Buddha’s Quotes #4

“Easy to do are things that are bad and harmful to oneself. But exceedingly difficult to do are things that are good and beneficial.”

*****

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis

Spiritual Essays #13

Finding Your Dream And Creating Your Miracles

Journey to Pyramids

by Jayaram V

This essay is about the symbolism and the transformative wisdom contained in the book, the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, is about the journey of an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago from his native place in Spain to the desert in Egypt in search of treasures hidden in the pyramids. Throughout the story you will be presented with many allegories, metaphors and hidden gems of wisdom which suggest that if you have a dream or desire and it is strong enough, you will find help along the way in various forms and guises.

The book has become so popular that it is one of the most translated books in the history of the world. Its main theme is summarized in the words of an old man who tells Santiago, the main character, “To realize one’s Personal Legend is a person’s only obligation.” He further adds, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

In other words, you must find your true calling according to your deepest yearning or predominant desire. Once you find it, you must set yourself on a journey of a lifetime to achieve it with single-minded determination, putting your heart and soul into it, and fine tuning yourself and your decisions according to the lessons you learn and the messages you receive from the universe. It is your mission. It is all you are meant to do, why you are born and exist here.

Life is a journey in a world that is never the same and in which nothing is ever the same. We all are pilgrims in this sacred journey of life. We may be different and unique but we all seek personal legends and hidden treasures in the world of opportunities according to our upbringing and circumstances, amidst distractions and events that seem to be beyond our control. Most people may not find all the treasures they seek or may give up even seeking. Yet, life goes on rewarding those who strive and ignoring those who do not.

Paulo Coelho himself led a tumultuous life. He did not achieve instant success and suffered from many setbacks and personal failures, starting from his childhood. Yet, his life is the proof that if you have faith, courage and conviction and if you pursue the path of your own greatness or uniqueness, you too will find “meaningful treasures” along the journey “that are at once natural and magical.” Sometimes, you may be reluctant to continue the journey or become distracted, but help comes in the form of a friend or a well wisher, who reminds you of your duty or obligation and help you return to your journey.

The path is never easy. The book does not give any illusions about it. It is a perilous, unpredictable and uncertain path which requires that you keep your mind wide awake and eyes wide open so that you can look for signs from the universe to guide yourself or find yourself. Sometimes, you may be duped, distracted or compelled by people and circumstances to delay your journey or make difficult choices and sacrifices.

Yet, you must not lose heart or stop your search. You must accept life as it is given to you and persist in your effort to find your treasures, drawing strength, hope and courage from within and centering yourself in the present reality. Along the way, you will also learn many lessons about the journey, about yourself and the mysteries of life. You have to actively seek them and learn from them to achieve the required transformation or the alchemy and thereby your cherished goals.

Realistically speaking, Paulo Coelho’s principal argument that the universe conspires to help you is a possibility, but not a certainty because nothing is certain in this universe, including the uncertainty itself. The outcome of your journey entirely depends upon your convictions and your determination or perseverance. The journey of transformation and self-discovery is neither smooth nor easy. You will make mistakes along the way, from which you must be willing to learn and recover. Every failure has a purpose and a hidden message, and you must be intelligent enough to understand them.

Understanding your relationship with the world and its role in shaping your life and destiny is another important aspect which you learn from the book. You have an inseparable connection with the universe. It manifests in your life as people, things, events and circumstances. Everything in it is interconnected, arises from it and forms a part of it. We all exist in it and are never separate from it, nor can we ever be.

The universe plays its role with precision to ensure the orderly progression of life. It does not discriminate in the application of its laws, while people may approach it differently with different attitudes and mindsets. It is your silent witness and active partner in all that you do and seek. In the journey of your life and in search of your dreams, you must learn to communicate with it and decipher its cryptic language in which it constantly keeps sending hints of possibilities and opportunities and the decisions that need to be made.

As Santiago learns during the journey, the universe does its best to communicate with us through omens, signs, coincidences, chance happenings and mysterious events, which conspire to create the miracles of our lives. They constitute the language of the universe. One must learn to read it and understand it by paying attention and listening to one’s heart or intuition. Paulo Coelho said, “Following your dream is like learning a new language.” To follow your dream, you must learn the language.

The idea that the universe mysteriously and miraculously works for you to help you manifest your strongest thoughts and desire is not new. Many people in the past spoke about it. They recognized the power of thought in manifesting our dreams and desires through inner alchemy and believed in the possibility of positive outcomes by summoning the powers of the mind. The Vedas also affirm similar ideas.

