Tag Archives: Bhagavad Gita

individual dharma

Hey all! I wanted to share something we did in class as an exercise with you guys, because I think it is pretty powerful!

So, we’ve been talking a lot about dharma and individual dharma these past couple weeks. Rightfully so, since dharma is a huge part of Vedic culture/tradition/theory/whatever. Growing up, I’ve heard a lot of different translations of dharma, “religion”, “duty”, “purpose”. But, one of my teachers put it so eloquently, that I had to share with y’all. She said that dharma is (talking about individual dharma, your personal dharma) is the path to knowing who you truly are. And of course, with that comes all of those other things like purpose and religion and duty and stuff. But, I just really loved this. The path to knowing who you truly are. Being in accordance with your true nature, whatever that may be. Then she continued to say that your career and profession doesn’t have to be your individual dharma. What a thought! It’s all about alignment with your true nature, your true self. I just love that. Because to me, that is what life is all about. Finding out who you really are, and when you do, letting that idea, thought, whatever take hold of every aspect of your life and seep in to every facet of your being. This is so awesome!

I think that once we figure this out, even to some extent, we can stop compartmentalizing different areas of our life. I no longer have to separate Nishita the student from Nishita the daughter, to wife, to sister, to whatever. I don’t have to draw lines between my relationships, family, spiritual practice, study, etc. Every facet and everything that makes you, you is governed by this idea of your individual dharma.

So, our teacher made us do this assignment where we figure out why we think we were put on this planet. What purpose do we serve during this lifetime? When she handed the sheet out, I had no idea what to put. Sure, many times before this I’ve said my purpose is this or that, but I never really put much thought or effort into what my purpose really truly is–what my individual dharma is. Once we figure that out, we have to create life goals that surround our individual dharma for different areas of our life: career/profession, spiritual practice, relationships/community, recreation/play, rest, finances, and study. How does my individual dharma relate to that?

I sat down yesterday and filled it out, and it was amazing that once I started thinking about my individual dharma, the rest just poured out of my heart and somehow filled in the categories. It’s incredible to see something that is such a vague and abstract idea become concrete on a piece of paper. Seeing it written creates some kind of new will power that you want to achieve this no matter what it takes.

But more importantly, I think it was so cool to see how one idea, one life goal, purpose, whatever can be intertwined amongst everything you want to achieve in different “categories”, and you realize that those categories aren’t even necessary, because every part of your life is revolving around one idea, one purpose, one path, one dharma!

WOAH. okay. this is a lot of realization for one post. But, in all seriousness, take some time out to think about why you were put on this planet, and see how that one idea can be the driving force for all those other boxes in your life.

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renewal and hope

Happy Easter to all of my friends! What a beautiful day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. No, I’m not a Christian. But, I believe in paying our respects to anyone who has worked their whole life to help humanity lead a path of spirituality and devotion to something greater than ourselves.

I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and my Twitter timeline, and I saw so much love and hope. I saw so much devotion. When my parents and I were driving to and from our Sunday place of worship, I saw the churches packed to the brim, everyone walking out in their best Easter attire. And it made me happy. It made me happy to think that even though it was rainy and gloomy outside, there was so much love, love for a savior who has given hope.

The idea of hope is the most beautiful and amazing thing about any religion. In today’s world, we are consistently downtrodden. We have a lack of faith in ourselves, the people we are surrounded by, our communities. When you look around, so many people are focusing on the negative. He’s bad at that. She’s terrible because she did this. This city sucks because fill in the blank. During elections, big sporting events, major world events, crises, whatever, we’re always rooting for the other person to lose. I mean, just check Facebook and Twitter. Day to day, we forget about the concept of love and humanity.

But not on days like today, because we’re reminded of the prospects of hope and renewal. We’re reminded that we do have a second chance. We remember that we’re not fighting this life battle alone. We are surrounded by millions of other people who are going through exactly what we are going through.

Hope. Something so easy to lose. But, aren’t we so blessed that all we have to do is open a book, the Bible or the Geeta or the Quran, and there is God telling us “Don’t fear. I am always by your side.” How can we not be filled with peace when we read Godly words like that? We are never alone in any action. What a relief it is to hear that, to know that even during my weakest time or my lowest moment, I don’t have to face that alone. Because I have that reassurance, that hope, that He is always with me.

I think these reminders are so important, because it really is so easy to forget. But, that’s just the way society works. And it sucks. But, days like to day, days that aren’t so sucky, we’re reminded of the beauty that is love and hope and devotion. There is something so much bigger, greater, vaster than just ourself and the bubble that we live in.

