Biased Love for Animals

Its been more than 9 years that I have stopped eating chicken or egg. There was a time when I was one of the person who would eat a full butter chicken by myself. However, something changed from the day I had a ‘What am I eating’ moment. A series of thoughts like a flashback ran through my head while eating chicken and gave me a glimpse of compassion. After that moment I could not chew meat.

Yesterday while looking at my Facebook feed I was acquainted with a flyer where a friend of mine posted “Dogs are the best friend of humans”. And the other day he posted “Nothing compares eating beef and buffalo wings”.

Seems like taste buds have already decided its priorities. On one side we love dogs, they are cute and said to be the best friends of humans with faithfulness filled in their eyes. Contrary to that, we tweet about the cruelty against dogs/cats while eating beef and satisfying our own dear ‘taste buds’. We protest against China and other countries where dogs are tortured, killed, roasted and eaten while sitting in Buffalo Wild Wings having the best lunch there. 😉

We often complain about people defending animals that we like to eat, we dislike when they decide what we should eat. But really, are they wrong ? Just like you love dogs/cats, they might love cows or goats etc. Love is not contradictory, it is pretty straight forward. Either you love them or just like them. (The mushy mushy one)

As Buddha once said “If you like a flower, you will pluck it off the tree/plant. But if you love it, you will water it”. Choice remains with you.

Ashes on the Forehead

While having breakfast in my hotel lobby, a lady approached me and asked if she could join me. I nodded with approval to which she placed her breakfast plate on the table and with a gentle smile greeted me. I could make it from her facial expressions that she had a question in her mind.

After a bit of chit-chatting, she asked me with utmost curiosity, “I see you have applied something on the forehead. Could you tell me more about that ?”. I was not sure what she was talking about but then I suddenly remembered that she is talking about the ashes (bhasma) on my forehead. I usually apply some ashes on my forehead in the morning. Today, I forgot to wipe it since I was in a hurry to leave for work.

I replied to her about the question she asked. I mentioned, ” In Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma, ashes or bhasma is applied on the forehead to remind oneself that this body is transient. This body will be gone one day leaving behind nothing. We have been holding onto so many things as if we are going to live forever. Hence bhasma reminds you that the body which is felt so precious is impermanent.”

She was in complete awe and surprise as I was explaining to her. She mentioned that she had seen ashes on a lot of people’s head, but never knew the essence of it.  I always get wonder-stuck by the depth of knowledge hidden behind such things mentioned in the Vedas or other scriptures.

North – South Korea Peace Agreement

Big News. Isn’t it ?

After more than seven decades of war, here comes an initiative by both regimes to discuss peace and end the longstanding war. We have not only seen the involvement of USA, China, South Korea and Japan trying to suppress North Korea for its nuclear missile development but also sanction from UN, various twitter fights, nuclear tests, hydrogen bomb detonation. This all happened in a year. That was quick. Huh.

Being said that, I admire the way Kim Jon Un has displayed the strength of North Korea instead of a weak nation which stood up against the international pressure. Rather than being bullied by a developed and a big nation, N. Korea chose not to bend but to build itself as a strong opponent and then discuss terms and negotiations. I do not know that if the Korean Peninsula will ever be denuclearized as why will someone spend millions/billions of money on the nuclear arsenal just to dump or destroy it. Does not make sense to me.

One of my theory which can be a strategy of US is that, they might have helped North Korea to build its nuclear arsenal and would have just pretend internationally that they are against the missile development. However, it gives USA another boost to international diplomacy. Since North Korea now has nuclear missiles, US can not only make them their ally/friend but can also target/build pressure on China from there. It might look impossible now, but this is a checkmate situation.

This is hard to believe but if true, US that was a fantastic job !

Conversation with a Buddhist Monk

After reading ‘My Journey Home’ by Swami Radhanath, an American Swami, I was very keen to know more about the hidden yet profound wisdom witnessed by many great people on their spiritual journey. My perception towards such people has immensely changed from being sympathetic to the one who carries pearls of wisdom.

I was traveling from Texas to Philadelphia where I was stopped at the security checkin. (Their scanners always get confused when they see a harmonica case). After 15 minutes when I started walking towards my gate, I saw a guy wearing orange robes with a strong presence. I was very curious to speak to him and wished he was in my flight. Though not completely, but my wish was half fulfilled. His gate number was 50 and mine was 49 since he was traveling to Washington DC. After introducing myself to him (Master Lim), I asked if we can sit together and contemplate. To that he nodded with approval.

When we sat he saw my Yoga mat(I usually carry it with me when I am traveling) and asked me “Do you meditate ?”. To which I nodded with a broad smile. He told me he had been meditating since 40 years and is a follower of Buddha. He spoke about his spiritual journey with great enthusiasm. Though he was old in age but his undying smile and simplicity touched my heart.

The discussion moved on to Buddha to which I mentioned about one of his teachings – Nothingness. With great excitement and love in his eyes he started describing about Nothingness. He said “Nothingness means everything in this world is impermanent. The cloth, the carpet, this body, even this cell phone, everything in this world is impermanent”. I felt aligned with his words. He continued “Though everything is impermanent but it does not mean that you should not have a desire to have it. If you desire something, work towards it but do not run behind it. When you madly run behind something, you go far away from nothingness”.

After that I introspected my life in a series of events. I could actually relate each event to what he mentioned. I could see how I have been running behind things with hunger and madness.

He asked me about my Master and I showed him Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s picture on my phone. Out of curiosity he almost snatched my phone and told me “You are in safe hands. Congratulations, you have found your Master”. I nodded in agreement with gratefulness. We heard an announcement calling for Gate 49 which meant I had to leave. But before that I asked him for a picture and he happily agreed.