They envision God as the personification of the universe and each being as a replica of the universe itself, and suggest that to seek the help of God, you must make him your inseparable Self and serve him with your mind, heart and soul. Similar ideas were echoed in the past by many wise men from different traditions and cultures who spoke about the material and spiritual rewards of flowing with the flow, being in harmony with oneself and others, living with mindful awareness, seeing God in all and all in God, knowing oneself, being true to oneself and so on.

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis

Spiritual Essays #11

The Power of Truth in Self-awareness

Self Awareness

by Jayaram V

Summary: This essay is about cultivating self-awareness in spiritual practice by paying attention to one’s thoughts and feelings to know truths about oneself, without cognitive distortions and self-deception.


It is a common human trait to be critical and judgmental about others, but too sensitive when the criticism is directed against oneself. Most people find it easy to pass comments and opinions about others, but become defensive or even aggressive when they are made against them. It is why criticism is mostly viewed in human relationships or social situations as a hostile response rather than a constructive or nurturing tool

Human beings also have a problem when they have to discern truth about themselves or evaluate their own behavior because they cannot readily and objectively think about themselves. Since people are sensitive to what others may think about them, they also do not pay attention to what goes on in them or know about their truest thoughts and feelings. Most people live in denial about their own failures and shortcomings, as their minds filter information that may likely hurt them or disturb them.

Since people do not like criticism, it is difficult to practice truthfulness or honesty in human relationships. Truth hurts. Therefore, people go around it to avoid rupturing relationships or feel bad about themselves. We not only detest personal criticism, but also any criticisms that are directed at things, which we like or cherish, including beliefs, objects and opinions. Indeed, it is difficult to discern truth about anything in today’s world, as facts become lost in the cacophony of opinions, interpretations and disinformation.

What we get in the process is a huge cloud of disinformation, confusion and distortion, in which nothing appears to be what it is. In a world of conflicting interests and intense competition, truth has become a raw material in the workshops of manufactured opinions and commercial interests, to be sold to people in different packages according to their tastes, beliefs and expectations. Hence, you will not find “the truth” in its pristine purity, but various versions and aspects of it.

From a purely scientific perspective, speaking or not speaking truth is not a moral or behavioral issue, but a survival strategy. Information is supposed to be intelligently used to further one’s progress or interests, or to protect oneself from potential harmers or threats. Even animals, birds and other life forms use deception as a camouflage to hide from predators.

Since truth hurts and truthfulness cannot be practiced in worldly life without suffering from the consequences, and since truthfulness is imperative to cultivate purity and achieve liberation (Moksha), forest life or secluded life is prescribed in the ascetic and monastic traditions of India. In a forest, you are left to mostly to yourself. There, you do not find people who may be hurt by your truthfulness. No one bothers you if you decide to practice silence and refuse to speak to others. Further, you become indifferent to what others think and say.

In worldly life, you may not have the freedom to practice truthfulness in relation to others, without hurting others or the relationships. However, the world will not crumble if you practice truthfulness in relation to yourself. In truth, it is desirable because you will have an opportunity to know the real you, and not be a stranger to yourself or to your deepest thoughts and feelings. If you truthfully acknowledge your true feelings, by paying attention to them to know who you truly are, you will not be deluded by your own ignorance, illusions and delusion.

Most people cannot fathom truths about themselves because they do not bring truth into it. They go by their surface thoughts and feelings to avoid feeling hurt or disturbed by their failures and imperfections. In the process, they fail to discern truths about themselves and become deluded, which in turn makes them vulnerable to many other problems.

One of the best ways to practice truth in relation to yourself is to be honest with yourself and accept your feelings and emotions as they are. Feelings are important. You cannot ignore them because they convey important messages to you about you, and what is going on with your life and in your inner world. Their purpose is to draw your attention to those aspects of your personality or circumstances, which need to be resolved, repaired or improved. Many people lose touch with their own feelings, as they become deeply involved with the world, and thereby their ability to improve themselves or adapt themselves according to the situation. They become victims of their own self-deception.

Therefore, be honest and truthful about yourself and your deepest thoughts and feelings. Your mind is a product of your karma. All your past is stored there. It is the only place where you can find truths about yourself, apart from any information you may receive from others. By knowing both, you can bring the power of truth into your consciousness and free it from ignorance, falsehood and delusion.

