When do we finally stop?

Nothing-is-enough-for-the__quotes-by-Epicurus-77Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little- Epicurus.

In 1930, Keynes, the most influential 20th century economist, predicted in his notes, ‘Economic possibilities for our grandchildren,’ that, within a century, per capita income would steadily rise, people’s basic needs would be met, and no one would have to work more than fifteen hours a week.

Per capita income seems to have increased as he envisioned but it seems people are working for fifteen hours a day now! Was he wrong? I don’t think he was wrong. If you read carefully, he says, people’s ‘basic needs’ would be met. It still makes sense. So then, is it our ‘wants’ that seemingly have gone unsatisfied or rather berserk?

Authors, Robert & Edward Skidelsky in their book ‘How much is enough?’ argue that economics is moral science. They have beautifully traced the concept of the good life from Aristotle to the present and tried to show how our lives over the last half century have strayed from that ideal. It is an impressive presentation and certainly helps bring about a perspective to those battling with the aforesaid question.

Recently, a friend was visiting me. She and her husband have shifted their base to a remote village where they are inspired to lead a more natural life, growing their own food and vegetables and tending cows. Though they had no background whatsoever, they were determined to quit their successful IT jobs (against all odds and oppositions, mind you!) and with a deep belief that, ‘God is the provider,’ they took the plunge to lead a more sattvic, god-conscious and surrendered life. The day she visited me, another friend and her family left the country for good, to go to a western country for better economic prospects. I was contemplating on the motives behind these two moves-the conditions that led one family choose to go to the village for a ‘better today’ while the other family left for another country with the hope that they will have a ‘better tomorrow.’

There are many others who have defined their comfort zones in the swelling cities and are day in and day out working hard like asses to make more and more money. ‘Working- to earn good money’ seems to be in the centre of every house holder (grihasta) these days. We see this as the only means to provide for food, shelter, clothing for the family and education of our children. Ofcourse, along the course, we will also invest in properties, have a couple of Fixed Deposits in banks, buy an apartment, to secure our so-called ‘future,’ and graduate to our next cars as well.

‘Insatiability,’ Skidelskys say, is the psychological disposition that prevent us as individuals and as societies, from saying, ‘enough is enough,’ directed by a desire for more and more money. Capitalism, they say, has made possible improvements in material conditions whereas it has also exalted some of the most reviled human characteristics, such as greed, envy and avarice.

We’ve forgotten the art of living a simple life in the complicated mire of city life and are getting more and more conditioned. Though we’re trapped and choked, we’re afraid to say so! But deep inside we know what an artificial life we are leading! So, my dear friends, let’s take stock of our lives and before it is too late, let’s see if we really need to stay in this rat race or step aside and lead our lives according to natural principles where ones life is truly simple, ones needs are truly lesser, one has more time on hand to focus on his higher goals and one is more satisfied and happier.

Its not an easy task to overcome our own conditioning as our truant mind leads us astray but when we take shelter in the wisdom of great thinkers, philosophers and spiritualists, we get the courage to step aside and make the right decisions for ourselves and for generations to come.

Radhanath Swami recommends plain living and high thinking for everyone. He defines simplicity as finding balance in our life by which our mind, our body are in the most optimum condition. Desires are endless, he says, the more we have, the more we need and we are never satisfied. We need to do everything in right proportion as per our minimum requirements.

Srila Prabhupada, the founder of International Society for Krishna Consciousness, said, “The Krishna consciousness movement is therefore establishing various farms to show how to be happy and content with minimum necessities of life and to save time for self-realization.’

Blog Parenting

Dealing with your Child’s ‘Bad’ Behavior

Child Bad behavior“Seeing other people in terms of their desires rather than your own is the basic principle of loving them.”—Radhanath Swami.  

As we discussed previously, a child is a product of the environment that he or she grows in. In the formative years, the child learns everything by imitating others around. In this way, the basic skills of walking, talking, smiling, etc. are learnt. Later, more advanced skills such as putting on dress, taking a bath, reading, writing, speaking gently or harshly, etc. are learnt from people around.