Before boarding the flight I just looked at him and he was sitting there being Nothing.

Who is in charge?

We in our day to day life try to control as many things as possible. Be it situations, people, relationships, work or even the results of our actions. We want to be the boss and want to control everything. When we fail to control things, emotions like anger, anxiety, feverishness and sadness etc. arise. Instead of you controlling the situation, now the situation controls you.

Isn’t that interesting !

A week ago, I was working with my colleagues and there were several major disputes that were happening among them. This created a lot of chaos. I was just a silent observer and took a deep breath as such things happen in every sphere of life. After couple of days from being a silent observer and not being influenced from the event at all, I started getting caught up in the event and I realized my feverishness, anxiety, anger levels were going up. I was completely not in charge of the situation. The event took over me and was bossing around me like a ruler does it to a slave.

This time I wanted to understand the origin of such emotions. The best way to do that was to reflect in the inner world. I sat down on my yoga mat, closed my eyes and started meditating. During the meditation, this is what I realized. Initially, when I was just a silent observer, I was simply being a spectator of the ongoing tornado of emotions. But when I got caught up in the event, the negative emotions increased inside me and I was no more a silent observer. This was the moment when I became free because I understood ‘the cause’. And now, I was again a spectator to the chaos.

Understanding who is in-charge and who is controlling the event is extremely important. Being centered is what helps one to pass through the ocean of negativity.

Water droplets: An analogy

While driving in the rain, I saw little droplets of water striking the wind shield. Amidst this moment, a thought came to my mind. This rain drops were falling right on the wind shield at different intervals. I could completely relate this analogy to my life experiences. Just like this drops, problems appeared in my life at different intervals and each time I was hit with a hard blow and was shattered on the ground.

I observed that each time the water droplets on my wind shield blurred my vision, the wipers helped me to get a better picture of what is ahead of me. Just like in life when each time my vision got blurred due to the problems, I had something which helped me to move on and to see what is ahead. That was meditation, which has been a key to clear my vision and to wipe/go beyond the problems which impacted me deep in my life.

It is said that “Every one is fighting their own battles”. But does that bring peace and happiness ? Maybe yes, maybe no. But what keeps me going during my battle is Meditation. It helps me face my battle with a smile on my face, grit determination and peaceful mind.

I personally feel very fortunate to have learned this tool to combat the problems life has offered me to fight.

Religion : Which one is the only way ?

Lets talk about an interesting conversation.

Few years ago, in my college NJIT, I was sitting in the cafeteria and was having a snack. A friend of mine approached me and in the most uncomfortable tone asked me “What is your religion ?”. I proudly replied “I am a Hindu. Wassup ?”. Then he said “Do you know there is only one way and Jesus is that way”. Respecting his choice, I heard him out. Out of curiosity I asked a few questions to him about his belief, he got furious and told me that “You with your religion might not end up anywhere, since your way is not the right way”. I smiled and said “Even if my way is the slowest way, I am pretty sure I will reach the destination”.

The world is facing one of the biggest problem today in the name of Religion i.e. which is the best and the only way. Thousands are prosecuted, converted and tortured to prove that only their God is great. I always wonder, if your God is really great then why would you kill someone. i.e. who will let his own creation to be killed for His own name.

I always stumble upon a thought when I think about the religion. When I want to search a route in Google Maps, it gives me several options to reach the destination. As per my choice (mostly the fastest one) I select the way and start my journey. Now, it might be possible that the slowest one  has become faster because there is less traffic. So how can we say which is the fastest way ?

You would be wondering why am I talking about this Google Map thing. The reason is, this is one of the good analogy to compare Religion with. Though there are so many religions in the world, but, they all have the same destination i.e. the One God. If the destination is the same but the route is different who cares ? All these routes can be full of possibilities, fun and situations one cant expect. But we are caught up with a dilemma that either your religion is not better than mine or my religion is the best.

Every time I uber and the driver asks me which route do I want to take, this Religion as a route pops up in my mind to tell me how each Religion is unique yet leads to the One.

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Realm of Spirituality

“Spirituality” was a very naive term for me. Few years ago, the impression of a spiritual person to me was someone who is poor, smokes weed, stands on one leg or sits under a tree and has fake knowledge and wisdom to fool people. I always felt compassionate and angry at the same time towards such people.

But with time in my journey I wondered a lot about this term ‘spirituality’ and started to think ‘If I was spiritual at all ?’. This question made me realize that I am on a roller coster ride but never knew when or whether I wanted to take a ride.

7 years back, a friend of mine introduced me to a Happiness program by Art of Living stating that ‘You will become a happy person’. I laughed deep inside and thought I am happy, I do not need to be more happy. But, being a good friend, I did the program and I got a glimpse of something that I never imagined. Since then, I have been meditating and its been 7 years NOW.

I always thought having no life or being lifeless is spirituality, but never knew how few sitting of meditations would turn my perception upside down.

As per my intellect,to meditate was to sit and relax and at times to sleep & to take a power nap. 😅 But, if I go back to the question, I think I know the answer.

I know the answer because the definition/perception of a spiritual person has changed. I guess its safe to say that I am no more a naive person in this spiritual journey. After 7 years of being in this journey, I can define a spiritual person to be someone who is on a path to be happy no matter what, a person who is not caught up into the material world, who knows there is something beyond than what the eyes see, who tries to be a better human being as a whole, who has desires but tend not to run behind them. (THIS MAY OR MAYNOT CHANGE WITH TIME 😶).

If this is spirituality then I am on the right path. I do not know where I will end up, but a glimpse of the unknown is enough for now to move forward. I think this journey will be full of twist and turns.