We are loved by the Supreme and that in itself is the biggest reassurance I can think of. Today is such a perfect day for that reminder. That we are loved and always will be, knowing this creates a beacon of hope that is never ending. I need a reminder more often than not, but it’s always there.

I hope the spirit of today lasts forever in our hearts. What am I taking from this day besides remembering the constant hope I know I have? To learn to love selflessly, and not just God, but myself, my family, my friends. Sure, it’s a little far-fetched, but I’m not alone!

Happy Easter everyone. I hope your day was filled with love, devotion, and lots and lots of hope.

blind faith

“Devotion toward another person, no matter how saintly, is not sufficient to liberate anyone; there can be no liberation or salvation without direct experience of reality. Therefore, truth has primacy, not the one who speaks it. All respect is due to whoever teaches the truth, but the best way to show that respect is by working to realize the truth of oneself.”
-William Hart in The Art of Live: Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenke

We were in Shreenathji about a week and a half ago. I have really mixed feelings about the trip, because it pokes a place in my beliefs that I have really strong feelings towards, and that is religion. I’ll explain the reason I was drawn to this specific passage in this book in a bit. But first, let me talk about my outlook on religion.

I regard myself as a pretty religious person. I read the Geeta, I say my prayers, I celebrate the holy festivals, what have you. But, I have made it a point in my life to really understand the true meaning behind everything I do. Sure, I don’t have all the answers, but I make the effort to ask people and trace the reasoning back to something. My parents have been awesome for putting up with me as well when it comes to this from the get go.

So, back to Shreenathji. It was definitely a experience I’m not sure I have the will power to go through again. It’s basically the city where Shreenathji (God) took human form. There’s this huge temple where He actually lives. That’s kind of a rundown. But, He has millions of followers, my family being one of them. Really we went to take my mom’s mom and my dad’s parents. It’s considered a holy city, and since they’re all pretty old now, my parents kind of wanted to give them this last chance to come and offer their prayers. And this is how I felt: the city was completely packed with people, it wasn’t the cleanest city I’ve been to in India, and I was able to actually see the idol for about 3.2 minutes TOTAL. You get shoved in and out in a matter of seconds.

And this is where my problem lies with the state of religion today. Please keep in mind that this is a strictly personal opinion, and I am not sharing sentiments on behalf of people. Anyways, I feel like we’ve really lost the essence of what religion is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be guidance along a personal journey to merge with God. It should offer you peace and comfort that you’re not alone in the world. It should encourage you to seek a divine life and try to instill Godly qualities within you. It’s not something that if you pay a certain amount of money you have a direct ticket to heaven. It’s not something that if you merely go to church, temple, or some sort of place of worship once a week you’re considered a “religious person”. It takes effort. It takes dedication. It takes love and compassion. We’ve become so quick to find the easy way out, that we’ve forgotten that there is a path that we must walk to achieve our goal. Can I really say that I live a religious life? We have faith in the middleman, but not in the Ultimate.

The beginning of my senior year of college, I had a realization where I began to ask myself, am I living a life that God would be proud of? Am I worthy enough to be called His daughter? The answers: no and yes. I am worthy enough to be called His daughter, because I am His creation. But looking back, I’ve done a lot of dumb and stupid things that would really embarrass Him. Keeping this in mind, I tried to fix the gaps in my life, so that I can live, to the best of my ability, something that He would be proud of.

To me, going to a temple where I can’t even sit in front of God and spend time with Him isn’t devotion. I will say, that you have to have a LOT of faith to endure Shreenathji, and I sincerely commend those men and women who go with loving hearts. Me, that’s not my way to show my gratitude. That’s the beauty of religion. It provides a path, guidance. But it doesn’t –or to me, it shouldn’t—have strict rules to follow, because my relationship with the Supreme is completely different than my own parents.

“Devotion toward another person, no matter how saintly, is not sufficient to liberate anyone; there can be no liberation or salvation without direct experience of reality. Therefore, truth has primacy, not the one who speaks it. All respect is due to whoever teaches the truth, but the best way to show that respect is by working to realize the truth of oneself.”
I wish I could tell you how many different people at different times have tried to explain this idea to me. The path is about the effort. You have to do to achieve. And finally, it clicks. The best way to show that respect is by working to realize the truth of oneself. 

