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SPEAKING TREE

Live in Freedom!
A person who lives in freedom, satisfied with knowledge and wisdom, is ever
tranquil. To him a lump of earth, a stone, and gold are the same. He views all the
three with the same equanimity. It is not that he does not understand the
differences between them, but he does not give undue weight to any of them.
In the scheme of life money has a definite place. Someone who believes that
money is everything does not know the truth. Conversely, declaring that money is
nothing is also incorrect because, in this world, money is required to live. We should
be aware of the purpose, significance and place of money and not give it
excessive or undue importance. For instance, if we buy a relatively inexpensive
cap and a pair of very costly shoes: even though the shoes are more expensive
than the cap, can we place them on the head just because we have spent more
on them?
People live in bondage because they do not know how to live with material
things. We often evaluate individuals by what they have and not by what they
are. How often do we witness families break up for the sake of money? One day a
young man came and asked me to give him a message to follow in life. I
said, Remember: values are more important than valuables. When we give
more weight to the latter then we dig our own graves. We give up values for
valuables the valuables perish, and eventually one ends up with neither.
Unfortunately, man feels that he is unable to live without certain objects; he feels
that valuables add to his prestige and stature in society. He would otherwise be
labeled a useless person. This is a wrong way of thinking. We superimpose too
much importance and value on material things and end up becoming slaves to
them. Do not neglect material objects but do not get obsessed with them
either. Know their correct value and importance. Place them accordingly and use
them. But if you lose them, do not worry. Then you are free.
By: Swami Tejomayananda
Relevance of Religion Today
Man has made remarkable progress in the fields of science and
technology. Technology has made it possible to travel faster than the The relevance of a thing
speed of sound. New avenues of communication have opened up with is determined by the
the advent of computers. Advances in the field of medicine have need and purpose it
produced amazing results. All these changes have affected the pace of
life. serves. Man is not just a
Man is forced to think of various issues in the light of these new physical being. He has
discoveries. Issues that were unimaginable a few decades ago such as thoughts, emotions and
euthanasia, cloning, morality and ethics are demanding immediate
answers. has a keen sense of
aesthetics. Hence
It appears that there has been progress in various avenues, but philosophy, along with
paradoxically on the other hand one sees so much of destruction and science, art, music and
violence. The old value system is degenerating. Families are breaking
down giving rise to a lot of mental distress. People are becoming more dance, will continue to
unruly and violent. Nations are itching for conflict at the first be relevant. When one
opportunity. At this rate, what will happen in the present millennium?
thinks in this way, one will
It is a fact that the world is changing rapidly, and this is not something understand that religion
new. Change is the changeless law of the world.
will also remain relevant
History shows that every time there was a massive change, the great
for all times. The question
phenomenon influenced the lives of millions. However, the fundamental is what is religion. What
principles of living have always remained unchanged. Religion has role does it play in ones
played its role in the past. The question is whether religion will be of any
consequence in the coming millennium. What will be its position? Will it life and what is its
have any relevance in the future way of life? If it has any relevance,
then what form will it take?
need? Religion has the
following three aspects:
Relevance of Religion Today

