As parent, significant other, child, friend we can make it a goal to create at least 365 glorious moments in each role this year, and check on the progress every day.
As parent, significant other, child, friend we can make it a goal to create at least 365 glorious moments in each role this year, and check on the progress every day.
Three things cannot be retrieved: the arrow once sped from the bow, the word spoken in haste and the missed opportunity (Eastern wisdom)
One should realize that when choosing a life partner, it’s necessary to rely on intelligence, and not the senses. Sometimes our karma doesn’t let us create a warm relationship despite the initial great outburst of feelings. Remember: our senses are misleading instruments. Your body shivers not only when you’re touching your beloved one – touching a corpse or a very expensive item can also give the shivers. Hairs on the body may stand on end not only out of love, but also because of fear or hatred. Don’t trust your love sensation – trust the science of love that had it all double-checked as far back as thousands of years ago. Symptoms of death and ecstatic love are often very much alike — be careful not to misrecognize them.
Compatibility at the level of feelings and senses only affords ground for building relationships. But don’t expect a big miracle from infatuation. Relationships are not being built on the miracle of infatuation – they are being based on real self-improvement efforts, meticulous hard work on one’s own consciousness
Happy families don’t appear as if by magic – this is a result of hard work of both of the partners on their own characters, on their own hearts. Work always comes first. In other words, chemistry of initial attraction doesn’t mean you don’t need to do anything. Quite on the contrary, you’ll have to work on and on at self-improvement. The only question is whether one likes to work or not. If one likes to work, he/she will feel comfortable in any sphere, be it physical or spiritual activity. Therefore, the primary duty of parents is to foster in children love of work, the ability to experience joy from the process, not the result.
Before creating family relationships, we need to find out whether we are compatible in terms of lifestyle each of us has already established and defined for oneself as a way of life. We must understand whether we have similar views on such issues as maintaining the household, the balance between material and spiritual aspects of life, how much of ourselves we are prepared to give to the family, society, God, after all; how many children we are planning to have and how we are going to raise them; our financial goals and issues; how much time we are going to spend with friends; time we’ll spend sitting at home or hanging out elsewhere; how we are going to build relationships with our relatives etc. In other words, what am I ready to sacrifice for my partner, for our relationships and our children?
It is stated in the Vedas that these questions need to be asked in the very beginning of a relationship. This is a key to building a peaceful, close-knit family. It evokes a parallel with meal planning. If, before cooking dinner, we compile a list of groceries we have, it will become clear what dishes we can make out of them. You can’t anticipate a cake if all that you have is potatoes and salt. A family is a combination of already existing possibilities and personality traits. Your partner won’t be able to go to the store and buy for himself/herself some more kindness, patience and the ability to understand another person. It doesn’t happen this way. He/she consists of what he/she already consists. So don’t expect quick changes for the better — be thankful if he/she doesn’t change for the worse.
The law is as follows: if we manage to discuss difficult aspects of relationships at the very beginning, we stand a chance of finding solutions even to the most tricky conflict situations that may arise between us. But if we postpone the discussion to the later stages of relationships, conflict resolution will turn into an extremely difficult, practically unfeasible task. Therefore, right-minded people choose the soft option: they talk about complex issues early on in their relationship. These include vital issues the discussion on which admits of no delay. They must be talked through before the partners become strongly attached to each other. Otherwise, there will be fear of losing a relationship as a result of conflict, and the family will keep silent about the matter until they bump up against the iceberg they simply felt shy to talk about at the proper time.
Remember: first there should be formalities and then attachment. Crucial things first, loving sentiments next. You can love someone you know really well, otherwise, surprises are unavoidable. Look at the way a guy chooses what car to buy, how he scrutinizes it in detail before buying it. He doesn’t just thinkabout the color or the beauty of interior upholstery – he asks the seller about gas mileage, whether the car has been involved in accidents; he takes it for an inspection.
The most important thing about a person is not bodily beauty but thoughts, plans and dreams of this person, the way he/she sees the world and you in this world. Do not think things will resolve themselves in time – this is a very dangerous illusion.
The Reason Why Difficulties Arise
From whence do family life difficulties arise? The reason is we don’t discuss them at the beginning of our relationships. When we get acquainted with each other, we just dedicate time to pleasure and have fun with no strings attached. But family life is not a walk in the park. It involves strenuous money-making, child-bearing and rearing, home improvement, maintenance of relatives. We can’t see into our future with all its events during dating, yet we can talk about it. However, this is precisely what we feel shy to do at the very beginning of relationships. And then we are surprised to discover that we have envisaged our partner, family life, day-to-day routine and the level of income significantly differently.
When she goes on dates, a woman doesn’t ask for money, ornaments, clothes, food and help with housework, and a man doesn’t reveal that he wants to play video games with his friends every evening. They simply hide and conceal their living habits and true desires from each other till the end, but what can be done with that later, when the wedding knot is already tied? All that is left to do is fight for your desires right in your own home with the nearest and dearest person in the world. War with the closest and dearest ones – that is a lifestyle of a modern family. Remember: those who don’t discuss day-to-day life before marriage, are building a boxing ring instead of a family.
A Few Words About the Duties
As we have already found out, the problem of a modern family is that we fail to discuss the most important things with each other, and these are not only philosophical ideas but expectations we have for each other, and thus, it’s a talk about mutual duties. The most interesting thing is that before a wedding a man tries his best to prove to a woman that he wants to take care about her till his dying day, at the very least. But when the wedding march sounds, he forgets his promises as if there were no the several months of courtship in his life at all. All women should know about this particular forgetfulness of men.
For her part, a woman is very careful and undemanding before the wedding, but after the wedding, everything changes. All of a sudden, it appears that she has so many desires and plans that a hundred of husbands won’t cope with their fulfillment.
She began to compile a list of her heart’s desires as early as in preschool, having included red satin ribbons, a Barbie girl and her childhood sweetheart Peter into it… That is a problem: we need to understand the true desires of our partner, how he/she will behave after the wedding ceremony; how we are going to spend the whole life together, not just one month after the wedding. Here the rule is as follows: those couples who discuss their day-to-day life before wedding, create stronger, more solid and happy marriages. If you don’t fear daily routine, it starts fearing you.
The Want for More Experience
The law of happy family life is very simple: if a child had a happy family experience, it would be easier for him/her to build a happy family when he/she grows up. If one had no such experience, it would be very difficult to build sublime relationships even though one may have the most outstanding partner and a 100 percent compatibility with him/her. We can create only something we have seen with our own eyes, learnt from our own experiences. But we don’t quite understand it: we make plans for family relationships that we have never seen, that simply don’t exist on this planet. We build castles in the air and think they will bear up under our weight. But all we are capable of is making a raft out of several logs.
Disappointment in love comes because both partners fail to agree upon their expectations and plans for marriage. Let’s take plans for having children, for example. As we have already mentioned, this point should be discussed prior to marriage, and the couple should reach mutual understanding on all questions concerning parenting. They should agree on how many children are to be expected, how they are to be raised and educated, the amount of money to be spent on that, the amount of time each of the parents will spend with children and their roles in children’s upbringing. The number of children and other subtleties don’t matter, by the way — the main thing is for the partners to reach out for mutual understanding. Even if a husband and wife don’t want to have children, for the beginning of family life this is absolutely normal. But: each of them should know that he/she can’t change his/her mind on the question independently – he/she can do it only together with a spouse, through joint decision-making. Then a major family conflict would be an unlikely event. Pulling it all together, it doesn’t matter which point we discuss and to what extent it looks culturally correct, the main thing is that it should eventually suit both partners well.
