds they fly in a group, they don't crash into each other. there is no air traffic control there! They are out of the world of conversations and they are communicating on a different level.

When you say let's talk it out you are not talking out of it you are talking into it. "Let us talk, let us clarify..."; let us stop all this! Nothing ever got clarified, it only got more confused.

A Christmas Message

(Repeat of what was said on December 24, 2014 at Bad Antogast, Germany)
When the sun is there, there is a lot of activity. But at that time of the year, when there is very little sun, when there is very little activity, when nature is sleeping, and when everything has gone into hibernation – in that still and quiet night, springs a celebration with lights, joy and love, and that is Christmas. So, it is an outer symbolism of an inner phenomenon.
In the same way, when you are still and quiet, when you are with yourself, almost hibernating, then from there comes the message of love. Stillness brings the message of love.
In activity you are busy. In activity you are looking outward, but in stillness you are looking inward. In activity you are extroverted, but in stillness you are always introverted, and love spring from going within, from looking inside. That is why it is said:
Silent night
Holy night
All is calm
All is bright
Round yon virgin
Mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace
The small mind is like a child – crying and grumbling, and it is dependent like a child. The big mind is like the mother. The little mind sleeps in the lap of the universal self, and that is heavenly peace. Heavenly peace is not outside, or somewhere up in the skies. Heaven is when the small mind rests in the lap of the big mind.
When the small mind is away from the big mind, then there is chaos, confusion and hell. Then when the small mind starts crying, it runs to the big motherly mind, and there it sleeps in heavenly peace. That peace is the real peace.
Good, isn't it? Today you have gotten a different meaning of Silent Night. It is not just an incident at some point of time, but an eternal message. You can draw an eternal message from this hymn.
'Holy' is when the mother and child are together.
This is our Christmas message this year: when the individual self sleeps in the lap of the cosmic self, then there is heavenly peace.
Today, on the day of Christmas, put your small mind into the lap of the big mind, and that is meditation. Mother and child in heavenly peace is meditation.

You are never given a problem that you cannot handle. Every problem that comes in front of you is to make you realize that you have the skill, talent and ability to come out of it! It is just for you to uncover your true potential.
It’s all to make your mind, your intelligence function. When do you really need intelligence? When there is a problem, isn’t it? If there is no problem, you will be like cows. Cows have no problem. They eat the grass,  drink water, and sleep. Like that, if your life is so smooth, without any problem, you will just eat, sleep, and become duller and duller and duller.
The Divine has given you brains to use it,  to be alert, and every problem that appears in life is an opportunity for you to use your brain.  But we do the reverse. We don’t use this brain, and we get into more complications! Or we use our brain to get more complications rather than solving them! If we have a problem, instead of looking at the solution, we keep looking at how big the problem can become, or  imagine about the worst outcomes. So do not return your brain to God, unused.

How To Improve Your Creative Thinking?

It is very important for us to probe into the source of thought. Often we are called great thinkers, but what is a "thought"? Where does it originate? Is there any way that we can improve the thought process? What is the source of creativity? Thought is nothing but an impulse of energy and intelligence.

That impulse of energy and intelligence, for it to arise and a correct thought to come, you need 16 impulses to meet at a point in the cerebral cortex at a certain speed. In that short interval of time, all the 16 impulses in the cerebral cortex, when they meet, is what we call a correct thought. What do we do about it? We need to train our brain, our mind. There is always dialogue going on in your own mind.

We all have a filter in our mind through which we listen and we accept only what we already know. Something which doesn’t already fall within our belief system, we straightaway filter out. This tendency in the mind to take things which it already knows and reject that which it doesn’t know, is one of the main blocks of creativity.
The second aspect for creativity is imagination.

Many inventions happened through certain imagination and linking that imagination to the present state of ground reality. If you are thinking only of the ground reality, then no creativity will come. And also if you base yourself purely on imagination, then there is no creativity. A balance is needed. So, when such blocks come into us, there is a way to eliminate them.

How? By studying our own seven layers of our existence. What are they? 

The body, breath, mind, intellect, memory, ego and Self. Are you all breathing now? Many times we are not even aware that we are breathing. We don’t care to look into something that keeps our body alive. Our breath has great secrets to offer.

A little bit of knowledge of these seven layers of existence makes a big difference in our lives. We become so alive and childlike.

How To Attract Grace Into Your Life?

