I had the good fortune of visiting the Brahmistan of India a few weeks ago. It is located at the geographical center of the country of India, a two hour drive from the city of Jabalpur. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s movement owns a large tract of land, where a beautiful and blissful residential and Transcendental Meditation facility has been established. A large number of Vedic Pandits meditate together at this location to spread peace around India, and indeed the world. The Pandits also do Vedic chanting here. In particular, everyday they do a Rudra Abhishekam, homage to Lord Shiva every day. The chanting in this particular location is special, with 1331 (being 11 x 11 x 11) highly trained Maharishi Vedic pandits chanting together. Thus it is called Ati Rudra Abhishekam, (Ati means Extremely Large). It was Maharishi’s dream project, and it got fulfilled a few years after he passed on.
My daughter and I went to the Brahmistan knowing that Ati Rudra Abhishekam is a highly transformative event. Just listening to and witnessing this live chanting can have a powerful and liberating effect on oneself. We were taken to the huge meditation hall and we were seated comfortably on sofas. All the pandits, young and old, sat on the floor, while a few pandits sat on stage doing the actions of bathing the shivlingas with milk.(see picture)
The chanting began with an hour-long obligatory oblations to many gods as well as donors. Then began the real Rudra Abhishekam chanting by the almost 1500 pandits present in the room. It was a very deeply resonant experience for me. In just a couple of minutes, my head grew heavy and woozy-doozy, and my eyes naturally closed. I was neither awake nor sleepy, and began to have amazing perceptual experiences. I ‘saw’ a giant crane, like the ones used in constructing tall buildings, pick me up by my head from the well of a tall building, and place me on the side of the building. I felt liberated from the confines of my physical body. This is the state or the feeling of ‘moksha’.
I had never had such a vision before. Such visions are rare but powerful indicators of a quantum leap into higher wisdom, say my learned friends with whom I have shared this experience. Where do we go from here though? How do we use our liberation and higher states of consciousness for the maximum good? Do we evaporate into air like camphor, and spread like a fragrance that is always there everywhere? Do we become like a sun and emit powerful light in all directions at all times?
This leads into my Billion Buddha Project … to ensure that at least a billion people wake up to their true divine infinite powerful creative nature and live a naturally and effortlessly happy life. Enlightening others to this reality is the theme of the rest of my life.
A few days ago, I had the good fortune of visiting the Truman Presidential Center and Library based in Independence, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. It was an amazing experience spending a couple of hours there. In the past, I have visited similar centers for President Bill Clinton in Little Rock, Arksnsas; President Jimmy Carter in Atlanta, Georgia; and President Lyndon Johnson in Austin. President Truman’ story was quite different and simply inspiring.
Truman had been a fresh Vice-President for just a couple of months when the super-popular President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) died in April 1945. This fairly young President at that time made the momentous decision of dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and ended the World War II. The jury is still out on whether this was the right decision, but he saw it very clearly and had no regrets even much later in his life, as he saw its as a way of saving many more lives.
Truman oversaw the formation of United Nations Organization, which endures till this day.
Truman crafted the Marshall Plan to deliver aid to Europe and help the vanquished countries of Germany and Italy and Japan rebuild; this helped stave off the real possibility of Communist guerillas take over Italy, Greece and and many other countries. He chose to name the plan after his Secretary of State George Marshall who was a very popular man and thus the plan would win Congressional backing and release of funds. He even innovated and resisted the Russian blockade of Berlin by supplying them exclusively through airplanes, till the Russians gave up. This ‘Berlin Airlift’ would mean more than a quarter million flights!
Truman fought the Korean War against the Russians. After a bit of back and forth victories by the two sides, he let it become a Cold War, a stalemate, rather than make it a hot war by attacking China who had begun to back North Korea. He relieved the super-popular hero General Douglas MacArthur when he began to defy the President, after the President refused to accept his advice of attacking the Chinese.
He was not quite as successful in getting his domestic policies on healthcare and others pass. However, the great postwar growth of the American economy happened on his watch!
‘The buck stops here’, said this diminutive ordinary man who would become a consequential President under extraordinary circumstances. Truman does not get nearly as much respect and adulation as the other Presidents. May be it was because he was considered to be a creature of Democratic Party bosses, and had little political base of his own. However, on the basis of his overall accomplishments, I think he should be up there with the likes of Abraham Lincoln.
Be Here Now: Art of Happiness
I watched this well-presented video on the new science of happiness by a professor from Harvard medical school. It showed that neither wealth nor accomplishment nor fame nor beauty nor youth makes a person healthy. Living constantly in a sunny weather or on a beach will not bring happiness either.
