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The fully realized Master, Paramahamsa Vishwananda, who is my Guru, Tweeted this today:

Sitting and observing how this world is going makes me think that all in this mundane world, together with its illusive relationships and having this body, which is prone to death and diseases, people have forgotten what is true love and true friendship. All that one sees ends with only a view to fulfill one’s own desire. It’s everywhere.

When we forget the love which God has put inside of our heart, we lose this connection to the reality. Then, one starts to fashion a dream reality, which is far away from the true love of God. That’s what makes the mind become insane, because the most endearing thing, and the soul, is Giridhari Himself. And He is the Supreme Lord! So if one cuts that relationship from the source all what one sees becomes deceptive, not real. All just takes a shape of fantasy and a mere show.

All that one owns in life becomes dear only when our relationship is centered in the soul; it’s the relationship which one bears from the soul of soul Himself.

When the soul recognizes its similarities with the love of the Supreme Lord, then only this relationship is established. All fake attachment to the external world disappears as the result of the real relationship to Giridhari Himself, who is the ultimate soul, the soul of all souls; God himself who is the shelter of all living beings.

Let’s analyze this sentence: “All that one owns in life becomes dear only when our relationship is centered in the soul; it’s the relationship which one bears from the soul of soul Himself.”

Before this sentence, Guruji says that if we cut ourselves off from the source, from the Love of the Divine, then we lose a connection to reality. That’s when we start to create a dream reality, a fantasy and just a show.

He mentions three things above that we fashion for ourselves:

  1. Dream reality
  2. Fantasy
  3. A show

A dream reality is self-explanatory. We know that dreams are not real.

A fantasy is like wishful thinking, but we convince ourselves that it’s not a wish, it’s real. We convince ourselves that are fantasies can come true and we go through a lot of effort and do a lot of work to put on a show where the fantasy might come true.

We know that every show has a backstage and there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes than what you see on stage. In our effort to put on a show in order to make our fantasy real and to make our dream real, an enormous amount of energy is spent and stored backstage, behind the scenes. Whether we like it or not, what goes on backstage will make an appearance front stage in one way or another.

Coming back to the sentence we are analyzing. When Guruji says “all that we own in life”, I believe he is talking about our only true possession, which is the relationship we have with God. We come to this world empty handed and we leave in the same way. The one thing that we do enter this world with is our soul’s love relationship with God and that’s the one thing we leave the world with, whether we realize it at the time of death or not.

If this is our only true possession, then what Guruji says in that sentence makes perfect sense. The relationship we have with God, which can only be perceived when we are centered in the soul, is always there. But the missing part is that we don’t hold it dear to us and that is our big loss.

Only when we start to center ourselves in the soul do we realize what a treasure that relationship is and start holding it dear to us. Only when we recognize our soul’s love relationship with God do we realize that it’s the most important thing in the entire Universe. And since that relationship is the only thing that we really truly own, we realize that we have everything, we realize we are complete. We realize that we are free because we are eternally in a loving relationship with God.

“All fake attachment to the external world disappears as the result of the real relationship to Giridhari Himself, who is the ultimate soul, the soul of all souls; God himself who is the shelter of all living beings.” Paramahamsa Vishwananda

I’ve been caught up in the storm of the US presidential elections. The high-energy speeches are motivating, inspiring and subliminally convincing on so many levels.

I hope that this election is inspiring a sense of responsibility within you because it is within me and I’m not even American. I can’t vote.

My favorite thing about this election is that there is a well-defined “Evil” character vs an obvious “Good” character.

It’s a real life Good vs Evil story.

But the thing is that the bad guy also has a backstory. Here’s one about the demon King Ravana that my Guru, Paramahamsa Vishwananda (Guruji) once shared during Krishna Janmashtami in 2013.

Ravana was an evil king and he was the personification of the bad quality in humans that is lust. He abducted Sita, the pious wife of Lord Rama because she was extraordinarily beautiful and he wanted her. Clearly, he’s the baddy.

Ravana Sita

Image source

But it is not very well known that he had a secret meditation room in his palace, which no one else was allowed to enter. He would go into this room and cry because he missed and longed for God. He longed for Narayana and although he knew that Lord Rama was an incarnation of Narayana and was on his was to kill him, therefore liberate him, he still had to play his role of a demon and be the bad guy.

