Saturday, January 5, 2013

Spirituality


On Jan 6th, we are commemorating  the baptism of Jesus Christ. Hardly anyone pays attention to (any) baptism ceremony and instead the focus is on those celebration which follow.

Here is a real life scenario:

Before performing a baptism, the priest approached the young father and said solemnly, "Baptism is a serious step. Are you prepared for it?"

"I think so," the man replied. "My wife has made appetizers and we have a caterer coming to provide plenty of food and desserts for all of our guests."

"I don't mean that," the priest responded. "I mean, are you prepared spiritually?"

"Oh, sure," came the reply. "I've stocked my kegerator with a half barrel keg of domestic beer. My bar is filled with a case of Scotch whiskey, Russian Vodka, French wine, tequila for margaritas and cocktails. I've also arranged for the following drinking games - Quarters, FUBAR, California Kings, Beer Pong and finally Flip, Sip or Strip."




Friday, January 4, 2013

Successful Thinking



Success in living and working in today’s “information Age” requires successful thinking. The good news is that everyone is capable of increasing successful thinking. Successful thinking is using any mental skill to get results. Here are 20 easy ways to get better results with your thinking.

1. Increase knowledge. First, set your ego aside and openly acknowledge how little you really do know right now compared to all that you can know. Then commit to being a perpetual learner for the rest of your life. Grow, learn and improve with every breath. That acknowledgment and commitment will get results.

2. Beware of what you “know.” Understand how your own brain “tricks” you into over-simplifying things, distorting perceptions and memories, and convincing you things are true despite the lack of evidence. Things are not always as they appear and all that you think you know may not always be so. Truth isn’t easy to discern.

3. Slow down. Reject your natural tendency to hurry up and believe something too quickly before you get all the facts or get a chance to move to a more advantageous viewpoint. You can often get more done when you take your time.

4. Value principles. Look for operating principles that hold true in a variety of situations over time. For instance, you usually get what you expect; if you don’t like what you get, blame your expectation.

5. Make one assumption: One assumption is probably worth making: miscommunication and misunderstanding are more the norm than not. Good communication takes hard work and doesn’t occur without much care and effort to understand and be understood by another person through gradual clarification.

6. Verify other assumptions. Question basic assumptions you have made or that were made for you-look for disproof of what you and others are “sure” of, rather than just looking for more available proof to confirm what you already believe.

7. Re-think what you know. You don’t always need more information, but rather to use what information you already have, better. Creativity can often start by looking at older, conventional ideas in newer and more unusual ways.

8. Ask Questions. Focus more on asking good questions than coming up with clever answers. Good questions open doors and create progress.

9. Separate feelings from thinking. With conflicts, first peel the onion to see and remove all the emotions that are clouding the issue. Then look for ways everybody can win something and not lose anything important by rationally discussing the situation. Conflicts are opportunities that challenge your thinking.

10. Dig Deeper. Sometimes it is worth the effort to dig a little deeper and separate the superficial surface symptoms from the hidden core problem in a situation. Knowing what the real problem is can be half the solution.

11. Accept random accidents. Sometimes random accidents do occur and trying to ascribe meaning and purpose to them is artificial. Besides you are often wrong.

12. Be positive. Focusing on negative things and differences can be amusing but it isn’t very productive; focusing on positive similarities builds unity and strength. Having positive beliefs and positive expectations tend to lead to positive outcomes.

13. Exercise. You can easily get out of shape mentally if you don’t exercise your brain regularly. Make an effort to read more, pay closer attention to details, have more meaningful discussions, work from a definite plan, apply systematic problem-solving strategies, analyze failures and successes, etc.

14. Learn. Learn from both your failures and successes-avoid making unnecessary past mistakes over and over again, and re-use elements from your successes to increase them in the future. The lessons you learn will reduce failures and increase successes.

15. Converse with “enemies.” You can learn much from people you disagree with. Understanding “opposite points of view can double your IQ.

16. Share suspicions. The information you have that you are least sure of, can often turn out to be the most valuable, useful information, once you get over your reluctance and hesitancy in sharing and validating it with others.

17. Know where you are standing. What you see depends on where you are doing the looking from. Become more sensitive to the reality that what you see changes when you move around.

18. Study thinking. Most of our consciousness is a result of thinking, not thinking itself. Focus on what you need to know to solve a problem and then direct your thoughts to uncover that knowledge in a complete and correct way.