Whenever there is victory, it is due to some grace. Whether it is victory in sports, in a lottery, in studies, in a competition, or in politics – all of it happens through grace alone. When a person forgets that and gets into ego, then it results in their downfall. So always remember that whenever and wherever there is victory, it is through grace.
There is a commonly-used phrase – “God's Grace”. What does this mean? Whenever you achieve something very significant that felt like it was beyond your capacity, which was worth having, but came to you not by your doing alone, that is grace.
You feel, “I am not capable or qualified for this, yet I got this”.
When you recognize the grace in your life, you feel very grateful, because you feel you have been bestowed with things that you were not worthy of. And this is the language of a wise person. A wise person never says, "Oh, I earned it. This is my right". When you think it is your right, you are getting what you got because of your right – there is no gratitude. Gratefulness is there when you feel that you got this not by your effort but because it was bestowed on you by grace, as a gift. That brings gratefulness.
Grace is causeless and unmerited. It is not obtained through some merit or cause. Grace is received without any conditions. It is not that only after doing something you will receive grace. If so, then that is not grace – that is business. You are blessed with grace just like that – without any conditions whatsoever. Grace is always there, just become aware of it and know that you are being showered with grace.
Grace is something that can go inside even a closed purse. You don’t need to pay money to receive Grace. And if someone tells you that grace will come to you only by opening your purse and giving money, then know that something is wrong for sure. God always blesses you in abundance. You need not pay money to receive it.
Ways to attract more grace in one's life:
  1. The more grateful we become, the more we experience grace in life. A mind that is complaining all the time cannot experience grace. But one who is thankful and contented experiences more grace in life.
  2. We say that we want blessings and grace. Blessings are available in plenty, but if your vessel is small, then what to do?
    If you bring a tea cup and say, “Give me two liters of milk in this”, how can two liters of milk fit in the little cup? The cup is small and you are asking for too much. You need to bring a vessel with the capacity of three liters and then I can give you two liter or three liter, whatever you want.
So, you must remember that whatever you get is your capacity, and if you want to get more, then you must expand your capacity. When your capacity increases, more will definitely come to you.
How to expand one's capacity to receive grace:
  1. Just having the intention to increase one’s capacity itself does half the job.
  2. Be natural, simple, and humble. Humility from within naturally increases one’s capacity.
  3. Meditation, spiritual practices, service to society and knowledge.
  4. Shatt Sampatti (the Six Wealths or Six-fold Virtues)
  • Sama (calmness of mind) 
  • Dama (self-control or restraint of the senses) 
  • Uparati (satiety) 
  • Titiksha (power of endurance) 
  • Shraddha (faith) 
  • Samadhana (equanimity or one-pointedness of the mind)
This is what you must focus on increasing more in your life. By enhancing these virtues, your capacity to receive blessings will increase.

Are you happy? Are you peaceful?

Every time you are unhappy, miserable or disturbed, you are coming in touch with your own boundaries. What can you do about it?

You can feel thankful, “Oh! This was my limitation. I came in touch with my boundaries.” Then, that moment, you turn the whole situation into a prayer: “Let there be peace, not just in me, but in everybody.”

Prayer happens at that moment you come in touch with your own limitations. It is the limitation and the boundary that are the real cause of your disturbance.

You are peaceful, joyful, and happy, as long as you have not come in contact with your boundaries. The moment you come into contact with them, the mind scares: “Oh! Because that person did this, this happened; this is bad, that shouldn’t be; it should be like that, it shouldn’t be this way…” At that moment, what can you do?

Just say, "My Lord, make me become aware of my boundaries, now. You bring peace. You do it. I am giving it all to You." That very moment, you start smiling; there is such a sigh of relief! However hopeless the situation may be, you will walk through it, sing through it, dance through it. This is love!

In Hindi, the word “love” is “prem” – written with two-and-a-half letters. There is a saying: “Who is a real Master, a pundit, a wise person? Not the one who has studied a lot of scriptures, but the one who has studied the word with two-and-a-half letters!” This two-and-a-half lettered word is this moment. It is a test of the moment.

When you come in touch with your limitations, your boundaries, or the small things that come along, then observe - are you hemmed in by your boundaries, or can you maintain your freedom, your non-judgmental attitude and innocent love in your heart? Is it continuing? If it is and if you can become solid in this, then nothing in the world can rob you of peace!

One word, said sincerely, can remove anger, guilt, hatred and distance

Often, in establishing your righteousness, you are insensitive to others’ feelings. When someone is hurt, arguing with them and establishing your righteousness will be in vain. By simply saying “sorry,” you can uplift the other person and take away the bitterness. In many situations saying “sorry” is better than establishing your righteousness—it can avert much unpleasantness.
This one word of five letters, when said sincerely, can remove anger, guilt, hatred and distance. Many people feel pride in hearing “sorry” from others—it boosts their ego. But when you say “sorry” to a wise man, it evokes compassion at your ignorance. And when you say “sorry” to your Guru, he will get angry and say, “Go! Listen to Ashtavakra Gita!” You saying “sorry” indicates doership—you feel that YOU have MADE a mistake.
A mistake is part of an unconscious mind. An unconscious mind cannot do right, while a conscious mind can do no wrong. The mind that makes the mistake and the mind that realizes the mistake—saying “sorry”—are entirely different, aren’t they!

