Tag Archives: spirituality

Spirituality and Creativity

10 Dec

creativity and spirituality by Bhanumathi Narasimhan

As I look out the window on this beautiful winter morning, I see one tree without a single leaf and right next to it is an evergreen on the verge of bursting with small ripe red fruit. What role does the weather have to play? Who chooses which leaves fall?

There are close to 7 billion people on this planet and an equal or greater number of thoughts and ideas born every moment. One can only wonder how the idea chooses the person!

The world has close to 2 billion Internet users but the first computer was born as an idea in the mind of one person. A nuclear bomb has the capacity to affect so many thousands of lives and was created in the mind of one person. When a sub-atomic particle can be the source of so much energy, the mind is much more finer, much more subtle and certainly much more powerful. The skill is in knowing how to tap this infinite source of energy and creativity.

For creativity, time is not a factor. The intention to be creative is important. At the same time, we cannot plan to be creative. Sometimes we look at a leaf, a tree, running water, the vastness of the sky and something happens! The solution is there in front of us. Being with nature has a calming effect on the mind. It brings the mind to the present moment, which is the field of all possibilities. It brings the mind to a space of wonderment and silence where creative ideas take shape. Spiritual practices like meditation have this same effect on the mind. They take us to our inner realm, which is the basis of creativity. When our mind is calm and relaxed, creativity wells up from within.

We all know that our brain has two hemispheres; the right and the left. Science says that the left-brain is associated with analysis, logic, whereas the right brain activity is connected to music, emotions, and creativity. In our normal day-to-day life, we tend to use our left-brain more often as we try to understand, question, judge the people and situations around us. This creates an imbalance in the way we perceive reality. Similarly, if we spend the entire day listening to music or singing songs, even that can make us dull and tired. Creativity cannot arise in a mind that is out of balance or tired. This is where meditation helps. Meditation restores the balance. It brings centeredness. It calms the agitated mind and refreshes and re-energizes the tired mind. It creates the perfect field for ideas to flow.

However, not all ideas that are born fructify. Even if they fructify, they are not all useful. How do we know which ideas to invest our effort and energies into? This is where intuition in combination with creativity is necessary. An intuitive intelligence can innovate for the benefit of human kind.

Intuition is often referred to as the sixth sense. When all thoughts are in harmony with nature, such a mind is intuitive. This alignment needs to be nurtured through meditation.  Even a ‘creative’ person will find that the quality of his or her ideas change and improve as they meditate.

Often, a person in love experiences a surge of creativity. They write poems, think-up special gifts, make paintings and so on. And, when the attachment towards the subject of love subsides, the creativity also takes a downward trend. The secret is to make our attachment bigger. Refining and expanding our love to include the entire cosmos, sustains and nourishes our creative abilities. Furthermore, the ideas that are born are beneficial for humanity.

Spirituality is living the values of caring and sharing. It is about connecting to the supreme intelligence that is the source of all wisdom and creativity. When this connection to the inner-net is firmly established, we become agents of peace with the ability to creatively find win-win solutions to the challenges that confront every individual and society.

Bhanumathi Narasimhan

Video

My experience with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar – Bhanumathi Narasimhan

11 Oct

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living Foundation, inspires thousands of people across the world. He plays many roles for many people – as a humanitarian ambassador, spiritual leader or a meditation teacher, as well as a peace advocate. And I feel very grateful to be his sister.I have shared some of my experiences with him in the video.

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The Secret of Mantra Chanting

1 Oct

Mantras – Sound vibrations that permeate every cell of your being and allow your mind to dissolve and repose. But what are they? What do they mean? Where did they come from? There are so many questions surrounding these ancient syllables. Speaking about Mantras is the revelation of ancient secrets that have been kept sacred from several ages, secrets that continue to benefit humanity irrespective of its circumstances.

What are Mantras?
Mantras are impulses or rhythms of the consciousness. They create vibrations in the spirit. Their effects, influence, method and mode of working are all a mystery.

In Sanskrit, it is said, Manana trayate iti mantra.Mantra is that which saves you from repetitiveness. A repetitive thought is a worry. Mantras help to free you from your worries. Often we wonder why we chant some sounds without understanding their meanings? Can something beyond our understanding help us?