Truth in relation to yourself improves your self-awareness. You may also do the same in relation to others, but you do not have to speak the truth of them to them, unless they ask for it. Our scriptures say that nonviolence is more important in spiritual practice than truthfulness. If truth is going to hurt others, it is better to be silent, and not to say anything. In your case, it is a self-cleansing mechanism. Therefore, let truth speak for itself.

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis

Spiritual Essays #10

Looking Beyond the Surface of Life

Mindful Awareness

by Jayaram V

Summary: Ten ways to improve the quality of your thinking, feelings, perceptions and understanding to bring deeper spiritual awareness into your daily life.


We live in a difficult world. Technology was supposed to bridge the communication gap and bring people together, but it did the opposite. People are now more isolated than ever, as they spend more time with their mobile phones and gadgets rather than with people. Knowledge is now freely available, but it has not only created information overload but also made people highly selective and susceptible to subtle propaganda.

Life is not simple anymore, as people have to cope with the pressures of urban life and growing economic instability. Living in this complex environment, how can people gain control over their lives and find peace within themselves or in the world around them? How can they look beyond the surface of things and discern truths about themselves and their lives? One of the best ways to do it is cultivate spiritual attitude.

Cultivating Deeper Spiritual Awareness

Spirituality does not necessarily mean that you have to believe in God or in soul. The Buddhists do not believe in both. Yet, the Buddhist monks are no less spiritual than any other spiritual people in the world. To be spiritual, you have to live with the deeper awareness of things, looking beyond the illusions, appearances and surface impressions, restraining your habitual desires and impulsive behavior. Here are a few simple suggestions to cultivate deeper spiritual awareness.

1. Pay attention to what is going on

As life becomes busier, we stop paying attention to many things. Become mindful of the things around you. By paying attention, you establish a deeper connection with the world and people. You will have a better awareness of things, people and their feelings and expressions.

2. Think through your opinions and decisions

In the rush of life, and pushed by circumstances, deadlines and reminders, people rush to judgments and do whatever that comes to their minds. If you want to make better decisions, check your surface impressions, underlying assumptions and irrational thinking.

3. Feel the feelings

Feelings and emotions are an important source of information about human behavior. By paying attention to your feelings and those of others, you can know many things about you and your relationships. Therefore, become sensitive to your feelings and those of others and learn to discern them.

4. Stay with the moment

By being in the present, you ground yourself in the reality of the moment. You do not have to pay attention to everything. However, try to keep your eyes and mind wide open whenever possible and savor the moment. By that, you will relax more, think better and make better decisions.

5. Make silence your secret sanctuary

We are surrounded by lot of noise and many distractions. They disturb our minds and cause a lot of stress. You can create your own inner sanctuary deep inside you by practicing silence. By that, you can calm your nerves and energize yourself.

6. Cultivate cheerful attitude no matter what.

Life can be depressing at times. Yet, you can choose to be content. You do not have to be cheerful or happy only when right circumstances are present. You can do it even in difficult times with will power, making peace with yourself and what you cannot change.

7. Let life be not all about you

While you are largely responsible for your life and actions, you cannot ignore the role others play in your life. They are a part of your collective karma, who give you an opportunity to engage in good actions and cultivate helpfulness, selflessness, loving and caring nature, compassion, generosity and truthfulness.

8. Transcend your limited self

It is important to look beyond the mundane and the obvious to cultivate insight and wisdom into the nature of things. Challenge your beliefs, habitual thoughts, prejudices and preconceive notions. Consider other opinions and viewpoints. Read books about a wide range of subjects. Stretch your mind.

9. Cultivate discernment

Discretion helps you in decision making by letting you distinguish the right from the wrong, and thereby keeps you safe from self-destructive actions and habits. Amidst the uncertainties of life, it is your guide, philosopher, protector and teacher. You can cultivate discernment with right knowledge, right thinking, right perceptions and right views to discern things and make right choices.

10. Feel gratitude for all things in your life

While you make life happen, life also happens to you. You owe a great deal to the world, since help comes to you from others in many visible and invisible ways. Your very birth and early life, when you were young and helpless, were made possible by others. Therefore, express gratitude for all your blessings and all the good things that happened to you.

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis

Spiritual Essays #9

Cultivating the Attitude of Forgiveness

Forgiveness in spirituality

by Jayaram V

Our religions say that God is the best healer. He heals us by forgiving our failures and shortcomings. We all have this divine power to heal ourselves and others with forgiveness. It is in healing through forgiveness, and by forgiving those who multiply our suffering, we come closest to God. Before we discuss the importance of forgiveness in spiritual practice and the need for cultivating forgiving nature or the attitude of forgiveness, let us contemplate upon some healing truths.

