Time and the Moment of a Smile

Retreat to Nature

[Note from Editor: This story first appeared in CLARITY (15 June 2019). It’s published here with permission.]

In these last few months, many of us at 7C Life RealiZation Centre feel that time has gone by too fast. Just last week, one of my colleagues said, “Oh my God, the second quarter of the year is almost over.” Indeed, many of our projects have gained a stronger foothold and we’re on track.

In moments of quietude, however, I wonder about it all. What do we mean when we say ‘last few months’? How long is this time? For those of us who are ambitious, time is running out. For others, it’s too slow. What, in fact, is this thing called ‘time’? Is it possible to achieve everything we want in this short space of time that is the human life?

More often than not, we measure time in terms of hours, minutes and seconds. Is this accurate? Is there another way to measure it? Does time run differently in different planes of existence? What happens in different dimensions? Indeed, this was something we had to consider during our Mindfulness Masterclass Programme (MMP) last year. Quite simply, is a day restricted to 24 hours?

One of the first theories that challenged this was a story I read as a child. In a faraway kingdom, there was a king called Kakudmi. He had a beautiful daughter, but didn’t think that anyone on earth was worthy of her hand in marriage. He decided to take his daughter to the abode of Lord Brahma to seek his advice. When they arrived, Kakudmi presented his shortlist of suitable potential sons-in-law. Lord Brahma explained that by the time Kakudmi returned to his kingdom, none of these men would be alive. Time runs differently in Brahma’s abode. One day there was equivalent to several centuries on earth. Kakudmi and his daughter returned to an earth that they didn’t recognise. Nonetheless, the story does have a happy ending for they did find a suitable groom for Kakudmi’s daughter.

So, back to this question of how do we measure time?

The normal method is this:
60 seconds = 1 minute.
60 minutes = 1 hour.
24 hours = 1 day.
It is a convention that a new day begins at midnight.

Now, in Indian philosophy, it’s a little different.
60 seconds or vinadi = 1 minute
24 vinadi = 1 naligai
2 naligai = 1 muhurta
30 muhurtas = 1 day
The first muhurta of the day begins at sunrise.

It is said that one of the most auspicious times in any day is Brahma Muhurta. It starts 2 muhurtas before sunrise. In other words, it starts approximately 96 minutes before sunrise. So, if the sun rises at 7.00am, then Brahma Muhurta starts at 5.24am and ends at 7.00am. During this time of Brahma Muhurta, the Universal Energy, which is described as ‘the energy that sustains life, providing vital energy to all living systems’ 1 is said to be at its peak. It follows, therefore, that any spiritual activity carried out during this time has a greater effect than any other part of the day.

Now that we’ve established that in Hindu philosophy, a day is not necessarily restricted to 24 hours, it becomes interesting when we consider larger numbers. While we’re now in the year 2019 and, technically, in the second millennium, in Indian philosophy, we have already endured grander cycles and more millennia than one can count.

Referred to as ‘yuga’, an epoch or era lasts four cycles namely, Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvarpa Yuga and Kali Yuga. There are books upon books written about how long each of these yugas last, the characteristics of people who live during these eras and how they relate to one another.

In very simple terms, during Satay Yuga, a human being is 100 per cent virtuous and only dies when he reaches 100,000 years. During Treta Yuga, our life span is all of 10,000 human years. It lessens to 1,000 years during Dvapara Yuga and, in Kali Yuga, we live for no more than 100 years. Without doubt, during Kali Yuga, the human being consists of being 25 per cent virtuous and 75 per cent sinful.

All this and more were explained to us by HH SwamiGuru in a discourse during the last Maha Shivaratri. He explained that one day in Brahma’s abode would mean that eons of time would have passed on earth, to be precise, about 8 billion years. Taken further, Brahma needs to go through 20 million lifetimes for one day in Vishnu’s abode. And Vishnu needs to go through 10 million lifetimes to amount to a moment when Lord Shiva smiles. This effectively means that as a human, you will need to live through all these uncountable number of lifetimes to see Shiva smile and receive His grace. He is light years away from us.

Here comes the twist.

Lord Shiva is beyond time; He has transcended it. All you need to do is go within and look for His smile there. To receive His blessings, even if it is for a moment, is to understand that His power is immense. In that moment of Shiva’s smile upon you, whatever you are limiting to the boundaries of your thought disappears. What happens then is beyond your imagination.

As HH SwamiGuru said, “Evolution of mankind and the self is only through happiness. We may think that it is difficult to find happiness, but it begins with a simple smile. When you smile, you are already a moment closer to the Lord of Ultimate Happiness (Satchitananda), Lord Shiva. When you make every moment of your life just about the smile and bring inner joy to yourself, you will become the embodiment of happiness. That’s the only moment in time to live. No other time can be more valuable and meaningful. You will be in the ananda state.”

Taken as a whole, this reinforces one of our lessons from MMP – as humans, our understanding of time is that it is cyclical. When you accept that such physicality can dissolve, there is no time. Everything happens in a timeless dimension. You become free from the cyclical movement of life and experience liberation. It will be possible to achieve everything you desire, and so much more, in this space with no time, but a smile.