A Message on the occasion of Dattatreya Jayanti

Atri Rishi had no children, so he adopted Datta. Datta means given, taken or adopted. That is why when one adopts a child, they say – Datta Svikara. So Atri and Anasuya had adopted a child who was called Dattatreya. He was special as he had Brahma Shakti (creativity), Vishnu Shakti (skill to sustain or maintain) and Shiva Shakti (skill to bring transformation).

Many people have creativity but they cannot sustain what they started. This creativity is Brahma Shakti. If you have Brahma Shakti, you can create things but you also need to know how to maintain it – that is Vishnu Shakti, which is the skill to maintain.

There are many people who are managers. They can’t create but if something is created and given to them, they do an excellent job in managing it. So, Vishnu Shakti is important; it is the energy to maintain what you create.

Then there is Shiva Shakti which is bringing transformation or newness. Many can maintain but whenever a change is needed they don’t know how to bring a transformation; how to take it to another level. So Shiva Shakti is essential too! When you have all these three qualities that is Guru Shakti! A Guru or a guide has to know all the three Shaktis.

Dattatreya is a symbol of Guru Shakti. He had the power of the guide, creativity, the skill to maintain and bring transformation, all in one!

Dattatreya learned from everything. He observed the whole creation and learned some lesson from everything.

Observation brings wisdom and you need sensitivity to observe. If you are caught up in your own world, you become insensitive to the messages coming to you from those around you. When people are caught up in their own stuff, they don’t see the other person’s point of view at all. And such people also believe their perception is absolutely right, even though you know their perception is incorrect.

In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is said – it is so interesting how he (Dattatreya) looked at a swan and learned something from the swan, learned something from a crow, from the trees and also from an elderly woman. For him, knowledge was flowing from all sides. He was so open in his mind and heart to receive knowledge and amalgamate it in the life.

If you are intelligent, you will learn from life and celebrate. Today, drawing inspiration from Dattatreya, let knowledge take the front seat in our life.

Everybody has knowledge, but sometime it takes the backseat. It is not in the driving seat. When knowledge is sleeping, it is ignorance. When knowledge is in the driving seat, there is only joy and celebration. Then we celebrate in every situation for life is celebration.

When we are in awareness, then everything in Creation gives us a message, gives us knowledge. And the purpose of this knowledge is to uplift our energy and enthusiasm; it is to make life a total celebration. We need knowledge to maintain and uplift our spirit of enthusiasm and positivity.

What is Maya?

The word ‘measure’ in English comes from a Sanskrit root called ‘Maya’. Maya means that which can be measured. So, saying, “All this is Maya”, means everything here can be measured.

Water can be measured, volume can be measured, temperature can be measured, distance can be measured, time can be measured, etc. Everything in this creation is time and space, and both can be measured, and so it is all Maya.

What is not Maya? What cannot be measured? Joy cannot be measured, love cannot be measured, life cannot be measured, so that is why these are not called Maya.

Truth cannot be measured. Truth, consciousness, and bliss – this is what God is. What is God? ‘Sat’ means truth, ‘Chit’ means consciousness, ‘Ananda’ means bliss. God is truth, consciousness, and bliss – these cannot be measured. And this is what you are too! The nature of your spirit is bliss. Bliss cannot be measured, love cannot be measured, and that is what is not Maya.
You are drowned in Maya means you are drowned in small little things that are not permanent, because Maya means that which is always changing. Ever-changing events and things around you is what Maya is. And if you are drowned in the ever-changing, and you are not logged on to the non-changing, life is very unstable. Stability comes when you log onto something in you that is not changing; that remains the same throughout time. That is called getting out of Maya.

There is another meaning of Maya – that which appears but when you try to catch it, it doesn’t get into your hand. That is how everything in the world is. You see something so beautiful and you try to possess it, the moment you possess it, you find the beauty is gone. It is no longer where you thought it was. You think happiness is out there and you chase after that, when you get there, it is not there.

If you are stable, still and content within yourself then everything runs towards you. That is why I have said from the very beginning, if you follow joy, misery follows you and if you follow knowledge, fun follows you.