Whether you hurt someone or hurt by someone, you are invariably disturbed. Therefore, whether you forgive  yourself or others, forgiveness is always an act of letting go and finding peace.  Forgiving others is a good karma. It is an opportunity to heal yourself. If you do not forgive them, you will carry that burden until the end, and perhaps into your future lives until it is resolved.

When you seek forgiveness from others, you help them do good karma, which is also a good karma in itself. However, you know that you cannot control others, but you can control yourself and your attitude. Therefore, when it comes to seeking forgiveness, it is better to keep your expectations low and practice humility. It may be assuring to know that if you seek forgiveness with sincerity and right attitude, you are forgiven, whether others forgive you or not, since God is the witness to all our actions and he knows a good deed when he sees one. Some sins are unforgivable. Only time and retribution will heal them. From the wisdom of our scriptures and spiritual masters we know that through suffering all sins are forgiven.

It is difficult to forgive others when you feel you are wronged, and your anger is perfectly justified. It is where you have an opportunity to rise above yourself and show your compassion. Whether you forgive someone, or not, is purely a personal choice. It depends upon your thinking and attitude and your beliefs and values. Sometimes, it is very difficult to forgive, especially when the hurt is deep and cannot easily be forgotten. Sometimes, it may last for a lifetime. Past life regression suggest that it may even last for several lifetimes and become a source of suffering. It shows how difficult it is for people to practice forgiveness.

However, we also know the consequences of unforgiving nature. People who are unforgiving and hold on to their grudges and grievances experience a lot of suffering and negativity. It shows up in their behavior and attitude, as they carry their distrust, anger and bitterness for long and become self-defensive. Consumed by their feelings of negativity, which effects their judgment, reason and discernment, they may also suffer from social alienation, monetary losses, depression and ill-health,

In some cultures, certain offenses can never be forgiven, since God himself does not condone them. In some, forgiveness is done by retaliation or by seeking an eye for an eye. How and why you forgive others depend upon your beliefs and personal values. It is not even necessary that you have to tell others that you have forgiven them. You can just internally do it and be free from all negativity. It is difficult to generalize and say what motivates a person to forgive others. However, we know that a person is forgiving to the extent he or she is spiritual and enlightened. Knowledge and education also help.

Forgiveness is self-cleansing. It has transformative power. It is a virtue and good karma. The attitude of forgiveness can be cultivated by practice. It is encouraged in almost all religious and spiritual traditions. Forgiveness is a virtue in itself and has its own physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Everyone needs to practice it for their own peace and happiness. By forgiving others you mend your relationships, feel good about yourself, overcome stress and anxiety, improve your physical and mental health and heal yourself.

Factors that contribute to forgiveness

As long as you have a body and depend upon food, you cannot avoid hurting others for your survival. Therefore, you must constantly seek forgiveness from all things that sacrifice themselves to sustain you and nourish you. It is why we have the tradition of offering food to God before eating it. By offering it to God, you are passing on all the sinful karma that is associated with it, the pain and suffering of all the beings that went into its making.

One should therefore cultivate forgiveness even if one is nonviolent and leads a dedicated, spiritual life. The attitude of forgiveness is a culmination of your spiritual practice and inner growth. By cultivating it, you can cultivate all other related virtues. The following factors facilitate the attitude of forgiveness. You can practice forgiveness by cultivating them. At the same time, by practicing forgiveness, you can cultivate all of them as they reinforce each other, just as the branches of a banynan tree. As you learn to forgive others, you will become more virtuous and spiritual. You will become God like and develop a healing personality. By that, you will heal your relationships, your past, others and yourself.

Attention: Pay attention to the world around you. It helps you see the deeper aspects of life, which we usually miss, and connect with your own deeper thoughts and feelings.

Connection: Find yourself in others. See the similarities. By that you will connect with the people around you, establish affinity and share their thoughts and feelings from deep inside.

Reflection: By reflecting upon things, people and life, we gain insight in the nature of our existence, and our behavior, which in turn help us become more understanding and forgiving.

Self-acceptance: We all make mistakes. When we realize that just as we are, others too are vulnerable to certain weaknesses and errors in judgment, we become more tolerant and forgiving.

