Building Spiritual Capacity

Building Spiritual Capacity

Living in a world where we have become too dependent upon expecting instant results, we have in the process lessened our capacity to adjust or accommodate. Fewer and fewer people are having the patience or fortitude to see things through with love and insight.

Building Capacity
Clip Art by ChristArt.com

People’s tolerance levels are dropping fast and temper levels are on the rise. Very often waiting for the traffic lights to turn green makes some turn red with fury! If the telephone does not connect to someone half way around the world in ten seconds or less, we curse the phone lines or the internet company. When the ignition does not flick on the stove in an instant, it is we who get heated!

The above are just basic every day practical things.  Yet what about tolerating differing ideologies and beliefs?  We are quick to judge, hate or even kill because we cannot tolerate the other for who they are, or what they represent.

To be inflexible or obstinate is ego; the belief that I am right or that mine is the only way forward. If I am at least open and humble, I will be willing to stop, listen, and wait and welcome the outcome. I may even learn a thing or two. But when impatience gets the better of me, I develop a short fuse and the whole circuit breaks down!

A deeper, more subtle aspect to this ego is when I have impatience or intolerance in dealing with my own personality, and especially my negative habits. Because of not wanting to face or manage my own shortcomings, I instead strive to prove that I don’t really want anything, need anyone, or aspire to anything in life.

I feel that I am not good at conversation, and therefore I don’t need to speak to anyone.  Or I say no to golden opportunities that come my way for fear of failure, or my ego tells me that it is better not to try at all than to fail and be made to look a fool! But who am I fooling?

Avoidance means that I am not stretching my boundaries or limits, nor am I learning or growing. My fear, laziness, or selfishness is keeping me stuck. Building capacity is all about taking risks and pushing myself to go the extra mile, and not taking the easy way out by remaining firmly within my comfort zone. To build spiritual capacity, I have to take a deeper look at myself to see where it is that I have installed the ‘blinkers’ in my life and what I am refusing to deal with. Then I can progress.

Every day should pass with the feeling that I have learnt something new and grown from it. Even if my learning is just to see something in a new light or gain a new perspective, at least I have expanded my thinking. This cannot happen if I always believe that I am the one who is right and therefore no one can teach me anything.  I need to be open and engaging otherwise my capacity shrinks rather than expands.

Extending the capability and capacity of the soul is essential in order to deal with life in today’s world, but it requires a deep level of understanding and commitment of my own self-progress and well-being. Whatever situation I am faced with, I can ask myself – what can I learn from this? Why has this situation arisen in front of me (and not someone else?).  And when we really learn the lesson of humility, we may also ask, not only what can I take (learn) but also, what can I give (inspire)? I grow spiritually by giving. Even when, or you could say, especially when I think I am lacking something, then let me give initially. For example, I can’t receive love, or respect, until I give it first.

It’s not only about others being my teachers but I can learn from observing myself and the entire drama of life itself. Instead of cursing the traffic jam, I choose to use the time to slow down my racing mind. When you think that things have taken a turn for the worse then turn it around and find the benefit in the situation.  Let me curious instead of judgemental. Try cooperating with that colleague at work instead of resisting, and see what happens. It may not be comfortable, but you have just extended your capabilities to another level, and that will reap benefits for you in every area of your life.

It’s Time… to stretch our capacity, by dropping the ego and by accommodating and adjusting, being flexible and flowing. As we expand out of our comfort zone, we will truly feel we are living and not just living for ourselves. There is a lot life can teach me… if I am willing to learn.

Share these thoughts! ‘It’s Time…’ is spreading far and wide! Feel free to forward this wisdom, but to avoid any karmic rebound, please acknowledge its source – ‘It’s Time…’ by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London

 

 

 

 

Slow Down… and Speed Up

Slow Down… and Speed Up

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It is common knowledge that ‘speed kills’. Speeding cars are the leading cause of death in Kuwait. If we all just slowed down a little, perhaps we would not only save lives but also save our souls.

As the pace of the world around us gathers momentum, we may feel the urge to race with it. Everything is getting quicker, faster and supposedly more efficient; online services, deliveries of goods, cars, planes, internet connections, you name it. Yet within the eye of this hurricane there is a calm that we need to capture. We need to learn not to be affected by the storm outside and instead nurture the peace inside.

