A Step into the Fall Splendor – in Pics

Minnesota is known for its amazing Fall. And this year, the amazing colors are back on the trees, bushes, flowers, lakes and wild foliage.

This morning, a spirited walk around our locality, once again introduced us to the amazing Autumnal colors. Orange, red, yellow, green under the blue sky…what a divine splash of colors on the nature’s canvas!

Come on, follow me, step into the Fall splendor through these pics😀

Happy Orange Red Tree

Golden Green Earth

Playful White Fountain

Wild Red Berries

Proud White Mushrooms

Tiny Brown Caterpillar on a Crossroad

Yellow Shades, Green Creepers and Blue Lake

Pink, White and Red Flowers

Hope you enjoyed the colors!

The Ideal Inspirational Blogger Award

It’s been long since I last wrote answers to questions posed by a fellow blogger but I thought of writing for Kunakshi Kapoor. I am grateful to Kunakshi for nominating me for ‘The Ideal Inspirational Blogger Award’ (BTW these awards are ways of the blogger community to show appreciation for each other). Please visit Kunakshi’s lovely blog at https://thepennedsoul.wordpress.com/ and explore her interesting works.

Now moving on to the questions she asked me:

1) When were you most scared? I was in a pet store and a huge, black dog came very close and began to sniff me. That was before we got Happy, our pet dog. I felt I was going to get a nasty bite so I reacted rudely and screamed – Take him away! The owner of the dog was pretty upset and muttered that I was not loving and friendly. Well, I was so scared I just wanted to leave the store. Now, that we have a dog I realize why the lady was upset..

2) What does passion mean to you? Passion is the brightest color in a painting, sweetest note in music and mystical words in poetry. It is the driving force behind every kind of creative activity. It is the precious energy that makes dreams possible!

3) Define life in a sentence? Life is a spectacle where only I am the actor, the director and the audience! 

4) What was your most funniest moment? There have been countless funny moments in my life. One of the most embarrassing was when I used a ball pen to sign on iPad instead of stylus, shocking teachers in my son’s class.

5) What does writing mean to you? Writing is my favorite way of expression. Many people use speech or other ways to communicate, I like to write.

The rules of the award are as follows :

  • Thank the person who have nominated you and provide a link back to his/her blog.
  • Answer their questions.
  • Nominate up to 9 other bloggers and ask them 5 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees through their blog by visiting and commenting on their blog.
  • List the rules and display the “Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award” logo.
  • Provide the link of the Award creator of ideal inspiration blogger award as Rising Star from https://idealinspiration.blog/.
  • And finally , the people whom l nominate for this award …

I would like to invite all my fellow bloggers and readers for this award. You are all inspiring and I marvel at the lovely things you write. Do take up the open challenge if you wish. And answer one or all of these challenging questions, if you want and leave a link back to my blog. 

  • Q. What if you could be invisible for a day? What would you do if no one could see or hear you?
  • Q. What would you do if you could stop time?
  • Q. What is the most shocking news item you’ve ever heard?
  • Q. If you were a tree, where would you stand and why?
  • Q. The most amazing life lesson you have learnt recently?

Be well and stay blissful!

The Dream of the Closed Door!

It felt like a nightmare. I was standing in front of a beautifully carved closed door, frantically trying to open it. But it was not opening. I was knocking and screaming. But nothing… I was not getting any answer.

I was stuck, obsessive and angry. Was I incapable, unworthy and a failure? Why was that closed door not opening for me? Why were others getting access to it? Why, not me?

I couldn’t explore anything else because I was stuck with this one. And it won’t open. And this was the only reason for my not moving on – because it won’t open. I had a vague idea that there was ‘That’ behind the closed door. And I wanted ‘That’ like others.

Finally, my ego couldn’t take anymore. So, I broke open the door. And enjoyed breaking the damn door. But when I broke the door, something broke in me too.

And what did I find behind the door? Nothing! A partially dark room with no outlet. It was stifling and suffocating. Those walls had imprisoned me.

Who was playing such ghastly tricks on me? I had seen a group of revelers go inside through the same door, just a while ago. I had heard blissful chanting from inside. They had all got ‘That’. But I was being denied! I felt unlucky and miserable.

Just then, I heard a voice. A shadowy character appeared in the empty room.

“What, how did this closed door open? Wow, there is nothing here!”

“I broke it open. Yes, there is nothing here for us. But I think others got access to ‘That’,” I said quietly.

“Ah, I see! This door wouldn’t open for me too so I moved on. And found ‘That’ through another door. I am glad I didn’t waste my time here. This door was never meant for me.”