The meaning of every mantra is infinity. It is a sound vibration beyond the cognition of the mind. When the mind is unable to cognize, it simply dissolves and moves into a meditative space.

How Mantras affect the mind?
The mantra is like a seed. Every seed has the potential to become a tree. Similarly, these sound vibrations contain all the possibilities of creation. Some mantras are in the seed form, called the bija mantras. Others are fully expressed, i.e, the fruit of the mantra is also expressed, such as the Gayatri mantra.

Mantras are a secret. That which is kept a secret alerts the sub-conscious mind. The mantras work at the level of the consciousness. When we want a seed to sprout, it needs to be sown into the soil, hidden, a secret. If it is simply thrown around, birds may eat them up. We can read and learn about mantras and their uses from books and the internet but that will only satisfy the intellect and not translate into experience.

Mantra and Meditation
When we chant the mantras, or listen to them, we get purity of mind and word. This prepares us for meditation. As a result of the sound vibrations, different patterns of the mind re-arrange themselves to become tranquil. Agitation is reduced, helping us to turn inward. For instance, when we laugh, our happiness increases. When we cry, the heaviness of our sorrow is released. Just the sounds of laughter and crying have helped. Mantras act in a similar manner. Repetition of the Mantras creates a psychological or mental response that is very deep and beyond the realm of words or expression. It can only be experienced. Speech falls short as it cannot go beyond the expression level into the experiential level.

When the mind is calm and centered, it can turn inward. Only a mind turned inward can experience the vastness and beauty of the Divine consciousness. When our focus is outward on the objects of the senses, our mind is scattered and racing behind one craving or another. Physical senses seek to know all about the external universe. Meditation is the tool for inner exploration.

Antarmukhi Sada Sukhi – one whose mind is turned inward is ever in bliss. Mantras are the tools which allow the mind to dissolve and repose in the Self.

Why should we repose in the Self? How is this going to help in our day-today life?

When the river is calm, the reflection is clearer. When the mind is calm, there is greater clarity in the field of expression. Our sense of observation, perception and expression improve. As a result we are able to communicate effectively and clearly.

Most of our problems or misunderstandings arise because of a lack of proper communication. When our mind is free from agitation, the way we interact and communicate is so much more pleasant and effective. Our efforts are not hindered by rifts caused due to communication gaps. This leads to a lot of positivity in our outlook and progress in life.

Mantras are as subtle as the air which creates ripples in the water as it gently moves over it. Air is all-pervading and at the same time affects specific regions. The field of the mantras is also such. It is all –pervading and also creates an impact on the one who is practicing.

Bhanumathi Narasimhan

Presence of the Master – By Bhanumathi Narasimhan

27 Sep

Who is a Guru? Why do I need a Guru? How do I recognize a Guru? Do I have to search for my Guru, or will my Guru find me? What is the relationship between a Guru, and a disciple?

These are some often-asked questions by any seeker on the path. There are many who can give answers but only a Guru can transform questions into wonder. Only the Master can take you to that space of wonderment where there is no duality.

Spirituality is an inward journey from the outer world of names, and forms to the subtle inner Self. The physical body is gross, and limited. The breath is subtle. The mind is subtler. The intellect is even more; the ego, furthermore. The Self is the subtlest. To the infinite depths of our beautiful being – it is the Master who guides us, and takes us on this journey step by step.

The Guru is an embodiment of wisdom, and love. In Sanskrit, the word for gravity is Gurutwakarshan. The earth holds us towards itself by the force of gravity. Without this attraction or love, we would not have a base, or a foundation. Similarly, Gurutva is the basis of our life. The Guru is the guiding light – removing the darkness of ignorance.

Bhanumathi Narasimhan with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

A Teacher can give knowledge, but the Master brings a heightened awareness.

A Teacher can give information but the Master awakens intelligence.

There is an ancient story. One day, while Lord Shiva was performing a puja, Parvati sees him bowing down. Seeing this, she asks, “You are the Supreme Consciousness, and substratum of this entire creation. Who is it that you bow down to?”