References:

  1. 8 Signs You Are an Empath Sensitive to Universal Energy https://www.learning-mind.com/universal-energy-empath/ (Accessed June 2019)

Even though she understands what timelessness means, Aneeta Sundararaj still worries that life is going too fast. Read more stories like this on her website, ‘How to Tell a Great Story’. (http://www.howtotellagreatstory.com).

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5 Elements in Bandung

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This gallery contains 11 photos.

Here are some photos from ‘Retreat to Nature – a ‘5-elements’ experience’ in Bandung, Indonesia (3-5 May 2019).


Read more stories like this on her website, ‘How to Tell a Great Story’. (http://www.howtotellagreatstory.com).

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The Journey of a Flower

The Journey of a Flower

[Note from Editor: This story first appeared in CLARITY (15 May 2019). It’s published here with permission.]

You wait with anticipation for your date to arrive. On tenterhooks, you pace up and down in your flat. You rush to a nearby mirror. Is your hair in place? Is the outfit the right colour? Maybe, the outfit is not right. Perhaps, you should change.

The doorbell rings.

Oh no! There’s no time. He’s here.

You open the door and there’s this man standing on your doorstep. All suited and booted, he looks debonair. But what’s this he’s holding?

It’s not a rose. Or even your favourite, orchids. Surely, he’d have made more of an effort than this – a single sunflower with a pretty red ribbon.

All manner of thoughts run through your head.

This man doesn’t care for me.
We’ve known each other for so long and he brought me this?
A sunflower for God’s sake.
Surely a rose wouldn’t have cost that much.
Oh my God! This man is poor.

You look at the gentleman’s face. He’s grinning.

Idiot!

You move to shut the door, but he puts his hand up to stop you. He tells you a story and your heart skips a beat. Then he says something and you practically fall into his arms.

What did this gentleman say?

Well, this was the cliff-hanger moment that Brenda James presented us with at the start of our Speaker Series (‘Making Your Money Work for You’) on 11 May 2019. She told us, instead, her history. Born and brought up in Ipoh, Perak, Brenda completed reading Law before she began her career in the corporate world. Although she became financially secure, she felt miserable. By 2008, she made the decision to start Nook Flowers in Bangsar South. With the realities of running her own business were also painful and humiliating lessons. Throughout, the one quality she retained was her optimism.

One of the most wonderful stories that Brenda shared echoes our focus on being happy, spreading such happiness through the work we do and the people we’ve become. Straightening her shoulders, Brenda gives a bright smile and explains that when she’s done with an arrangement, she’ll holds it in her hands and whispers, “Go, make someone happy.” Saying these words, she believes, results in the transmission of happy thoughts and feelings to those flowers. In turn, the final recipient receives not only the flowers, but the sentiments too.

As expected, generating such happiness always has a spill-over effect on other aspects of one’s life. Even though Brenda was barely making ends meet, she remained determined to look at the brighter side of life and joined the Philharmonic Society of Selangor. Having derived much contentment from this activity, Brenda smiles even brighter when she reveals that it’s through the choir that she met her husband.

Perhaps, the most synchronous moment of this Speaker Series session came about during the Q & A session. The questions ranged from ‘Is it OK to use white flowers for Mother’s Day?’ and ‘Why do we like lilies when they are flowers used during funerals in the West?’ to a point about chrysanthemums having a bad reputation because they were regarded as ‘prayer flowers’.

It is when Brenda said something along the lines of, “How amazing is it that a flower can be used to glorify the Divine,” that many of us who’d gone on the recent retreat to Bandung, Indonesia felt a shiver run down our spine. This was precisely what HH SwamiGuru had alluded to on 5 May 2019, during the last discourse of the retreat. In His words:

“The journey of the flower is meant to enhance the understanding of learning to live as naturally as possible without having to compare your life with that of others. It is only then that you’ll understand the greatness of creation, the creator and creativity. With that understanding, you will realise that life is all about being yourself and not someone else. You have been endorsed by the Divine to be ‘you’. Don’t be someone else and don’t seek some else’s endorsement for who you are. This journey can only be successful if you first make an effort to find your true non-contaminated self. In so doing, you will also realise the power of gratitude and the blessings of life.”

Incidentally, the flower of choice during our retreat was a genus of sunflower. Now that we’re back to talking about this giant yellow palmful of sunshine, let’s return to the tale of the gentleman who brought his lady love a sunflower.

The story he tells her before she falls into his arms is that in Greek mythology, Apollo was the Sun God who rode his golden and ivory chariot from east to west every day. A water nymph called Clytie was in love with Apollo, but it was unrequited. For nine days, unblinking, she watched him move across the sky. Eventually, she was turned into a flower which came to be known as the Sunflower.

The gentleman then looked into his lady love’s eyes and said, “The sunflower is the only one that follows the movement of the sun. Even if there is the slightest glimmer of light in the sky, the sunflower will turn its head to find it. And that’s how I feel about you.”

Sigh!


Quite simply, Aneeta Sundararaj loves flowers. Read more stories like this on her website, ‘How to Tell a Great Story’. (http://www.howtotellagreatstory.com).

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