Check, how many times you find yourself using the words, ‘Come on’, ‘Hurry up!’, ‘Quick!’, ‘Faster!’, ‘Yallah!’ (Arabic for let’s go), throughout the day. And then to ask yourself, what is the hurry? And after you have done what you needed to, then what, and then what, and then what? Do you see where I am going with this example? What is your destination? Where are you headed? Check that more haste does not create less speed!

We rush in life to finish our studies, so that we may work to earn money, so that we may be successful earlier and retire earlier. We work our butts off for the kids, who too will work their butts off for theirs, and so the cycle continues. So which generation will stop to enjoy the fruits of their labour? It is a sad state of affairs that we get so caught up in the doing, instead of in the being, the ‘in-sperience’.

Technology is our friend but also our foe. It was supposed to give us more time to do the things we wanted, to experience more leisure, yet instead it has become a means to consume time as it forces us to speed up our replies and reactions. We find we have become slaves to technology as we respond to every message, bleep, ping and pong. So which is the slave and which is the master? Someone remarked that we were better off in the days when blackberries and apples were just fruits!

To slow down does not mean to be lazy or inactive. Quite the contrary. As we slow down, and give emphasis to our inner world, our thoughts are fewer and more focused. We become happier, more productive, thus we speed up our inner progress.

It’s an illusion to think that as I do more, and I do it more quickly, then I will become more, and acquire more. The truth is that I am actually losing. I am taking away from my spirit. I am depleting my spiritual energy, not enhancing it.

How often have we made mistakes in haste that we regretted later? If only we had slowed down a little, or took time to make certain decisions, then our time would be used in a worthwhile way.

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As I slow down, focus on what I want and redirect my thoughts, then I am more likely to achieve what I want. Racing or running after things could even push them away from me. As spiritually enlightened beings, we can trust that whatever needs to come to us will arrive in its own time.

Slow down, take in and enjoy this moment right now… and now… and now. The present is the only time I can truly experience. I am perfectly content to be where I am right now.

Learn to slow down by taking in deep breaths through out the day. Check yourself, are you feeling stressed or at peace? Learn to eat slowly, chewing your food well. Walk a little more slowly and observe all the things around you.

You may even like to experiment with a technology-free day or even just a couple of hours, and see what happens.

If you adopt these new habits then you may even find you will accomplish your work in half the time. Limiting the things that cause you stress will help you become a master rather than a servant.

It’s time… to slow down and breathe deeply. Enjoy the present moment and enhance the quality of your life. Tame your technology and become a master of time.

Share these thoughts! ‘It’s Time…’ is spreading far and wide! Feel free to forward this wisdom, but to avoid any karmic rebound, please acknowledge its source – ‘It’s Time…’ by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London

Simple Living

Simple Living

 

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Mahatma Gandhi said: “Live simply so that others may simply live”.  To live simply was the way of being for many cultures in the past, both in the East and West; to live in harmony with nature and its cycles, and to take only from the earth that which was absolutely necessary. In a society where there is over-consumption and very little recycling, many of us are recognizing the truth of Ghandi’s wisdom, but don’t know how or where to begin making a change.

Perhaps it is appropriate to define waste. Waste is a relative term and what may be considered waste to one person, may be thought to be a requisite for another, for example daily exercise and meditation.

Waste can be defined as that which is in excess of what is really necessary. For example, that extra pair of shoes or handbag – did I really need to buy them?

Waste is greed – that extra slice of chocolate cake or portion of French-fries. Did they really add to the fullness of my appetite, or just to my already growing flab? Waste is Ego – believing that since I can afford more, so I have the right to waste what I already have. Waste can also be applicable to non-material things such as time, breath and thoughts; our most precious assets. How much time did I waste on the phone gossiping, or how much energy did I waste shopping for that perfect outfit just because the ego wasn’t quite satisfied?

To live simply is about learning the true meaning of contentment, humility and self-respect. Although the Mahatma was mocked by some for his simple lifestyle and appearance – for to them it represented impoverishment – he looked them straight in the eyes with a smile and a confidence that made them redefine poverty.

It seems that the more people have, the more worry and insecurity they feel. There is a certain freedom that comes from owning little and having to manage less. An abundant life is not about having more but about living better.

Imagine globe-trotting with five suitcases and then again imagine globe-trotting with a simple back pack. The sense of freedom that comes from carrying less means you have more flexibility and more fun!

As I sit on this little mountain top in India it simply reinforces the fact that people can not only survive, but thrive very happily with very little. Although on this picturesque peak there are the affluent with their monster houses, there are also the ‘poor’ villagers who have a rich smile on their faces that people in the West would die for.