So, whatever a young child knows, he or she knows it from the family. Parents are the biggest influencers of a child’s personality and character. So, when a child is doing something out of bounds, the parents have to take time to analyze their own behavioral patterns and the kind of environment they have provided their child.

What Does Your Child Need?

A child seeks two things- love and attention. So, this is the biggest quadrant that parents need to invest in. Love, as in most cases, is an action oriented word. A child, till he or she gets into puberty, perceives parental warmth physically. Parents must, therefore, add in lots of physical acts of love such as holding the child in one’s lap, cuddling, hugging and talking sweetly to the child etc.

Girls and boys act and react differently. While girl children may run up to their parents to seek such warmth, boys after they cross 5 years of age seldom run up to their parents for such warmth although they need it. The general tendency of parents, to mistake their child to be a grown up boy who might not need so much of physical affection, must be avoided.  Especially the father has to shower a lot of physical affection on his young boy. Add in this component if it has gone missing in your family; you will solve a great deal of issue with your child, including insecurities that are bound to creep in when the child does not get positive touches(physical) from the parents. These insecurities fester into social problems later in adulthood.

The second thing the child looks for from parents is attention. An infant acts coy and cute and attracts the attention of many people and the family showers the child with attention. But as the child grows up, while it still needs attention, most parents get busy with other chores and seemingly have little or no time for the child. A growing up child needs undivided positive attention up to the age of 5 and thereafter regulated time with the child every day. Note that this is not the time you spend with the child to get the homework done! Spend time with the child reading a story for him or her, or go cycling with the child, cook together something special for the child or simply play with the child.

Why Do Children Misbehave?

When the child does not get this kind of positive attention, it brings it into an incompatible situation where his or her need is unfulfilled. In such a position, the child tries various ways to get attention of the parents and what catches their attention unfortunately is when the child behaves negatively. So, the child concludes that he or she has to behave like this to get the attention of the parents. This spins off a saga of ‘so-called’ bad behavior on part of the child and reactive or abusive parental behavior. The child is gradually branded for this kind of bad behavior.

What To Do When Your Child Misbehaves?

Take heart parents! No parent is proud of such a situation in their life. But the good news is that child behavior can be changed with patience and love. This is the beauty of being a child. A child only wants love and positive attention. So, the moment you realize that you have driven the child to seek negative attention, you can break the cycle and create new and positive impressions for the child. Here are few things you can adopt to make that alteration-

  1. When the child is angry or behaving badly or throwing a tantrum, walk upto the child and in the most genuine and understanding way hug the child and rub his back. Nothing works to disarm the child like physical affection. In matter of minutes, the child will calm down.
  2. When the child is angry or not obeying you, the child wants to tell you that he/she needs to be understood or heard out first. So, take time to listen to what the child has to say. Tell the child that you understand that he/she is angry.
  3. Be careful to be controlled in your own state of mind. You cannot get angry. Have a stable core when you have to deal with your child’s temperamental behavior. The child draws his/her energies from your core. So, when you have a peaceful inside, the child will draw from that peace and soon reflect that energy.

Giving positive attention does not mean succumbing to every material demand of the child.  By defining the boundaries for the child, the child, over a period of time understands what is a legitimate demand and what is an illegitimate demand. So, stay firm on the boundaries that you draw for the child.

Remember to fill the child’s world with positive impressions from where he can draw upon in times of need. Building the child’s account with positive impressions helps the child obey you in times of your need.

Next, we will learn to say ‘no’ to a child and get the child to understand what it means.

– Mrs. Preethi Dhiman
…Read Articles in preethi’s Blog


Weeds in the Garden

tools_garden“If we remain faithful to the ideals we strive for, all the tests will only make us stronger.”- Radhanath Swami.

Once there was a beautiful garden. The gardeners would toil endlessly – planting, pruning, weeding – to make it fresh and blooming.

One day, the gardeners went to the head gardener and said, “All this work is very tiring. We want to offer special prayers and ask the demigod in charge of plant life for a boon.” Thus they invoked that demigod through prayers.

“What is it you wish?” asked the demigod. They said, “Oh lord! We are tired of all the work we have to do to make the garden beautiful. The worst is weeding. Please grant us that there will be no weeds in the garden.”