The reason why I shared this is because it’s important for us to remember that there is a backstory for every character, even the main characters in an election. It’s important for us to remember that the power and wealth that Donald Trump received and the intelligence and opportunities that Hillary Clinton has received are gifts from the same source; the Divine.

They each have a role to play in this drama and they are playing their roles very well.

We also have a role to play and that is to pick a side and fight. And our greatest weapon in this fight is our vote.

We have a role to play in the 2016 election

No matter what gets in our way, or how long the lines are, how rude the polling station people are or whatever the Universe throws in your way, you’ve got to fight. You’ve got to make sure your vote gets cast.

We’re not just spectators in this drama. We are fellow actors.

And we must do our best to play out our role.

 

Header image: HillaryClinton.com

Being a Humble Student

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In order to be a good student, you have to be humble enough to be willing to teach what you are learning. Yes, it’s scary to put yourself in the spotlight and give everybody a chance to see what you do and don’t know.

It is important because without teaching you may not truly learn. Be willing to go out and teach the little that you know.

Through teaching you will learn.

It’s not possible to learn in isolation. Learning is also a social activity. Be willing to put yourself out there, be willing to look like an idiot, but be willing to find out how much you know and also how little you know. Then you can make progress.

Photo credit: Vesna Sanders Photography

Being a humble teacher

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Some of us who try to teach from our hearts only, we tend to look down on someone who doesn’t “feel” the love or the teachings in the same way as us.

This is not compassion or kindness at all.

The better way is for us to try and change our way of teaching or talking to make it easier for someone else to learn. If the student or listener is a thinker and analytical or logical person, for us to teach with logic. If the student is a feeler, then for us to teach with feeling.

Who are we to know who this person in front of us really is? Our student could end up becoming the biggest teacher in the world. Our student could end up being our guru. It happened to Ramanujacharya’s Guru, Yadava Prakash.

Don’t look down upon someone who doesn’t see the world exactly the same as you. Instead, equip yourself so that you can see the world through their eyes when needed so you can serve them in a way that will actually help them.

*This post is an excerpt from a chat I had with a friend who asked me a question related to this Thinking Bhakti podcast by Bhakti Marga: listen to it here.

Everyone makes mistakes. I am not immune to that. Some mistakes sting you the most though, and that’s because these are the mistakes where you hurt the ones closest to you.

I made such a mistake today. I hurt the feelings of a dear friend.

The worst thing is that I only realized how horrible I was being after it was too late. That’s how mistakes work, unfortunately; in hindsight.

What do you do when you’ve realized that you have hurt someone? Should you apologize to them? Some may argue that no, it’s enough to make the mistake and ask God for forgiveness. Confess and be clean of this karma.

im sorry

 

In reality, it is not that easy. In full honesty, think about this and tell me. Who has the power to emotionally, psychologically and karmically forgive you for a mistake you have made to hurt someone?

The answer to that question is that the only person who can truly forgive you for the mistake you have made is the person you have hurt.

A story about the importance of saying sorry

There is a beautiful story in the Srimad Bhagavatam that my Guru, Paramahamsa Vishwananda often tells. This story is about Durvasa, the ancient sage. He was short tempered and moody (to say the least) and one day, because of a misunderstanding, he got really angry at a king by the name Ambarisa and cursed the king.

angry face

Image source

In reality, King Ambarisa was completely innocent but he didn’t argue against the sage. He accepted the curse and even apologized for his innocent mistake.

Little did sage Durvasa know, but king Ambarisa was a huge devotee of Lord Narayana and he was beloved of Lord Narayana in return. Narayana couldn’t stand such an insult to his devotee and sent his most powerful weapon, his Sudharshana Chakra to finish off Sage Durvasa for cursing Ambarisa and causing him pain.

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When Durvasa saw the Sudharshana Chakra coming for him, he ran to Brahma, the creator, and begged him for protection. Lord Brahma was powerless against the Sudharshan Chakra and told Durvasa that he couldn’t help or protect him.