Being caught up in excesses is a lot like being caught up in a web of our own making… it may look pretty awesome, even a work of art, but in reality it’s a trap. We get caught up in the allure and glamour of all that we own and possess only to find that we are being consumed by our own creation. It is only a matter of time before we ‘wake up’ and exclaim: ‘I want to be free!’

Another important aspect is that of the karma we create as we use the world’s resources. As we consume more, it means others are being deprived. Thus if I take something and I don’t appreciate it, value it or use it in the right way, then I am adding more to the burden of my own karma.

It’s time… to live more simply and in harmony with the world and others? Consider, is adding to my possessions adding to my peace and happiness? The truth is that the less I consume, the more content I feel. Living simply means more than simply living.

Share these thoughts! ‘It’s Time…’ is spreading far and wide! Feel free to forward this wisdom, but to avoid any karmic rebound, please acknowledge its source – ‘It’s Time…’ by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London

 

 

Meaning and Purpose

Meaning and Purpose

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, what is the purpose of life? For some this question provides a springboard to uncovering deeper significance and meaning in life. Others may strive relentlessly to ‘find their purpose’ – which may feel like chasing a rainbow. And yet many who experience life to be a never ending stream of problems might raise the question, “What’s the point anyway?”

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To ask this question is rather like asking, what is the purpose of watching a movie when we know it is going to end? Or sleeping, when we know we will need to wake up again! Or the purpose of eating a meal when we know it will soon be over (and the hunger pangs will eventually begin again)? The question seems to assume that nothing has a point, as it will only ultimately end. But we know that premise is not true and we carry on doing these things as they serve a purpose of enjoyment, comfort, fulfillment and satisfaction.

As soon as we start to see life as a journey and not a destination, the answer becomes clear. Life is like a river. Rain gathers to give birth to a stream: the stream grows to become a river, the river passes through many stages, things added to it and taken away from it. It meets obstacles and yet keeps on flowing. The journey is the purpose of the river… of life.

Like the river, finding ones meaning and purpose does not mean to arrive at the destination… it is the pleasure and adventure of the journey – of being and not simply becoming. In a spiritual context it means to simply BE and to enjoy the moment with full awareness. With an awakened spirit we can start to put greater significance back into every second of our life. Every moment is precious, valuable, important and purposeful, as this moment will give birth to the next and the next and next…

finding meaning

The seasons also teach us many lessons. For one, they show us that we will definitely get through whatever we are enduring in the moment. During the winter months, the trees are so dry and naked, that it seems unlikely they will bear any fruit. Yet as we tolerate the harsh, stormy weather, we understand that winter will indeed pass, spring will come and when the climate is appropriate, the first green shoot will emerge. With every end there is a new beginning – we cannot resist change.

We can see these cycles as part of the necessary order of things. Everything has its time to flourish, and it’s time to rest and rejuvenate. ‘Life’ in the wider sense is ultimately about balance. The old energy needs to change into new energy. Everything will decline, degenerate, deteriorate, disintegrate … but only so that renewal, rejuvenation, ‘rebirth’, repair and restoration can take place. The Chinese principle of Ying and Yang exemplifies these forces, and tells us there are two sides to everything, but at the same time there is ultimate balance.

In the same way if I am passing through some personal turmoil and turbulence, though it may be destabilizing, and involves loss of the familiar, nevertheless, let me keep the faith that it will surely pass and keep myself available for the next opportunity. Be like the surfer who although missed the last wave, doesn’t waste his time sulking, and walking away from the beach… he is eager to catch the next wave coming any moment!

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Life becomes meaningful because things are temporary and changing. Life has value because we are always experiencing something new. If they were permanent, like plastic flowers, we would not learn, grow, enjoy and adventure. We would be like a stagnant pond.

In fact, there is meaning and purpose to everything. Just look around you for a moment, there is nothing that does not have purpose: the clock, the armchair, the lamp, the book, the table etc. Everything was created for a purpose and it is ‘living’ its purpose. In the same way human life has a purpose to express and experience: expressing one’s innate qualities and experiencing the rewards of those expressions (hopefully in the form of happiness).

We simply have to embody virtues and powers: when we are tolerant, kind, caring, and patient for example, we are our purpose. When we are at peace, we are being purposeful. Thus at every second, every moment, we are indeed fulfilling our purpose! There is no destination to meet or anywhere I need to ‘get to’, it’s here, right now, in this moment!

