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How is Spirituality different from Religion?

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I got into an interesting discussion with a fellow writer after he asked me this question; how is Spirituality different from Religion?

Both these words are commonly used in each other’s place for a long time but are they synonymous? I don’t think so but I do agree that this concept depends upon personal belief. I have always considered spirituality as a personal concept where as religion a public scenario.

“The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. It can’t be organized or regulated. It isn’t true that everyone should follow one path. Listen to your own truth.” — Ram Dass

Religion has been misinterpreted and misunderstood for generations. Great minds have tried to help us direct towards the meaning of religion in simple words.

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” — Dalai Lama XIV

We always make the religion so complicated that we fear we may not follow all the rules as we may not understand everything but is religion really too complex to understand and follow or we interpreted it in that way?

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” – Dalai Lama.

Every religion believes in a God or Superior spirit or Supreme Soul and we can see the divine presence in everything big or small around us. We just need to be aware of it.

“My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.” — Albert Einstein

Spirituality is all about understanding self strength like power of our mind and our relation with the creator. It does not force to follow any particular religion or rules of that religion. It is self-awareness, self discovery, it’s a journey everyone takes in their own speed. We are children of God and put on this earth with a purpose. Spirituality helps us understand our greatest bliss or our calling.

“God has no religion.” — Mahatma Gandhi

We care about the expensive offerings, the sacrifices, the devotion, the right words for prayers, chants, mantras, the right time, the right place and everything we can afford, arrange and manage to make God happy.

Why do we believe God cares about any of these material things?

Most of us get so caught up in the rituals or formalities which we have been told are important that we forget what exactly connects us with God. Our feelings, our believes, our faith is what matters.

“When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.” — Abraham Lincoln

I am in quest of understanding “How is Spirituality different from Religion?” if you know the answer or can throw some light on this matter I welcome your inputs.

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3 Mistakes you are probably making while you Pray

Rodfæstet
Ma1974 / Nature Photos / CC BY-NC-SA

Yesterday I got the privilege to watch an interview of Marianne Williamson – a bestselling author.

She mentioned a small prayer just three lines in the interview and it captured my attention.

• Where would you have me go?
• What would you have me do?
• What would you have me say and to whom?

I find this prayer a perfect way to communicate with the creator you can call him God or Universe or the Holy Spirit or anything you believe in. I immediately noted it and now it is the prayer I love saying morning and night. This prayer also got me thinking of the mistakes most of us do while praying.

Mistakes while praying:

1. Not Appreciating: This is the worst mistake one does while praying. We receive many blessing in our life but we take it as our birth right without ever saying a word of appreciation. We just keep asking for more. How would you react to a child who constantly asks for more and more toys or sweets and never show any appreciation about it? I always hear parents forcing their kids to say thank you to friends and family for any gifts. But do we say thank you enough; I don’t think so. Just add a genuine appreciation for anything you are grateful for to your prayer. It doesn’t even have to be a recent blessing. Be Grateful as Gratitude is the key to happiness.

2. No Faith: I heard this in one of the seminars by Jack Canfield where he mentions about how we lack faith. “When we place an order to Domino’s Pizza we do not call them after every 5 to 10 minutes to check if they will surely do the delivery. Then why cannot we show some faith in our creator.” It must get annoying for the almighty to hear the same thing again and again. Plus our doubts always act as hurdles for our blessings that are trying to reach us.

3. Begging: This may sound harsh but if you hear what we say to God in our prayers it sounds as if we are begging. “Dear God Please do this, please give me that, blah blah blah”. We forget that God is our creator who wants to see us thrive but nothing is going to be served to us on a silver platter. God helps those who help themselves but we have to initiate. Instead offer our service to fulfill the divine order. Everything is a part of the divine order by fulfilling our role we achieve everything we are meant to achieve in the easiest and fastest way. This is preciously what is mentioned in the prayer above. Ask the creator how we can fulfill our role and God will guide us to reach our highest level. If we want to see the creator we can look at nature. It is all about abundance, no lack, no limitation. A seed knows it’s role and it develop into a huge tree similarly there is abundance in all aspects for us if we let creator take charge and guide us to fulfill our destiny or role in this divine order. We are meant to be abundant, happy, and peaceful. The lack is what we create by our own limiting believes mainly about scarcity, adjustment and sacrifices.

    “Whatever happened, happened for the good; whatever is happening, is happening for the good; whatever will happen, will also happen for the good only. You need not have any regrets for the past. You need not worry for the future. The present is happening.” – The Bhagavad Gita

Marianne Williamson books <a href=”(Get Here) are a must read if you want to understand the importance of Love and Spirituality (which means the same for me) in our life.