19. Keep an open mind. The most useful mental skill is keeping an open mind-not making pre-judgments, convincing yourself you are right, arriving at pre-mature conclusions, or not setting beliefs and values in concrete; but rather being tentative, non-judgmental and exploring possibilities more. You might be surprised what you discover when you aren’t looking for something in particular.

20. Laugh. Very few things are that serious. Being too serious taxes your whole being and a good hearty laugh frees you up for more successful thinking when you may need it most.

Practice any of these 20 exercises in successful thinking and watch your win column grow.

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Source:
This article was written by William Cottringer, Ph.D, President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA. He is author of You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Secrets


Two individuals when extremely close, share their deepest fears and weaknesses without taking advantage of each other. As their bond grows stronger, they share their secrets as well, due to their trust and mutual understanding. Sharing secrets with a friend is not just fun, but it also helps develop a lasting trust in one another. Best friends are those who confide one another's feeling and best kept secrets. It is done with a trust that the friend who is confided into would never ever breach that trust. If you are paying attention, you will notice that 'trust' is the key for two individuals to grow in love and secret intimate friendship. You have to experience this strong bond of trust to enjoy and appreciate the meaning of true friendship.

Keeping secrets 'without spilling the beans' is a hard thing, especially when it is juicy. It takes tremendous amount of determination and willpower to do so. Our hearts are created as safes for keeping secrets. Intelligence is their lock; Will-power is their key. Nobody can break into the safe and steal its valuables as long as the lock and key remain strong.

If you explore the universe, guess who has the most number of secrets?
God.

And to whom does He reveal His secrets?
To His best friends - ones whom He trusts.

Imagine yourself being the best friend of God and He revealing His secrets to you, one by one, at the most appropriate time. How would you feel? Believe me - it is possible; He has done it in the past and He does it even today. He reveals His secrets to those whom He trust and to those who won't betray Him. All we need to do is ask. Ask for the revelation (Revelation = The making known of a secret or the unknown). He may very well put you through the litmus test to see if you are intimate with him and capable of handling those secrets.

What a wonderful feeling it is, to learn the secrets of God, and be His friend.


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Extras

Bible Verse: 
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and He will show them His covenant.
- Psalms 25:14.

Additional Reading:
Here is a link to an article, 'Keeping God's Secrets' by Gwen Shaw.

Video:



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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year 2013



New Year means different things to different people all over the world. Regardless of where you are, my wishes for you for the New Year 2013:

When you are lonely, I wish you love
When you are down, I wish you joy
When you are troubled, I wish you peace
When things look empty, I wish you hope
May you be surrounded by love, joy, peace and hope always!!

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Relationship

Thiruvathira


Last Friday was the festival of Thiruvathira and I tried posting this article earlier. However, due to the amount of reading and learning I had to do, it took me much longer than what I anticipated.

Thiruvathira is performed by women in order to attain everlasting marital bliss. The highlight of this festival is the Thiruvathira dance where dancers move in a circular pattern around an oil lamp (nila-vilakku), wearing white or ivory colored saree woven using cotton threads, bordered with golden brocadeare (kasavu-mundu), and a matching blouse. The women tie their hairs in a bun shaped form and adore fresh jasmine flowers.  They move around the oil lit lamp by rhythmic clapping of the hands, to the tune of the Thiruvathira song. One of the performers, usually the eldest, sings the first line of the song while the rest repeat it in chorus.

Festivities begin a week before commencing from Asterism Aswathi. Ignoring the cold of the winter season, women wake up early in the morning and take bath in the river or family pond. While bathing, women sing songs in worship of Lord Kamadeva on the rhythm produced by splashing of water with their fist. In the end, women stand holding hands in the formation of a circle and sing songs. Ladies on this day worship Lord Shiva and pray for conjugal harmony and marital bliss as well.

The festival commemorates the death of Kamadeva, the god of love. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Parvathi met Lord Shiva.

The story goes like this:

Lord Indra and the gods were suffering at the hands of the demon Tarakasur, who could not be defeated except by Shiva's offspring. Lord Brahma advised Parvati to woo Shiva and their offspring, a fighter, will be able to defeat Tarakasur. Lord Indra appoints Kamadeva to break Shiva's meditation.

The appointed Kamadeva is regarded as the son of Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi, and is always at service of Lord Indira. In Indian mythology, Kamdeva refers to the Hindu god of love and desire - an Indian version of Cupid (son of goddess Venus).

