Thursday, October 19, 2006

Introduction to Bhagavad Gita by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood.

Recently, I was at a festival celebrating the forthcoming Diwali or the Festival of Lights in which the Tamils and Hindus regard as their New Year.
At one of the stalls, religious objects and books were on sale. The woman who came forth to speak to me didn't look like an Indian. Indeed, she wasn't. She was a Croatian. Her husband is a Malaysian Indian.
During our brief conversation, I found out that she was a former Catholic but the religion which she was born with didn't find her a willing believer when she grew up. Later she was more attracted to Hinduism.
There were several copies of Bhagavad Gita or the Song of God. The hard-bound version was a bit pricey and the soft cover wasn't to my liking. Anyway, she managed to convince me of the usefulness of the booklet by Swami Prabhavananda.
A few days after I had brought the book home, I spent one evening reading its contents. It is an excellent introduction to one of India's finest book on religion. Many of the aspects covered were similar to the Bible and other great books of religion.
I couldn't help seeing the connection between the philosophies behind the major religions of the world.
It is my personal belief that great teachers always have the ability to convey the most complex spiritual issues in the plainest of language. To that end, Swami Prabhavananda has not failed. In fact, he has succeeded most admirably.
From a single reading of this booklet, you won't be an expert on the Bhagavad Gita but it will open that little window towards a broader understanding of a religion that spans thousands of years.
Now if you were to be asked what is the bhagavad gita, you can tell the person who asks that it is an ancient Sanskrit text that consists of 700 verses of the Mahabharata.
The title can also be translated to mean "Song of the Divine One". In this case, it refers to the Bhagavan (Supreme Being) who is Lord Krishna.
The gist of the Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna at the battle ground of Kurukshreta. The dialogue takes place just before a major war.
Arjuna is confused about certain moral and personal issues, so Krishna explained to him his responsibilities. Krishna specifically brought up examples and anecdotes from several Vedantic and yogic teachings.
From the Gita, Hindus have since got the impression that it is a guide to the Hindu philosophy. During the course of the conversation with Arjuna, Krishna reveals himself to be the Bhagavan or God.
From this humble introduction, the reader will be led to understand that the Bhagavad Gita can be considered to be an Upanishad or Hindu scriptures. The Upanishad is considered to be a text that discusses the meditation, philosophy and the power of God.
There are small paths that can be found in everybody's life that leads him to enlightenment, if an individual is so inclined. This booklet is one of the tiny paths, if you are interested.
Even though I am a Catholic, I find books like this one a source of inspiration and knowledge. Is it not God's will that everything that exists on earth are at our disposal whenever we need them?
So go in peace and live in serenity, for that is the way of the masters and the enlightened ones.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

CHRIST IN YOU by Anonymous

THIS book was on loan to me from my sister. Through the years, she would pick up a book or two from her coffee table and dump them on my lap. This happened recently with this book.

She shares my taste in books of this kind. This book is purportedly written by some entity who is probably not residing on earth. I really don't mean to belittle or make fun of this book because after reading it, I find myself rather moved by its contents.

This book reminds me of another book entitled Reflections of the Christ Mind. As people are inclined to avoid books of religious flavour and fervour, books with titles like Christ In You tend not to find a very wide audience.

I guess I have reached a passage in my life's journey when such books have become a balm to me. Inexplicably, I find books of this kind fascinating and strangely exhilarating.

Christ In You talks about our real self and it is not of earth. When we finally realise that our higher consciousness is inseparable from God, we would finally have "arrived home".

This is not a difficult book to read. In fact, it is so easy, it bothers on being incredible. That's the catch. We are most liable not to digest its contents. Our human side has been with us for so long that we simply cannot accept that we truly belong to another world.

This then is not our real world. Earth then is not our true home. The Almighty and us are One. We cannot be divided. We will never be two. In that fact, the book rests its case.

I wish I could make this book sounds a bit more logical to the human mind, so that its message will be more acceptable to our human side. Unfortunately, Christ In You touches on nothing that belongs on earth.

Sometimes, I wonder if such book "finds" a person, rather than a person "finds" a book. For years now, I have been receptive to book with messages like what can be found in the pages of Christ In You.

The veils of obscurity and ambiquity are gradually lifting. Once they part completely, we should no longer have any fear in our hearts but love. Love is man's strongest weapon and Man is God's most wonderful creation.

Christ In You shines a light on the darkened paths on your spiritual journey. It speaks to us from beyond. This book was first published in 1910. That's almost 100 years ago.
Now the book comes around again. Considering the state of affairs around the world, the messages in this book may be all the more urgent. But humans are almost never convinced by what they think are permanent.

Nothing on earth is permanent except for God's love. We tend to think of love as something temporal and fleeting. God speaks of a different love that burns with an everlasting rigous of something that can never be extinguished.

Christ In You removes the loneliness in our lives. It tells us not to fear anymore. It proclaims the joy that is our right. It continues to inform all of us that not only is God watching us, he is also looking after us, the lost sheep.

Man has spent a long time on earth, wandering and wondering. In man's periodical forays in the spiritual realm, we always return empty-handed. Not this time. This time, God speaks loudly and clearly from all possible angles.

He no longer whispers. He stands in front of us, speaking in audible, measured tones so that we can hear him clearly. There is a calming effect in his voice. In this case, his voice comes across crystal clear from the pages of Christ In You.