“So be it!” said the demigod.

That day onwards, no weeds grew in the garden. The gardeners were relaxed and at ease. Their work had reduced by half. Thus passed a few days. Slowly, the plants in the garden started wilting. They looked limp and listless. The gardeners became worried. Their garden was no longer beautiful. They invoked the demigod again and complained.”What has happened, lord? Why are our plants wilting? ”

The demigod said, “There cannot be a garden without weeds. You cannot tell the weeds not to grow. When they grow, you must remove them. That is how the soil gets turned and oxygenated. That’s how plants thrive.”

And that is how it is with the pinpricks of family life. They help us to grow and come closer to God, when done with the right consciousness. Any challenges and problems must be dealt with. We cannot wish them away.

The more weeding you do, the more beautiful your garden becomes. The more negativity you remove in married life, the more beautiful your relationship with your spouse becomes, and the more your family becomes united with God in the centre!


Blog Relationships

Did he intend that?

Did he intend thatWhen I am hurt by my husband’s words, more often than not, I tend to blame him for being insensitive. As I am preoccupied with my own hurt , I leave no effort undone to make it very apparent that ‘he HURT me.’ If our conversation proceeds further and I see that he does not care to respond to my feelings and is more interested in defending his own stance, I’m more and more aggravated and I drive myself to feel more and more pained.

As I was contemplating on how I could resolve this situation occurring and recurring in the lives of many-a- well-meaning couples, I chanced upon the book ‘Difficult Conversations’ by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen. As I read the title of the third chapter, a new realization dawned upon me. It said ‘dont assume they meant it.’ The authors say that mostly ‘we assume what the other person’s intentions are, when in fact, we aren’t aware of it! Other people’s intentions exist only in their hearts or minds’.

Why then do we feel hurt when we don’t even know their intention? It is because of the impact of those words or action on us that we tend to assume their intentions as wrong. Eg: on a busy day, when someone makes us wait and he turns up late, we don’t think that ‘he could have run into someone more needy,’ but we think, ‘as usual, he’s taking me for granted.’

What’s ironic is that though we tend to attribute bad intentions to others, we’re more charitable towards ourselves eg: when your husband forgets to pay the electricity bill, he’s irresponsible, but when you forget to lock the main door, you’re overworked & stressed. Just see how we’re able to easily forgive ourselves or rationalize our intention because it is we who know our intentions the best. Similarly, when your husband criticizes your words, you feel he’s putting you down but when you offer him a suggestion, you’re trying to be helpful.

The reason why we can easily forgive ourselves too is because we know that we don’t intend to annoy, offend or hurt someone intentionally. We’re sometimes so caught up in our own act that we’re grossly unaware of the negative impact that our words or action has on someone else. What is most interesting, according to experts, is that it is a rare phenomena to have people with grossly bad intentions in our lives, rarer than we imagine!!

Doesn’t that bring some solace to you! It gives you a chance to look upon your family members as people who love you, who have the best interest for you or at least do not mean to hurt you intentionally. When our vision of people around us change, we start seeing them more positively, the impact of their words and actions on us too change for the better.

Going back to the question of resolving the situation of word/action-> hurt-> blame -> more hurt -> more blame, is to bring it to an objective platform. You bring the situation to an objective platform when you separate the hurt from the intention and then clarify intentions without judging them.

Examples of some clarifications when we react and judge are-

  • Why do you always belittle my efforts?
  • Aren’t you trying to manipulate me?
  • You say these words purposefully to hurt me!

How could we bring in more objectivity into the above 3 examples?

  1. When you say ‘I don’t think you will be able to do it…,’ I feel belittled. What do you actually mean when you say that?
  2. I feel I am being manipulated in the current situation. Can you let me know what you intended when you asked me to speak in favour of you.
  3. You said ‘why bother!’ When you use such words I get hurt. Please tell me what you intended?