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Buddhist Prayer Wheels

Buddhist Prayer Wheels

Buddhist Prayer Wheels


Have you got a chance to see prayer wheels at a Buddhist Monastery? Did you ever see a monk or a Buddhist believer rotate a prayer wheel small i.e. one that can be spun around by hand or huge enough that are kept stationary and can be bigger than us? Did you ever wonder; “wow, this looks beautiful but what do they mean? What is imprinted on them and what do people chant while rotating a prayer wheel?

Well if you have wonder about any of above questions may be I can help you. As per Buddhism just touching a prayer wheel no matter big or small purifies our mind and removes all the negativity from our life. It protects from all sorts of harm from others. It also shields us from diseases. Some people with chronic illness when they lost their confidence in modern medicine and tried the healing powers of prayer wheels have got extraordinary results.

One needs to follow the right method of rotating a prayer wheel as the imprint on them are actually mantra written in ancient Buddhist language and it is very important that one must rotate the prayer wheel in clockwise direction. A slow clockwise direction rotation of the wheel is like reciting the mantra. If the wheel contains 100 mantras accumulated in it that means one turn of the wheel is like reciting the mantra 100 times.

Visualization is very important while turning a prayer wheel. One needs to visualize that rays of light are coming out of the mantras and purifying you relieving you of all your diseases and negativity which Buddhism teaches as cause of diseases.

“Om mani padme hum” is the most important mantra of Buddhism. The one who recites this mantra achieves perfection. It means six realms of the universe. These realms are also mentioned in Sanskrit as;
Deva (The realm of Gods),
Asura (The realm of Demi Gods or Jealous Gods),
Manusya (The realm of Humans),
Tiryagyoni (The realm of animals),
Preta (The realm of hungry or unsatisfied ghosts)
Naraka (Hell)

It is believed that if you keep a prayer wheel at home your house becomes a holy place. That is it gets pure from all negativity and suffering.

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AUM – Meaning and Importance in Meditation

mantra
AUMmailumes / Foter.com / CC BY

Modern scientists are fascinated with unfolding mysteries of the universe we live in. They discovered how everything in this universe including our body is made from the very same energy. This energy vibrates at various frequency and different objects take their form.

Ancient Indian scholars understood this concept centuries ago. Through years of Meditation or Dhyaan they found out how the mysteries of the universe are linked with the power of mind. They gave detail explanation of these fascinating concepts they learnt through Scripts, Vedas and even stories that can help others understand the rules and nature of the universe we call our home. If we study these Scripts and Vedas now (which may take us many lifetimes) we can understand they tell the same truth that the scientists are discovering now isn’t that fascinating.

I have seen the symbol AUM many times and always knew it is the most sacred symbol but I was very curious to know more about it. I got more restless when I was learning to meditate and learned it is a very common practice to utter or chant AUM before the meditation and some teachers do it after as well. It really helps you meditate and feels you up with energy and keeps your mind from wondering while you meditate.

After some research these are my findings about why this symbol is sacred:
(of course there is so much more to the mystical symbol my humble mind is overwhelmed with only so much information.)

1. Everything has vibrations and every vibration has a specific frequency, including sounds the symbol AUM is a chant, a matra and while meditating when we chant it repeatedly with a humming tone (this needs training) every cell of our being experiences vibration. Even if you listen to a recording of chanting of AUM with closed eyes and a quiet mind we can feel the frequency which is believe to be the frequency at the time of creation. Hence when we experience this stage while meditating we vibrate in the frequency of the cosmic vibration. We become one with the creator and with everything that is or was and will be. One with the divine energy.

2. AUM is not a word but a symbol made out of three syllables of Sanskrit A (aa), U (au) and M (ma).

• A symbolizes Bhrahma Shakti (creation), U symbolizes Vishnu Shakti (preservation) and M symbolizes Shiva Shakti (liberation, and/or destruction) and the whole symbol represents Shakti (the divine energy that everything is made of).

• These three symbols represent past, present and future and represents both manifest (saguna) and unmanifest (nirguna).

• They also stand for three gunas (qualities) sattva, rajas and tamas, the entire symbol represents a gunatita, one who rose above the tow of the gunas.

• They also symbolize life stages like birth, life and death.

The eternal symbol AUM is explained in ancient scripts like Bhagavad Gita, Katha Upanishad and Mandukya Upanishad. This is just the surface of the meaning of this scared symbol or voice of God or sound of the universe. After all scholars are trying to learn this mystical energy for centuries.

“The goal which all the Vedas declare, which all austerities aim at, and which men desire when they lead the life of continence … is AUM. This syllable AUM is indeed Brahman. Whosoever knows this syllable obtains all that he desires. This is the best support; this is the highest support. Whosoever knows this support is adored in the world of Brahma.”
– Katha Upanishad.

“AUM is the one eternal syllable of which all that exists is but the development. The past, the present, and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that exists beyond the three forms of time is also implied in it”. – Mandukya Upanishad.

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