Kamadeva, the most handsome gods of all, carries a bow similar to cupid made of sugarcane with honeybees sitting on it. His arrows are beautifully decorated with sweet and fragrant flowers. The string of his bow is made of a chain of honeybees. His companions are a cuckoo, a parrot, humming bees, the season of spring (March 21 thru June 20), and the gentle breeze. He shoots with his bow the five flower-tipped shafts of desire. Those five flowers at the tip are Ashoka tree flowers, white lotus flowers, blue lotus flowers, jasmine flowers and Mango tree flowers. He is accompanied by his wife Rati (the goddess of beauty and passion) and his friend Vasanta (spring), wherever he goes. Rati and Vasanta helps him select the shaft to be used on the current victim. Kamadeva likes to travel all around especially during spring time, on his vehicle - the parrot.


Rig-Veda describes Kamadeva's actions as first movement that arose in the one after it has come into life through the powers of abstraction. In one hymn of Rig-Veda, Kama is worshiped and is unequal of all gods. According to another hymn he is god of sexual love. Intermingling with the sexual tones of cupid and Eros in one hymn Kama is addressed as,” May Kama having well directed the arrow, which is winged with pain, barbed with longing, and has desire for its shaft, pierce thee in the heart.

In Atharva Veda, Kamadeva or desire is not of sexual enjoyment but of good in general - it is celebrated as great power superior to all the gods. Click here to read a glorification of Kamadeva as god of desire of all good.

To create a congenial atmosphere, Kamadeva creates an untimely spring and evades Shiva's guard, Nandi, by taking the form of the fragrant southern breeze, and enters Shiva's abode - Mount Kailash.

After Shiva was awakened by Kamadeva's flower arrow, Shiva became furious of being disturbed his meditation. Shiva could immediately manage his feelings and knew he was tricked. Without hesitation, he opened his third eye which instantaneously reduced Kamadeva into ashes.



Shiva ignored Parvati and carried on with his meditation. That story goes like this:

Parvati returned home and announced to her parents that she wanted to retire to a life of prayer and abstinence. If Lord Shiva didn’t appreciate her for her beauty and her lovely care, surely he would have appreciated the value of her sacrifice. So she left everything and dressed in poor clothes and retired into the forest. She dedicated all her time to prayer and penances - sleeping on bare floor, bathing in cold water and eating just few berries. As years passed by, her faith grew more and more.

One day, while Parvati was performing the usual rituals, a young hermit approached her and she humbly bowed to Him. The hermit asked, "How can your tender frame bear such a huge spiritual burden?”

He continued, “You proved to the world that beauty and purity do not nullify one another. Your action had crowned your father with a glory much grater than what he already had. Noble maiden, why did you undertake such severe penances? It is common for a lonely and anguished person living a hermit life? How is possible that you, so pure, loved and admired by everyone are doing this? Ah! Maybe it is for an un-returned love. No, this should be truly impossible! Such a priceless gem like you should not be searching, instead searched."

Shri Parvati asked for her friend’s help, who answered to the hermit, "Parvati offered her heart to win the love of Lord Shiva. She failed in conquering him with her beauty and dedication, so she decided to lead a life of penances and austerity. She often meditates him, but Lord Shiva remains deaf to her pleas.”

The hermit replied, turning to Parvati, "Is it true? Or is your friend joking?”

Then Parvati said, “Yes, it is true! I adore Lord Shiva. I am sure that I will win his love with penances and devotion!”

The hermit replied, "O my lady, I know Lord Shiva. He is covered with ashes and his body is decorated by numerous snakes and he wears those smelly hides. How can your sweet and tender self become his wife? He is rough and poor. His ancestors are unknown. He is not good for you. Let him go and look for someone more worthy.”

“Stop it. That’s enough,” said Parvati, truly furious, interrupted Him. "You need to be a great soul to comprehend a great soul!” She spoke with full of devotion and honor about her beloved Lord Shiva. All at once, the young hermit revealed himself - he was none other than Lord Shiva himself. At that point there was not doubt: Parvati succeeded in winning the heart of Lord Shiva.

Shri Parvati's penances
Despite Shiva's earlier protests, the shaft of Kamadeva did its work - the way it was supposed to be, and Shiva was unable to obtain peace until he married Parvati.

Parvati requested Shiva to revive Kamadeva and Shiva agrees to let Kamadeva live but in a disembodied form. Hence, Kamadeva is also called bodiless. During the period of Kamadeva's absence, it is said that the world was such a barren place without the seasons changing and no love to be found anywhere. On the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati, Kamadeva was revived, and the spirit of love embodied by Kamadeva disseminated across the cosmos and affected everyone including Shiva and Parvati.  Their son Kartikeya later went on to defeat the demon Tarakasur (which is another story).