Durvasa then went to Shiva, the destroyer and begged for protection from him. Shiva had the same answer and said that since the Sudharshana Chakra belongs to Lord Narayana, only he can protect him from it. So, Durvasa ran to Lord Narayana.

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To his surprise, Narayana couldn’t help him either. He said to Durvasa, that the Sudharshana Chakra flew out to help and protect the pure devotee of Lord Narayana since the offense was made against the devotee. The only person that can stop the Chakra is the devotee, not the Lord.

Durvasa then ran back to his starting point, to King Ambarisha and fell at his feet asking forgiveness. King Ambarisha realized what had happened and prayed to Lord Narayana to forgive the sage and stop His Chakra, and by doing that, he saved the Sage.

sage durvasa

Image source

The point of the story is that when you commit a mistake against someone, then you run to God and ask for forgiveness, you won’t find it there. The only person who can forgive you is the one who you hurt with your mistake.

No matter how uncomfortable and embarrassing it is, you must ask for forgiveness from your friend who you’ve hurt.

How to ask for forgiveness and say sorry

Here are three ways you can say sorry after you’ve made a mistake.

1 | Say sorry and blame your bad behaviour on a headache (or being ill)

Sometimes you need a crutch to lean your apology on and a headache or not feeling well is a good excuse for being weird. Even better, if you genuinely weren’t feeling well when you misbehaved with your friend, then this will be true!

how to say sorry

Text: Sorry I was a little out of it. Had a massive headache from the sun at the beach. Let’s hang again soon.

2 | Say sorry and blame it on someone else (a 3rd party)

This is a less desirable way to apologize but sometimes you need a 3rd party to help ease the tension. Also, sometimes it really is the presence of a third wheel that makes you act differently towards a friend and then you end up hurting them by mistake.

how to say sorry excuses

Text: Sorry if that was a little awkward. I think I was being weird because so and so was there.

3 | Say sorry and tell the truth

Once in a while, saying sorry isn’t going to mean much unless you really get down to the root cause of the issue and come totally clean about why the friction occurred between the two of you in the first place. This can escalate very quickly, so be prepared to humble yourself and make yourself vulnerable if you choose to go with this. It really has to come from within, otherwise, you’ll just end up attacking your friend and hurting them much more than you originally had.

Saying sorry is a sign of strength, not weakness. This kind of strength cultivates through looking at yourself and analyzing yourself and the best place to do that is when you are in meditation. If you have never meditated before, look into it. I highly recommend Atma Kriya Yoga as a meditation practice.

Don’t be afraid to say sorry. When you can smile and laugh and just be comfortable in the presence of your friend again who had accidentally hurt, it will be worth it.

With my love,

Ritu

krishna i didn't do it

 

What is freedom anyway?

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Something happened to me recently that has got me thinking a lot about true freedom.

True freedom is acceptance of life and taking it for what it is. I had no idea that acceptance is directly connected to freedom as well, but it is.

I’m not talking about being free to speak your mind or being financially free. I’m talking about a higher level of freedom, one which actually comes from bondage; bondage to duty. Surprised? Yes, I am too. Let me explain.

I know only one person in the world who is truly free and that is Paramahamsa Vishwananda. He is free because he is fully God realized and a Divine incarnation, so I won’t even try to analyze what makes him free.

There is one other person who demonstrated true freedom to me just the other day and this is my attempt to understand the meaning of freedom through their example.

Before I get into that, I’ll tell you the story of what happened to me recently. Just a couple of days ago, it was my Guruji’s birthday and all his devotees gathered in Germany to celebrate the big day. I had flights, accommodation and tickets booked to go to the celebration well in advance.

But something came up and I couldn’t go, and worst of all, I just couldn’t accept that I couldn’t go. I simply didn’t like that fact that I wasn’t there and a part of me disliked that everyone else was there, having fun and I wasn’t.

As I was getting frustrated, sad and a little resentful about this, I had a conversation with that person who I mentioned earlier. They couldn’t go to the party either and when I asked why, they simply said that there were other duties to be done so it didn’t even occur to them to skip the duties to go to the party.

The fact that this person was wholeheartedly bound to their duty made them free of liking or disliking the fact that they weren’t going to go to the party. This person was totally free! They didn’t feel bad at all. They were happy as always.