Egolessness: Egoistic people rarely forgive or forget. The ego is responsible for conflicts, aggression and selfish behavior. By controlling it, one can cultivate tolerance and understanding.

Humility: When you practice humility, you will set aside your egoistic pride, vanity and self-importance, recognizing others as your equals and their right to self-expression and self-esteem.

Compassion: Forgiveness is an offshoot of many virtues. Compassion is one of them. If you have compassion for others for their suffering, you will naturally forgive others and let them go

Nonviolence: The essence of nonviolence is you do not disturb anyone and you are not disturbed by anyone. It means, you will not give any cause to forgive others or seek forgiveness from them.

Friendliness: By cultivating universal friendliness or agreeableness, you will seek harmony rather than rancor, and willingly forgive others with compassion for their weakness and wrong actions.

Empathy: By feelings the feelings and emotions of others, you develop an understanding of others, as you observe their actions and suffering. It will help you cultivate the attitude of forgiveness.

Understanding: Problems in relationships mainly arise due to misunderstandings as each side fails to understand the other. With understanding you become more tolerant and forgiving.

Open-mindedness: If you are open-minded, you listen to others and understand their viewpoints. You will also have greater tolerance for your mistakes and shortcomings and those of others.

Flexibility: It is difficult to forgive if you stick to your point of view. By being flexible and changing your thinking or your perspective, you will see the same problem in a different light and feel differently.

Minimize expectations: If you have expectations, you may not easily change your thinking or attitude towards others, nor can you think and act objectively. Therefore, lower your expectations.

Spirituality and forgiveness

Forgiveness means letting go of the negativity or the feelings of resentment, anger, animosity, etc., which you may hold in your mind towards others. Even if you are fully justified in having such feelings, you must be willing to let go of them for your own good, so that you are not oppressed by your own thoughts or your resistance to let the wrong doers go unpunished. To be able to forgive the most unforgivable actions, the injustices, wickedness and cruelty of the world, it requires a large heart, which only a few can possess. If you can repeatedly do that, it means you have made the attitude of forgiveness an integral part of your consciousness and essential nature.

The attitude of forgiveness is a direct outcome of the attitude of spirituality. Spiritual practice essentially involves the cultivation of all the virtues which we are mentioned here. They arise as one focuses upon cleansing the mind and body by restraining the mind and the senses, overcoming egoism, desires and attachments and cultivating the higher virtues such as detachment, equanimity and sameness.

As someone said, forgiveness is not for the weak. It requires strength and a large heart to forgive others and let go of the hard feelings that settle in the mind. Since all virtues are interrelated and work in tandem, and since the cultivation of one leads to the cultivation of others, by practicing forgiveness, you can also simultaneously cultivate all others that contribute to it. In other words, you can transform your nature and life by practicing just one virtue, the virtue of forgiving yourself and others.

May God bless and protect and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis

Spiritual Essays #8

This essay is about cultivating self-awareness in spiritual practice by paying attention to one’s thoughts and feelings to know truths about oneself, without cognitive distortions and self-deception.


It is a common human trait to be critical and judgmental about others, but too sensitive when the criticism is directed against oneself. Most people find it easy to pass comments and opinions about others, but become defensive or even aggressive when they are made against them. It is why criticism is mostly viewed in human relationships or social situations as a hostile response rather than a constructive or nurturing tool.

Human beings also have a problem when they have to discern truth about themselves or evaluate their own behavior because they cannot readily and objectively think about themselves. Since people are sensitive to what others may think about them, they also do not pay attention to what goes on in them or know about their truest thoughts and feelings. Most people live in denial about their own failures and shortcomings, as their minds filter information that may likely hurt them or disturb them.

Since people do not like criticism, it is difficult to practice truthfulness or honesty in human relationships. Truth hurts. Therefore, people go around it to avoid rupturing relationships or feel bad about themselves. We not only detest personal criticism, but also any criticisms that are directed at things, which we like or cherish, including beliefs, objects and opinions. Indeed, it is difficult to discern truth about anything in today’s world, as facts become lost in the cacophony of opinions, interpretations and disinformation.

What we get in the process is a huge cloud of disinformation, confusion and distortion, in which nothing appears to be what it is. In a world of conflicting interests and intense competition, truth has become a raw material in the workshops of manufactured opinions and commercial interests, to be sold to people in different packages according to their tastes, beliefs and expectations. Hence, you will not find “the truth” in its pristine purity, but various versions and aspects of it.

