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Dear Subscribers,

Do you know what you are missing?

People are finding the following three recent posts interesting on our new blog.

1) 6 things you MUST know about Walking

2) JK Rowling, Deepika, Anushka, next could be you

3) Bahubali, The Original

Visit the blog to subscribe for regular and relevant blog posts.

Sunil Gandhi
wethecouple

New Couple Blog

“Participate in your own dreams, don’t just say what you want or complain about what you don’t have.”  ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Dear Readers,

I am happy to invite you to my new expanded blog at wethecouple.com.

This is, in fact, our blog, my wife, who is a fitness coach, and I would share interesting content on this blog.
Our area of domains would be fitness, food and recipe, happiness and wellness and of course our travel.
We are sure this blog would become your permanent destination for usable and quality content.

Welcome on board and yes don’t forget to subscribe before you leave the blog.

wethecouple.com

Sunil Gandhi

Are we really religious?

“Religion is the realisation of spirit as spirit.” Swami Vivekananda.

We all consider ourselves as religious by visiting temples, doing all kinds of rituals under the pretext of religion, worshipping the non-Gods considering them as Gods, making pilgrimages all around the world, going on so-called religious tours on select days, visiting temples and worshipping with worldly expectations, worshipping false gurus, and many many such things. All our religious practices are thoughtless and most of the time loaded with worldly expectations.  

But alas, nothing of these qualifies as true religious acts if these acts and pilgrimages do not help us achieve what is stated by Swami Vivekananda.

Narsinh Mehta a renowned Gujarati poet (who had written the famous Bhajan – Vaishnav Jan tofavourite one of Gandhiji) had in one of his Bhajans stated,” Without knowing the spirit (Soul) all religious activities and rituals are worthless.”  

Jainism defines knowing the spirit (Soul) as spirit (Soul) as Samyak Darshan. According to Jain scripture, all religious activities towards the liberation of a soul starts when one realises spirit as spirit. Without the self-realisation, all so-called religious activities can be anything but won’t help in the liberation of the soul.

Believing the self as Soul and not the body is the basic truth, but unfortunately, we do not realise that till our human life ends. What can be more disgusting than not knowing the real self as Spirit/Soul/Atma?  

To quote Swamiji again, “Have you realised that you are spirit? When you say, ‘I do,’ what is meant by that— this lump of flesh, called the body or the spirit, the infinite, ever blessed, effulgent, immortal? You may be the greatest philosopher, but as long as you have the idea that you are the body, you are no better than the little worm crawling under your foot! No excuse for you! So much the worse for you that you know all the philosophies and at the same time think you are the body.”

According to Jain scriptures, believing the self as a body and not the Spirit i.e. the soul is the Mithyatva of the highest level. Mithyatva is the cause of the continuation of cycles of life and death of a soul. Mithyatva is defined as false beliefs. The Jain scholar Hemchandracharya defined Mithyatva as “belief in false divinities, false gurus, and false scriptures.”

This is not about Jainism and the concept of Jainism. Religion is the realisation of spirit as spirit and the other quote of Swamiji above are quotes of Swamiji taken from his article on Bhagavad Gita.

However, how many of us whether Jains or Hindu believer of Bhagavad Gita knows this fundamental about the religion?

We all are obsessed with rituals and pilgrimage ignorant of what is expected out of it to make it worth. What is the end result we have to achieve to make our so-called religious efforts actually religious? No clue.  

As rightly stated by Swamiji, there are no difference between us human being and the little worm crawling under our feet if we think the self as a body because at the level of Mithyatva we both share the same belief about ourselves.

This is the reality of so-called religious people as I am ignoring people who don’t think about religion or about the true self. They just waste their human lives running after sensual pleasures, and without giving a thought about the self.   

We are action oriented people so we indulge in all kinds of actions even as our religious practices but we don’t realise for pursuing the real religion, the right realisation must precede right actions. We never realise the basic truth and therefore even our actions are not right. 