I was speechless. I mean, who would voluntarily miss the chance to celebrate the birthday of their Guru, who is the most beloved thing to a devotee, to perform a duty that needs to be done?

True Freedom in the Gita

Finally, today, as I was reading the Bhagavad Gita commentary by Paramahamsa Vishwannada, I was given a clue about the lesson this whole experience was trying to teach me. The lesson was about freedom: true freedom.

“No matter what happens, they are fully centered in the Divine: they are free. They are free firstly from the sense of like and dislike. They are renounced from within.” – Paramahamsa Vishwananda’s commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, pg. 194, Chapter 2, verse 65

You will be truly free

You will be truly free when how you feel, act and are won’t be so affected by what you like and dislike. This is not easy at all. What if something really bad happened to you? How do you not let that make you feel upset, angry, sad or distressed? It’s not easy at all.

But one day when you do get to that state through your spiritual practice, meditation and dedication and when you get the Grace of your Guru and God to achieve that state, then you can be truly free no matter what happens to you on the outside.

It won’t be an easy path because the tests will get harder and harder so you can see how much of things that you dislike you can transcend. With a spiritual practice such as Atma Kriya Yoga, and with the guidance of a Guru, you can get there in this life.

After all, I’m banking on that myself.

Love,

Ritu

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Spiritual people tend to completely devalue the mind and the intellect when it comes to talking about spiritual concepts and when explaining themselves and their ideas to others. You often hear things like, “Can’t you just feel the love?” Or, “Don’t think about it. Just feel it.” I am guilty of this too.

But today, I’m arguing the opposite and I’m saying that the mind is an important tool in your spiritual journey.

inspirations app by paramahamsa vishwananda

Source: Inspirations App by Bhakti Marga

The mind and the intellect are invaluable tools to understanding spirituality, to articulate it for yourself and to communicate it to others.

What good is love if you can’t give it? What good is an idea about love, about God and about life if you can’t articulate yourself and share that idea with another person?

In the Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavan Krishna says that there are many forms of yoga that lead you to your ultimate aim in life, to God, like Ashtanga Yoga (the eight limbs of yoga), Jnana Yoga (the yoga of knowledge) and Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion to God). Of all of these, He says that Bhakti Yoga is the easiest and most direct path that gets you to your destination.

krishna vishwaswaroop kurukshetra

Image source: Tumblr

I think that there is a reason He mentions these three forms of yoga in this specific order. On the soul’s journey, as it incarnates through many lives, it first masters Ashtanga yoga, then Jnana Yoga and then evolves to Bhakti Yoga. Only after mastering Jnana, and the intellectually understanding why we are here and what’s the purpose of life, can we experience Bhakti and devotion to God.

Bhakti is complex. Anyone who has been in love knows how complex it is. For example, when Facebook first launched so many years ago, one of the options for your status was “It’s complicated” alongside “Single” and “In a relationship”.

Love is complicated.

It is handy to have a good intellectual understanding of life and love to be able to endure the complexity of Divine Love and Bhakti, as sweet as it is. Don’t you think?

I’m not saying we should throw your feelings out the window and become super analytical of everything. What I’m saying is that let’s use the mind, turning it inwards. Let’s use the mind in service of something higher. Let’s use the mind to unlock the heart.

With my love,

Ritu

This post is not intended to scare you but it is useful insight if you are on a spiritual path.

When you start walking on the spiritual path, and truly commit to it, your best friend will leave you. Your boyfriend will leave you. Your mom will show disappointment in you. Your dad will pick fights with you.

This will happen because you are changing and so are they, and both parties are changing in opposite directions.

It is not anyone’s fault so don’t blame her when your best friend walks away. She’s not doing it because she’s trying to hurt you. In fact, she is probably very hurt by you.

Resist trying too hard to patch wounded feelings; in yourself and in her.

Trying to comfort each other will not help the situation. 

It will feel more like rubbing salt in the wound.

The spiritual path is a lonely one.

the spiritual path is a lonely one quote

When you go looking for your Self, unfortunately, you don’t get to bring someone along with you.

Once you have found your Self however, you get to bring that to others, fully. And when you bring your full Self to others, you can give and give and give because you will never run out.