Lord Krishna's Devi Worship and It's Significance

Lord Krishna used to worship Devi (Mother Divine). This is mentioned in the Durga Saptashati (a series of 700 verses in praise of the Mother Divine, from the Markandeya Purana).
Roopam Dehi Jayam Dehi Yasho Dehi Dvisho Jahi’. These verses come from the Argala Stotram in the Durga Saptashati and become a kavach (armour or shield) for one who recites them.
It is said, ‘Krishnena Samstutay Devee Shashvad Bhaktyaa tathaambikay, Roopam Dehi Jayam Dehi Yasho Dehi Dvisho Jahi.’
Meaning, ‘Oh Devi (Mother Divine) who is worshipped with eternal devotion by Lord Krishna, bless us with beauty (Roopam), victory (Jayam), glory (Yasham) and destroy all craving and ignorance (Dvisho) in us.’
If you see, it is actually the Devi who rescued Lord Krishna. Devi was also born on the day of Ashtami, to Yashoda. And on that very same day was brought to Mathura. Kansa tried to get hold of her and kill her but she escaped from his hands.
Here, Kansa symbolises Ahankaar (ego), Lord Krishna symbolises Ananda (bliss) and the Devi or Durga symbolises Aadhyashakti (primordial energy within us or consciousness).
Ego cannot catch hold of consciousness or the primordial energy (Devi), nor can it catch hold of Ananda (bliss, that is Krishna).
So the Divine Consciousness (Devi) then made a prophecy that the One who is destined to destroy the Ego (Kansa) is Bliss (Krishna) and he has already been born.
When life becomes full of Ananda (bliss), then ego vanishes. When one is feeling blissful there is no ego. But as long as ego remains, a person keeps on suffering and is miserable. They become sad due to something or another, or go on blaming someone or the other. Even then ego cannot destroy Consciousness, because Consciousness is eternal.
Nothing can destroy or diminish the power of Consciousness. It is constant and eternal. Those who know physics would know this very well that energy can never be created or destroyed. So also, Consciousness can never be created nor destroyed. Any efforts to create or destroy that (primordial) energy will only fail.

What is Devi Tattva

There are 36 elements present in us. First is the Earth element, second Water, Fire, Air, Ether and you go on like that and the last one, the most refined is Shiva Tattva. One is finer than the other. Earth is the most gross, Shiva is the finest, the most subtle, the subtlest of all. So in these 36 elements which are present in us, Devi is also a Tattva. 
The last and finest is Shiva. And how is Devi present in us? It is present in many forms, in many emotions. When you see some brightness in someone, that is Devi manifested. When you see total peace, essence of deep peace, peace in the heart, not just the temporary peace, total fulfillment, satisfaction, that is Devi. And when you feel restlessness, that is also Devi. So if someone is agitated, you stand back and you say ‘Oh, Devi has manifested as agitation in this person.’ The Devi is manifesting in everyone as hunger. Someone is hungry, that hunger is Devi manifested. Someone is confused, that confusion is Devi manifested.  
When we chant the Durga Saptashati (referring to the 700 verses of the Devi Mahatmayam from the Markandeya Purana, dedicated to praising the Mother Divine), there is a verse which says, ‘Ya Devi sarva-bhuteshu bhranti rupena samstitha; Namastasye namastasye namastasye namo namaha’ (meaning: O Divine Mother! I bow down to You who are manifest as Bhranti – the element of delusion – in all living beings).
It means that it is the Mother Divine who is present as delusion within you.
Navratri is the occasion where the bridge between the subtle and the gross world is more obvious than other times. Navratri is when you recognise that the universe is governed by the subtle force. The mind is governed by the subtle force, honouring and adoring that subtle force is Navratri. The mind is duality. Mind means faith & doubt, happiness & sadness, connectivity & disconnectedness. That is the mind. The big mind winning over the small mind, that is Devi Shakti.

Karma and Reincarnation

The most commonly used word that is misunderstood is “Karma“. The literal meaning of Karma is action. Action could be latent, could be in the form of a tendency, and it could be something that happens in the future. These are the three forms of Karma.
So Karma means:
  1. The impression of the past that will draw similar actions in the future (this is future Karma)
  2. The present action you are doing that is creating an impression in your mind. That is again called Karma

Every habit is a sort of Karma. Suppose you have been drinking coffee every morning, and one day you don't drink it, you end up with a headache. This is coffee Karma. Now how to eliminate coffee Karma?
  • By drinking coffee
  • By not drinking coffee but just observing the sensations in your body
  • By doing some breathing exercises, or meditation
Being aware of a tendency in you will help you overcome the tendency. Here comes the play of knowledge (awareness). Knowledge does not mean informative knowledge; it means awareness – the sense of knowingness.
When you increase your sense of knowingness, your Karma stands reduced. For example, you feel like throttling somebody, but because you are aware, you don't do it. If you are not aware, then when the tendency comes up to throttle somebody, you just go and throttle them. You act on it.
Every impression is Karma, but there is nothing to worry about because Karma is not like an engraving on a rock – it is fluid. And Karma is always bound by time, because every action has only a limited reaction – it is not infinite.
All animals have only Prarabdha Karma, which is the Karma over which they do not have any control. Mother Nature runs them, so they don't accumulate any future Karma. If you are totally like an animal, you don't get any Karma. But as a human being, this is impossible because the mind stores impressions and accumulates future Karma. And Karma is that which propels reincarnation.
However, there is one thing that can erase Karma and that is knowledge and self-awareness. If you are aware of yourself and if you are in total love, then you are free from Karma. Then you are not bound by any impressions – you are free. What gives you freedom is your awareness.
Our mind is energy, and by the law of thermodynamics, you know that energy cannot be destroyed. If mind is energy, then what happens to this energy when someone dies? 
Death is almost like sleep. What happens when you sleep? While sleeping, your consciousness and your attention shrinks and you shut out from your outer experiences and move inward into a void. And when you wake up in the morning, the same consciousness that had shrunk starts expanding and opens up, and you wake up.
If you carefully observe the mechanism, the last thought that you get just before falling asleep becomes the first thought when you wake up. This gives you a clue of your re-incarnation. That is why it is said that the last thought is most important. Whatever you do throughout your life, at least in the last moment of your life, you should be free and happy. If you are happy in the last moment, before you leave the body, then you get a better body the next time around.

