Monday, July 12, 2010

Article: How to Reduce the Ego

Namaste, Hari Om,

Found this great article in an email sent by a dear friend; How to Reduce the Ego. The Ego is something very dangerous if not controlled. Many scriptures talk about it and its effects. We have heard many characters with Ego and how it has destroyed them, i.e. Ravana in the Ramayana Epic - He thought he could conquer the three worlds and ill treat people, but his Ego blinded him to the grace of God, and even then the warnings were also blind. Just in our life, if we do not open our minds and close our mouthes, we will not be able to receive the special grace and love from God and others. Please read below, very important.

SitaRam! Jai Ram!

How to Reduce the Ego.

The ego is that part in us which feeds off praise, compliments and success. When we live in the ego we are inevitably subject to feelings of superiority / inferiority, pride and worthlessness, success and failure. If we want to avoid these negative emotions we need to transcend the ego. If we can transcend the ego, we will find that people are instinctively more attracted to us, even though we are no longer trying to impress. It may seem a great paradox, yet, limiting the role of our ego can make a radical difference to our lives.

These are some factors which can reduce the power of the Ego.

1. Don’t Try to impress

Don’t speak about your own achievements. Don’t drop names of great people you have met. Avoid forcing your accomplishments and success into the conversation. If you have been successful in accumulating wealth, try to keep quiet about it. All these factors may impress your own ego, but, you can guarantee they will have little impact on other people.

2. Be aware of False Modesty.

Sometimes when we say. “O I’m absolutely hopeless”. Actually what we are wanting is for people to respond. ‘O no your not, your really good.” Humility means that we don’t take excessive pride in our achievements, but, it also means we don’t exaggerate our failings in the hope of gaining sympathy.

3. Be Careful of Flattery.

We need to be careful about receiving praise, in some ways it can be as difficult as receiving criticism. The problem is that the ego likes receiving praise and so we can easily become addicted to being flattered. Don’t seek out people who are keen to flatter us, as this is only feeding the ego. Also, be wary of flattering other people in the hope that they will return the compliment.

4. Don’t use your Religion / Spirituality to Impress.

It is a mistake to feel that the practise of a religion / spiritual path gives us a moral superiority over other people. If we feel any superiority we are missing the whole point of spirituality. Spirituality is about a feeling of oneness not of proving that one path is better than others. This can be one of the most insidious types of ego. This is because when we wrap up the ego in a sense of moral superiority, we can easily trick ourselves into thinking we are reducing the ego, when actually we are strengthening it.

5. Be Aware of the extended Ego.

Ego, is not just about feeling we are better than others. Our Ego can also be expressed via national / religious feeling. When we feel a pride or superiority in our religion / nation, there is still the same problem of ego but, it is expressed through an extended sense of reality. This sense of superiority / pride is just as damaging as if it was contained to ourselves. However, we can feel that because it is not directly related to ourselves, somehow there is no ego involved.

6. Don’t Speak badly of Others.

Quite often, when we speak ill of others there is a subtle attempt to make ourselves look better. We may not explicitly say it, but, when we point to someone’s shortcomings we imply that we don’t have these, and therefore we are much better than them. The important thing here is the motive. Be very vigilant; what is your inner motive for criticising someone else? If it is to make you feel / look better, be very careful. The irony of course is that when we criticise someone, often we have the same imperfections ourselves, it is just that we find it easier to see them in other people.

7. What is Your Motivation for Doing Something?

If nobody knew that you had done it, would you still do the action with the same intensity? Can you work without expecting reward and praise? If you can do things selflessly with no desire for people to find out, this is a sign you do not give importance to the ego. If you only do things in the hope of praise, then you are working to satisfy the ego. The sad thing is that if you really work selflessly, at some point, your efforts will receive much greater recognition because people will come to also value the selfless motivation behind the action. Try doing some things but not let anybody no about it. 8. Don’t rely on Your Physical Appearance to Impress.

If you rely on your physical beauty to impress this is definitely coming from the ego. This is not to see beauty is bad thing, far from it. But, real beauty is heightened by modesty and the absence of ego. Avoid paying excessive interest to your physical looks.

To reduce our ego, we have to give great importance to our thoughts and motivation behind our actions. We have to be very strict with ourselves and work out why we are doing something. To reduce the ego, requires great vigilence, we need to reflect on each action and motivation. However, to reduce the influence of the ego, is of great value, it is the key to achieving a sense of inner peace.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Swaha International: Importance of Havan

Namaste, Hari Om,

While browsing Swaha International's site I came across this interesting but brief article on the Importance of Havan (whats known as a offering into the sacred fire, Havan can also be called Havana, Homa and Homa-meaning in Sanskrit, "Fire offering" etc..).