From a purely scientific perspective, speaking or not speaking truth is not a moral or behavioral issue, but a survival strategy. Information is supposed to be intelligently used to further one’s progress or interests, or to protect oneself from potential harmers or threats. Even animals, birds and other life forms use deception as a camouflage to hide from predators.

Since truth hurts and truthfulness cannot be practiced in worldly life without suffering from the consequences, and since truthfulness is imperative to cultivate purity and achieve liberation (Moksha), forest life or secluded life is prescribed in the ascetic and monastic traditions of India. In a forest, you are left to mostly to yourself. There, you do not find people who may be hurt by your truthfulness. No one bothers you if you decide to practice silence and refuse to speak to others. Further, you become indifferent to what others think and say.

In worldly life, you may not have the freedom to practice truthfulness in relation to others, without hurting others or the relationships. However, the world will not crumble if you practice truthfulness in relation to yourself. In truth, it is desirable because you will have an opportunity to know the real you, and not be a stranger to yourself or to your deepest thoughts and feelings. If you truthfully acknowledge your true feelings, by paying attention to them to know who you truly are, you will not be deluded by your own ignorance, illusions and delusion.

Most people cannot fathom truths about themselves because they do not bring truth into it. They go by their surface thoughts and feelings to avoid feeling hurt or disturbed by their failures and imperfections. In the process, they fail to discern truths about themselves and become deluded, which in turn makes them vulnerable to many other problems.

One of the best ways to practice truth in relation to yourself is to be honest with yourself and accept your feelings and emotions as they are. Feelings are important. You cannot ignore them because they convey important messages to you about you, and what is going on with your life and in your inner world. Their purpose is to draw your attention to those aspects of your personality or circumstances, which need to be resolved, repaired or improved. Many people lose touch with their own feelings, as they become deeply involved with the world, and thereby their ability to improve themselves or adapt themselves according to the situation. They become victims of their own self-deception.

Therefore, be honest and truthful about yourself and your deepest thoughts and feelings. Your mind is a product of your karma. All your past is stored there. It is the only place where you can find truths about yourself, apart from any information you may receive from others. By knowing both, you can bring the power of truth into your consciousness and free it from ignorance, falsehood and delusion.

Truth in relation to yourself improves your self-awareness. You may also do the same in relation to others, but you do not have to speak the truth of them to them, unless they ask for it. Our scriptures say that nonviolence is more important in spiritual practice than truthfulness. If truth is going to hurt others, it is better to be silent, and not to say anything. In your case, it is a self-cleansing mechanism. Therefore, let truth speak for itself.

-Jayaram V

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis


Spiritual essays #7

Summary: Ten ways to improve the quality of your thinking, feelings, perceptions and understanding to bring deeper spiritual awareness into your daily life.



We live in a difficult world. Technology was supposed to bridge the communication gap and bring people together, but it did the opposite. People are now more isolated than ever, as they spend more time with their mobile phones and gadgets rather than with people. Knowledge is now freely available, but it has not only created information overload but also made people highly selective and susceptible to subtle propaganda

Life is not simple anymore, as people have to cope with the pressures of urban life and growing economic instability. Living in this complex environment, how can people gain control over their lives and find peace within themselves or in the world around them? How can they look beyond the surface of things and discern truths about themselves and their lives? One of the best ways to do it is cultivate spiritual attitude.

Cultivating Deeper Spiritual Awareness

Spirituality does not necessarily mean that you have to believe in God or in soul. The Buddhists do not believe in both. Yet, the Buddhist monks are no less spiritual than any other spiritual people in the world. To be spiritual, you have to live with the deeper awareness of things, looking beyond the illusions, appearances and surface impressions, restraining your habitual desires and impulsive behavior. Here are a few simple suggestions to cultivate deeper spiritual awareness.

1. Pay attention to what is going on

As life becomes busier, we stop paying attention to many things. Become mindful of the things around you. By paying attention, you establish a deeper connection with the world and people. You will have a better awareness of things, people and their feelings and expressions.

2. Think through your opinions and decisions

In the rush of life, and pushed by circumstances, deadlines and reminders, people rush to judgments and do whatever that comes to their minds. If you want to make better decisions, check your surface impressions, underlying assumptions and irrational thinking.