The 6 Secrets of Effective Communication

We start communicating from the instant we take our first breath. Our first cry is a communication to our mother, and to the world, that we have arrived. And till our last breath, we are in constant communication. 
Yet, good communication is much more than mere words. It is an art and effective communication has dimensions that are larger than what is spoken. The ability to communicate affectionately with one and all is a skill worth possessing.
Be Sensitive and Sensible
Communication is a dialogue not a monologue. We must respect the viewpoints of the person or persons we are communicating with. Communication is the art of being sensitive and sensible at the same time. Some people are too sensitive, thereby losing their sensibleness. Their speech lacks clarity and is inarticulate. And there are people who make perfect sense, but they are insensitive. They say the correct things, but they are not aware of the emotional response of the audience. We need that beautiful combination of sensitivity and sensibleness.
Your state of mind matters!
You cannot improve someone by getting angry at them. You only ruin your peace of mind. When you are angry nobody wants to hear you, even though you are saying the correct thing.
Your communication does not have the impact it ought to have had. Your mental state is heard by your listeners before the words. A calm state of mind, and a smile, will conquer the most difficult of people.
Humour coupled with care and concern
A good sense of humor relieves you from fear and anxiety.
Humor is not just about words- reading and repeating jokes. It is the lightness of your being that brings out the authentic humor. And this lightness comes up with taking life itself not too seriously, having a sense of belongingness with everybody (including those who are not friendly), practicing yoga and meditation, having unshakable faith in the Divine, being in the company of those who live in knowledge and are humorous.
Heart to Heart Communication
Almost all relationships break down due to too much talking and explaining about oneself. “I am this way. Don’t mistake me. Don’t misunderstand me.” If you keep silent when required, everything will work out much better. Don’t explain things of the past, brood over them, or ask for explanations. When the heart speaks and the heart listens, harmony is produced.
Real Communication is beyond Words
All of us have experienced at one time or the other, an amazing phenomenon. Whether in one-to-one communication, or in addressing a huge audience, something intangible moves people more than the words. We try to rationalize by attributing this to charm, charisma, presence, body language, etc.
If you are firmly established in the zone of silence, if your mind is calm, you will find yourself suddenly being able to influence individuals, groups, and masses.
Be a good listener 
The single most important skill in the art of good communication is the skill of listening. Listening not just to words, but also to feelings and expressions. Observe infants. They listen to expressions and gestures. Even without understanding words, they communicate with you. Somewhere in the journey of life, we have lost this ability. Let’s make an attempt to regain it.
This world is varied, beyond our imagination. We need to establish communication on three levels – communication with oneself, communication with society, and communication with nature. There is always something to share, learn, and teach.

Defining Spirituality

Spirituality to me, is very basic to life.
We are made of both matter and spirit. Our body is made up of carbohydrates, amino acids, proteins, etc., but our consciousness or spirit is made of joy, energy, enthusiasm, peace, happiness and all these beautiful qualities. Anything that uplifts the spirit, anything that brings more happiness, love, joy, creativity, compassion and enthusiasm in life is spirituality.
Now, is there a good spirituality and a bad spirituality?
I would like to ask you a question, is there a good doctor and a bad doctor? No! But some doctors do some bad things. So, in every field, there are some people who blemish that field. Similarly, if some people have brought a bad name to spirituality, it is not because of spirituality, but it is because of their individual greed.
For thousands of years, spirituality has been the guiding force behind humanity. Spirituality brings enthusiasm and energy to life. 
Spirituality should always stand the test of science. If spirituality doesn’t stand the test of science, then it is not going to appeal to the people of this generation. So, we need spirituality which goes along with science. In the Orient, unlike the Occident, science and spirituality never came into conflict. Scientists were never prosecuted in the far East. Only in the West and in the Middle East and beyond that, scientists were prosecuted.
In the East, we say, first experience and then believe. But in the West, it says first you believe then one day in the future you will get the experience, which is not the mode of science.