Shiva replies, “Dear Parvati, for the benefit of all humanity, I will answer your question. It is to the all-pervading Guru tatva that I bow down.” In the many beautiful verses that followed called the Guru Gita, Lord Shiva explains the Guru Principle, and says how fortunate one is to have a Living Master in his life.

The Guru in the physical form is called pratyaksh. In the presence of the Master, our enthusiasm, and spirit is in an elevated state – sorrows diminish, joy wells up, there is contentment, knowledge is nourished and protected, and talents blossom.

India honors a tradition of Masters who have protected, and given this knowledge to us, generation after generation, according to the need of the age and time.

When a drop feels connected to the ocean, it feels the strength of the ocean. When we are connected to this tradition, we feel the strength, and protection of all the Masters.

All these Masters are an expression of the same Infinite, Undivided, Supreme, Pure Consciousness.

The Guru is a tatva – an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent principle. Establishing connection with this tatva is the source of greatest strength. We know we have forefathers, great grand parents and so on. Yet we feel most attached and connected to our father, or grandfather because they are with us. Similarly, we have many Gurus in our tradition, but when we come in the presence of our Living Master, the connection is established immediately. The entire knowledge from time immemorial is made available to us.

Gurupurnima is a time to feel grateful. The more grateful we are, the more grace flows in our lives. On Gurupurnima, we remember all the Masters who were, who are and who will be in future. We feel gratitude towards the Master who moves us from the limited understanding and pride of ‘I know everything” to “I am everything.”

A disciple seeks knowledge. A devotee seeks nothing. A devotee is soaked in love, and devotion. Gurupurnima is the day of the devotee. When the river meets the ocean, the river no longer remains a river. It becomes the ocean. It is the same when the devotee meets the Divine. Only Divinity remains. The individual ‘I’ dissolves in the One Divinity.

When we look at the world through the eyes of the Master, the world will look so much more beautiful – a place filled with love, joy, compassion, and virtues.

The Master is a presence that is unlimited, vast, infinite, and all-inclusive. The presence of the Master in one’s life brings fulfillment to all other relationships.

To that One, Eternal, Pure, Unbounded, Embodiment of Knowledge and Absolute Bliss,

To the Lotus feet of My Master, I bow down.

Tantras: by Bhanumathi Narasimhan

27 Sep

Bhanumati Narasimhan

Tantras are techniques, skillful ways of handling the mind. It is skill in action. The tantric methods make use of yantras and mantras which together help a seeker to transcend the body consciousness and be established in the space of the Self. Tantras make use of these yantras and mantras with a specific purpose to heal or create harmony at the physical, emotional and spiritual levels. This is the real purpose.

However tantra has been understood as a negative term. This is what happens when one tries to use the techniques with a selfish or harmful intention. It requires a mature intellect and pure heart to wield these techniques in their full capacity for the benefit of humanity.

The study of tantras is like an applied science for the mind. It is a higher psychology which involves moving through the body to the higher Self. It helps till the ego level. Only mantras can transcend the ego level to the level of the Self.  Because we are in the body, we need to take care of the body. Tantras can cleanse the body and mind of any vikarasor distortions. When used for general well-being, it has curative effects for psychiatric ailments, fear psychosis and so on. One can exercise power on the mind through the tantras.

Tantra is a research field. Real tantric scholars are a few. It is like holding a PhD. A doctorate is not awarded for individual benefit. There is value in it only when the study is beneficial for humanity. It is the same with tantras. In fact, if it used with a narrow-minded motive, then there are side-effects. Any seeming benefits are also short-lived. A child cannot attempt a PhD.

Similarly, if one attempts the tantras without being qualified and without the proper guidance and expertise, it can instead create illusions in the mind which in Sanskrit is refered to as Yoga maya. Further, failure in the attempts can lead to depression. Even among the mature beings, not all need to do PhD. The path of tantras has to be treaded very carefully. It is bound by cause and effect and the laws of karma. In research, learning happens to a great extent through trial and error. Even in this process, if any harm comes to anyone, the research scholar will reap the consequences.