3. Feel the feelings

Feelings and emotions are an important source of information about human behavior. By paying attention to your feelings and those of others, you can know many things about you and your relationships. Therefore, become sensitive to your feelings and those of others and learn to discern them

4. Stay with the moment

By being in the present, you ground yourself in the reality of the moment. You do not have to pay attention to everything. However, try to keep your eyes and mind wide open whenever possible and savor the moment. By that, you will relax more, think better and make better decisions.

5. Make silence your secret sanctuary

We are surrounded by lot of noise and many distractions. They disturb our minds and cause a lot of stress. You can create your own inner sanctuary deep inside you by practicing silence. By that, you can calm your nerves and energize yourself.

6. Cultivate cheerful attitude no matter what.

Life can be depressing at times. Yet, you can choose to be content. You do not have to be cheerful or happy only when right circumstances are present. You can do it even in difficult times with will power, making peace with yourself and what you cannot change.

7. Let life be not all about you

While you are largely responsible for your life and actions, you cannot ignore the role others play in your life. They are a part of your collective karma, who give you an opportunity to engage in good actions and cultivate helpfulness, selflessness, loving and caring nature, compassion, generosity and truthfulness.

8. Transcend your limited self

It is important to look beyond the mundane and the obvious to cultivate insight and wisdom into the nature of things. Challenge your beliefs, habitual thoughts, prejudices and preconceive notions. Consider other opinions and viewpoints. Read books about a wide range of subjects. Stretch your mind.

9. Cultivate discernment

Discretion helps you in decision making by letting you distinguish the right from the wrong, and thereby keeps you safe from self-destructive actions and habits. Amidst the uncertainties of life, it is your guide, philosopher, protector and teacher. You can cultivate discernment with right knowledge, right thinking, right perceptions and right views to discern things and make right choices.

10. Feel gratitude for all things in your life

While you make life happen, life also happens to you. You owe a great deal to the world, since help comes to you from others in many visible and invisible ways. Your very birth and early life, when you were young and helpless, were made possible by others. Therefore, express gratitude for all your blessings and all the good things that happened to you.

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis

Spiritual Essays #6

Cultivating the Attitude of Renunciation


We are going to discuss here the practical implications of sanyasa or renunciation for those who want to practice spirituality. It is not easy to live as a renunciant or an ascetic person. Our law books put a number of restrictions on people who take up sanyasa as way of life. For example, Gautama, one of the proponents of Hindu code of conduct proposed that an ascetic should not keep any possessions, must be a celibate, should not change his residence during the rainy season or enter any village except for begging. He also stipulated that he must live by begging alone and should beg late in the day after people finished eating.

Other proponents of Hindu ethical laws concur. They declare that renunciants should not entertain any desire, including the desire for tasty food, nor should they wear any clothes except a small rag to cover their nakedness. Accordingly, in ancient India, renunciants led a very harsh and restrained life. They subsisted on roots and fruits, as they took vows not to cook food using fire or eat parts of any living plant or tree. In the final phases, renunciants gave up food and water and slowly allowed their bodies to weaken and perish as a mark of ultimate sacrifice.

The Bhagavadgita suggests that those who desire liberation should live in a secluded place, renouncing desires, and practice meditation, with their minds fixed upon the Self or God. The Mundaka Upanishad declares all kinds of sacrifices as inferior and obstacles to overcome death and rebirth. Those who engage in them are ignorant and deluded, while those who practice austerities, dwell in forests and cast-off desires reach the immortal heaven through the door of the Sun.

According to Hinduism, liberation (Moksha) is the highest goal. All goals are supposed to lead to it. For that, renunciation of desire is the best means, whether one is a dutiful householder, seeker of knowledge or a renunciant. However, it is not easy to practice renunciation as prescribed in our religious texts or enter the life of sanyasa without struggle and prior preparation. Before casting off everything into the fire of renunciation, one must be mentally prepared to engage in that sacred journey.

Most people are not ready for the austere and rigorous life of renunciation. They are also not meant to be, since it is a part of Nature’s design to ensure the order, regularity and continuity of the worlds. However, until that resolve becomes firmly established in the mind, one can cultivate an attitude of renunciation and purify the mind and body. As a householder or a student, you may have many obligations. Yet, living your normal life, you can bring the ideals and principles of renunciation into daily practice by infusing them into your thinking and behavior.

By doing so, you can protect yourself from the disappointments, uncertainties and frustration which we commonly face and live with certain spiritual awareness, presence of mind, courage and conviction. It will also help you build character and integrity and elevate your consciousness to a higher level where you will have a different perspective about things, people and situations, as you view them with detachment and dispassion.