Yoga is being established in your own nature

Pleasure always keeps you on your toes; it makes you run. First pleasure makes you run towards it and then it makes you run away from it. Yoga on the other hand makes you stay stable. It brings stability to your life.
yogi is one who is strong and stable in his body, mind and emotions. This is very important. If your emotions keep going up and down it is because you are running towards something. And what is that something that you are running towards? It is pleasure, and once you are there, it makes you run away from it.
You can see in your life, whatever you ran towards, at some point or other, it pushes you away from it because you cannot handle it anymore. So all the people who at some point of time feel that ‘I want to run away’, you should know that it is because you are enjoying it. When you are enjoying something, you will definitely want to run away from it. So if you change that attitude of your mind from seeking pleasure to just being stable, then nothing becomes too much.
You should feel, ‘I am here to give comfort to others, not seek comfort’. This one attitude will arrest that tendency of ‘Oh, this is too much, I want to run away’. Only enjoyment of pleasure will make you feel, ‘It is too much’.
When you are stable, you always give what you can. The Sun never says, ‘I am shining too much and now I want to run away’. Gold never says, ‘I am glittering too much’, because it is stable in its nature. It has not gone out of its niche. Yoga is being established in your own nature.

10 Qualities Of An Effective Leader

A good leader is truthful, equanimous, transparent, farsighted and has a pleasant personality. He or she has a mission, a vision, a spirit of sacrifice, compassion and commitment.

Leadership is a manifestation of strong love and compassion for people. It represents a commitment to principles. In that sense, a certain degree of leadership is dormant in every individual. The challenge comes when one has to nurture it. Here are ten leadership qualities the make leaders effective:

1. A true leader—whether political, religious or social—has many challenges to face. The capacity to express one’s commitment varies from individual to individual. It is often clogged by one’s likes and dislikes. Yet, a leader has to view everyone with the same outlook, appraise everyone with the same yardstick. He has to find discrimination as well as the much-needed wisdom to act at the right time.

2. The society we live in and the groups we represents are not homogeneous and one cannot satisfy everybody. Yet, a leader has to carry everyone along and do justice to everybody.

3. A leader has to withstand criticism and not react emotionally to situations. Often leaders are surrounded by sycophants who try to boost their egos for their own personal agenda. A leader does need hands and feet and has to depend on people around him. At the same time, he should not find himself in a position where he gets confined in a fortress of his close aides or becomes a captive of his admirers.

4. One of the most desired qualities of a true leader is the courage to stretch his hands toward his critics and have the patience to listen to them. A true leader takes failures with as much equanimity as he would successes that come to his doorstep. These days leaders are defensive all the time, explaining their shortcomings or justifying their wrong actions. A true leader will neither complain nor explain, and is open to learning all the time. Admitting a past mistake and creating space for others with completely diverse viewpoints can make a leader more acceptable, universal. A leader does not pass the buck.

5. A true leader balances ideology and practicality, long-term goals with short-term needs. Those who stick only to idealism cannot become leaders and those who think they are very practical and without any ideology also bite the dust.

6. A leader cannot be either generic or specific. He has to strike the balance between personal attention to people and the generic vision for the group, community or country he leads.

7. A leader should have the courage to accept his weak moments. He should understand that people are magnanimous. They would appreciate his straightforwardness and accept his shortcomings rather than him trying to hide them.

8. Some leaders are too diplomatic while others are too straightforward in their approach. While people do not trust those, who are very diplomatic, they do not want anything to do with those who are very blunt and justify their rudeness in the garb of straightforwardness. People who are very straightforward and blunt in their approach often don’t find followers. It is like tuning a guitar. If the strings are stretched too tight you cannot play it, and if the strings are too lose you cannot create music either. A leader has to strike the balance between diplomacy and straightforwardness.

9. While self-righteous people create distaste in others, those who take credit for every good action are equally distanced. A leader should acknowledge others’ contributions and at the same time see that these contributions don’t get to their heads.

10. A leader can create a mob but he should know that a mob is short lived. A shortsighted leader creates a mob; a leader with wisdom creates a movement. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. are examples of inspirational leaders who created movements.

All this may sound utopian, but in reality, if you look keenly into the lives of the most successful leaders, you will find all these qualities naturally manifest at some time or the other. You don’t have to do much to inculcate these leadership qualities; just their awareness is good enough to make a good leader.

Who is an Youth?