“Why didn’t you come earlier? I wasted my time staying stuck and then breaking this damn door,” I cried.

“May be you were supposed to break it…”

The shadowy character disappeared and I stood there startled. “May be I was supposed to break it…!”

But how was I to go further from here? There were just four walls around me and no doors.

I had nothing to do so I started fixing the broken door. It felt good. Then I painted a bright red sign on that door using my lipstick.

If this door opens for you, it’s great! But if it doesn’t, that’s even better. Accept it and move on or you will be stuck.

It was funny. After years of struggle, anger, frustration, defeat, ego crush and emptiness I was doing some fixing job on the same door that had brought me so much misery.

Just then, I became aware of light in the room. There was a small closet towards the right wall. Light was coming through there.

With great effort, I said good bye to the now fixed door and entered the closet.

The closet opened to a corridor on the other side. There were many people and many doors. And they were all trying to open doors.

Unfortunately, everyone was busy knocking at the wrong doors. Some like me, were obsessed with the wrong door. Others were simply stuck.

But I had learnt my lesson. The only way to find ‘That’ was to move on and explore. My door was somewhere near. I felt like a little girl on a mission…

I was fearlessly liberated after a long time, open to every kind of experience in my journey towards ‘That’.

And the best thing was – I had learnt to gratefully say ‘Thank You’ to every door that was closing on me.

It was not a nightmare, rather a beautiful dream!

(Image courtesy Google)

The Biggest Reward of being a Krishna Devotee – Joy

Krishna Outline

Hare Krishna! A few years ago, I asked an old Krishna devotee who had faced many unusual and difficult situations in life – How did you cope up with your problems during those difficult times? She laughed and answered – Krishna made it all easy and playful so I did not feel anything.

Her life story appears sad and everyone would be hugely sympathetic to her. But she was just amused and actually full of joy. This is the biggest reward of devotion – joy and bliss for seemingly no reason at all.

When a devotee surrenders to Krishna, the playful god becomes the doer, the action, and the result. The devotee stays just an instrument who enjoys life as it unfolds.

Krishna’s blissful nature rubs on His devotees by default. And he learns what it is to be alive, vibrant and stress free. The melodrama of life dissolves with the ego of the devotee and the rest is all Krishna!

Krishna himself had the most unusual life. There was a constant threat to his life, he was destined to leave whoever he loved (his parents, Radha, Gokul, Vrindavan), and his life was one big battlefield just like Mahabharata. But when do we ever see him, dejected, sad and full of worry? He stayed pleasant and joyful throughout. And the reason for his amazing attitude and demeanor has been mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, the song of the Lord (so, why not read it to know more).

This Janmashtami is even more special because of the current unusual circumstances. There is a pandemic raging on and unforeseen incidents are occurring throughout the world. But wherever there is Krishna, there is hope. And there is joy. Whatever there is, it will be taken care of!

So dear friend, wishing you a very ‘Happy Janmashtami’. May Krishna enables the surrendering and life become joyful, easy and breezy. Haribol!

Bhagavad Gita Quote

(my sketch, Quote from Google)

How the Mind avoids the ‘Just Be’ state!

The answers to all the troubling questions come when the mind is quiet. But when is the mind still? The mind does everything to take this moment ‘right here’ away from us. Past, present, future entwine! Thoughts, ideas, dreams intermix! Tendencies, work, stress compel us!

They all force us to act with an urgency – an immediate need to go somewhere else, reach something, do anything away from ‘Now’!

The paradox is the time to be still and ‘just be’ is always right ‘Now’. But we don’t have the time to be in the present! Strange.

It is all because the mind would not let us be so vibrantly, blissfully and ‘mindlessly’ alive in the present. You see, the moment we relax into the present, mind (read ego) and its stories lose hold over us. And we experience the unexplored dimension.

The workings of the mind

Undoubtedly, the mind is an important tool for existence. It is needed for survival and helps us with the practical aspects of life. But the problem begins when we start identifying and believing whatever mind says. And we think the mind is what we are. We make the mind our master not the other way round.

We believe that we cannot exist without the mind. But ancient masters point out – We can blissfully exist without the mind!

Consider mind to be just an over eager, over protective, sometimes cunning, constantly advising, over agonizing, talkative friend that can change side and become an enemy anytime.

Mind induces our negative tendencies to act superior, be superficial, jealous, hateful, depressed, agonized, angry as well as the positive tendencies to create, appreciate, explore, be affectionate, enjoy…etc

Dissection, analysis, criticism, perspective, judgement – these are the ways of the mind to help us survive in this world. It is a great tool but just that..a tool!