Many cultures have this same practice on some scales,the lighting of candles, using smoke, and meditating/praying to a flame is on the same level. This proves time and time again that we are truly one.

Havan has been going on for 5000+ years, Havan is a procedure of eradicating inner imperfections prevalent in our being. This procedure has all the healing techniques incorporated in it beautifully. It is a rare combination of accupressure, touch healing, meditation, psychiatry, knowledge and wisdom. It is a perfect combination of thought and procedure.

Like many things we do in life, we must keep our minds pure as well as our bodies before entering/performing a Havan ceremony. Preparing the mind can be done by staying away from, anger, greed, lust, and hateful thoughts.  We must also be calm and ready to perform the offerings. Showering and cleansing our bodies is important as we will be pure on the inside and outside. Also what we eat makes a big difference, try not to eat heavy food prior to havan, even fasting helps greatly. Also eating meat should not take place at all, not only is it wrong to do this during sacred rituals, its extremely bad for the environment - by being vegetarian it helps the environment more than stopping the use of fossil fuels (i.e. no use of cars). Plus compassion for animals is something that should be adopted by everyone as we are all the same diving spark from the Lord.

One thing to note, just like a building takes time before it can stand on its own during construction, so to we must continue to build our shield with havan after havan, this way we will build a pure loving energy field that stems from that great divine lord.

Performing havan helps us in life in many ways, the article talks about the many ways, but helping us with negative karma is one reason, but the other is to bring that loving energy so we can always remember thy sweet grace of the lord.

Please see the link below from Shiva Upaasanaa on how to perform Havan as well.

Please continue reading the article from Swaha International;

Importance of Havan


Havan is one of the ten positive virtues or niyam that is prescribed for the devotee whose aspiration is to draw closer to the Divine, ultimately acquiring Oneness with Him. It is also one way of performing Deva yagya, one of man’s five daily duties, according to the tenets of Sanatan Dharma.

What is havan?
This is an age-old Hindu ritual in which offerings of ghee, googol, sugar and other saamaagri are offered into the sacred fire to the accompaniment of Sanskrit mantras.

Why should havan be performed?
Havan has a purifying effect on both the devotee who performs this sacrifice as well as one’s environment. Through the chanting of mantras and offerings into the fire, one’s chakras are re-energised, creating a revitalised and rejuvenating effect for both the body and mind. Positive thoughts, words and actions then pave the way for further success.
The combined effect of the materials, when mixed and used in the havan produces a fumigatory response to the atmosphere, purifying the environment around. Negative energies are dispelled and a protective shield is built around the house where the ritual is performed, thereby warding off any untoward energies. This induces peace, prosperity and good health, conditions which augur well for clarity of thought, increased power of discrimination and improved usage of mental faculties. The result, then, is success in all undertakings.
The process of bhoot-shuddhi or purification of the tattwas or elements takes place within the individual who performs havan, thereby transforming one’s thought-patterns. Qualities of anger, rash and irrational thinking are replaced by calm, tranquil and controlled attitudes. The individual acquires greater control of his life, which offers wider scope for daily success.
Scientific experiments have proven that havan destroys harmful bacteria in the atmosphere. A scientist named Tautilk proved that a patient stricken with typhoid disease can be freed of this scourge if he is exposed to the smoke of havan for half hour. In addition, performing this sacrifice of havan is also one way of burning away one’s karma.

When should havan be performed?
Ideally, this practice should be carried out daily. In every home havan should be done at least once per week by all members of the family. The early hours of the morning are most conducive for all religious actions as the atmosphere is charged with praan (energy) at that time. However, this time may not suit the needs of all families. As such, the practice may be done at a time that is best suited for the devotee.

How should havan be performed?
A complete guide on the preparations and performing of havan is provided in our publications, Devi, Shiva and Soorya Upaasanaa.
The performance of havan, while essential in the spiritual evolution of every devotee, is also important in fostering family togetherness. Through the practice of mantra recitation and the various activities involved in the physical preparations for havan, devotees develop a greater appreciation for the traditional religious practices of Sanaatan Dharma. All of this helps to build Hindu pride and resilience.
Through this powerful sacrifice, one is protected and shielded from all untoward elements. As such, the flames of the sacred fire should burn brightly in every home every day of the week.