We humans have become highly knowledgeable with the advancement of science. We know about the atom theory, we know about byte and we now also know about a gene but isn’t not knowing the self is the highest ignorance we suffer from?  

Sunil Gandhi

How to liberate yourself from the slavery?

“He was not bone and feather but a perfect idea of freedom and flight, limited by nothing at all.”
― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

You are now many years into the present life and fairly experienced about the nuances of life. None of your other experience is more than your experience about the life.

You now know about the words like fate, destiny, luck etc. What I mean by knowing these words is not the literal meaning, but relevance and applicability of these words in our different walks of our life.

How many of your wishes got fulfilled and how many are not?

If you apply the ratio I am sure unfulfilled wishes far outwit the fulfilled wishes. I am also sure you have made an equal effort or sometimes, even more efforts on fulfilling your unfulfilled wishes & yet you couldn’t succeed.

Here we use the words like fate, destiny or luck (bad luck).

But the reality is everything is about fate, destiny, and luck. Your fulfilled wishes and your unfulfilled wishes, both.

“Destiny waits alike for the free man as well as for him enslaved by another’s might.” Aeschylus – Greek Philosopher – 525 BC.

The above quote is not only interesting one, but also revealing very important life lesson.

If everything is destined, why not live our dreams and why remain enslaved of your employer or your insecurity?

Do what you want to do without fear or worry. The result is anyway is not in your hand in either case, if you worry and remained enslaved of your unwanted circumstances and self-imposed slavery or do not worry and live your passion.

Whether you do your 9 to 9 job or live your passion, destiny will reward or punish you equally. Knowing the rules of the life early on can make your life more liberated and less fearful.

Therefore live compelling life rather than a compelled life, live your life rather than for others be it boss, money or any other illusionary goals.

Many rich people reason and camouflage their en-slavery to money with lofty social goals like ‘we are giving employment to many’, they are but is giving jobs their personal goal in life?  No. It is only making money.

We, employer and employees, all have enslaved us with one or other things. Some are not aware about this and some believe they can’t do anything about it. But the reality is all of us can free ourselves from this unwanted slavery, we pursue the whole life.

Believe in destiny, it will work irrespective of what you do, so why not do what you like, love and passionate about without worrying?

“Life either a daring adventure of nothing.” Helen Keller.

We all have to believe in her because;

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Steve Jobs.

Believing in destiny is very empowering as it liberates us from our fear and allows us to pursue our dreams.

Are you happy with what you are doing with your life? If the answer is NO, what are you doing about it TODAY?

Sunil Gandhi

Rules of the game WE all are playing

There is an ocean at the bottom of which there are countless dangerous creatures suffering miserably, beyond the ocean, there is an island, a place where there is no pain, but only permanent bliss/ happiness and there is a ship sailing in the ocean.

There are many people with different abilities, knowledge, and resources traveling on the ship. These differences are as per the standard rules applicable to everyone.

These people on the ship indulge in various activities while on the ship. People with abilities and knowledge are busy with using their skills to earn money and acquire resources; people who already have more resources are still busy in splurging in excesses, earning more money and acquiring more resources. Some of these resourceful people are also helping others who have fewer resources. This way they feel good having done good for the deprived people. Some are busy in improving the ship and some are busy in improving the living condition of the travelers of the ship. Some are busy enhancing their knowledge about the ship and people of the ship. Some are busy in ruling people on the ship.

Rules

Rules of the game:

Everyone on the ship will be thrown out of the ship anytime without any prior notice or intimation.

They will sink if they don’t know how to swim and will join those many suffering creatures living at the bottom.

They do not have knowledge about these rules when they enter the ship, but they have to know it by their own during their ship stay.

The moot question for all the travelers of the ship:

What should be the first priority of everyone traveling on the ship?