Now, let’s observe how the mind forces us to run away from the present…

Supposedly, I am observing a beautiful sunset. The moment I start enjoying the ethereal show, and my being aligns with what is there in the present, the mind starts its chatter.

“This sunset looks similar to what I saw last week (past). I must take a photo of it for Instagram (future). Had the clouds been darker, the scene would have been captivating (comparison). I wish my kids were here to watch this (wishful thinking). It is sad I can’t keep watching because I have chores to do (self-pity).”

Hmmm… and the NOW, and the ‘Just Be’ state vanishes. The mind takes over, and I become a puppet of the mind – happy, sad, analyzing, swaying between past and future. The moment passes, a great opportunity is lost – the opportunity to just be!

Take for example observing the same scenery without mind’s chatter – still, calm, open, present, as it is! So divinely blissful, so new, so perfect. There is no I, just what is being experienced… such moments of calmness hold immense potential…

Ancient Indian scriptures point out at ‘I’, the ego. The ego is nothing but the mind – the bad and even the good. Mind is important but we are not the mind.

Why is the ‘just be’ state important?

All the answers to our questions are there in the stillness. Because we become at one with the existence and its mystery. The ‘just be’ state allows us to be aware of our own divinity and the mysteries of existence.

And the great question arises – Who am I, if not the mind and the body?

The great Nisargadatta Maharaj gives a hint – We are not that we perceive. And we perceive our body and mind. Then who are we?

The thing is none of the masters ever give a straight answer to ‘Who am I’. We need to find out!

And the answer to this question – ‘Who am I’ is constantly hidden in the ‘now’ and in the ‘just be’ state. But will the mind let us be…? Never.

Sadly, we all have experienced this ‘just be’ state as children. It used to happen to us naturally. Every child is in that state – accepting and flowing. That’s why children are compared to god.

It happens to us even now. Occasionally, we are in touch with our divine self. We are just not aware.

A moment without the mind’s chatter is a divine experience. And we can still experience that childhood state…Meditation techniques can make it possible!

Life is meant to flow in the present, fully and gloriously. When we are ‘live’ we live.

Even the big, traumatic problems can also be resolved if we allow our true self to take over…

A few moments of calmness, in the ‘just be’ state gives more answers, clarity, wisdom and solutions than hours of mind chatter. It rejuvenates and heals…

But the catch is – we can never be in the ‘just be’ state if we are looking for anything – even solutions, bliss or peace. So, how do we do it?

How to ‘just be’?

We are already in the state but we don’t experience it because we never stop listening to the mind. Just be is just be, as it is. Natural like breath.

But we are scared to surrender and let go. We are always thinking or running. Sometimes scared to stop and experience what those moments of revelations might reveal! We are afraid we might see our wounds which are hiding deep inside us…

Also, many of us are overworked and have many chores to do. There is no time to pause, sit and just be with ourselves.

The masters say that we need to take out time for meditation only in the beginning. After that, the state comes naturally, even in chaos… integrated in everything.

How to ‘just be’? We don’t need to do anything. It is just allowing, accepting and surrendering (to the divine universal power).

The just be’ state is not about dealing with what the mind says or shows. It is just about being comfortable with everything about ourselves and around us. Allowing everything to happen, accepting everything that is happening and surrendering in the now. And knowing that all is being taken care of….

It is just about letting it be, observing everything like a movie, without engaging with it, staying aware and knowing that past or future is nothing. Present is. Even for just a moment…

It is the way to accept things as they are, and not trying to do anything, go, or reach anywhere… There is no ulterior motive. Just complete surrender to what is – is the ‘just be’ state.

Notice, how mind chatter grows louder as soon as we consciously try to be comfortable. The mind tries every trick to make us uncomfortable.

So how do we deal with the mind? The answer is – by not dealing with it at all. Nothing needs to be resolved, done or pondered upon. Just watching and staying aware..

And the strange thing about the mind is – it goes still the moment we start becoming aware of it. Just like a naughty child when caught doing some mischief, stops.

We do not need to silence the mind or do anything about it. We just need to observe it nonchalantly. It has no power without our support.

And then automatically it happens – we breathe deeply, the body goes still and we flow into the ‘just be’ state. Ah, just one moment of that… is enough! The surrender, breathing, stillness and the present…

And we realize we are already perfectly aligned to everything.

“Having never left the house, you are looking for the way home.” – Nisargadatta Maharaj

The irony is the real answers to all troubling questions come, when one is at one with ‘Now’. But we keep running from pillar to post, avoiding that which holds all the answers. Haribol!

(Images courtesy Google)