I mostly write about my struggles on the spiritual path or the boulders I encounter on my journey. Today’s post is a little different. It’s on the joys of the journey and some changes I have gradually seen in myself.

The first change I have observed over the past few months is that the guru mantra has become second nature. I often mentally chant it even when I am not aware of it. When I stub my foot on the door, or someone does a risky overtake while driving, I used to hurl a mental abuse. Now that rarely happens. Even if it does, it’s generally followed by “Gurur Bramha, Gurur Vishnu, Gurur Devo Maheshwara, Gurur Sakshat Parabhramha, Tasmayi Sri Guruve Namah.”.  The manta is with me when I bathe, when I cook, when I think something random and want to forget it. It’s even there when I am in the restroom sometimes. If Swamiji ever complains of pungent smells at odd times it may be me remembering him at odd times in odd places. It has really calmed me down.

The next change I have seen is I have started questioning many things previously considered normal. I loved the Netflix series Master of None. Its a show about an asian actor in the US and the day to day happenings in his life. I loved it when I watched it a year ago. It’s effortlessly humorous and flows very smoothly. I was watching it yesterday and the plot was about the main lead going on a perfect date with a really intelligent and witty woman. Their chemistry was fabulous but all I could think about now was how much drama people do to impress other people. That is applicable in everyone’s life. Our life is a play and we are constantly on set playing one character or another. The past few months have been me comfortable in my own skin. I don’t hurt anyone but I don’t have to change myself to appeal to everyone.

The third thing I found was an improved ability to not make snap judgments about people. The mind is constantly evaluating people and figuring out how to talk to people. Is someone successful, how are they dressed, do they look like it’s worth talking to them? The mind is constantly masking these calculations and we are not even aware of it. The next time you hurry past someone who is trying to catch your attention pause and think about why it happened. This judgemental side has been toned down for some time now. I went to pot a few plants yesterday. As I talked to the owner of the roadside nursery, another person interrupted me and said the plants here are lovely and I can buy it blindfolded. He looked like an employee of the shop. His was around fifty, his hair was messy and tangled, his beard was like an untrimmed bush in an abandoned garden. His hands and legs were caked in mud and his jeans were completely faded. His shoes were partially torn but he really wanted to have a conversation. He started by asking where I worked. All my spidey senses were tingling and telling me to snub him and buy the plants. However, another part of me wanted to respect an old man who just wanted to talk. I was aware of both these sentiments bubbling up and chose to talk to him. He turned out to be a retired army guy, who lost three fingers in service of the nation. He owned a large tract of land and houses nearby. His son was a bigshot in an IT company and his daughter was the first girl from Andhra to climb Mt. Everest. He had a treasure trove of stories and just wanted to talk to someone. Meditation does help you become aware of your feelings as they bubble up.

Another big benefit I have seen is simply accepting other people in your life and not expecting them to be perfect. Many times when I hear people speak I feel like stopping them and correcting them. Then, naturally, a pause comes, and I realize they just want to share their world view. It may look correct to me but it’s based on their experience of life. So I just stay silent and let it pass. It helps me avoid unnecessary conflict because you gain very little by debating with people. Most people don’t want to change their minds. Why try too much and waste your time. The ego does not need any boosting because previously I would argue just to show how much I know.

There is a definite feeling of grace having entered my life. I will give you a simple example. I heard today that a friend was quitting and moving to another large software company. I am in an interesting situation at this moment. I came from a manager role to an individual role because I wanted to demonstrate how things can be done differently. I have been very successful at that and have gotten good rewards. My company has a demanding culture but the long term rewards (equity) of staying here are very good. When I heard about her going, I immediately started questioning if I should also stay or start looking out. I have gotten a few feelers from some great organizations but have stopped because I enjoy my current work. I was worried if I was stagnating from a growth perspective. I walked around and came back to my desk. Swamiji’s calendar was in front of me and I turned it to today’s date.

The quote of the day was “Offload what grieves you”. I wanted to know more so I googled it with Swamiji’s name and found this.

He said “It could easily be one’s guiding principle: am I going at the right pace? Can I stop when I need to? I can go faster but do I want to go faster? So long as you are comfortable with your speed, the world can go at its own pace.” I love my current pace. Problem solved.

All these experiences have reinforced my desire to spend more time meditating and start chanting as a daily activity.

I also want to thank Meera Om for a wonderful comment she left on my last blog. She said ” Akshay I have a mother and I m myself a mother too..in any chaotic situation even hitting our toe to bed .. the only words from the mouth are Hai Maa…and as she comes running to me…my mom. I too go running to my kids ..hug them, cajole them..take all their pain. It’s never heavy on me. Swamiji is Maha Maa. U think he is troubled by us or feels the pressure of attending our demand?”

Swamiji expressed a very similar sentiment in the video that was released last Saturday. “When a devotee calls god he knows why I am being called. I am not being called for me and am being called for what I can do for the person.  That pollutes the relationship with god. As a devotee, you have the right to share your joys and sorrow and your pain with god. I am not saying you cannot say to god you are suffering. He is the only listener. What I am saying, the moment my prayers start to suggest a fix for my solution, I am not sharing my grief. I am now asking what I want. No matter how sure I maybe, it may be what I need. He knows better. He is adept and knows how to differentiate between what you want and what you need.” So I can just go back to talking to my divine but keep any suggested solutions out of it.

 

Jai Sri Hari to everyone.

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Akshay Iyer

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