  1. To earn more money
  2. To splurge on excesses
  3. To acquire more resources
  4. To help other deprived people with money and resources
  5. To waste time on irrelevant activities and acquiring irrelevant information
  6. To meet and know more people on the ship – socialising
  7. To improve everything in and about the ship

    Or

  8. To know everything about and prepare for swimming?

Pondering over the moot question is important for all of us because we all are the travelers on the ship.

Sunil Gandhi

Limited time offer. Do you know this?

MORE money, MORE sales, MORE business, MORE profit, MORE growth, MORE success, MORE fame, MORE followers, MORE attention, MORE social visibility and everything MORE we all are after 24 X 7 days after days.

Business first is the motto of most of us, whether we are on a vacation or spending time with the family.  Ringing a mobile phone for a business purpose during our free/family time is a sign of our Busy-ness and gives us a sense of pride.

Most seminars and conferences are about MORE. The bestselling books like ‘Secret’ talks about attracting MORE.

The hunger of our five senses and insatiable desire for everything MORE keep us extremely busy that we have no time to pause & think about the self.  How many of us have ever given a thought to the following question?

  • Who am I?
  • What is the purpose of my human life?
  • Am I born to earn money the whole life and die leaving everything here?
  • What is the difference between my life and life of an animal who also makes effort to earn food, roam and die?
  • All the unethical practices I indulge in my business/job to earn MORE worth doing? (Irrespective of your own justification.) Am I not myopic in doing so?
  • Does the social service/work I do for self-pride/name/fame or is it really selfless?
  • Does the so-called religious practices I indulge in truly religious or its just practices I do religiously, but there is nothing religious about it?
  • After all this accumulation of wealth /material things and yearn for sensual pleasures, am I feeling happy?

Our demand on time (which is very limited) from business, family, our own agenda of name and fame, parties, social engagements, entertainment and what not keep us away from asking some critical questions stated above.

Every New Year is a time to pause and think, but we waste the opportunity in MORE partying and MORE dancing and MORE sleeping. Our passion for sensual pleasure, material success and ‘so called’ social compulsions are not allowing us to look and think inward.

In Yogic terminology looking inward is known as Pratyahara (Withdrawal of senses). We don’t dare to look inwards as we are afraid to ask these questions to ourselves.

We live like an animal and die like one.

Mahavira and Buddha were born rich but left their palaces and left everything in higher pursuit and the person who was after MORE his whole life,  the king Alexander said, “A tomb now suffices him for whom the whole world was not sufficient.”

Whether they were born rich or had become rich by spending their whole life, both had realised MORE accumulation of material things and MORE wealth is useless as the purpose of human birth is not for the accumulation of wealth and satisfying our senses.

We all are busy people and value our time enormously. We don’t waste a second for useless things. Our smartness tells us time is money. But the irony is we waste our whole life for things which ultimately are useless

Bhaj Govindam 2nd stanza says

Oh fool! Give up your thirst to amass wealth, devote your

mind to thoughts to the Real. Be content with what comes

through actions already performed in the past.

We are not smart, but fool as rightly addressed by the author of Bhaj Govindam. We waste our precious human time in our pursuit of MORE wealth and MORE sensual pleasure. The wealth will remain here and the body with all its senses will go to the funeral pyre after we leave this body.

limited-time

These wasteful and useless activities for MORE we are doing are in exchange of limited years left in this human birth. & we call ourselves smart. It’s time to pause and think. This human body is a limited time offer.

Sunil Gandhi

10 benefits of Aparigraha

Aparigraha is one of the 5 Yamas described in Patanjali Yoga Sutras. The other 4 Yamas are Non-violence, Truthfulness, Non-stealing, and Continence. Most of us know and try to practice the last four Yamas but Aparigraha has mostly escaped our attention. According to Patanjali Yogasutras, ” With constancy of aparigraha, a spiritual illumination of the how and why of motives and birth emerges.”

Aparigraha is one of the virtues in Jainism. It is also one of the five vows that both householders (Sravaka) and ascetics must observe.

aparigraha

What is the meaning of Aparigraha?