Tantras give access to the ancestors. They enable travel in time, both forward and backward. If the tantras are available in the hands of an immature or selfish person, using it for short-term benefits, it can take a destructive nature. That is why it was guarded as a secret. In this creation, it is difficult to categorize anyone as a good or bad person. Transformation is continuous. That is why the gurus would study the disciples and only the eligible student is given this field of knowledge.

The Guru knows when our intellect is mature and heart is pure. The Guru knows when we are ready to receive this knowledge such that it can be of use to the society. Only a lit candle can light another. That is why it is important that we receive this knowledge from the Master. Otherwise, we can find many yantras and mantras and their tantras in the books and even on the internet but it may not help us in any way. Instead it could be harmful if not used correctly.

This skill involves a fine balance between intelligence and innocence. Without innocence, intelligence can cross over and become manipulative. It is like balancing on a razor’s edge. Tantras are like double-edged swords. You can remove the tumor with it but if you are not careful, you can hurt the limb. In the hands of a child, it is not of much use. Instead it can be dangerous. But in the hands of a surgeon, it is life-saving. The knife in itself has no value. Following any extreme can be harmful to oneself and to others. That is why the supervision of the guru is essential. The guru teaches you to be skillful in action. He guides you to be intelligent without losing your innocence. He shows you how to follow the middle path.

Spirituality & Technology

27 Sep

We live in a time where ‘google’ happens to be within the first 100 words a child learns, a time where we do not need to extend our hand to make a friend; just our finger is enough. A whole universe of information is available at our fingertips. An entire network of people, known and the unknown, all seem to be connected, there for each other, yet not really there. Families separated by thousands of miles can talk to each other; see each other with the help of technology. Children from remote villages get a glimpse of the world outside through technology. The field of medicine and medical diagnosis greatly relies on the accuracy of the technology that it uses.

As creators and users of technology, we have been greatly empowered. Yet this power often comes at the cost of becoming entirely dependent on this very technology. Our enthusiasm to explore and to know is often limited to internet searches. We do not go out and explore nature and lose the human touch. There is nothing that can replace the experience of touching snow or feeling the coolness of the flowing river-the majesty of the Himalayas or the tranquility of the Ganges.

While it is much easier to know more about anything by connecting to the world-wide-web, the enthusiasm to discover and learn firsthand is vanishing and only the virtual experience remains. This by no means is the real thing.

Technology should not be the cause for this. Instead we should discover ways in which technology can help to facilitate our spirit of enquiry. What is the middle-path in the use of technology and how do we find it?

It is a fine line of balance; to know how much to depend on information and when to rely on intuition. It is a skill; to deepen our knowledge with information yet broaden our vision with the real experience. This skill and balance are essential to avoid the risk of overexposure and fatigue, to keep the creativity flowing and the enthusiasm rising. This is where spirituality helps.

Spirituality is not a dogmatic rule. It is dynamic action, continuously accommodating and adapting to changes in circumstances and the environment. It makes you ever accepting of change. This ability to adapt is essential in a technological environment where the need to upgrade and update oneself is imperative to staying ahead.

In the race to keep up with technology, we should not forget the mind that created it. We are used to charging our phones and laptops. What can we do to re-charge ourselves? For the human mind to be more effective, it needs to be charged through meditation.

Meditation brings centeredness. It is the subtler technology for mind management. It calms the agitated mind. It connects us to our source and brings us back home to ourselves. It is important that we connect to the inner-net and not just the internet. A mother knows intuitively what her child needs even before it begins to speak. She is a master of the language of the heart. This ability to connect with life around us is innate and needs to be nurtured. Spirituality is the key to this cosmic connection.

When we know that we are the source, that we are ever connected to the supreme intelligence, we can move ahead with a sense of belongingness and responsibility for the transformation we bring about with the technologies that are available to us. The same finger that can unleash a nuclear bomb can also spread peace. Walking this line of balance with effortless grace is the skill that meditation brings in us so naturally. Living the values of caring and sharing, of seeking the highest truth and ultimate joy, of giving love and wisdom, are the signs of an individual blossoming to his or her full potential through spirituality and technology should be an aide in this journey to make life a celebration.

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