Can you see the difference of using our words carefully? How we speak to others evoke similar responses. We might think we’re simply expressing our hurt and might expect the other person to understand and probably apologize to us, but what we’re doing is to inadvertently put them on a defence. Any person will try to defend a false accusation. But when we separate our hurt from their intention and state our hurt and then objectively seek to know their real intention, we’re creating a healthy environment of discussion. Otherwise, if we mix up our hurt sentiments/feelings with their intention, we’re merely provoking them or maligning their character and your words will be farfetched from one who is looking for solace. Such conversations lead to no apology or understanding or a changed situation except a bigger misunderstanding.

Let’s learn how to separate our hurt from their intention in 3 easy steps-

  1. Note what the other person has said or done
  2. What was the impact of this on you
  3. Based on this impact, what assumptions are you making about the other person’s intentions

When we’re on the other side of receiving the blame, we can disarm an explosive situation by first listening to the other person’s feelings and later reflecting on your intention. Usually we fail to listen past the accusation. Accusations especially false ones, really tick us off but let us always remember that accusations about our bad intentions are always because of two reasons-

  1. We really had bad intention or some mixed intention (ulterior motive)
  2. The other person is hurt or frustrated

A constructive conversation when you receive blame is when you start by listening to and acknowledging the feelings and then return to the question of intentions. We can also take up this opportunity to purify our intentions.

Radhanath Swami emphasizes on purifying our intentions- ‘God sees not only our bodies, but he sees our desires, motivations, intentions, and he is only pleased when there is love. If we do not have love in our hearts, God sees, but he is not pleased to see us. Shelter comes when the Lord is pleased with our intention and spirit of service.’

When our intentions are pure, it reflects in our words and actions too!

– Mrs. Preethi Dhiman

…Read Articles in preethi’s Blog


Married Life

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Audio On Married Life

I have never been married. As a Swami, I will never get married. So I don’t know so much about married life. But because so many married people come to me with their problems, I know too much about married life. Whenever people come to me it’s like they have such a unique secret problem that’s so much their own. But interestingly, almost everyone tells me the same thing…..

–Radhanath Swami


Domestic scandals

beggarEvery moment we have the free will to react to whatever comes upon us; and character is how we respond to every situation by feeding the goodness of our heart, the divinity within us, rather than the anger, envy and selfishness. –Radhanath Swami

“Bhikshaan Dehi” the voice cut through the haze of the afternoon sun. The housewife hurried out with a bowl of rice for the mendicant on her doorstep. As she offered, she asked him a question. “Why do I and my husband quarrel with each other?”

The mendicant raised his voice and said, “I have come for alms. Not to answer your silly questions”.

The housewife was taken aback. How rude this mendicant was! He was the receiver of alms and she was the giver. How dare he talk to her like that! “Arrogant and ungrateful you are. No manners, no consideration.” and thus she scolded and abused him.

When she was a bit quiet, the mendicant said, “My child, how angry you became when I raised voice and spoke to you! Indeed, it is anger alone which leads to quarrels. If you and your husband learn to control your anger, you can be sure, there will be lesser quarrels in your home.”





The Lion loses both

MoroselionIf only we can just appreciate what we have been given, God will reveal Himself to us.

– Radhanath Swami

It was a lovely day in the forest. Kaa Kaa was perched high on the branches of a wild fig tree. A deer quenched its thirst at a nearby waterhole and a rabbit slept peacefully at the foot of the tree. Life seemed good.

Just then a lion came upon and looked at the deer and thought, “Ah, a deer ! What luck ! I’d rather have deer than rabbit for supper.” With a roar and a leap, the lion took off after the deer. The deer panicked and ran for its life. The lion chased in hot pursuit and after several minutes realised that it was a fruitless chase. The deer was swifter and managed to give the lion the slip.

“Brother “, panted the lion. “The deer has escaped. Oh well, never mind. I can still go back to the rabbit.” But it was not the lion’s day.  The rabbit had woken up with the lion and deer commotion and had escaped to a safer location.

It was a hungry lion that went to bed that night. And it was a valuable lesson that Kaa Kaa learnt. That day he told his friends, “If you drop a smaller gain and run after a greater gain, you may end up losing both.”

In short, a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush.

Another lesson: Learn to appreciate your spouse. If you look for a better one, you might end up losing even this one.