To know this we have to understand what Parigraha is.

Parigraha means possessiveness, grasping or greediness.

Aparigraha is the opposite of Parigraha.

If you think deeply, this Parigraha is the cause of all the problems of the world. The problems we face at our individual level and at the global level at large. Our desire for more and more and our greed for more than what we need is the result of our Parigraha mindset.

Non-Violence, Non-Stealing, and Truthfulness we all believe are necessary virtues, but when it comes to Aparigraha we are neither aware nor believe the same is very important virtues in higher pursuit of life.

I had read the book Stuffocation a couple of years back. Very interesting read. Recently I laid my hands on the book The More of Less by Joshua Becker. Today in the western world, minimalism is in vogue.  They are seeing the benefit of minimalist life.

This all minimalist lifestyle concept is about living by the principles of Aparigraha which is deeply rooted in the Indian way of living. The more stuff we see around us is making us running after possessing the more. But in the process, we give up the precious time of human life.

More stuff needs more money and more money needs more of our time which unfortunately is limited. Aren’t we spending our precious human life after our insatiable desire to own and possess more? Many of our possessions are mostly unwanted.

We all believe material possessions, give us happiness, but in reality, material possessions give us a headache. (Pause and think)

The benefit of Minimalism as described by the author of the book The more of less are:

  • More time and energy (Managing lesser things)
  • More money (Buying lesser things)
  • More generosity (Extra money can help someone else who is in need)
  • More freedom (No worry to work for unwanted possessions)
  • Less stress (Obvious)
  • Less distraction (Lesser things to manage)
  • Less environmental impact (Lower production by producers)
  • A better example for our kids (This is a great benefit)
  • Less comparison (No social pressure to show off)
  • More contentment (Lesser possessions means peaceful life)

Low possessions and more time will make us awake to the spiritual side of the self. The whole or major part of our active human life is lost in earning money and possessing possessions.  By the time we realise the purpose of human life was not to earn money, till we die or become incompetent and aged, we have lived most of our lives.

This Aparigraha or Minimalist way of life is the only way to live in this otherwise noisy race we all are participating by chance or by choice.

This is our 2017 resolution so start action to throw away /give away/ give up all the unwanted material possessions we have hoarded for years. & make a beginning of a new life of a Minimalist (Practice Aparigraha) to the extent possible. This is going to be a life-changing resolution.

“A tomb now suffices him for whom the whole world was not sufficient.” Alexander, the Great

Sunil Gandhi

Two life changing questions

What is your goal and mission in life?

We all are after MORE. More business, more customers, more money, more power, more fame assuming that this MORE will give us more happiness.

We spend our lives after achieving this MORE. But we never know when the end will come.

Award winning Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Randy Pausch, in his book The Last Lecture wrote, “time is all you have,…and you may find one day that you have less time than you think.”

He died of Pancreatic Cancer in his 40s and left behind him his wife and three children.

The book is written for his small kids’ to read when they grow up. He writes in his book ,” I would just urge my kids to find their way with enthusiasm and passion.”

“It is not about how you achieve your dreams, it’s about how you lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.”

In the book writing about the death and dreams, the author writes about an author woman whose husband died of cancer wrote. They planned to take a family vacation, but postponed it. Her husband died before they could reschedule. She recommends, “Go on those trips you’ve always wanted to take.“

Steve Jobs writes from his hospital bed, “At this time living on a hospital bed and remembering all my life, I realised that all accolades and riches of which I was once so proud have become insignificant with my imminent death. Only now do I understand that once you accumulate enough money for the rest of your life, you have to pursue objectives that are not related to wealth. It should be something more important, for example stories of love, art, dreams of my childhood. … & not illusion built by fame of money like I made in my life I cannot take them with me. … Material things lost can be found. You can never find once you have lost it, is life.