Countdown to America: 12 days

one month report

woah hey folks. it’s been a week since my last post! what’s up with that?! sorry, I’m losing track of time here like it’s my job. My mom got in yesterday, which officially marks one month of being here. I have a lot of posts I’m going to be publishing/posting in the next few days, so hope you guys are still enjoying reading about my experiences of my life in India. But, in the meantime, I wanted to do an update post on how I am faring as far as my goals go. (In case you missed my first post about why I’m here and what I want to accomplish, check it here!)

So, goal numero uno: to become a yoga fean. man, let me tell you guys, I am having so much fun learning about yoga and the different asanas and everything. I can definitely see growth here. I used to make fun of my my mom when she would sit in the house and do pranayama, but now here I am, spending 20ish minutes each morning practicing it. I am beginning to appreciate my body more and more. I’m realizing that I do need to take care of it, physically, emotionally, and mentally. There is a whole new meaning for me that “your body is a temple”. There is so much truth to that, and I need to start literally treating it like a temple. By taking care of it, not putting toxins in my body, etc. I’m really learning this from my daily yoga practice. And, it’s awesome!

Goal numero dos: an understanding of sanskrit. My classes have become a mix of philosophy and Sanskrit and it’s amazing. I’m learning so much about the complexities of life and what our ancestors and how they wanted us to live our lives. I think everyone should take the time to study their roots. It’s filling a void in my life, and you begin to appreciate who you are a lot more.

Three: traveling. Though, I haven’t traveled outside of Ahmedebad yet, I’ve been doing a lot of sight seeing within the city, and am learning a lot about the history and culture of this city. I can’t wait until we travel outside of the city.

So overall, things are going great, and I’m proud of myself for having the guts to decide to come here and really work on my personal growth. I can’t wait to see what the next 2 months bring. 🙂

Mosquito Bite Count: 1 I think | Serious Craving: Apparently it’s Free Taco day at Taco Bell on Tuesday.

 

Here’s a heads up on my upcoming posts: my trip to Gandhi Ashram (Mahatma Gandhi’s Ashram in Ahmedebad), Sharad Purnima and our relation with nature, and much more!

tick tick tick and tock.

Yesterday, I was at my cousin’s place just hanging out. All the kids here take essentially what I call extra tutoring classes for everything. And I don’t mean just the ones struggling, everyone. For every subject. It’s a little ridiculous and I wouldn’t have survived in school or college here. They call it “tuition” (pronounced tyoo-shun) and they literally go to these things for hours upon end. She was getting ready to go to her tuition for accounting. She’s taking the last step for the equivalent of our CPA in May. Anyways, I asked her how far it was from her house. And she goes, “Yeah, it’s pretty far. Like 15 minutes away.” I thought in my head, are you joking? 15 minutes in America is nothing. Even in big cities where you have crazy awesome public transit, 15 minutes is nothing. It takes me 20 minutes just to get to Wal-Mart from my house. I was really shocked at the perceptions of time here. Even when I landed at the airport, I asked my aunt and uncle how far home was, and they said it’s about 15 kilometers (which I quickly figured out in my head, based off of a 5k being 3.1 miles, is about 9ish miles away). To me, that was nothing. 9 miles is an easy 20 minute car ride. But here, 20 minutes seems like the equivalence of 3 hours. I thought back to the countless number of times I drove from college in Birmingham, AL all the way back home to Memphis. That was a long 4 hours. But 15-20 minutes…?

I started to think about the importance of time, and the utilization of it. We’re always complaining how we don’t have enough hours in the day. I wish I could count how many times I’ve said myself, or I’ve heard others say, 24 hours just isn’t enough. But, when you look at it from a bigger perspective, it really is. I’m 22 years old, that’s the equivalent to 192,720 hours. Now, tell me that’s not a lot of hours. So the question becomes, how can I stretch every minute I have as far as possible? How can I really utilize each hour that I’m awake so at the end of the day I’m not complaining that I didn’t have enough time to get X,Y,Z done.

The past few months, I’ve been living at home with my parents and just working on applications for grad school and stuff. But other than that, not doing a whole lot more. I have a routine, but I definitely have plenty of free time during the day when my parents are at work. A really good friend of mine semi-got onto me for not making the most of all this time I have. And, he’s right. Instead of watching 5 episodes of HIMYM, I could cut back to 2 and spend that extra 1.5 hours to read or perfect a skill, or learn something new. But, it’s just so much nicer to be passive than active, right? Well, we all know that quote, “an idle mind is the devil’s playground” or some variation of it. So back to my original question, how can I stretch one minute to make it last “forever”?

