Saturday, 30 March 2013

Science validates what ancient wisdom has always taught us.

In the recent times my articles on topics ranging from Meditation to Spirituality have elicited numerous responses from my readers and on Social Media, too. While much of the feedback is positive and the readers see things the way I do, some is negative- from being sceptical to downright dismissal of any ideology, 'set of beliefs which is unsubstantiated'.

I had promised my loyal readers that I'd share with them what I've learnt about the so called 'unsubstantiated' beliefs.

Yoga is widely practised by many in mainly its physical form, that is by way of various 'aasanas'. In reality, Yoga is very different from what it is perceived to be. It is a meeting of Mind, Body and Soul.

While the Yoga 'aasanas' or exercises have found acceptance as have the benefits from it,
the other related branches of Yoga, such as Dhyaan Yoga (Meditation), although gaining ground, are yet to be understood fully. In fact until a few years ago such practices would be labelled as 'tantric' (occult).

Where do Science and research come in? It has been scientifically proven that Yoga and Meditation have long term health benefits in managing and preventing many ailments as also in maintaining overall fitness of body and mind. Now, the debate naturally would be, does any evidence support the benefits of Meditation (mind you, I do not need any convincing after having personally derived immense benefits from these practices!). A Research team led by Harvard Medical School has revealed startling conclusions in a recently published finding. Meditation not only helps in keeping stress and hypertension in check, it can effect genetic changes too! The research has established the genetic changes can even control and kill the rampant, malignant cells of Cancer! Honestly, even I found this finding astonishing! In addition to these findings, it has also proven the positive impact  on equanimity and emotional balance.
Overall, stress levels, one of scourges of modern living, get reduced substantially by adapting regular meditative practice.

The article which mentions the findings has advised meditation twice a day for optimal benefit and what's more: suggested chanting 
 'Om' as an option to calm down the mind. Hindus have been practising chanting for centuries and Om is central to their chants. Group chanting sessions (Satsangs), make the activity more purposeful.

Prayer. When the existence of a Power superior to humans is in question, prayer has little relevance. What does science have to say about prayer. An article I had read many years ago was equally thought provoking. An experiment had been conducted in a hospital in a controlled, well monitored environment. The study was 'Whether collective prayers had any effect on the subjects?' Patients who were scheduled to undergo surgeries were randomly separated into two lots. Outside the waiting lounge area of of one lot, a group of people was asked to pray fervently for the patients's well-being and recovery. The patients themselves were kept in the dark about the whole experiment. The post surgery data revealed tellingly that the lot for whom collective prayers were conducted had fared far better than the other lot! 

Prayer ultimately is the expression of faith in the Maker, God Almighty. Coming to this vital part now! 

'Just as a candle cannot burn without a fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life'
-Gautam Buddha.

Many months ago, I had read a fascinating half page interview in the Sunday edition of India's leading news daily, The Times of India. On his visit to India, Dr Brian Weiss discussed about his Books, his research and his new found beliefs. A few weeks later, my cousin lent me a copy of a book which he felt could help me in my illnesses. You see, I am a Bipolar disorder patient and the author is a Psychiatrist. 

'Many Lives, Many Masters', a true story, only reaffirmed what I had believed all along. The Book talks about using hypnosis to delve into the disturbed patient's mind and in a deep meditative state, 'regress' her back into her past lives.. not one, not two but many past lives. 
Her account of each life was so detailed, her knowledge of foreign languages (not spoken by her in the present life) formed the ground work of his path-breaking study in Past life regression. By his own admission, he was initially hesitant to present this Research paper fearing peer ridicule. Corroborative evidence from other pioneers supported his beliefs as did hundreds of other patients whom he helped heal using this technique.

All his own doubts eliminated, he began coming to a conclusion that there was a higher learning from this series of sessions.

That life is eternal is proven beyond doubt. Reincarnations, Past lives and rebirths are nothing but the continuance of one soul in various body forms.

The NDE's (Near Death Experiences) narrated by almost all of the patients were vivid and uncannily similar. A ray of light, a Spiritual Master waiting to relieve the 'dead' from the agony, an experience of relief, bliss, fearlessness.

The Spiritual Masters were around to guide even when the patients were alive, some in the form of friends or relatives.

The same persons were to be found in most of the lives although the relationship might have changed! Dr. Weiss, who had been of great help to the patient was present in most lives as a kind, father figure, teacher and so on.

During some of the sessions the patient stated that the Spiritual Masters were communicating to Dr. Weiss and not to the patient- about the relevance of life and his purpose. There is so much more in this brilliant research work and his other books, too.

In the media interview, DrBrian Weiss had been asked about what his views on Karma and Moksha (liberation from the cycle of life and death and rebirth) were.

Dr Weiss replied: 'What I've learnt is that we are all here to learn in each of our lives. It is a continuous education. We all have to pay our debts (the karma philosophy) before we go. If not in this life the debt is carried forward in the next. Moksha is only attained after we have learnt all our lessons, after we have repaid all our debts.'

What this research establishes is that we are eternal, beings- unborn, immortal. Spiritual Masters do exist ( to learn more about the findings you would have to read the book) at various levels as our guardian angels. We have to atone for our deeds in this life or the next.

'We are born into the world of nature, our second birth is into the world of spirit'
-The Bhagavad Gita

My spiritual quest had begun with my curiosity to learn what happens to me at death? It can't just be alive now and then, extinguished permanently? What happens to my memories, my consciousness?  I would close my eyes and try to figure out what fills in this 'black' void? Since the last few years my journey made me an ardent student of The Bhagavad Gita. Therein I not only found the answers I was seeking but many more, too. Well, the ancient wisdom of the Gita and the research of Dr Brian Weiss have a lot in common. Please bear in mind that I am intrinsically secular and respect all religions equally. Possibly, some other religions might have similar teachings too. That is besides the point.

What should be abundantly clear, though, is that there is much more to life than the conventional birth, education, raising a family, ageing and death-'end of story' perspective.

Grateful to you God, for the wisdom and knowledge you have generously endowed me with and lighting up the path for me to walk on.

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