Philosophy means the vision of Truth. It is the vision of the entire life. This aspect
will be relevant for all those who are the seekers of Truth. It is observed that Therefore, one should
everybody is not merely interested in food, clothing and shelter, vain
entertainment or sensual pleasures. There have been many seekers from time have these moral values
immemorial who renounced all material objects and went in search of Truth. of life. Otherwise, ones
The seekers came from different backgrounds of society. These are the people own existence will be in
who have an intense longing for knowing the Truth. Religion fulfils this demand of
such seekers at the highest level. The purpose of religion is to enlighten people danger. These values
about their own nature and the nature of the Absolute Truth. Hence, as long as
there are seekers of Truth and a religion that fulfils their demand, religion will
will always remain
always remain relevant. relevant. Without this
This is a very important aspect of religion. These values keep the society aspect of religion, there
integrated and in harmony. The health of a society that is made up of individuals
depends upon the quality of education. Education not only involves gaining cannot be any peace,
knowledge and the skill to apply this knowledge in life, but it also includes harmony and
understanding the purpose of applying this knowledge. After the completion of
the medical course, even the doctors take an oath that they will use their integration in society.
knowledge to serve the society. All knowledge that one gathers should be used
to enrich and serve the society. Earlier, the idea of business was, how to make
profit for oneself, but now people have realized that one cannot make profit
without taking care of the customers interest. In the beginning there was
management by force and authority, but now it is slowly changing to
management by love. This is an aspect of religion. For all moral and ethical
values, the basis is the vision of oneness of the Self, which is gained through
religion. However materialistic a society may become, it will have to abide by
the principle of live and let live. As one looks upon ones own happiness, one
will have to look upon the other persons happiness too. When one deceives
someone else, one is deceiving ones own self.
Relevance of Religion Today
Rituals are a demonstration of the philosophical vision. Customs and traditions are also derived from
the same vision. There is a great deal of potential for changes, variation, addition and subtraction in We should understand
this aspect of religion. All cannot understand the vision theoretically. They require the true essence of
demonstrations. Many rituals came into existence to demonstrate the vision. When people follow
them, they will want to know what they are doing and can thus slowly turn their mind towards the religion as the oneness of
highest Truth. The ritualistic aspect of religions differ a lot from one another, giving a feeling that one the Self. All the moral
religion is totally different from the other. Even in a single religion, there are numerous
denominations. These denominations start competing with each other. Then comes the sense of and ethical values should
superiority and inferiority. The wars that are fought in the name of religion are not prompted by
religion. The tendency to consider ones religion superior and an insistence that others should join that
be founded based on this
religion are the cause for most of these fights. understanding. Furtherm
ore, based on these
Looking back into the history of religions, as far as Hinduism is concerned, one does not know when it values if we lead our lives,
began or who the founder was. In the case of other religions, there is a particular historical period
when they were established and they depend upon a specific founder. One can find vast differences then the world will
between a religion as it was at the time of its formation and as it is today. Many new denominations become a better
come up in the name of the same founder. This is inevitable because people are changing and their
appreciation of things is also changing. Industrialization too has brought about many changes in the place. Many wrong
society. The form and nature of religion have to change. But the vision of Truth and the values based notions and confusions
on it will remain permanent. The religion that understands the ever changing nature of this world and is
able to mold itself at the empirical level, keeping the essence intact, will survive. Those religions which may arise, some people
become very rigid and are unable to change will perish. may even try to destroy
the foundation of religion,
One thing is certain - religion was there in the past, it is present now and it will always remain. Even
those governments or countries which tried to do away with all religions by closing down the temples
but those who
and other places of worship, had to reopen them. The spirit can never be killed. The voice of that spirit understand the Truth
may sound very feeble and the number of seekers may decrease, but their power will remain
unshaken. Religion can never become irrelevant. What form it will take in the future, one does not
must abide by it,
know. Sometimes it appears that there will be a kind of synthesis of the various aspects of different become stronger and
religions, giving birth to a new religion for all. There were Masters who tried to bring synthesis among
religions, but they succeeded only in adding a new religion. It appears improbable that one can have proceed further. This is
a new universal religion by taking something from all the existing religions. Every religion in a way has the best way to
taken some aspects of other religions, but still they continue to maintain their individuality. This is a
strange phenomenon. approach the future.

By: Swami Tejomayananda


Tips for Happy Living
Man has always craved for happiness. All material sciences and fields of activity are geared towards
achieving this one goal. Whatever we do, or even what we renounce, is meant only for
happiness. But despite the goal being one, happiness still seems to elude us. It is not that we lack
comforts in life, we do have moments of happiness; all is not misery and sorrow. Despite experiencing
and knowing moments of happiness, there is no contentment, peace or fulfillment in life. We say that
we have pleasures and comforts, but something is missing and not knowing very clearly what we
want, we go through a nameless sorrow.

If we want to be happy in life, the first prerequisite is good health. If we are unhealthy, weak or
suffering from some pain or disease, any joy of life means nothing. Then there are our addictions,
whether smoking or drinks

People drink to someones health and destroy their own! Can we say that such people really love
their bodies or care for them? The Bhagavad Geeta says that the practice of yoga or meditation
becomes a happy experience for a person who is moderate and disciplined in his habits of eating,
sleeping, exercising and working. Such a person becomes a happy man. We know that prevention is
better than cure, but generally we destroy the body first and then reach out for all kinds of
medicines, cures and so on. They say, Please take rest. It means that nobody will give you rest. The
world is bent upon making you restless. You have to find the time for rest yourself. We need rest, but
we also need work. We require feasting, but we also require fasting. There has to be discipline,
moderation and the understanding that I alone am responsible for my own health.