“Whatever stage of life here we are right now, at the end, we will have to face the day when the curtain falls, please treasure your family love, love for your spouse, love for your friends.”

What is your goal and mission in life if you know you have only one year to live?

A few hints:

Death can come at any age. Money for which we spend our whole active life will remain here after the death. Words ‘Enough money’ stated by Steve Jobs must be evaluated reasonably.

Is there any change now in answer to question number 1?

Sunil Gandhi

How everyone can become Vivekananda?

The title of this post seems to be an attention drawing gimmick. Well, judge it at the end of the post.

Here I only want to show a simple way to become the likes of Vivekananda (Or whosoever enlightened Guru /God you believe in).

We all are so much obsessed with our bodily condition since birth that we forget our true self. Our external world is so demanding that till death, we hardly know the self as a soul and internal world of the soul.

Our social life and the importance we attach to it, our insatiable desires of our five senses, our attachment/hatred towards family members, our job/business, friends, parenting responsibilities, politics, TV, everything consumes and kills time (limited) available to us as a human life.

The casualty is our Soul, which after the death as a human body will get any one of the bodies of animals we look around with pity and sometimes hatred.

Unless, of course a few rare souls like Mahavira / Buddha or Vivekananda who would awaken during their life time and know the real self as a Soul. They are not merely bogged down in the present body conditions, which the soul has got in its ongoing journey. This awakening will make them realise the importance of human life and the mission to be achieved in this life.

Be it Mukesh Ambani or Bill Gates, all their wealth for which they are spending their extremely precious human life will remain here when the death arrives. Awakening to the realities of the self i.e. the soul is the purpose of every human life. Without knowing the self as a soul this human life loses its purpose.

This is possible when we look inward, away from the worldly things around us. Swami Vivekananda sat on a rock memorial detached from the world and absorbed in the nature and the self i.e. the soul. When you are alone and in the lap of the vastness of the nature, when all other body related thoughts are at the bottom, the soul speaks and can be experienced.

Pratyahar is the one of the eight limbs of Yoga, which means moving inward from the world of body senses. We are so obsessed with body and exterior world that we stop at Asana and Pranayama stage only. Unfortunately, our attention to our physical needs and present social priorities do not give this chance to our soul and mostly till the death.

You can try and experiment this. Go to a sea beach or on top of the mountain and be alone. Ignore the physical world, ignore all the thoughts about our present life/circumstances seek our attention. Just be with the nature and experience the nature. At this stage someone who is talking with you is your Soul. Know it, experience it.

Detachment is the word. Mahavira did it, Buddha did it and in the recent past Vivekananda did it. It is easy, but only after once we know that this is the agenda of a human life. Knowing agenda of a human life can take millions of years and many, many births but that is a different thing.

“Man should possess dignity and alertness. Only he whose spiritual consciousness is awakened possesses this dignity and alertness, and can be called a man. Futile is the human birth without the awakening of spiritual consciousness.

Ramkrishna Paramhans

(The thought of this post occurred when I was at Worli seaface, Mumbai last evening)
Sunil Gandhi

The Science behind the Jain way of life

The foundation of Jain philosophy is Nonviolence or rather TOTAL Non Violence towards any living being howsoever small it might be. This philosophy guides the conduct of the followers of Jain philosophy. I have no hesitation to say that this need not be a Jain philosophy only, but this should be a philosophy of every human being. In order to live this philosophy the conduct of true followers of Jainism differs from the other Non Jains.

  • Not eating of Non Veg Food
  • Not eating of root vegetables
  • Other Non Eatables
  • Eating before the sun set known as Chauvihar
  • Fasting (with water only or in some cases without water & other penance )

“The basic foundation of Jain food is non-violence. First of all, we should only take such food, which involves least possible injury. The question of killing five-sensed beings doesn’t arise at all; we should avoid injury to mobile beings also. It is necessary to avoid destruction of even one sensed beings as far as possible. Jain-food-conduct has been determined keeping all these things in view.”