Where there is victory, the joyous cry or sound one makes for victory is called Jayakara. In the same way, Chitkara means the place where one’s spirit awakens and is uplifted. Chitta also means spirit in Hindi. There are diverse meanings of the word Chitta.
Once I was conducting an event in a large stadium in Pune. The event went on for one whole week. Initially my plan was to return after visiting Solan in Himachal Pradesh. But then quite suddenly my travel plans changed and it got decided that we would also be visiting Chandigarh before returning back. In the same way, the Pune event too was decided in a very short span of time – the plan was made in roughly 10 days.
After the program ended, one of the youth volunteers from the event told me, “Gurudev, the entire event happened so smoothly. There were no troubles or obstacles of any kind”. Hearing this I thought, is it a youth or an old person who is driving the car? You know, a youth is one who is always ready to take on challenges as they come. If one expects or waits for everything to be smooth and hassle-free, then that person is not a youth. When the person heard what I said, he was quite astonished. I explained that it is in old age that one expects everything to be smooth and free from difficulty. If one has to go from here to Delhi, one can very easily catch a bus or a train to travel. But when someone makes the same trip an adventure, then that person is a Youth.
Signs of a youth:
1. Being ready to take on challenges
2. Undying enthusiasm!
When you light a candle and turn it upside down, the flame still burns upwards. That is how our life should also be – regardless of which direction life goes, the spirit should always move upwards. One who is able to maintain his sense of enthusiasm regardless of the situation in life is a youth in the true sense. Enthusiasm is a sign of youth.
What do you think are the challenges that come to you in life? One of them is when you think, “Oh, how will my life be in the future? Will I get a job? Will I be able to make it as an entrepreneur? Will my business thrive?”
There is some kind of insecurity in your mind about yourself. Or you worry by thinking, “Oh, will I pass my exams? What marks will I score? Will I get a seat while applying to colleges for higher studies?” These kinds of insecurities suppress your potential. This is where you need a firm foundation, or an anchor to which you can place all your faith in; which makes you believe that you can overcome and progress forward.
I want to share a story of Shivaji Maharaj with you. After a long battle, Shivaji Maharaj grew very tired, and felt that he could not continue fighting any further. He grew dejected and began to feel very insecure. You know, whenever one feels insecure, the Guru appears in life to take care. Samarth Ramdas Maharaj was Shivaji’s Guru. So, Samarth Ramdas Ji came to the Shivaji’s court to meet him. He said to Shivaji, “My dear, I have come to ask something from you”.
It is said that, if your Guru asks you for your head, know that even that is too little a price he is asking from you. 
Shivaji replied, “Gurudev, my entire life is yours. I am ready to lay my head at your feet. Please ask what you seek and it is yours.”
Samarth Ramdasji said, “I want your kingdom.”
Without thinking for even a second, Shivaji Maharaj took off his royal turban, and sword and surrendered them at the feet of his Guru. He said, “Gurudev, you have freed me so totally today from all my worries and concerns. You have taken away such a heavy burden, for which I am grateful. I bow to you again and again.”
Saying this, Shivaji rose and turned to walk away. At that moment, Samarth Ramdasji stopped him and said, “My dear, stop! Indeed from this day on I am the King of the Kingdom. Now, you shall fight for me as my trusted warrior to protect my kingdom. Now wear this crown again for namesake, take up your sword and fight your enemies bravely without any concerns.”
It is said, since that day, Shivaji Maharaj never experienced any sense of insecurity ever again. He never lost courage and kept on moving forward in his activities and conquests. He became invincible in battle.
So from this story, you should know that there is a Supreme power which is with you, and is taking care of you at all times. We may call that power as Waheguru, Lord Shiva, Lord Hanuman, or as the all-encompassing syllable Om. Just knowing this gives you great inner strength.
Even the tenth Guru of the Sikh tradition said, “Chant the name of the Divine; it brings you great strength of mind and equanimity in life”. A strong and steady mind can pull through even if the body is weak. But if the mind is weak and entangled in negativity, then it cannot move even a physically strong body forward. That is why it is so vital to have a strong and steady mind. Remember to keep insecurities from overwhelming the mind.
Now, you may have a good business which your parents would have set up over the years, and after your studies, you may plan to take up the family business forward. In such case you may not have any insecurity about your future. But even then, do you know what you may fear? You may succumb to fearing humiliation. Many of us have this feeling that no one should criticize or insult us. I tell you, this is the biggest stumbling block in your path to progress. Many great people are troubled with this fear of humiliation.
A person could be the Prime Minister of a country, or a Chief Minister, or a Mayor of a city. But when there is a constant fear of humiliation in the mind, then your spirit cannot blossom totally from within as long as you are stuck with this fear.
In life, we run away from every possible where we fear being humiliated. This fear prevents you from blossoming from within, from being so natural. I tell you, just stand tall with your head held high and have this firm belief, “I do not fear criticism and insult, regardless of who may do so”. That’s it. When you challenge humiliation itself and stand tall before it, then no one can diminish your self-confidence and your talents. No one can make you unhappy in the world then.
You should have this approach in life, “At most, what will the other person call me? That I am a fool? Let them do so freely, I will not fear that”. We need to strive to overcome this fear of humiliation. 
Alright, I want to ask one more thing from you all – Are you all naughty? (Many in the audience shout “Yes!” as Gurudev asks). Good, you better be naughty I tell you. Otherwise you will lose your qualification to be called as a Youth. If you are not being mischievous in life, I tell you, you have certainly grown old in life.
My dear, what is the use of getting so troubled with small trivial issues in life? Just relax and be happy. This is the time to be happy and playful. Laugh and make others laugh, neither get entangled nor entangle others in life. That’s it!

When an atheist comes to the Guru...