The second important thing in life is wealth. However, in India, earning money is considered a
sin. Everybody wants money, but they think it is immoral. Without money how can you live in this
world? If you lead a hand to mouth existence, can you really be happy? You will be worried all the
time. But that does not sanction making money in wrong ways; corrupt ways will end only in sorrow,
not happiness. We must understand the importance of wealth in life. If we ourselves are poor, how
can we help others? So wealth is required. Do not ignore it, but let it not become an obsession.
Tips for Happy Living
In order to acquire health and wealth, discipline is required. In the long run,
discipline gives happiness. People erroneously believe that discipline is bondage. There are some who have
When we are punctual and disciplined, we have more time to achieve what we oneness in thought, word,
want. Undisciplined people are always busy, catching up with or finishing pending
work. They are unable to do anything on time and are often under stress. There are and deed, but they are
some people who have a wrong notion that they function more efficiently when wicked through and
under stress. This variety only ends up with nervous breakdowns. Krishna says in the
Geeta: The one whose mind and senses are under his control, or the one who is through. We are not
disciplined, is a happy person. referring to such
people. Here the
He then talks about a person who is undisciplined and disintegrated. Such a person
has no peace, nor can he have any happiness. Happiness and a restless mind
reference is to how our
cannot go together. An undisciplined person is one whose mind, intellect and sense thinking, words and action
organs are not integrated with each other. Our intellect is convinced of something
great, but our mind has different cravings. The senses are extrovert and this conflict
should be full of sweetness.
is constantly going on in our life between what we know and what we do. In this This is called oneness of
world, there is sorrow, not because we lack knowledge, but because we do not put
it into practice. This is disintegration.
thought, word, and
deed. He who has this, is
peaceful and happy, and
By: Swami Tejomayananda other people around him
are also at peace and
happy with him.
Why do Good People Suffer?
Why do good people suffer or why do bad things happen to good
How can we achieve this
people? This question seems to be very common these days. It seems goodness in our lives? To
as though good people get the brunt of all suffering, while evil-doers reach any target, we must first
enjoy life. But if we observe closely, we see that everyone undergoes have a goal. Similarly, for
suffering in some form. Keeping this in mind, our question becomes achieving goodness, we must
meaningless. Just because a person is good does not mean there would have a standard of goodness
be no suffering in his/her life.
which is known to us, because
only then can we rise up to the
But what do we mean by good? In Sanskrit, sadhu is the word used required levels. As long as we
for a good person. Sadhu comes from the word saadh, meaning to see differences in the world
accomplish. If we work for ourselves and achieve great things, there is around us, true goodness will
nothing laudable about it, but if we help others to achieve their goals,
then it is an accomplishment. If someone is good to you and you
not manifest. This can be
reciprocate, that is common courtesy. But if someone is harming you, achieved only when we
and despite that you continue to wish that person well without become aware of our oneness
expecting anything in return, it is real goodness. A sadhu bathing in the with others. An example will
river saw a drowning insect. He saved it from drowning and was stung in illustrate this point better. Every
return. organ of my body is part of
Again, the insect fell back into the river and the sadhu pulled it out of one whole. If the finger goes
the water and placed it under a shady tree. On seeing this, a person into the eye, there is instant
asked the sadhu, Why did you do that? He replied, The insect did not forgiveness, because of the
give up its nature, so why should I? complete identification with
the finger.
Why do Good People Suffer?
Now that we know what is good, let us see what suffering is. Objective
suffering befalls all people, good or bad. Situations leading to suffering Real suffering is when we lose
could have their roots in past actions. Objectively, the existence of pain our goodness. Compromising
or any other physical handicap cannot be denied, but the degree of with goodness is the greatest
sorrow this leads to is entirely subjective. Riches or positions of power do suffering. Even though
not guarantee happiness. People become miserable over small matters. superficially it may appear that
If a person claims that he is good and is suffering, while the dishonest
evil doers are flourishing, it
person is flourishing, we can be very sure that the person is not good. For
a good man, the real suffering is to do something against his convictions.
should not be an excuse to
Suppose a pure vegetarian is faced with a situation of remaining hungry compromise. The problem
or eating beef, the chances are that the former option would be more arises when one does not have
acceptable. an ideal or when one is not
able to live up to ones
All our spiritual practices cannot eliminate suffering, but they protect the ideal. But the greatest
mind and make suffering acceptable, just as on a rainy day, we cannot problem is when one believes
stop the rain, but can protect ourselves from getting wet with an that the ideal is not worth living
umbrella. Bhagavan Krishna says, A good person never suffers. By up to and has lost its utility.
some logic we feel that suffering and enjoyment is related to past Remember, a good man will
actions. If we observe at the subtle level, we find immediate results of stand by his convictions,
our actions. The moment a good thought enters our mind, we feel
elation, and similarly a wicked thought causes agitation.
because If you do not stand
for something, you will fall for
By: Swami Tejomayananda everything.
The Art of Right Thinking
Life is a series of experiences and at every moment we are required to
make a choice. Most of us are not always certain which is the right
action to take and therefore there is a conflict.
Take ill health, for instance.
Shakespeare in his famous play, Hamlet said, To be or not to be, which
we may paraphrase as To do or not to do. Sometimes we decide on
an action, but when it comes time to carry it out we begin to doubt.