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There is a saying by Gautum Buddha: “Don’t just do something – stand there.” This simple phrase can teach us some of the deepest secrets of life. We can strive persistently towards an ‘end result’, thereby losing each precious moment to the promise of something better in the future or breathe in the moment right now!

It’s time… to stop resisting the flow, to focus on enjoying the moment for what it is and fulfill our real purpose of being, expressing and sharing our innate god-given gifts and virtues. This is what creates our character, nurtures our soul, enriches our relationships and generates a life of value, purpose and meaning. Just Be.

Share these thoughts! ‘It’s Time…’ is spreading far and wide! Feel free to forward this wisdom, but to avoid any karmic rebound, please acknowledge its source – ‘It’s Time…’ by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London

 

Natural Calamities May Not Be So Natural After All

Natural Calamities May Not Be So Natural After All

We seem to assume that every natural calamity is an act of God or of Mother Nature. But is that so? Perhaps it is possible that we also have a big hand in the way matter behaves.

Natural Disasters

If we care to look back within the last 5 to 10 years, we would notice that there has been an upsurge in the number of natural disasters that have hit our planet: from typhoons, to hurricanes, floods, volcanic eruptions and even tsunamis. Is it that Mother Earth has suddenly decided to turn against us? Or could it be that we have aggressed and provoked her to react?

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As we pollute our waters with poisonous waste, or emit toxic gases into the air, and fill our landmines with plastic and lethal chemicals, we have in fact declared a war against Mother Earth. The conspiracy theorists may also think that some freak weather patterns and natural disasters are being created deliberately by people with less than good intentions. I also remember when there were earthquakes taking place in Bhuj, India and also Istanbul, Turkey. In both places I had heard there had been nuclear testing conducted underground just a few months prior to the quakes!

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We have totally forgotten that we are here to respect Mother Earth who feeds us, nourishes us and gives us life. Thankfully she is superior and much more powerful than us, so this is a war that she will win in the end… even if mankind does a lot of damage to itself in the process.

On a more subtle level, it is not only the physical waste, but our malicious and harmful thoughts that are hurting the matter and atmosphere of this world. There is substantial scientific evidence, (see the work of Dr Masuro Emoto – http://www.masaru-emoto.net/english/emoto.html ) that our thoughts and actions affect the matter around us. As we have negative thoughts and feelings, and perform violent deeds, these vibrations go out into the atmosphere with negative effect.  As we create positive thoughts, we effect matter positively.

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If we believe in the law of cause and effect then something must have prompted this reaction from the earth. If we hurt someone or ‘something’ it will likely hurt us back. We are totally responsible for the way matter is responding to us right now.

If violence, anger and hatred continue to increase, we will only create more and more of a reaction in nature. Then we cannot brush off the responsibility and call these ‘natural occurrences’ any longer, we need to take full responsibility for the consequences of our actions.

There is a growing body of people around the world who are protesting about these ‘war crimes’ against the earth, for example countries who are banning giant culprits like Monsanto. There are yet other groups who are sending out peaceful vibrations to the world on a regular basis to counteract the upheavals within people and the world.

Astonishing results were achieved by a well documented study on the effects of meditation on world peace. The Lebanon Peace Project aimed to create peace in Jerusalem. War deaths were reduced by 76% on days when there was a high participation in the meditating group. (http://www.worldpeacegroup.org/lebanon_peace_project_research.html)

In many places around the world including some of our centres there are experiments being conducted with ‘yogic agriculture’ (http://environment.brahmakumaris.org) and working in harmony with nature once again.

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Let us also acknowledge the many thousands of people who are working diligently and tirelessly to save the planet – from individuals recycling their rubbish to creating a massive awareness in people’s psyche around the world, such as the ‘Peace One Day movement’ (http://www.peaceoneday.org/)

And perhaps more than anything we just need to remember that when our internal ‘Nature’ becomes peaceful, then Nature herself will become peaceful. It starts and ends with us, so let us take the responsibility to ‘become’ what we want to see in this world.

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It’s time… to ‘tread’ more lightly on this earth, and give Mother Nature the respect she deserves. Let each one of us act responsibly, kindly and peacefully inspire others also. She is the only ‘Mother’ we have.

Share these thoughts! ‘It’s Time…’ is spreading far and wide! Feel free to forward this wisdom, but to avoid any karmic rebound, please acknowledge its source – ‘It’s Time…’ by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London

Soul Journey and Personal Development

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