Jain Scholar Dr. Hukam Chand Bharill.

Jain Way of Life

  • Non eating of Non Veg Food:

This is obvious as it entails killing of animals/ other living beings.

Eggs are also non eatables. Eggs are the progeny of five-sensed beings. Food produced out of eggs is clearly flesh food. Some people argue that a vegetarian egg cannot give birth to a child; it is lifeless. This statement is untrue because it is a product of the sexual organ of the hen. So not only is it impure, but it also increases in size after birth and does not become rotten. Therefore, it is alive, though it may not possess the capacity to evolve from, but in no way can it be treated as lifeless.

Some people say that the milk of a cow or goat is also part of the body. However, there is a vast difference between milk and eggs. This understanding is incorrect because an egg is the progeny of a hen, similarly milk is not the progeny of the cow. By taking milk out of the body of a cow or goat, no harm is done to their lives; whereas by use of the egg the creature inside the egg is killed. If the milk producing cow or goat is not milked at the proper time, agony is caused to it.

The fundamental principle is whether killing/harm is caused to the living being.

  • Non eating of root vegetables:

There are is millions of small lives in root vegetables. Those who have attended school laboratory should be aware that while viewing Onion or Potato slices in the microscope, one can easily see the micro living beings. Root vegetables (tuber-roots) are totally forbidden as uneatable for 2 reasons. The first being that vegetables grown underground are the depository of countless of small creatures. The second reason being the uproot of such vegetables has definitely results in the destruction of plants and trees.

  • Other Non Eatables:

According to Jain texts, a śrāvaka (householder) shouldn’t consume the four maha-vigai – wine, flesh, butter and honey; and the five udumbara fruits (the five udumbara trees are Gular, Anjeera, Banyan, Peepal, and Pakar, all belonging to the fig class). Honey is forbidden, as its collection would amount to violence against the bees.

Mushrooms, fungus and yeasts are forbidden because they are parasites, grow in non-hygienic environments and may harbour other life forms.

Even chocolates and many other ready-made food items do contain the above stated non eatables. Those who are conscious about following this pure way of life must check the contents of these ready-made foods.

Many a times the food contains gelatine powder and the manufactures put up the Green Mark assuming that no living beings are used during manufacturing however the gelatine powder itself is made up of;

“Gelatine is a mixture of peptides and proteins produced by partial hydrolysis of collagen extracted from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals such as domesticated cattle, chicken, pigs and fish.” Wikipedia.

  • Eating before the sun set known as Chauvihar

There are microbes which hide during the sunshine. They reappear once the sun sets. They enter our food chain and preparations after the sunset. We all can see micro and small living being appears after the sunset if we are out in the open. Similar living beings are all there in the atmosphere after the sunset, some are seen and some cannot be seen by naked eyes.  The principle of Non Violence is at play when Jains do Chauvihar and do not eat after the sunset.

You can see the video to know more. You Tube Video by Dr Raksha Shah on Chauvihar

  • Fasting and Other Practices:

Fasting is one of the 12 types of penance according to Jainism. The soul sheds its KARMAs known as Nirjara, in two ways:

Akam Nirjara: By getting its fruits (good or bad) as the Karma comes into play. This is the natural course of Nirjara. We have no choice.

Sakam Nirjara: By pre-poning the fruits by doing penance.  This is by our choice.

Akam Nirjara can be compared with repayment of debt as per repayment schedule, while Sakam Nirjara can be compared with prepayment of debt by choice.

All penance practices performed by Jains, if done with the proper frame of mind and understanding, are the forms of Sakam Nirjara.

These are some of the usual practices performed the by Jains around us. So when the next time you see any Jains doing any of the above practices you are now aware about the logic/science and purpose behind the same.

(Note: Some of the content of this post is taken from “Vegetarian Food and Jain Conduct” by Dr. Hukam Chand Bharill )

Sunil Gandhi