False Ego in Family Life
As much as we’d like to manifest our false ego, a family is an unsuitable environment for that. We create a family because we want to gain new freedom, new opportunities and new power. However, it is precisely in the family life that one should always control one’s false ego because a family represents a direct dependency on family members and close/dear ones. For example, newlyweds may live in their parents’ house, in which case they should be subordinate to their parents as the masters of the house. But if parents move in with the children, it is they who should act like guests and take into account the existing house rules.
This rule is applicable in all situations: each time I should take into account my dependence on the existing situation and tame my negative desire of full freedom – there is no such thing in a family and cannot be. A family means full dependence, in which it is possible to become happy only through desire to care for other family members and willingness to adjust to actual circumstances. A family is a mutual dependence, not a fight for individual freedom with a partner, parents and children.
Foolery Because of Discontentment
When we create family relationships, we go out of way to prove that we grew up enough to have a serious view of life. A groom says to the bride’s father, “I have serious intentions.” But despite all assurances, one starts to commit fooleries, disgracing oneself and one’s whole family. Such irrational behavior arises from discontentment. A discontented person wants to hurt and give headache to everyone around. The reason is that discontent diminishes when spilt over to others.
Therefore, everyone should do their utmost to help a discontented person and put his/her mind at rest. This needs to be done for the good of all.
However, only those can provide help who feel contented themselves. It’s the same as with help in family conflicts. Only those can help resolve family conflicts who are happy in their own family life. Most importantly, this should be mutual happiness of both partners. If only one person is happy, this is not happiness but an abuse taking place against the background of inflated egotism and tyranny.
original article http://astro-ved.ru/sovmestimost-muzhchiny-i-zhenschiny-v-vedicheskoy-astro-psihologii/razum-a-ne-chuvstva
Today I am going to share this amazing seminar on Conflict Resolution given by HH Bhakti-Tirtha Swami in 2003 in Ukraine. Please be patient because after speaker you will have to listen to/wait for Russian translator. Please share this if you know anyone who has a conflict situation and/or may need it in the future.
Here is little bit about this extraordinary soul.
“A specialist in international relations and conflict resolution, Bhakti-Tirtha Swami (John E. Favors) constantly traveled around the world and has become a spiritual consultant to may high-ranking members of the United Nations, to various celebrities and to Several chiefs, kings and high court justices. In 1990 His Holiness was coronated as a high chief in Warri, Nigeria in recognition of his outstanding work in Africa and the world. During Nelson Mandela’s precedency of South Africa, Bhakti-Tirtha Swami met several times with the leader to share visions and strategies for world peace.In addition to encouraging self-sufficiency through the development of schools, clinics, farm projects and cottage industries, Bhakti-Tirtha Swami conducted seminars and workshops on principle centered leadership, spiritual development, interpersonal relationships, stress and time management and other pertinent topics. He was also widely acknowledged as a viable participant in the resolution of global conflict.
Bhakti-Tirtha Swami’s books are used as reference texts in universities and leadership organizations throughout the world. Many of his books have been printed in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Macedonian, Croatian, Russian, Hebrew, Slovenian, Balinese and Italian.”(from http://www.btswami.com/about)
HH Bhakti Tirtha Swami. Photo by Радха Манохар дас – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7994742
conflict resolution – part 1
Fanaticism consists of redoubling your effort
when you have forgotten your aim…
Today we’ll talk about fanaticism, which is quite a common phenomenon in this world. It can be seen almost everywhere. We meet fanatics of football, hockey, TV series, celebrities, cars, computers, nationalities and countries. In fact, crazy fans can be found in any area touched upon by human consciousness. It’s a wholly internal phenomenon which refers to human perception and is indicative of one’s inner world. And it’s a prominent diagnostic symptom for someone who tries to help a person address their current problem.
It can be said that in 90% of cases human problems are somehow or other connected with fanatic attitude towards life. It’s also true that in the same 90% of cases one finds it hard to admit that their problem is rooted in fanaticism. So the first thing we must realize is that a fanatic is the most difficult person to help. Such people ardently believe that they are not fanatics at all. Thus, in order to help them we must be ‘fans of our own work’ so that our professionalism could exceed self-confidence of a suffering person.
So, how to recognize a fanatic? It’s quite simple. Crazy fan is a brilliant representative of black and white thinking, without any shades of gray. He/she accepts either black or white and can’t allow any combination to exist. For example, a Hare Krishna fanatic sincerely believes that the most imperfect Hare Krishna devotee is still much better than a good Christian. And conversely, a Christian fanatic is sure that the weakest Christian is much better than the best Hare Krishna devotee. To put it shortly, whoever is not with us can’t get into our category of white. Regardless of their deeds, they’ll always stay in the category of black.
It points to the fact that we don’t let representatives of other world-views into our mind. And there’s only one reason for that. We don’t know what to say if they ask why we see the world the way we see it. We simply don’t know the answer to the question of why we are doing what we are doing. We aren’t sure about our choice, and thus exclude any possibility of conversation on the subject. There are no questions raised among fanatics. By the way, this is one of the symptoms of fanaticism. How can a person who is afraid of questions come up with inquiry? So as you have probably noticed we insist that questions be asked before and after the lecture. This is extremely important both for the lecturer and the listener. A lecturer must be sure that he/she does not incite fanaticism. And listeners must make sure they aren’t becoming fanatics. Thus, any silent listener who doesn’t ask questions is a potential fanatic. By the way, this is precisely why our consultancy is based on question-and-answer platform. It initially cuts off fanatic individuals, as there’s nothing harder than to give advice to a crazy fan. What can you say to a person who considers you an enemy, at least to some degree? This is no longer a consultation, but fighting for dear life.
Another trait a fanatic has is that he/she wants everything to happen quickly. Fanatics want enlightenment to be attained quickly, temples to be built quickly. They want to get initiation and attain recognition as fast as possible. They don’t care about the quality – the main thing is that it all should happen fast. This is the main characteristic to make them easily recognizable. Fanatics are always in a hurry; they are dissatisfied with the fact that everything goes slowly. They speak to others: “Why are you so slow? Why is your progress so slow? Why haven’t you accepted a spiritual master yet? Why aren’t you with us? Why do you keep hesitating – you’ll run out of time.” But here’s something they can’t understand. No matter how hard you run around the train, you won’t be able to reach your destination faster. You’ll only make yourself tired and annoy all others. I’d like to tell a funny parable in this regard.
One morning a disciple and his master took a path across the fields. The disciple asked what kind of diet could help to achieve purity. Although his master spoke a lot about the sacred food, the disciple couldn’t believe it.
“There must be some special food that instantly brings us closer to God,” he said.
“Well, maybe you’re right,” said the master. “For example, that mushrooms over there.”
The disciple got all excited thinking that mushrooms can bring purity and enlightenment. But when he stopped to pick one, he cried out:
“Why, they are poisonous! If I eat a least one of them, I’ll die on the spot!”
“Well excuse me,” said the master, “I don’t know any other food that can bring you closer to God as soon as you want.”
As we already found out, fanaticism is the blind, irrevocable adherence to beliefs, especially in the religious, philosophical, political or national sphere. It is driven to extremes by commitment to ideas, views or beliefs and is usually combined with intolerance to views and beliefs of others. It seems quite understandable. We agree that fanaticism is something one should keep away from; that such people are in sore need of help. But in reality, fanaticism is advantageous for those who are selfish, cunning and are ready to sacrifice a couple of crazy fans for execution of their own projects. Fanatics are sometimes mistreated, and this is also fanaticism. Anti-fanaticism is just the other side of the story. Fanaticism is a natural stage of development, after all. It shouldn’t be rejected. It must be corrected and balanced out. Therefore, those who fight against fanaticism are also semi-fanatic.
What advantage can be sucked out of fanaticism? It’s as easy as ABC. As an emotional state, it’s characterized by excessive zeal and enthusiasm. If we have a project that is not so easy to implement, or we don’t want to spend money on it, we can simply find a couple of fanatics, and they’ll move mountains and rivers to achieve this goal. You just have to explain how important the thing is. Thus, one can easily recognize those who take advantage of fanatics as gratuitous workers. They find a fanatic and convince him/her of great significance of what they should do. Such exploiters make crazy fans leap into the breach on their behalf. And when they are no longer able to make headway, everyone simply forgets about their existence.
In fact, fanaticism is a psychological illness. It equals to blindness both towards oneself and things to be done. This indicates reluctance to see the world as a whole. It’s not a worldview, but a partial vision, philosophical cataract. Therefore, fanatics should in no way be exploited or selfishly used for one’s own ends. They must be cured of their fanaticism. Sooner or later a fanatic will understand that he/she was being exploited. Resentment will be the only feeling that will arise in heart. They’ll be resentful against the whole world. Therefore, the one who is truly merciful does not incite fanaticism. One tries to reduce it by talking to a person as if they already got rid of their disease.
Let’s have a look at some other aspects of fanaticism. It will help us recognize fanatic without fail or find signs of this disease in ourselves. What is fanatic way of thinking? What does ‘fanatic’s worldview’ imply? Let’s get this straightened out.
Fanatic sincerely believes that:
We’ll end the lecture with the parable.
Satan once went for a walk with his servant. They saw a man who bent down and picked something off the ground.
“What has this man found?” asked the servant.
“A piece of truth,” replied Satan.
“Doesn’t it bother you?”
“No,” said Satan. “He’ll make a new fanatical religion out of it.”
Today we’re going to focus on two important traits of successful people: vigor and valor. These are more than just key traits of high achievers. These are royal qualities possessed by a person willing to serve the whole country and even the whole world. Vigor and valor characterize both a good leader and a man of faith, ready to fulfill his mission for the benefit of the whole universe. The one who has these characteristics is already successful. These personality traits — especially their auspicious combination — are exceptionally rare to be found within a person. However, it’s not enough to be a successful possessor of wonderful traits. One needs to know how to put them to good use.
In fact, acting vigorously is a sort of “resistance” to the laws of karma. Though, it must be noted that karma doesn’t set a goal of beating one to death. The purpose of karma is to transform a person, purify him of dirty desires and temper his heart. Fire can burn you up, but it also has a purifying power. Karma is like fire. So a wise person perceives it as merciful purification, rather than cruel punishment.
The sages disclose the first secret of karma: no matter what hardships by the twist of fate you are facing, intensive efforts always make you victorious. You needn’t lose heart at the first hint of trouble, just as there’s no need to get upset about stormy weather at sea. Prepare your ship for the voyage. Time will come, and the sea will allow you to subjugate it. ‘Get the things you may need ready before you may need them,’ people say.
It means that at a certain level of endeavors, the heart will get purified of dirt, and karma will let the desired goal come true. The only thing that matters is the goal itself. It must be spiritualized and sublime. Therefore, it is recommended that we have genuine fear of inaction. Inaction is really ought to be feared. There is nothing more dangerous than to have a lofty goal and do nothing. It’s as much as to be a firefighter, see the fire and simply stand by and watch how everything burns down. Or to be a lifeguard and watch someone drown without taking urgent measures. The one who has an aim is bound to act. It is his duty. If he neglects this opportunity, he loses himself. Life becomes devoid of meaning, and one has to be born again and again, to accomplish all his tasks. In fact, we were born again into this world because we were not sufficiently active to achieve lofty goals in our past life.
Sages explain that people in this day and age are too much proud of small occasional deeds they do for others. In point of fact, it’s nothing to be proud of, really. You did something ten years ago, so what of it? Occasional good deeds should be cause for shame, not pride. Only those who are blessed with the mood of constant activity can take pride in helpfulness. Those who actively continue to do good may rest assured things are going the right way. If I bought fine groceries, it doesn’t mean that I cooked a delicious meal. I only got the opportunity to cook it.
By turning the key just once, I may not open the door. In a similar way, I should turn the key to the door of life multiple times, until it becomes unlocked. These “turns” consist of pious actions for the benefit of God and His children. According to the scriptures, the mere desire to serve society and the Lord, without readiness to act vigorously and decisively a whole life long, can be compared to the weakling’s determination to use weapons. It’s most likely that he will hurt himself and cause bodily harm to others. Indolence is not just a problem. It’s a real danger… Just imagine an indolent driver, surgeon or a pilot…
It is a duty of every person to eliminate problems friends and family are facing. We should give support in every way possible to help them establish themselves in the successes and achievements. However, only those who are fond of work, and are able to abandon pleasures at the same time, can fulfill this obligation. It’s no easy matter, actually. It takes some doing. It’s not as simple as going to the movies or having tea together. We must really apply all our efforts for the sake of our close ones, so they could be safe and sound. Otherwise, karma of a person who abandoned his close ones to their fate will follow us.
It is said in the scriptures that the grave elder sister of the goddess of fortune lives side by side with an idle man, while the merciful Shri, the goddess of fortune Herself, resides in human efforts. The two always come together. Yes, Lakshmi and Alakshi are sisters and they love each other. When someone becomes indolent, Shri, the goddess of good fortune, leaves such a person, giving way to Alakshmi, the goddess of bad luck. Alakshi is the very same elder sister of Lakshmi people don’t like to talk about. However, the two siblings are inseparable. The sister bringing misfortune is symbolized by the owl sitting at Lakshmi’s feet.
The law of karma says we should never accuse anyone of not being gifted-minded. But if one is simply not eager to make full effort to get the knowledge essential for life – this is really reprehensible. One may not be naturally gifted or exceptionally smart. That doesn’t matter. Even without special skills or personality traits, it’s possible to achieve the goal of life. One should simply try hard, make active and continuous efforts to attain it. By contrast to this, modern psychologists recommend just thinking about your goal, hoping things will work themselves out. But can you imagine a wife who instead of making dinner says to her husband she’s been visualizing French fries in her mind?
Moreover, it is said in the scriptures: if bad luck doesn’t let one achieve the desired goal, an attempt will pay for itself. Honest and active effort in itself is rewarding. It elevates one a step higher the evolutionary stairway of life. It strengthens the character, gives active experience, provides perspectives for the future and shows the limits of possible efforts. So there are good grounds for saying: “It doesn’t hurt to try.” The one who makes a try doesn’t waste time for he endeavors to understand the system in which he wants to obtain the desired result. Thus, a beginner driver learns how to park properly. First he fails, but after trying a few times he understands the system and finally gets it right. It cannot be emphasized enough that one should simply continue trying.
Lastly, we may even face seemingly impossible tasks. Bold, well-thought-out efforts will enable to see how karma, fate itself steps back. By strengthening the character, active efforts contribute to the evolution of consciousness. It causes karma to change. Therefore, in the society it is customary to reprove a person if he doesn’t develop his skills in a systematic way, doesn’t work on himself or make any steps towards his goal of life. Weak will is a sinful character trait. It eventually prevents one from becoming wise and saintly.
And certainly, to be constantly active, one should exhibit the character trait of valor. An active personality can’t afford to break down under the burden of failure, defeat or hardships. Sages give the great formula for valor: laugh when you face misfortune. It will help you to gain victory over any misfortune or misery. Saints, missionaries and men of faith demonstrate this particular behavior. Being tossed around by the waves of fate, they meet misfortune with a smile. The higher the waves, the more they laugh. But this is not the laughter of a fool. This is the laughter of a fearless person who set his mind on the act of valor. Nothing can deter him from success. Challenges only instigate him and inspire even more decisive actions.
In December 1914 Thomas Edison’s laboratory was burned to ashes. The inventor was already 67 years old when this happened. The fire caused incredible damage. Its equivalent in today’s money would exceed 2 million euros. Comparatively, € 200 000 insurance payout he got was a pittance and could only cover a fraction of the damages.
But that was not the worst. Worse still, all the results of scientific works were destroyed by fire. Edison’s life work, his partly designed scientific inventions, recollections and notes – everything went up in flames. In as little as a couple of hours his life-work was burned to the ground!
Edison’s son searched everywhere for his father. He was anxious about how his father would live through this disaster. It turned out that Thomas Edison stood calmly nearby watching everything from the safe distance. He was absolutely calm and composed. He smiled as he looked at the ruins. He only thing he wanted was to see his wife.
When she came, he seriously told her, “Just look, we haven’t seen anything like that in our whole life! There’s value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God, we can start anew.”
Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control. But it’s up to us to choose how to respond to them. It is we who choose our attitude to the life events.
As it is said in the scriptures, ill luck may come like a flash flood. But if one does some serious thinking, it will go away. Hence, when you feel like you have bad luck, it’s nothing but mental concoction. Mature thinking will enable one to rise above it and take one step further towards the intended goal. It should be well understood that one is born, properly speaking, to become target for bad luck. A wise person knows it and is not disturbed by the adversities. Hardships mostly affect the body, but the intelligence can be above them. Hardships are the natural part of life. They can’t stop a wise person. Yes, we wait for a while at red lights, but it doesn’t end our journey, does it? As soon as the traffic lights change to green, we go forward. When it’s raining heavily, people seek shelter from rain. But when the shower abates, they head towards their destinations even faster.
Hence, the following conclusion is given in the scriptures. Those can easily go through hardships who don’t let the thirst for pleasures grow in their soul and realize it is the human lot to meet with difficulties. Also, the way one will react in the time of trouble can be seen from one’s behavior during a lucky streak. This must be clearly understood. If one keeps cool head amid success, one is protected from grief during times of misfortune. Such a person will be able to resist hardships and even overcome them. He who keeps cool head during a spate of good luck is sure to find strength to live through hard times, as well.
And now, I’d like to tell you a parable of Tadao Yamaguchi that is popular among businessmen.
“Master,” asked the disciple, “what’s the role of luck and chance in success?”
“What do you mean by these terms?” preceptor bent his head interrogatively.
The disciple thought for a minute.
“It is by pure chance when I turn to a client who has just run out of goods that I’m selling. For some reason, his regular supplier can’t deliver them, so as a result, I get a new customer. And it is sheer luck if I go to a party, for example, and suddenly meet a person very important for my business. When it’s been a long time since I wanted to find some approach to him.”
“You might have noticed,” said the Master, “that those whom you consider lucky simply work more. They frequently turn to those whom they want to see as their customer. They often visit the places where they stand a good chance of meeting a right person.”
“So you want to say it’s only the matter of chance?” the disciple showed surprise.
“Not only,” frowned the Master. “First of all, this is hard work.”
Since we’re constantly learning – the process of learning continues throughout life – we are immensely responsible for transmitting this knowledge to others. A full-fledged educational system includes knowledge on how to share information acquired. We should transfer the knowledge we get proficiently, effectively and on a regular basis. The science of knowledge transfer has many subsections. Listeners may belong to different categories. Each of them requires a different approach to be convinced to accept our knowledge. Seniors, juniors and equals are trained according to certain rules, considering the differences between them. But today we’ll discuss broad guidelines enabling to give knowledge to any person, regardless of their age, education and social status.
Naturally, first and foremost, to impart some information, we must be firmly convinced of it. We are transmitting not just information itself, but our confidence. Feeling of confidence is the invisible information-carrying medium, and it must be top-quality. Imagine that you help a driver to pull out of driveway onto the busy road. He can’t see the road and fully trusts you. You give him the sign whether to turn onto the road or to wait a little. And if you aren’t sure about what you are doing, better not to help at all. Otherwise, it may result in an accident. This is why drivers are especially annoyed by unsophisticated passengers giving them driving tips.
As soon as you become convinced of the truthfulness of knowledge you get, you may start distributing this knowledge. Here, it’s not the power of reasoning or strong convincing skills that play the major role. In the process of knowledge transfer, love rules the roost. Yes, if the speech of the person, except their confidence in the message, is saturated with love, it reaches the very heart of a listener and is perceived as the most valuable gift. We must be aware of that. Pleasant speech is not deceitful flattery. It is a true message imparted by those who are full of compassion towards the listener and hence, choose words that protect veracity from rudeness.
Mark these words: a wise person protects veracity from pride and rudeness. Pride and rudeness downgrade the importance of the message of truth and can even destroy it completely. Under the influence of rudeness and pride, the truth easily turns into dangerous lies. Love is the fire that transforms a dish of knowledge into a splendid feast. If a person lacks love (displays rudeness), the dish is undercooked. If there’s too much love or it is wrongly directed (pride), the dish is burnt. Having quality food products is not enough – one needs to cook them perfectly. To receive truth is not enough because one needs to protect it. The Truth is one – it’s easy to give it an imperceptible twist, harness it to serve the false ego and start to exploit. Therefore, the duty of every right-minded person is to protect the truth at all costs.
Sages say that sweet words, gladness and a loving glance, when they accompany a gift, are valued more highly than the gift itself. Gift-giving is a good deed, an act of kindness, but well-wishing attitude touches the heart even more. The same goes for knowledge. Maybe our knowledge won’t help a conversation partner to learn anything new. But if he feels our love, if he feels that we see the beautiful soul in his heart, it will encourage him to reevaluate the words he might have heard a hundred thousand times before. He’ll be able to see things in a different light. How many times in our life did we hear that God loves us? But what have we understood? Has anyone ever given thought to it?
But one fine moment we hear the same words and suddenly realize that God really loves us and pushes us toward happiness by all means, although we stand up against it. He doesn’t take offence and continues to send loving teachers. We suddenly come to this realization because a person who says these words is speaking with love. It is selfless display of love, for no obvious reason. We are moved by this merciful spiritual love. Our heart melts. And the simple words “God loves you” become so easily understandable that we immediately feel like we want to go and tell others about it.
Someone who talks about human suffering must really see this suffering and show real compassion towards people. Sages say that pain is soothed by a frank look in the eyes, sympathetic glance and caring words. Otherwise, our help won’t bring any real relief to anyone else’s heart. A person will hear right things, undeniable facts, well-shaped logical arguments… But the heart won’t be softened. In fact, it may become even more cynical and cold. Instead of embracing spiritual path, one may close his mind against it once and forever, if we give that person a cold shoulder instead of warm-hearted welcome. The one who knows is not the full embodiment of knowledge. He only invites others into its realm. But we shouldn’t forget that people judge by those who stand at the entrance. The knowledge we invite to obtain is judged by its representatives.
Even from a material standpoint, kindness brings only benefits. A modern man thinks that in order to flourish, one needs to be pushy and harsh. In reality, except brutal force, one needs to know the golden rule for prosperity. According to it, the one who gladdens people’s hearts with kind words has nothing to fear from poverty. People will never leave such a person in the lurch. Yes, by using brutal force and being rude, one can really get rich quick. But a rich man is not necessarily a prosperous man. Prosperity is the absence of poverty, and poverty is always ready to return to a rude man. Poverty adores harsh people. Therefore, the Vedas differentiate between temporary riches and permanent prosperity. These are two different things. Temporary riches are like the flash of a match in the darkness, even though it’s very bright. Prosperity is compared to an oil lamp that, although it may be not too bright, burns steadily all night long.
It is said in the scriptures that the true adornment of a prosperous man is not jewelry, but his righteous speech and impeccable manners. Strange, indeed, that people are rude to each other, despite knowing full well how much joy sweet words can bring. Something makes us be rude; it is the direct influence of our past. When we want to say pleasant things, but swear-words fall from our lips instead, in this very moment we can fathom our past life. Our karma comes to us and makes us reveal the true nature of our character that is called prarabdha-karma. The way we behaved in the past affects our behavior in the present. Therefore, changes in the heart start with changing the speech.
Sages say: if you can use soft words, why to pronounce hurtful ones? Isn’t it stupid to pick unripe berries and trample down the ripe ones with your feet? It must be remembered that low-minded people are always rude, average-minded people answer rudeness with equal rudeness, and high-minded individuals are never rude, no matter how bad they are treated. Therefore, an intelligent person should think twice before saying something.
One should decide: is it really necessary to say to this person what I want to say? Can I speak kindly, or am I going to let harsh words slip out? Am I sure what I’m going to say is true? I should also make sure that my words don’t inflict pain on someone not in my presence, even if that person won’t hear them right now.
Will my words make any difference at all? Wouldn’t it be better to keep silent and say nothing? Isn’t it that my talk is a fat lot of use?
Wise people say that even in everyday life we shouldn’t yell loudly at a person. If he stands far from you, do not yell across the street – come closer and talk calmly, softly and with love. When we start yelling, it is never soft and kind. It is always rough and angry. So be careful about your speech in any situation. Misuse of the tongue leads to commitment of four sins: malicious gossip, fault-finding, cheating and idle talk. These four flaws are said to give no peace neither to the individual, nor the society one mingles with. There are three interrelated factors: proper perception, proper hearing and proper speech. If one of them is missing, other factors also suffer. If the speech is indecent, the vision also becomes perverted. One hears right things but takes them the wrong way.
And here is a funny story of perception. Once, all villagers came to the local sage and asked, “What’s more important – the sunlight or the moonlight? We can’t understand.”
The sage thought for a while and said, “Certainly, the moonlight is more important!”
“But why?” the folks asked. “Could you explain to us, know-nothings?”
“It’s quite simple,” said the sage. “The moon shines at night when it’s dark and we need it to shine. The sun shines during the daytime, when it’s already light around and we have no need for it at all.”
The villagers listened and thought, “Isn’t it time for us to find another sage?”
Today we’re going to start off with a well-known story. It’s about a landowner who asked a worker to build a well in his yard. On seeing a wealthy man, the worker thought it would be a nice idea to get into his good graces. At a well-chosen moment, he addressed the landowner. He began to glorify his mansion:
“Your mansion-house is better than Indra’s palace in the heavenly planets! Where else can one find such luxurious chambers?”
The rich man was obviously pleased to hear that, and he called out:
“Hey, wife, give him a jar of milk after his job!”
Overjoyed at success, the worker decided not to stop.
“Your kids are marvelous! I can’t help but dote on them: their lotus-like eyes and long, beautiful arms! No doubt, they are marked for greatness!”
“Hey, wife, allot him a bag of rice after work!” called out the pleased landlord.
“Your wife is also wonderful. I’ve never seen such a chaste and beautiful woman. At the same time she’s submissive, obedient and devoted to you!”
“Hey, wife, give him your golden necklace after his job.”
The worker began to relish it. The way things are going, soon it won’t be necessary for me to bust a hump and dig that damned well, he thought.
“You are also a man of distinction – generous, wise, and noble. It is no wonder that gods grant favors to you!”
“Come on, honey, give him a dozen gold coins when he finishes his job.”
The main thing is to quit while I’m ahead, thought the worker. Pleased with his own achievements, he continued his work. At the end of the day, he approached the rich man and gave him a questioning look.
“Nothing really. I just wanted to claim your promises: the bag of rice, the golden necklace, ten gold coins and finally, the jar of milk. Are you delivering your promises?”
“So, that’s what you’re up to! But these were just words. Didn’t you get it? You favored me with your pleasing words, and I just answered in kind.”
This story teaches us the main principle of karma: God reciprocates with us justly in proportion to our service attitude. We must understand it ourselves and impart this message to others. We are in a somewhat similar situation to the one described. When we lend assistance to other people, our help is mostly a verbal help. Very few of us can give material assistance to the needy. No grain stocks will suffice for that. But what we really have is any amount of wise words, especially if we listen to the holy scriptures such as the Bhagavat-Gita and Bhagavatam each day. They give us plenty of food for thought.
And yet, we want our healing words to be followed by deeds. We want the words of consolation to bring a real benefit, real change, real spiritual uplift to a suffering person. How to obtain such a result?
First of all, we must understand that consultation is not a pleasant cheerful talk. It’s a real acceptance of responsibility for everything that will happen with your client from now on. It’s like an “adoption” of a son or daughter, like a temporary “guardianship” over a person who seeks your help. Everything depends on the client’s desire: if he/she is ready that we guide him/her throughout life, we must be prepared for such turn of events – a life-long commitment. Certainly, most of our clients follow our advice for a week or two. But even a couple of weeks of responsibility is a serious consultant’s work. It demands thorough understanding of what is going on, “what I got tangled up in.” You can’t play with karma. It can’t stand dismissive attitude toward its laws.
Recently I’ve been told about the mental health center in the Hawaiian Islands. The chief physician of that institution uses a unique method for treating the hardest mental illnesses. He doesn’t even meet his patients – he simply studies their cases and gives a deep thought to them. He takes responsibility for those poor persons, begging God’s forgiveness for their suffering. He prays to God asking for forgiveness because he can’t duly help these people. They are suffering right beside him, but he’s unable to provide any substantial support. Curiously enough, western doctors were bound to acknowledge this prayer had a scientifically proven effect. Now this doctor is invited to the state mental health clinics. Incurably-ill patients with severe mental disorders really feel better and stop behaving inadequately after this unusual therapy.
The chief physician reveals the fundamental secret of his success. He is not just praying for his patients. A mere prayer doesn’t stipulate that we take responsibility for those we pray for. In a simple prayer we mostly enjoy ourselves, thinking how noble and compassionate we are, trying to pray for others instead of ourselves. But the physician I’m talking about takes real responsibility for the person, while praying for him/her. To be more precise, he takes responsibility for the illness of a particular person brought to him by fate. And this is real secret to success. Our help can be taken from the verbal level to the level of deeds only if we accept responsibility for the events in the life of a particular person. If we are simply talking to our client, this is nothing more than just words, a mere verbal communication. It’s a sort of entertainment both for us and the client. But as soon as we start thinking about the life of that individual, his/her deeds, life principles, habits, relationships — that’s when our consultation is taken to a different level, the level of practicality.
This is a very important transition. True knowledge can always be put to practical use. Knowledge that is not practically applicable cannot be called complete. Therefore, a consultant must always keep in mind his/her responsibility towards the client. The whole system of making changes must be explained, and the right starting point must be found. Entrance points to the system of changes are all situated in a straight line. From top to bottom these are: the mind’s eye (the mind), tongue (speech), stomach (nutrition) and genitals (control of lust). As you know, all these four factors are interrelated and must be improved as a whole. Only then can one make a real life change happen.
We must choose the accurate starting point to inspire a person to embrace changes. If it won’t be hard, and would even be pleasing, then, feeling the first positive changes, a person would be eager to proceed with them. It will only remain for you to impart knowledge of what to do next. Remember: first come doubts, then comes faith, and love comes later on. Where to start? Discover the easiest point to get through to a person, to remove their doubts and sow the first seed of faith. One must start having that faith — that the more pure lifestyle leads to a higher level of happiness. One should begin with purifying one of the following: one’s thoughts, speech, nourishment, or interactions with the opposite sex.
In yoga, these four basic factors are attached serious importance. The one who can’t control his/her habits of eating, sleeping, working and recreation, can’t become a yogi. We have the same issue mentioned here. Regulation of work, recreation, eating and sleeping is the control of mind, speech, stomach and genitals, respectively. If you find the point, dwelling on which you can get this message across to a client, you manage the task. You succeed in holding a consultation and acceptance of responsibility.
To improve the mindset, one needs food for thought. Give your client the book of wisdom. If they leave without getting the wisdom book, all that you have said will soon be washed off with the aggressive mass media information flow. A modern man hears too much information during the day. Therefore, even the most useful words we say can be forgotten in half an hour after our discussion. So don’t hesitate to provide people with books of wisdom. Tell them this is what you meant to say but didn’t have time for. Also, don’t be shy to cover the four above-mentioned points. Remember: this is not just a client – this is your child, and you are now responsible for him/her.
It means that we must learn to love people, and especially those who seek our help. At the same time we must know how to show love properly. Philosophy of love also has a certain order. First we come to love God, and then come to love all people as children of God. Yes, we can and should love people, but for our love to become real, we must first reject the desire to enjoy it, as if these people belonged to me. They don’t belong to me – they are children of God. It’s not me who has found them – it was God who has led them to me. And it’s not we, but God who helps these people — we simply take care of them because the Lord asked us to take responsibility for everything we do in this world. If we assume responsibility for someone’s suffering, this person will in turn get inspired from the heart to take responsibility for his/her own life. Such is the secret of spiritual help, and anyone can learn to provide such help. But for that, one needs to become a true sage and a person of faith.
We must acquire a spiritual taste ourselves and share it with a suffering person. Taste comes as soon as we stop thinking about ourselves, and start thinking about the Absolute Truth. Taste comes when we stop talking about ourselves, and start talking about the Absolute Truth. Taste appears when we stop filling our bellies and begin to accept food as a gift from God. Finally, taste is there when we reject lust for the sake of love. What is true love? This is when I don’t need sexual relations. Is there love in this world? Yes, but we must learn to develop it.
Our love is developed when we learn to control that same relations. The more I’m capable of controlling myself, the closer I approach true love. The points I was talking about are not just four kinds of spiritual taste one needs to develop. These are the four tastes that break the chains of karma that gripped our soul. What can be better than such help? But scriptures hold a warning: fools won’t believe you when you’ll be talking about the spiritual taste. Only wise people can accept that. So don’t worry if you won’t manage to evoke the right response in each consultation. Our task is simply to perform our duty. The ultimate result is never in our hands.
These are simple (to understand) but not easy (to do) rules how to treat people. Who wants to try following them for at least one day? Share the results!
Today we’re going to focus on only one subject, but it is so vast it can endlessly be discussed. We are going to talk about material vocation and calling. The question is so deeply perplexing, vague and obscure any specialist will find it hard to make head or tail of it. Therefore, it’s necessary to carry out testing of consciousness every time when it comes to job choice and all the more so, its change; domicile change or any other major life change that requires independent decision-making. Never think that everything is simple and clear. This is one of the most complex areas of consultancy practice, which makes it all too easy to make a mistake and bear a life-long responsibility for that.
We know perfectly well that neither change in activity can 100% ensure increase in prosperity or enhancement of any other aspect of life. It’s not so much dependent on specific current circumstances as prarabdha-karma of a person, his/her past. Yes, efforts can help solve part of a problem, but not the whole problem. For example, if the freight elevator is turned off and you need to carry stuff to the 22th floor, you’ll certainly manage to get some of the things up but not all, and even movers won’t agree to.
Basically, one way to make money isn’t better than the other, provided that more or less all of our skills and strengths are put to work. As is said in the poem,
“Keep it well in heart:
All jobs are fine for you:
For your own taste”
In other words, it is our taste that enables us to engage all our skills and stamina. Think of how much we can eat if the dish is enjoyable, and how little if it’s disgusting! And so, if we expect a miracle from job change but don’t consider our tastes and preferences, it’s better not to hope for a miracle. We may switch jobs, but our karma might not change. Our taste will remain the same, and it’s entirely possible that new working conditions won’t suit it. This means that the “dish” will be more expensive, there will be more of it; it will be made of rare and expensive food items, but it won’t necessarily taste delicious for us.
Therefore, the first and last rule, very simple and at the same time very complicated, is the following. Change jobs (or anything else) if the changes you make meet your tastes and preferences. You should be ready to do a new job even if it pays lower wages than your previous job and you have to face more responsibilities at the same time. Things may not work out the way you expected, but if you’re ready to welcome that because you have a real taste for something you switch over to, this is the sign of your true calling.
Prarabdha-karma manifests directly in this life; it always plays up to our desires in fanciful ways.
A new job offers a huge amount of money, better conditions and new perspectives, but don’t you fall for it: it’s not going to do your bidding. Prarabdha-karma is a glitter. Yet not only diamonds or gold emanate glitter. Glitter may come off dirty broken glass or a bottle cap, as well. Don’t believe the glitter. This advertisement trick has been around for a long time. Gifting a cheap thing wrapped up in a bright package is considered a good gift. But the package will be thrown away, and it may well be that the gift also will have to be thrown away thereon. Hence, the saying “All is not gold that glitters” eminently suits prarabdha-karma and material illusion.
Giving us the opportunity to experience new feelings first, it gradually leads to the same level of prosperity we had before, or even lower. Yes, we can get a higher paying job, but it doesn’t mean the prosperity level will be higher because we can’t foresee the changes in our expenditure level. We don’t unwrap a bright package at once, although we believe there’s a precious thing inside. We may be quite astonished after calculating the balance between our new income and expense, seeing that things remained the same or even got worse. It looks as though we moved from one storey to another in the same house. Yes, the view from the window got more interesting, and a new apartment became brighter, but it has the same number of rooms as the previous one. All the more so, the city district hasn’t changed. On the other hand, we haven’t noticed elevator- and water service interruptions up until recently. But now, every time we climb the stairs, we have to jealously walk on foot past the floor we used to live on before. Thus, another saying “bargained one trouble for another” is also very much to the point in our lecture on prarabdha-karma.
So let’s go back to our rule: to be prepared for this crafty display of illusion, we should have determination not to quit a new job even if it turns out that the income level will be lower, while occupation and responsibility levels will be higher. The purpose of karma is to show us our weak point, the level of consciousness at which we’re going to break down, the point about which we’re not sober and realistic enough. There’s an interesting parable on this subject. It is called “The Price of a Monk”.
Once there was a smuggler who, being afraid of political raids, addressed a well-known monk with a request to hide the smuggled goods in his monastery. He thought the police wouldn’t suspect a priest as he had impeccable reputation.
The monk responded with indignation and demanded that the man leave the monastery at once.
“I’ll give you $ 100 000 for your graciousness,” promised the smuggler.
The monk tarried before repulsing a request again.
“$ 200 000–”
The monk denied the request as before.
“$ 500000 –”
Just then the monk snatched a stick and yelled,
“Get out of my sight! You got way too close to my price!”
As you may understand, the above-mentioned rule applies to any kind of changes we introduce in life. You can easily change your place of residence, but be ready that it may turn out even worse than the previous one. Neighbors can be more insufferable, weather and climate worse, transport less handy. It’s possible that you face water, electricity and elevator problems more often.
We can change anything without ado if we are prepared for the fact that it can bring more problems than what we abandon. Abandoning what is given by destiny is punishable by the destiny itself. Our destiny gives us self-improvement opportunities, but we don’t want to use them. We build our own plans, which we think are better and more sensible than that laid by destiny. Why should I be a locksmith? I want to choose the destiny of a minister…
The scary secret of prarabdha-karma is that the destinies of a locksmith, a minister and a billionaire are not much different from one another. Destiny has just one single purpose: to show a person a lack of relatedness between external achievements and inner happiness. It’s just that, to understand this, some have to pass the test of a locksmith, others – the test of a minister and still others – the test of a billionaire. But the principle is the same; it is called “respective trial”. The one who has desires for $100 will have to undergo a $100 trial of destiny. Another one, who has desires for a billion dollars, will have to undergo a corresponding trial. Look at the ants: one ant carries a small breadcrumb, another ant – a big one. But are their destinies too different? In just the same way, there’s not much difference between a pauper and a billionaire, the haves and have-nots. We just confuse our happiness with the size of a crumb we have found.
Everyone will have to confront challenges correspondent to their wishes. One person will be thrashed because he/she earns a scanty pittance, while another will be thrashed because he/she earns a fortune. But ultimately, everyone will lose everything. We’ll not be able to retain anything in our possession since nothing in this world belongs to us. Therefore, those will make the best of a bad bargain who will persevere in their activity even if it doesn’t provide any yield or benefit at all. This is the precondition for gaining happiness from material calling. Karma also operates under the same principle of action and reaction. Conduct a simple test: imagine that every night you are given money for nothing, regardless of what you’ve been doing during the day. What will you choose to occupy yourself with? This is exactly your vocation!
In the eastern philosophy, this destiny principle is known as a “handclap effect”. Once one of the sages was asked, “If two philosophical statements contradict each other, which one of them should be chosen?”
The sage replied, “They contradict only if they are considered separately from each other. If you watch the hands while making a clap, it will seem as if they are moving in opposition to each other. But if you focus only on the movement, you won’t notice what has really happened. Naturally, the purpose of “opposing movements” was to strike hands together. Similarly, contradictions in the scriptures should be viewed as parts of a single whole. One should try to understand what kind of logical problem in our consciousness this “clap” is meant to destroy. To understand spiritual logic, indeed, one should rise above material logic, and it can be destroyed only by the “clap of contradictions”.
Seeing all his/her efforts destroyed by destiny, a person begins to realize that there’s nothing more important than inner happiness that should be independent of external material conditions. We’ll continue to undergo such trials of life until we realize the difference between material happiness and spiritual. The best training is to make changes while being prepared to continue to act in new circumstances even if everything turns out a lot worse than it was before. This is a good way to see into the laws of happiness and work out personality traits indispensable for spiritual growth.
In such a state of consciousness, it’s possible to make it through any changes, which can really be drastic as long as one enters the transitional period of prarabdha-karma. It happens several times over the course of a life-time. But only a professional consultant can give a clue about the direction of those changes. It’s extremely hard to figure it out on your own. Therefore, in most cases the best thing is to use the guidelines we discussed today. In case you want to know more, become professional consultants.
 Translator’s Note: Lines from the poem for children “Whom Shall I Be?” by the prominent Russian writer Vladimir Mayakovsky.
I guess you might have noticed that it’s not so easy to evoke a response from someone else’s heart. We keep talking to each other about various things but can hardly get our point across. It’s like shipping a package. It takes so much time to prepare it for delivery. You pay for it and can’t wait for it to come. And yet, it doesn’t arrive on its delivery date. Recently, one of the most fully packed packages hasn’t come to us from India… This is all very much frustrating and depressing. One of the fundamental causes of depressed mood in a modern man is the inability to get through to the heart of an interlocutor. You see, we can’t establish even a simple human contact yet hanker to make contact with aliens. Come on! We’d better develop a good rapport with each other. And exactly today we’ll take a closer look at the issue.
1) The first rule of speech consists in knowledge of when, whom and what precisely to say to a certain person at a certain time.
According to the scriptures, information that concerns everyone should be passed on as soon as possible, without any loss of time. This is called promptness and this is what makes a true manager. A manager is simply obliged to inform each and all about the decisions that may affect the general course of events. Thus far, sirens have been used to make public announcements. So don’t be hurt if your manager begins to sound like a siren – this is simply his/her job.
This pertains to all levels of management and even to very simple management. For example, in the event of route changes, which occur quite often, a driver must inform the passengers loudly and well in advance. This should be done without undue shyness or laziness. No one should be left uninformed; otherwise, a manager turns into a downright spoiler. Yes, hearing one and the same thing over and over again sometimes taxes our patience. But it is the duty of a manager to make sure that everyone without exception not only heard, but understood the important message he/she has to put across.
2) Something that affects only us and our responsibilities should be discussed only with those for whom it will be useful and who will find such discussions pleasant. For example, if we didn’t have jelly or fruit filling for a cake and replaced it with ordinary milk jam, there’s no need to enlarge too much upon the matter. Guests may take it wrong. It’s not necessary for all and sundry to know all the niceties of cooking of what’s being served, for it may cause the loss of appetite. If one sees how dirty the veggies were before cooking, doubts may creep in: what if they were not washed properly? All the more so, if one knows what kind of fertilizers were poured on them, a desire even to look at the plate may completely disappear. Remember: ethics doesn’t demand that we disclose all the subtleties of the process. It’s quite sufficient to see only the pleasant and interesting parts of it.
Such fine points should be revealed to other cooks during cookery courses – then it will be really valuable information. Otherwise, it will only bring disappointment and cause reasonable suspicions and doubts. The above is also true of an astrologer: if he/she can’t remember certain information, he should say that he needs to make additional calculations, for example, though actually, he has to take a peek at what he forgot. But if he tells the truth, the client will run away in horror thinking this is a cheater and a fool. So, is there any use in discussing whether one should expose all the niceties of medicine or law practice?