Apart from Thiruvathira dance, swinging on the swing, eating beetle leaves (upto 108 numbers) to make the lips red, keeping vigil for Shiva at night, are common.

Moral: An earnest desire to reach someone/somewhere with dedication and sacrifice will bring results.
Few links to Thiruvathira Songs:
Thiruvathira Pattukal
Joel Antony Paul's Blog
Boom MP3
Dhingana

Holiday Season


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I need you now

My friend, I need you now-
Please take me by the hand.
Stand by me in my hour of need,
Take time to understand.

Take my hand, dear friend,
And lead me from this place.
Chase away my doubts and fears,
Wipe the tears from off my face.

Friend, I cannot stand alone.
I need your hand to hold,
The warmth of your gentle touch
In my world that's grown so cold.

Please be a friend to me
And hold me day by day.
Because with your loving hand in mine,
I know we'll find the way.

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More blessed


Corinne was a little girl who was all alone in the world. Her father and mother were both dead. Corinne was so poor that she no longer had a room to live in; neither did she have a bed to sleep in. All Corinne owned were the clothes that she was wearing. As regards food, she had nothing more to eat than a small piece of bread that someone had given her.

Corinne was forsaken by all the world but hoped that God would find a way to help her.

One day she left her home village. Corinne hadn't walked very far when she saw an old man sitting by the wayside. "Oh, my dear child, give me something to eat. I'm so hungry," he murmured to her. Corinne, without hesitation, gave him her piece of bread.

When she had gone a little further and the church spire of her village could no longer be seen, she came upon ayoung child. He only had a shirt on and begged, "Could you give me something to cover my head? I'm so terribly cold." Corinne, taking pity on the child took off her bonnet and gave it to him.

Further along the road Corinne observed another child by the woods. She only wore a vest and was trembling with cold. She pleaded, "Dear girl, I'm so terribly cold without a skirt. Haven't you a little skirt for me?" Corinne, herself, only had her vest and skirt but without hesitating she took off her skirt and presented it to the freezing child and walked on.

Meanwhile it had become evening. It was dark in the woods. Then another child came towards her and asked, "I'm so cold, haven't you a vest for me?"

Corinne considered this carefully; she thought it's dark here in the wood. Nobody will see me. It won't matter if I have no clothes and she took off her vest, too, and handed it to the child.

As Corinne stood there without any clothes, the stars started to fall down from the sky. They were all hard, shining pennies and although she had just given away her vest, she realized she had new one on. It was made out of the most delicate fabric and much nicer than her own. Corinne held out the vest with both hands and collected as many of the pennies as she could.

From then on she was rich and lived without any worries at all.

Moral: It's more blessed to give, than to receive.

The two letter word - 'as'


For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. - Matthew 6:14

Have you ever noticed the presence of that little two-letter word in the Lord's prayer? It says "And forgive us of our sins as we forgive those who sin against us." Did you catch that? The word "as" implies that we cannot be forgiven until we offer that same forgiveness to others. In case we miss the "as," Jesus makes it very clear in the next verse: "But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:15)

Forgiving someone who has treated you poorly, said evil things about you, even broken up your family, is a very difficult thing to do. It takes Godly intervention to truly offer forgiveness to people who have deeply wounded you. But God commands us to do so, and God would never command us to do anything that He wouldn't provide the ability to do.

Right now, pray for God to give you the strength to forgive those who have hurt you. Not only will God give you the power to do so, but He will also empower you supernaturally to love them, even though you hate what they did. Remember, bitterness is the poison we swallow, hoping the other person dies. Enjoy the release of this terrible burden by experiencing the cleansing power of forgiveness.



Credits: RFTH

Past Year

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas is magical


Christmas is indeed magical - the season did bring many joy and love to overshadow what we all are going through. Everyday, the blessings I had received seems perfect and calming to the extend I smile so much that it hurts. Numerous parties, dinners and get-togethers since mid December with so much great food and drinks. Today am planning of taking my day off - spending time at home instead of going out. Tomorrow will be the last day when we all will truly let go of 2012.

Speaking of 2012, it has been a wonderful year with many ups and downs - no complaints though. Numerous moments of joy and happiness to tuck into the files of memory. The world did not end on Dec 21 per the Mayan calendar with world still firmly in place. Many had fun at those 'End of the World Parties'. Let's give credit to our Mayan friends for  predicting about those long night parties on Dec 20th. Hope you had a wonderful year 2012.

2013 is almost here for us to climb, and me personally, am ready to jump into it with a smile :-) I can’t say much about the future but let's hope at least something magical will happen.

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