Every morning, I wake up and meditate. Not for super long, but I try to for at least 30 minutes. I really recommend everyone just sitting by themselves for even as little as 5-10 minutes and just clear your mind and try to just focus on being in that moment. Anyways, this morning I was you know, meditating, and without thinking, my hand moved to my face to scratch an itch I had. Now usually, when you just quickly scratch your head or arm, that sensation goes away fast. Go ahead, try it right now. Experiment time: how long after do you feel that scratch? Ok, so I went and scratched my face. And I know this may sound crazy to some of you, but I kid you not, that sensation lasted for at least 5ish minutes, and more than that, I felt it deeper than just my outer most layer of skin, seriously permeating through however many layers of skin there is, down to muscle and bone.

I think this is the answer to my question. We need to figure out a way to make these sensations and eventual perceptions that we feel last longer than a few seconds. One way to do that is the ability to control our senses. This is one of the messages found in the Bhagvad Geeta. As humans, it is easy for our senses to control our mind. We like something, we’re attracted to that, we want to taste that, all of this then controls our actions. But, really, it should be the other way around. Our mind should be strong enough to control our senses. I don’t know the science or philosophy behind this, but if we can control our senses, than I think we can control what we feel, and make that feeling last longer than it really does. In turn, we might be able to make our time last longer, because we would be able to feel the after effects for much longer. Any experts out there please feel free to comment!

I woke up from my nap today (napping is somewhat mandatory here. Ha. Everyone takes a good hour, two hour nap if you’re home in the afternoon), and found a bird trapped inside the house. There are 3 windows we have, and the middle one was open, but it was trying to escape from the window that was closed. But, the funny thing was, the solution to his problem was literally right next to him. He just couldn’t see. This is so applicable in our lives, if not for you, than definitely for me. The answer to so many of our life questions is right in front of us, but the hard part is realizing that it’s there. My life has become now, more than ever, a spiritual endeavor to seek truth. And the solution to this thing we call life is here. It’s written by our ancestors and sages and saints and thousands of people who have come before us. But, if I don’t stop watching TV all day and try to uncover what’s out there, how am I going to be able to travel down this road? It’s as easy as stretching the minutes of my life as far as they’ll go.

Mosquito Bite Count: 2 | Serious Craving: back to Taco Bell. Yum.

the little bugger trying to get out.

he’s out. and free.

last one. he’s so cute.

not quite 17 things I’ve learned this past week

Today, I woke up early to go to a park and read the Geeta. Well, a transliteration of it at least. A very good one might I add. If you want to know the author, let me know. But, back to the point I’m trying to make. A lot has been on my mind the past week, and it’s really hard for me to express those thoughts. I get embarrassed, and afraid. Afraid that people will judge me for what goes through my mind. Maybe they won’t agree with it, maybe I’m too scared to not be accepted. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe maybe maybe. This is what my life has become. Endless amounts of maybes that encourage me to teeter on yes or no. Like my mom always says,”maybe is not a real answer”. And she’s absolutely right. Everyone knows the definite answer to every situation, idea, feeling, thought, question, everything…but we’re just to something to admit it. Acceptance. We all strive for it. But is it absolutely necessary? We came into this world alone, and we are going to leave alone. I know that this is a semi-depressing thought, but it’s the truth. The people and things that we surround ourselves with in our lives are there to make this journey we call life a little bit more pleasurable. We learn from them and these things, hoping that at the end of the day we have become a better person. So maybe if we thought of life in this sense just a little bit, we probably wouldn’t have so many “maybes” and we would probably be more confident with ourselves.

While reading the Geeta this morning, I came across a few things that I think if I understood better, I could learn to be a more confident individual. And maybe, just maybe, it will help me understand the purpose for what i’m living a little bit better:

  1. we have 5 senses. we let these senses take control of our actions. wrong. our mind needs to control our actions.
  2. everyday we are led by our desires. we want this and that, and all those things over there. but, are these desires going to help us grow towards our ultimate goal?
  3. we are all connected. all humans are part of mankind/humanity/whatever shall you. so, if one person is affected, than so everyone else is too. this leads to my 4th point
  4. why are we not more merciful towards the other human? are we not all part of one species? doesn’t it make sense to have a little bit more sympathy for other people?
  5. my final point: everything that makes us up as an individual is constantly changing. it changes with the people we are with, the situation we are in, the surroundings that consume us everything–our personality, ego, senses, emotions, will, intellect. EVERYTHING. how can we honestly say that we are this, or that we are that when we aren’t anything but situational.
point 5 is what i will elaborate on this week. so look out for that. until then. peace to you.