The Cookie Thief

Cookie Thief

A woman was waiting at an airport one night
With several long hours before her flight
She hunted for a book in the airport shop
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop
She was engrossed in her book but happened to see
That the man beside her as bold as could be
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag between
Which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene
She munched cookies and watched the clock
As this gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock
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Beware Of False Memories

In this daring talk, Professor Elizabeth Loftus, brings to light the fallible nature of our memories. Rather than thinking of memories as recordings we must view them as “reconstuctions”. These reconstructions can be both creative and fallible leading to false memories.

This talk also highlights the fragility of the “stories” we tell ourselves. When we nurse hurts we build up a case mentally against our alleged perpetrators and how evil they are. We use our biases and selective recall of events to build up a “case” in our heads which may be largely fictional. This then continues to consume us and destroy our lives. That is why every religious and spiritual tradition advocates forgiveness and humilty so that we do not spend our lives and energies with false memories.

Forgive Them Anyway
The Power Of Forgiveness

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Shantideva’s Prayer

ShantiDeva Prayer
The idea of Avalokitesvara resides with the notion of a Buddha postponing his own enlightenment for the sake of humanity. This Buddha is very close to enlightenment but remains attached to this world and helps us.

This is one of the Dalai Lama’s favourite prayers. It is extracted from “A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life” by Shantideva, a Buddhist master from the monastic university of Nalanda, India. It was composed in the eighth century, inspired by an Avalokitesvara:

May all beings everywhere
Plagued by sufferings of body and mind
Obtain an ocean of happiness and joy
By virtue of my merits.

May no living creature suffer,
Commit evil, or ever fall ill.
May no one be afraid or belittled,
With a mind weighed down by depression.

May the blind see forms
And the deaf hear sounds,
May those whose bodies are worn with toil
Be restored on finding repose.

May the naked find clothing,
The hungry find food;
May the thirsty find water
And delicious drinks.
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Is Meditating Selfish?

Meditation Selfish

Many wonder if it is remarkably insensitive to sit quietly and mediate while the world burns. Isn’t meditation akin to Nero playing the fiddle? Isn’t meditation selfish?

The short answer to this is: Yes. Meditation is selfish.

The long answer is that under normal consciousness everything we do goes through the ego. So in some sense everything we do is “selfish”. The ego has a vested interest in our every action. It colors our every thought and act.

For centuries Yogis have grappled with the following problem: How does one come out of the ego when our every action is controlled by the ego? They discovered that it was not productive to think of actions as selfish or non-selfish. Instead the lens they used was: Does this action make me more selfish or less selfish?

Actions that make us less selfish are called “Sattvic” actions by Yogis. These are actions that come from beauty, purity, silence, creativity, and intense focus.

Action that take us deeper into the ego are classified as being either “Rajasic” or “Tamasic”.

Rajasic actions are those that come from greed, ambition, passion, and the excited ego.

Tamasic actions come from defeat, depression, inaction, and an ego that has given up.

When we meditate or do yoga, we indulge in Sattvic actions. This puts us on the path to reduce the hold of ego on our consciousness. It puts us in an upward spiral where our ego-centered desires are diminished and we become more empathetic to needs and feelings of others.

The impact of yoga and meditation does not end when we get off the yoga mat or stop meditating. These go on to inform our every action. If we allow ourselves to be drawn into an upward spiral then we perform our day-to-day tasks in such a way that minimizes the role of our ego. This then in turn improves our yoga and meditation. Eventually we reach states where the role of ego in our lives becomes increasingly diminished. The fingerprint of ego on our actions becomes increasingly subtle.

As our ego diminishes so do our desires. But there is one desire that continues to push us forward, and this is the desire to reduce the interference of the ego in our lives. Eventually even this last desire falls away and we reach a state of utter unselfishness, a peace that passes all understanding.

Related: Aging With Grace

Peace That Passes All Understanding
Getting Started With Meditation In Nine Easy Steps

Related: Aging With Grace

Credits:This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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Meditation And Yoga Reshapes Brain

When neuroscientists Sara Lazar first took up yoga she was amused by the tall claims made by her yoga teacher that yoga would make her feel more compassionate and happy. But to her own amazement Sara found these very changes happening to her in a few weeks. How could this be she wondered? Can these effects be measured? These questions led her to actually change her field of research and what she found has been path breaking. Her discoveries have led to confirmation that Yoga and Meditation can reverse aging and grow certain important regions of the brain, while shrinking areas associated with stress.

Related: Change Brain Structure With Meditation

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