It is up to each individual how they cultivate the attitude of renunciation. They can do it by understanding what renunciation implies for people in today’s world, especially those who have not yet made up their minds about how they want to balance their material and spiritual aspirations. Buddhism and Jainism prescribe vows and guidelines for lay followers for the same purpose only. They mentally and physically prepare people for the life of sanyasa, while allowing them to pursue worldly goals with certain spiritual awareness and sense of responsibility.

Hindu ascetic traditions also follow a similar approach. If you are not ready for the harsh life of renunciation, you can still cultivate the attitude of renunciation and let it firmly settle in your mind through daily practice. For that, you require certain important changes and adjustments in thinking and expectations. You may not yet be able to live like a renunciant, but you must learn to think like one. In this regard, the following suggestions are worth remembering.

1. Spend time with yourself. The world grows upon you. It wears you down. When you are deeply involved with the world and people, you will have little opportunity to introspect or find the sanctuary of peace within you. Many people cannot live alone even for a short time. They seek company to avoid the boredom or to escape from themselves or their problems. You may be habitually accustomed to finding happiness, comfort and assurance in others. However, you know that you cannot always control that process or rely upon the people. You are your best sanctuary. You can find peace and happiness within you by going beyond your surface thoughts. Withdraw from whatever that keeps you busy and look within to clarify your thoughts, know yourself or find solutions to your problems. Avoid running to others when you are alone or disturbed and use those moments to focus upon yourself and find peace within yourself.

3. Learn to let go of the possessions and accumulations. Ownership is a burden, although in worldly life it gives you certain power, prestige, status and control. Anything that you claim as yours, be it knowledge, an opinion or a possession, is a potential cause of conflict, desire, sin and suffering, and everything, which settles in your mind, consciousness or memory and with which you form an attachment or a feeling of ownership, is an accumulation, a burden or an obstacle. It is the burden which you carry, or the shadow that dutifully follows you. It not only limits your freedom to be yourself and think for yourself with an open mind but also draws you into the objective world and keeps you involved and bound to the things that you like or dislike. Even the knowledge or religion in which you take pride or which you tend to defend is a burden if you refuse to let go of the attachment. Think of all the things which you think you own or possess. Mentally give up your attachment to them, so that you can set your mind free, and lightly walk on the surface of impermanence without drowning yourself in it.

4. Peel of all labels and identities that define you. You are always someone or something to the world. The world recognizes you and deals with you, using numerous labels that are associated or derived from your personality, appearance, social, cultural, racial or ethnic background, ownership of things, status, profession, position, authority, religion, nationality, language, birth, friendships, relationships and so on. They not only define you but also create expectations from you and in you. In the process, you do not know who you truly are. You become lost in such labels. However, have you ever thought what you are if you had none of those labels? Your core personality is hidden beneath layers of these identities. What remains when you take them all out and stand alone, empty, without any title, name, association, achievement, possession, recognition or status? Finding your pure persona or true identity beyond all names and forms by renouncing them and peeling them off is the essence of sanyasa.

5. Give up the urge to promote or protect yourself. In worldly life, defending or protecting yourself and those who seek your protection is considered a virtue and an obligatory duty. If someone criticizes you, you have the right to respond to it mildly or aggressively, rationally or emotionally, according to your predominant nature or the situation. However, in spiritual practice, it is not encouraged since it is a sign of egoism and selfishness. Spiritual people are expected not to defend themselves or engage in any form of emotional or violent actions to promote, protect or preserve their name, reputation, status, identity or individuality. They may express their opinions or counter those of others in a sattvic way, without losing control or showing any emotion or aggression. True renunciants do not even bother to do it. They respond to everything with silence. Hence, they are called Munis, meaning the silent ones. The attitude of renunciation enjoins that you respond to criticism with tolerance and avoid forcing your opinions upon others. You should remain indifferent to what the world thinks about you or how it judges you.

You can cultivate the attitude of renunciation in numerous other ways according to your judgment and discretion. The rules and restraints (yamas and niyamas) in the Yoga tradition, the practice of virtues on the Eightfold Path in Buddhism, the vows which are meant for lay people and advanced followers in Jainism are meant for this purpose only. The Bhagavadgita expects God’s devotees to live like householders but think like renunciants. By that, it brings the wisdom of ageless traditions into daily practice. In today’s world, such an approach is even more appropriate for people who want to pursue their material goals without losing their minds or peace and happiness.

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis