Parents and Kids, Education

Love!

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.

Vegetarianism for women, women in pregnancy, and children from early ages (Kurma Das -Q&A)

“Could you please suggest me a good book about vegetarianism for women, women in pregnancy, and children from early ages?”
Thank you.

Jasmina, Zagreb, Croatia

Hello Jasmina,
Thank you very much for your letter!

I asked a friend of mine, L. D. from Tampa, Florida, who is an active healthy mother, a vegetarian and a big reader, and she gave me this information to pass on. I think you will find it substantial. Thanks for visiting my website. Feel free to keep in touch.

“As a matter of fact, I have a great book to recommend called The Vegetarian Baby by Sharon Yntema. It’s my all-time favorite! It includes chapters on pregnancy and lactation (if she plans to breastfeed) and contains sample menus for kids from birth through age 2.

A new edition is called, New Vegetarian Baby: An Entirely New, Updated Edition of the Classic Guide to Raising Your Baby on the Healthiest Possible Diet by Sharon K. Yntema, Christine H. Beard and only cost $11 in the US.

Oh, and this one too: Vegetarian Children: A Supportive Guide for Parents by
Sharon Yntema
.

I always give these books as a gift to my friends who have new babies and want to be feel more confident about raising them on a vegetarian diet. It’s a very vulnerable time because many grandparents suddenly voice concerns about a veg diet when babies come into the picture. Well-meaning friends and family members often pressure veg parents and try to convince them that vegetarianism is not healthy during pregnancy nor is it safe for newborns. Of course, this is simply an uneducated fear.

I believe there is a series of these books by the same author though I’ve never read any others. You may want to check at www.amazon.com

I’d also recommend books from the “What to expect…” series. “What to
Expect When You’re Expecting 
and What to Eat When You’re Expecting” by Arlene Eisenberg & Heidi Murkoff were very helpful during my first pregnancy and
though not exclusively geared for vegetarian families, I found a lot of other good info there.

The newest (Third Edition) of What to Eat When You’re expecting is by Heidi Murkoff and is currently available at Amazon.com.

It includes great recipes and lots of info on microwave exposure, pollution, etc etc. Amazon also sells another book called Eating for Pregnancy: An Essential Guide to Nutrition with Recipes for the Whole Family by Catherine Jones, Rose Ann Hudson. It’s not all veg as it does contain recipes for chicken and tuna dishes, but it has many other worthwhile recipes and important nutritional info. I haven’t read it myself, but looked through the table of contents.

The best thing I did was to copy the pregnancy nutrition charts listed in the Veg Baby book. I printed out multiple little sheets to take to work with me every day. I made columns showing each food group at the top. This way I could stay aware of the servings I needed to eat in each of the food groups on daily basis and check them off in each column as I ate so I knew I wasn’t missing anything.

I was working at a design studio then AND going to college at the same time. I was very busy and needed an easy way to keep track so I’d always be sure to get enough protein, Vit A, Iron-rich foods, Calcium, etc. It appeased my concerned family members, kept me confident and made my midwife happy too. It’s not hard and doesn’t take a lot of extra effort to be conscious of eating a well-balanced veg diet when pregnant. Moms who eat a vegetarian diet are often more healthy than non-veg Moms and have fewer complications going to term and giving birth too.

Meat and meat products are always the last food introduced to babies anyway as they are difficult to digest (and of course we know they are ultimately entirely unecessary). Meat – eating is a learned behavior and is not required for completely good health for anyone. I’d recommend these too: Your Vegetarian Pregnancy : A Month-by-Month Guide to Health and Nutrition by Holly Roberts and Raising Vegetarian Children : A Guide to Good Health and Family Harmony by Joanne Stepaniak, Vesanto Melina. You can read more about them and see the reviews too online at www.amazon.com.

Best of luck Jasmina !

Original http://www.kurma.net/faq/ask57.html

Conflict resolution

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.
Bhakti_Tirtha_Swami“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

Conflict resolution – part 2

Conflict resolution – part 3

To know you better…

Educational Center

The Power of Kind Words (chapter from “How to Get Twice as Happy” by V.O. Ruzov)

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.

file0001785926379Sages 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?”

Taking on Responsibility (chapter from “How to Get Twice as Happy” by V.O. Ruzov)

file5871272312706Today 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.

 

“What’s up?”

 

“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.

The Power of Words: How to Speak Directly to the Heart(chapter from “How to Get Twice as Happy” by V.O. Ruzov)

file0001432978570I 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.

Addition

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.

Vedic culture and customs

file0001394152293.jpgA talk on Vedic culture and customs by Koladwip das. Click here to watch

Celibacy

Results of celibacy. A talk by Koladwip das. Click here to watch

Conceiving and raising children

_DSC5471A talk by Koladwip das. Click here to watch