Not surprisingly, what makes people most happy is to be present, to be here now! We are happy when we are fully engaged in whatever we are doing at the moment. Whether we are washing dishes or teaching a class, we should be aware of and pay full attention to what we are doing in the moment. There is no need to hold on to any experiences, whether pleasant or unpleasant, of the present or of the past. ‘This too shall pass’, Buddha said. Holding on to positive feelings is just as counterproductive as holding on to negative feelings. Just let go, and enjoy life every moment!
Gratitude and Forgiveness are other habits that bring happiness. We should be grateful for what we have: our functioning body, sane mind, caring family and friends, …everything. I am grateful to the people who invented the internet and manage it, for making available a platform where to share this message with all. I am grateful to those who raise the food and deliver it so we may nourish our body. And so on.
Forgiving others also makes us happy; it releases us from the unnecessary burden of holding on to grudges. Forgiving them makes us not suffer. Forgive them because they may not even be aware that they have done any harm to us, while we may be stewing in anger and hate and thus wasting our time and energy and life-force.
Compassion for others also brings happiness. Happiness has that paradoxical quality: the more we chase it, the more it will flee from us. The more we care about others’ well-being and happiness, the more we are likely to become happy.
May all Beings be happy!
I did data analytics for a long-term project on family businesses, while at Case Western Reserve University a little over 2 decades ago. Using survey data from hundreds of respondents across dozens of companies over several years, we tried to analyze predictors of success at family firms. The astonishing finding was that the biggest finding was not about usual factors like ‘Succession Planning’ and ‘Clear Strategy’ etc. The biggest amazement was that across almost all dependent variables, the age of the respondent showed the greatest impact. We found what I used to call a bucket curve. For respondents under the age of 30 and below, their perceptions of their company was good. Similarly, for respondents of age 50 and over, their perceptions of their company was good. In the middle age, the respondents’ perceptions were not too good, across all variables. No other independent variables, like gender and education level and years of experience and even whether the respondent-employee was also a member of the owning family, made any difference. The AGE variable ran away with the whole variance, and thus the whole story.
We went to the retired dean of the school of business to express our excitement, amazement as well as trepidation at such a result. This old wise man looked at the results, asked some questions, and said that it all makes sense. The younger employees are glad for what the company has given them. The older people are looking back with pride at what they have achieved. It is the folks in the middle who are nervous and frustrated as they have half their career behind them and want/expect the company to give them more opportunities to do better.
The paper was sent for publication on the strength of this finding. It got published at Family Business Review, the top journal in the field, in 1997. Twelve years later I accidentally discovered that this paper had been included in the authoritative Handbook of Family Business all these years (there are less than 30 papers in that handbook). This paper was significant for just this insight, that age changes perceptions like nothing else. At our age, we are mostly happy as we have accomplished a lot!
Moksha is the ultimate thing. It is liberation from the biggest falsehood – that we are this body or the mind. Moksha is the liberation of the soul from the confines of the mind and body. We say that we have a mind, and we have a body. We are the master of our mind and body. We should devote our time living in touch with our true self, which is the soul, or whatever other name it may be called by.
Moksha brings freedom from the afflictions of the mind and body. The body is frail; it can be broken; it can get diseased. The mind is fickle and flighty; it can get anxious or fearful or angry; it can get depressed. The body is a great tool while it works; it houses us and allows us to engage in the relative world of other souls and the material things. The mind is an even more powerful tool while it works; it helps us grasp things unmanifest and subtle, through the power of thinking. The mind allows to plan, act and be happy. To be liberated does not mean discarding the body or the mind; it means not to be confined or defined by them.
A person who has achieved Moksha experiences total and eternal bliss. Such a person is not moved or agitated by anything in the relative world. Such a person is able to ‘see’ the soul in every other person and can connect with them. Such a person can communicate with their mere presence, without using any words or even raising a finger.
Moksha is achieved by (a) a deep desire for it, and (b) the right way to transcend the relative world of mind and body. I believe that everyone fundamentally desires moksha, as no one wants to suffer pain and misery. However, the strength and the depth of desire can be different for different people. I do not believe we can will a desire, i.e. the mind cannot create a desire. Desires are what they are, and they exert the most powerful force upon us. The right way to fulfill the desire of Moksha is the way of meditation. All meditations are not the same. I believe that transcendental techniques such as TM (from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) and Vipassana (from Buddha through Mr. Goenka) are two such techniques, though there could be many more of them.