Restlessness to Peace

You should transfer your attention from failure to success, from worry to calmness, from mental wanderings to concentration, from restlessness to peace, and from peace to the divine bliss within. When you attain this state of Self-realization the purpose of your life will have been gloriously fulfilled.

Paramahansa Yogananda

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26 Soul Qualities

Our minister quoted these qualities today at Self Realization Fellowship  Phoenix Temple from the book  God Talks with Arjuna, Paramahansa Yogananda’s scripture commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. Today’s talk was on “How to Be Stronger Than Life’s Trials and Tests” and how to use your highest qualities to overcome life’s challenges. He spoke about how we should recognize which of these qualities we possess and work on strengthening  and perfecting them. He used Mahatma Gandhi  as an example of someone who became great from practicing two of these qualities: Truth (satya) and Noninjury (ahimsa).

1:  Fearlessness (abhayam)
2:  Purity of heart (sattva samshuddhi)
3:  Steadfastness (jnanayogavyavasthithi)
4:  Almsgiving (dana)
5:  Self-restraint (dama)
6:  Religious rites (yagnas)
7:  Right study of the scriptures (swadhyaya)
8:  Self discipline (tapas)
9:  Straightforwardness (arjavam)
10: Noninjury (ahimsa)
11: Truth (satya)
12: Absence of wrath (akrodha)
13: Renunciation (tyaga)
14: Peace (shanthi)
15: Absence of fault-finding and calumny (apaishunam)
16: Compassion toward all beings (daya)
17: Noncovetousness, absence of greed (aloluptvam)
18: Gentleness (mardavam)
19: Modesty (hri)
20: Absence of restlessness (achapalam)
21: Radiance of character (tejas)
22: Forgiveness (kshama)
23: Patience or fortitude (dhriti)
24: Cleanness of body and purity of mind (shaucha)
25: Nonhatred (adroha)
26: Lack of conceit (na atimanita)

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Love makes the stars shine brighter

Love gives and gives and never stops giving
Love is invincible
Love is the answer to all life’s problems
Love is the elixir which makes one happy
Love is the greatest gift you can give
Love is the reason the sun removes the night
Love is the tonic for all ailments
Love makes the stars shine brighter

by Charisse Colbert

Unexpected Beauty

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold December morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that a thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle-aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work. The one who paid the most attention was a 3-year-old boy. His mother tugged him along, but the child stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth over 3.5 million dollars. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Rite of Passage

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth’s rite of passage?

His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he does this, he must not talk about it. He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man. Finally after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night protecting his son from harm. We too are never alone. Even when we don’t know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to him.

Moral of the story:  Just because you can’t see God, doesn’t mean he is not there. We walk by faith, not by sight

Seeing God in Others

Once upon a time, there was an ashram in the Himalayas where a great sage and his disciples lived. They all respected their Guru not only for his knowledge, but also for his love and kindness towards all.

Because of his kind nature he often accepted disciples who were spiritually immature. This resulted in silly misunderstandings and quarrels among some of his disciples breaking the peace and tranquility of the hermitage.

One day the Guru was very disturbed to see their immature behavior even after his repeated advice. It saddened his good heart to see his disciples turning into slaves of jealousy and anger. His compassion did not let him throw anyone out of his hermitage. Instead, he sincerely prayed to God to give him a solution. He fasted for many days, and spent the days by himself in meditation and prayer.

After some days of fasting and intense prayers, he had a vision of the Lord. In the vision, God asked him why he was sad. He explained everything and requested Him to come to the ashram and free their minds of jealousy, anger, and desire for power. To his surprise, the Lord immediately agreed and told him that He would come to the ashram on one condition: He would come in disguise as one of the disciples, and nobody would know who was God in disguise. The Guru announced to his disciples about his vision and Bhagavan’s kind decision to come as one of his disciples.

The disciples were very happy  when they heard about Bhagavan’s plan to come and live with them in disguise. But they did not know who was Bhagavan and everybody was very gentle and considerate to each other thinking that the other disciple might be Bhagavan Himself in disguise. When they lived like that for a few months, peace and tranquility filled their hearts as well as the hermitage.

In their pure minds, they felt the Lord’s blissful presence and they started treating each other, and thinking of each other, as none other than Bhagavan Himself in disguise! The whole ashram was reverberating with blissful positive vibrations emanating from everyone! This great sage and his disciples told their experience to others and inspired them also to respect each other and to pranam to the divinity in every one.

Since then, everybody started greeting each other saying “namaste” with folded hands :  namah + te,  meaning “I bow to That (Divinity) inherent in you.”

May the Lord help us also to see His divinity in everybody!           Namaste!