Don’t be sour even when they leave you.

Don’t be sour when your outreach is greeted with coldness. Be patient and most of all, allow for that distance to be there because in that distance, you will find space.

And at this time, what you both need more than anything else, is space.

Paramahamsa Vishwananda, my Guru, gave two incredible Darshans in London in April, 2016. I got such a huge blessing of being able to attend both events.

As you know, I live in Toronto now. You may also know that I used to live in London. My spiritual family is in London since that’s the place where I had my first awakening. It was so nice to be able to be back there for Darshan with Guruji.

paramahamsa vishwananda london darshan 2016

Interested in receiving Darshan from Paramahamsa Vishwananda? Check out the official event calendar of Bhakti Marga here.

Some more pics from my trip below.

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That’s me in the blue sari.

paramahamsa vishwananda london darshan 2016 2

That me behind Guruji! I got to assist with the event.

on my way to london to see guruji 1

At Toronto airport, on my way!

on my way to london to see guruji-vishwananda london darshan

Arriving in Leyton. Never thought I’d be back here so soon.

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My friend Lisa outside the Darshan hall

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Guruji giving Darshan to a fellow Canadian.

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Shirdi Sai Baba’s blessings.


1st #darshan in #london #leyton I #love you #Swami 🎶❤️ #vishwananda #satikazanova

A post shared by Lúthien Anurudra (@anurudra_) on

 

 

3 Essential Tips for Meditation

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You want to meditate but every time you sit down to meditate, your mind starts going a hundred miles an hour and you get more stressed out that you were before you even started!

In this video, I talk about three essential meditation tips that will help you to calm your mind and get through the meditation you want to do.

Meditation is a hot new thing to do now, but it’s been around for thousands of years. This is not something new but just like thick eyebrows and hipster moustaches, it is coming back into fashion. And this is a good thing!

The world needs meditation.

Why? Because when people meditate, the consciousness of the entire community around that person rises. When enough people meditate, a blanket effect is created on the entire population and everyone benefits. The planet, Mother Earth also benefits because meditation is healing for our environment as well as our brain and our body.

If you are trying to meditate and your brain just won’t shut up, here are three things you can try out.

Three meditation tips to calm your brain down

I’m a meditation teacher and I teach Atma Kriya Yoga meditation and also Simply Meditation. I’ve also been meditating almost every single day for that last three years. For someone who has the discipline of a lazy cat, that’s a big deal. When you try to meditate daily for such a long time, you get to experience all the resistance that comes up during meditation. 

For someone who has the discipline of a lazy cat, that’s a big deal. When you’ve been trying to meditate daily for such a long period of time, you would have experienced all the resistance that comes up to meditation. 

I’m simply sharing the top three things that have helped me to meditate regularly throughout all this time.

Be a little bit stubborn when it comes to meditation

The first thing to try if your mind just won’t shut up when you try to meditate is to sit there and be stubborn about it. Don’t let yourself give up and get up. Just try to get through five minutes, no matter what comes up.

If you give in to the loud chatter in your brain, then you won’t get anywhere.

But, this comes with the absolutely essential second part, which is to be gentle and kind to yourself.

Meditation is about being kind to yourself

If you are willing to give it a try and be stubborn enough to sit through at least five minutes of meditation a day, it is absolutely necessary to be gentle on yourself as well.

This means, not being mean to yourself, not saying mean things to yourself in your head and being patient and loving to yourself just for trying.

Love meditation and meditate for love

Finally, the third tip I have is to incorporate LOVE into your meditation. This is the key to meditation.

An easy way to do this is to think of a loving memory, a memory in which you experienced unconditional love. Once you have that, start your meditation.

I hope these tips help you to have a regular meditation practice, no matter how loud your mind gets when you try to meditate. 

But before you go off and get into your zone, I want to hear from you. What is the biggest challenge for you when you try to meditate? It could be anything, like maybe someone in the house is distracting you, or you just can’t get comfortable or something else throws you off. 

I want to know! So put in the comments below the biggest challenge you have when you try to meditate.

And check out my free 5 day meditation course here.

FREE meditation course

Hope to see you in there!

Love,

Ritu