One who has inner maturity
This inner conflict of how to make the right choice in every situation is tends to be more accepting
common to all. And in order to resolve it, we need to be able to think and will consider the illness as a
clearly. For those who have clarity of thought life is simple and temporary situation and suffer
uncomplicated. Thus the most important thing is to learn the art of right much less. While a person who
thinking. Knowing how to think is more important than knowing what to
has a narrower view of life will
think.
be more fearful and suffer
We should also have a vision of life in its totality. And in the light of that greatly at even the hint of a
vision, all problems can be resolved easily. Whatever challenges we disease. Once we know the art
meet with in life, be it illness, emotional trauma, or financial hardship, our of clear and logical thinking, it
response will vary according to our level of inner maturity and our vision
of life.
becomes easier to deal with
various situations that we
encounter in life.
The Art of Right Thinking
The Bhagavad Gita is a manual for living that offers a complete philosophy of
life, each verse guiding us to a new understanding of ourselves. In this column,
I will attempt to give a summary of the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita as it
applies to our day-to-day lives.

In the first chapter of the Gita the author, Veda Vyasa, sets the stage for the It is then that Lord Krishna
teachings that are to follow. He introduces us to a grief-stricken Arjuna, who is begins his teaching of the
faced with a dilemma on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. His charioteer is none Bhagavad Gita:
other than Lord Krishna himself, Arjunas friend, philosopher and guide. The
valiant Arjuna has approached the battlefield and a war with his cousins, the
Kauravas, is looming.
You are grieving over
Suddenly, on seeing his teachers, grandfather, and elders on the other side of
those that should not be
the battlefield strong emotions overwhelm him and he becomes unsure of his
duty. Filled with attachment for them he becomes deluded, his eyes fill with grieved for; yet, you speak
tears; he throws down his weapons and declares that he will not fight. words like a man of
wisdom. The wise grieve
Arjunas condition of mental torture is only the symptom of a deeper disease. neither for the living nor for
He holds himself responsible for the imminent death of his relatives and in his
confusion believes that he will be the sole cause for the devastation that may
the dead. (II:11)
lie ahead. At the very core of his grief is the conviction that I am the doer.
He comes to the conclusion that the war is wrong and unjust, and that he
should not fight. Yet there remains some doubt in his mind and this causes
confusion.
The Art of Right Thinking
Lord Krishna attempts to remove the very source of Arjunas delusion by
pointing out that those who are truly wise do not ever grieve. This does not
mean that we should not grieve if someone near or dear to us dies. No one
says that we should be cold or indifferent. All cultures and religions allow for a
period of mourning of ten to twelve days. During this period it is expected that
a person will come to terms with the situation and accept the loss. If the loss is
deep, it may take several months for one to recover, but if the grieving
continues after many years it becomes a problem.

Actually grief over any matter is born of ignorance. Do not grieve over the
past, nor fear the future. Certain events just happen in life and it is up to us to
accept them. Life, at every moment, demands decisions and actions from us.
If we grieve over the past and worry about the future we are not able to deal
effectively with what is presently before us. Therefore, the only true choice
given to us is how to deal with the present moment.

By: Swami Tejomayananda