Atheism is when you do not believe either in values or in the abstract. When an atheist comes to the Guru, what happens? You start experiencing your own form and discover that you are indeed formless, hollow and empty. And this abstract non-form in you becomes more and more concrete. The Guru makes the abstract more real and what you thought was solid appears to be more unreal. Sensitivity and subtlety dawn. Perception of love, not as an emotion, but as the substratum of existence, becomes evident. The formless spirit shines through every form in creation and the mystery of life deepens, shattering atheism.
Then the journey begins and it has four stages.
The first stage is Saarupya — to see the formless in the form, seeing God in all the forms. Often, one feels more comfortable seeing God as formless rather than with a form, because with a form, one feels a distance, a duality, a fear of rejection and other limitations. In life all of our interactions are with a form, other than in deep sleep and in samadhi. And, if you do not see God in the form, then the waking part of life remains devoid of the Divine. All those who accept God to be formless use symbols, and perhaps love the symbols more than God himself. If God comes and tells a Christian to leave the cross or a Muslim to drop the crescent, perhaps he may not do it. To begin with, loving the formless is possible only through forms.
The second stage is Saamipya (closeness) — feeling absolutely close to the form you have chosen and reaching out to the formless. This leads to a sense of intimacy with the whole creation. In this stage, one overcomes the fear of rejection and other fears. But this is bound by time and space.
The third stage is Saanidhya — feeling the presence of the Divine by which you transcend the limitations of time and space.
Then the final stage is Saayujya — when you are firmly entrenched in the Divine. It is then you realize you are one with the Divine. There is a total merging with the Beloved and all duality disappears. This is that and that is this. Whether an atheist or believer, he goes through these four stages.

Guru Nanak

There was a great saint named Guru Nanak Dev in India more than 500 years back. He was from Punjab. He traveled up to Baghdad, spreading the message of spirituality, of oneness with God, and the importance of devotion. Today, the Sikh community celebrates his birthday and it is a very important day for them. Today (3rd November 2017) is also Kartika Purnima (referring to the full moon day in the Hindu calendar month of Kartika), Dev Diwali, and the day when the propounder of the Jain religion, Lord Mahavira, received enlightenment.
Sikhism had ten Gurus, and Guru Nanak Dev was the first Guru (the founder of Sikhism). The stories of all the ten Gurus of the Sikh tradition are heartwarming and uplifting – they are of sacrifice. The Gurus sacrificed everything they had for the sake of the protection of the good, innocent, and righteous. People were also given the cream of knowledge by the Gurus in simple words.
Guru Nanak Dev spoke about the nectar of devotion – Bhakti Rasa. Guru Nanak Dev was a devotee totally immersed in Bhakti Yoga (referring to Devotion as one of the limbs of Yoga and the path to attain the Divine), while Guru Gobind Singh was a Karma Yogi (one who believes in doing one’s duty or karma as the path to liberation). So, you see a change or a shift from devotion to action. When people were stuck in the outward worldly affairs, Guru Nanak Dev inspired them to go inwards – that was his message.
He said, “Do not get so stuck in worldly affairs that you forget the name of God. Keep chanting the name of God.”
Many a times, Guru Nanak Dev’s father would ask him to go and sell some vegetables in the market. When selling vegetables, as he would start counting, he would get stuck at the number 13 (pronounced as tera in Hindi), which also means yours. Hearing the word tera, he would get immersed in thoughts of the Divine. So, even while doing work, his mind was never in the work – it was always on the Divine. Guru Nanak Dev would say, “I am yours, I am yours, I am yours.”
Guru Nanak’s life was filled with pure love, wisdom, and valour.
There is a beautiful prayer in the Guru Granth Sahib, which goes:
Ek Onkar (God is One), Satnam (His name is True), Karta-Purakh (He is the Creator), Nirbhau (He is without fear), Nirvair (He is inimical to none), Akal-murat (He never dies), Ajuni Saibhang (He is beyond birth and death), Gurprasaad (He is realized by the kindness of the True Guru), Jap (Repeat his name), Aad Sach (He is True, even before anything was created), Jugaad Sach (He has ever been True), Hai Bhi Sach (He is True now), Nanak Hose Bhi Sach (He will be True in the future).”
The whole world is born from one Omkaar (one Divinity). Everything around us is composed of the vibrations of this one Omkaar alone. And you can know Om only by the grace of the Guru. It is there everywhere, but it can only be understood through the Guru.
Om is the eternal sound that exists in the depth of one’s consciousness. If you go to the ocean and listen carefully to the waves, you will find the same sound – Om. If you go on top of a mountain and listen to the wind blowing, you will hear the sound Om. Before this birth, we were all in Om. After this birth, after we all die, we will merge into that cosmic sound Om. Even now, in the depth of creation, that sound still resonates. Whether Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Taoism, or Shintoism – in all these religions, Omkar (Om chanting) is given much prominence.
On Guru Nanak Dev’s birthday, let us remind ourselves not to let the mind slip into Maya – into this ever-changing relative world. Let us be happy, make others happy, pray, serve, and act to protect dharma.