3) One can speak about another person’s duty only after careful consideration of time and circumstances. This rule is closely connected with the previous one, but it has to do with criticism, which is a very dangerous sphere. Before meddling in other people’s affairs or business, one should give serious thought to whether it’s proper to do it right now, with this particular conversation partner, and whether it’s proper time and place for such talks. Poorly thought-out attitude to a question can result in most grievous consequences. This is compared to blasting operations or surgical procedure. One should think ten, or better, a hundred times before starting to discuss other people’s affairs.
It’s possible to say such things right off the bat only in close relationships that stood the test of time. Even in this case, it’s necessary to be on the alert and, at the slightest sign of tension, end an unwanted conversation. All its participants should be considered friends of the person we’re talking about. This assumes that, most likely, they will report our speech to him/her word-for-word, or even embellish it. Therefore, the basic recommendation is: behind someone’s back, talk as if you were speaking directly to that person. If you are not ready for that, better shuffle the whole matter out of your mind. It will be much safer then.
4) One can talk about the elevation of consciousness and purification with any person, anytime, anywhere, without regard to rules and regulations. It means that any topics related to self-realization don’t bring karma, in general. But make sure you don’t overdo it. For instance, can there be anything better than clean spring water? But even in a spring well, it’s possible to get drowned. Is there anything better than fresh unpolluted air? But even from breathing unpolluted air can one catch cold. Is there anything more joyful than dancing? Even while dancing, however, one can break a leg. Briefly speaking, while bringing good to the world we should remember to do it in a kind manner. A cake may be divinely delicious, but hardly anyone will like it if we smear it in their face…. This is the often-repeated scene in funny movies: one uses the sweetest thing to give the bitterest offence.
Also, when discussing spiritual issues, there’s no need to dwell too much on very-hard-to-understand topics. Indeed, they are sweet and wonderful, but if they surpass all understanding, a person we’re talking to may have a strong sense of disappointment, rather than inspiration. Inspiration comes when we hear about something that is really attainable, in this life and in our particular situation. Therefore, spirituality should always come together with practicality. Then it will really be inspiring and effective. There’s no need to start a conversation with a three-hour-long description of loving relationships in the spiritual world. It’s enough just to make mention of it, while devoting most of the time to something simple and real. Don’t you think it’s better to start with the diet and routine, for example?
5) The next rule explains the correct way to answer questions. We may be asked lots of different questions, but it doesn’t mean we should answer whatever comes into our head. Scriptures state that answers to the questions should always be pleasant and useful. The word “useful” is especially emphasized. It is not advisable to enlarge too much upon useless or worthless matter, even if it’s very much pleasing to the ear. But something unpleasant, as long as it is of any help, can easily be spoken. However, it’s highly recommended that we say such unpleasant but useful things only in private, and only if the listener agrees with us. To cut a long story short, saying useful things protects us from sin. If our words serve a useful purpose, they no longer fall under the category of sordid commonplace sense gratification. They become part of the performance of duty. This is the indirect way of protecting oneself from degradation that comes through uncultured, unmannerly speech.
6) In case you don’t remain uncontradicted, mind that too much debate is pointless. As a matter of fact, scriptures recommend keeping silence as long as an interlocutor contradicts. It’s because contradiction bespeaks bad mood, and the mood of a conversation partner must always be taken into account. If he is in a bad mood, on no account should you make mention of someone he hates. This point is especially emphasized in the scriptures. If we present someone in an unfavorable light at the moment when our conversation partner is in one of his black moods, it will only add fuel to the fire. Moreover, it will be a scurvy trick, for our part. He may start to believe us even if we talk about some of his friends or someone he used to respect before. Such a cunning approach is considered as one of the dirtiest political tricks. E.g: “Do you have a very bad toothache? Just a moment! Do you know what your friend has told me about you today?”
Therefore, as soon as you realize that a person is in a bad mood, keep your mouth shut. Overcome the temptation to seek vengeance on your insulters by presenting them in a bad light.
7) The next point suggests that while talking, we often tend to discuss different funny situations people get into. On the whole, this is quite normal, and still there’s an obligatory rule to follow. Yes, it’s possible to laugh without any misgivings, at someone who got into hilarious situation. But really cruel mockery must be avoided. Only light laughter without any undermeaning is allowed. Scoffing, spiteful, evil laughter, gloating over another’s misfortune is no longer laughter, but a downright abuse. Such an emotion is impermissible in a conversation for it very quickly hardens our heart.
Moreover, if it is our conversation partner who initiates such a talk, it is recommended that we delicately put it down and, at the same time, discourage him/her to speak ill of others. Hearing someone else talk cruelly of others has the same adverse impact on our heart as our own cruel speech. However, if someone speaks unkindly about us, it’s recommended that we remain as patient as Mother Earth. The Mother Earth is considered the most patient one: she tolerates even when someone spits on her. Such patience will bring about the softening of our heart because it will enable us to feel what another person feels when others speak ill of him.
Scriptures don’t recommend sitting opposite each other while talking. This is considered to be the sign of conspiracy talk. During a friendly conversation, it is advisable to sit next to a partner, neither too close nor too far away from him/her. Sitting too close, once again, suggests conspiracy, while a too large distance can arouse suspicion that the partner has already entered into conspiracy with someone else. The long and the short of it, a positive conversation is friendly and relaxed, pressureless and non-aggressive.
It’s no good when the speech is loud, impolite and hostile. It all bespeaks ulterior motives. Another sign of a hidden agenda is when a person laughs for no apparent reason. An attempt to tell something in secret or communicate some questionable facts should also raise doubts about the honesty of a speaker. Some indirect indicators of low motives are also outlined in the scriptures, for instance, constant spitting during the talk. If you watch the talk between aggressive people, you’ll see that they are constantly spitting.
In fact, the “secret talks” issue deserves special attention. Such talks are considered conspiratorial, and they don’t lead to anything good. They harden our heart most mercilessly, by making us find an enemy and start fighting with him/her. The attempt to have such talks in a secluded place where no one else will hear them, or an intention to have a quiet word even while in the presence of others – all this refers to such talks. Private talks in public are considered very immoral and even hostile towards all those who are present. They are regarded as a display of aggression towards surrounding people. Therefore, don’t be surprised if it meets counter-aggression, sort of like, “Stop whispering among yourselves!”
Some individuals get that part of it – that whispering in the background is too impudent, and try to manage without words. They use secret signs, such as surreptitious winks, frowning or making a wry face at the person who speaks. Interruption of a speaker is another sign of aggression. Even without opposition or criticism, the mere interrupting of a speaker at every word is by itself a very offensive, malicious and aggressive communication style, intended to show that the words of this person are worthless. Interruption is the same as attacking with weapons. It is likened to open declaration of war.
We should watch our tongue and be careful about what we say because it also creates karma, or consequences. It is said that a sudra pays for his words with his health, vaisya with his financial strength, ksatriya with his physical strength and brahmana with his spiritual strength. One way or another, we are always accountable for what we say. Hence, we must deeply understand the science of speech that is based upon conveying the truth. Lies distance us from God. By understanding these laws, we can regulate our speech so that each and every word could benefit both ourselves and others.
The easiest way to change one’s life lies through proper speech. We know that we are all influenced by prarabdha-karma that is practically impossible to change. Only dreadful, tormenting austerities can slightly regulate it. But true sages never recommend such austerities because even this kind of correction won’t make any conceptual difference. On the other hand, one can easily start serving the Absolute Truth, by engaging speech in service, and thus change one’s life conceptually by redirecting it from material degradation to spiritual elevation.