Be no longer afraid for He is with us until the end of time.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


The person who introduced this book to me was my sister. She was so keen on this book that she ordered it direct from the Internet, probably Amazon dot Com.

This book apparently was given a touch of glamour when Elvis Presley first read it. Elvis was so impressed by the book that he made a bulk purchase and promptly distributed it to all his friends and relatives.

Basically, the book is a spiritual guide. It has words and phrases that are strangely soothing and yet very wise. If I may be allowed to say it, it doesn't sound like it's coming from the mind of one who dwells on earth.

Those who believe in this book, as I do, know it is the voice of the Big Man himself.
It has the most profound advice on life and hereafter I have ever read. It gave me goose-pimples the first time I read it.

If you are "ready", then this book will change your life. If you are spiritually undernourished and want to be filled, then this is the right book for you. It affects different individuals in different ways.

The journey is the same. The answers even though same will be perceived differently by separate persons. It seems to be a living testament of what is going on now, before and yet-to-come.

Without sounding like a crackpot, you need to read it to find out if I have just said is true. It doesn't matter if you are a Buddhist, Muslim, Jew or Christian, the message within is the same.

It has a flavour that transcends all times and suits all situations. It talks to your soul and bypasses your ego. You will need to leave all your preconceived notions at the entrance of the reading chamber.

The Impersonal Life is anything but. It will cast a glow of eternity on that shadowed parts of your life that needs to be brightened up.

I shall not force you to read it. You must make the choice yourself, but be prepared never to be the same again. There is no fear ahead. You need not be apprehensive. It is written for one sole purpose - for your enlightenment and eternal benefit.

May the Peace that is ageless be yours forever.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

LORD DENNING – The Family Story
By Alfred Thompson Denning
Publisher: Butterworths

ALL aspiring LLB candidates and practising advocates and solicitors who have emerged relatively unscathed from the grueling examination halls of English Law would recognise the name Lord Denning.

He was the last United Kingdom judge not bound by the mandatory retirement age. The Family Story is the book that he had always wanted to write but couldn’t find the time. Finally, he did it and it was published in 1981.

In Lord Denning’s own words, “it is a tale that is told by me”. Lawyers who studied and practised under the British legal system have always been fascinated with Denning, one of the greatest judges of modern times.

This is the judge who sat on the Bench for 38 years and had redefined justice in his own unique ways. Many of his judgments have become talking points and landmarks of legal reasoning the world over.

Denning’s Family Story is a very personal account of his parents and his brothers. There were five sons in the Denning household. Two of them died in the First World War. One became an army general, one an Admiral and Alfred Thompson was to become the most famous of the five brothers. He was the Master of the Rolls, the senior civil judge in the Court of Appeal of England and Wales.

Denning’s account of his family history borders on a level that does not seem to reflect his exalted station in life. His reputation as a man of great learning hid the truth that behind that mind of astonishing legal proportions was a man of great humility.

If the reader were to expect some lyrical prose of Shakespearean quality, he would be sorely disappointed. Lord Denning writes with a style that startles with simplicity. He talks about his brothers with great pride.

His account of his family reveals the extraordinary ordinariness of their lives; that they are no different from many others in different vocations. The only exception was Denning had greatness thrust on him at an early age. First Class in his first love, law, seemed to come too easy for him. From then on, it was a career always on the ascent.

It is in the pages when the learned judge talks about the legal cases he handled that his story rises to a whole new level. His sharp legal mind had no equal. His judgments were unprecedented in foresight and often astoundingly accurate and fair.

His contributions to the English legal system are almost unequalled in scope and range. Admirers of Lord Denning will find this book a constant source of inspiration, and a great delight.

Is it not Lord Denning who said in Southam v Smout (1964): “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail - its roof may shake - the wind may blow through it - the storm may enter - the rain may enter - but the King of England cannot enter - all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement.' So be it - unless he has justification by law.”

Then again in the Bramley Moore case (1964): “Limitation is not a matter of justice. It is a rule of public policy which has its origin in history and its justification in convenience.”

Alfred Thompson Denning lived 100 years. Indeed he lived a long and fruitful life. None could begrudge such a great man’s claim to longevity. His mark on the Court of Justice is indelible.

This book is just another testimony of a young English lad who was born to change the stoic face of the English law, and what a great judge he became.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Author: John F. Kennedy
Publisher: HarperCollins

JOHN F. Kennedy, US President from 1961 to 1963, was one of the most charismatic American Presidents ever. He was also the youngest man ever to be elected to the Oval Office, and had the distinction of being the first (and only) Roman Catholic to have held that office.
Early in his political career, JFK already earned the mark of greatness when he penned Profiles in Courage in 1954. A junior senator then, this book was his tribute to the strength and spirit that formed the foundation of a nation that had become the richest and most powerful in the world.
He picked eight senators from American history as subjects of this book. The eight senators discussed at length in the book - John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Thomas Hart Benton, Sam Houston, Edmund G. Ross, Lucius Lamar, George Norris and Robert A.
Taft - were men of outstanding courage and integrity. Their courage was seen in their political integrity in the face of almost insurmountable odds.
This work by JFK is basically about grace under pressure, a phrase first coined by Ernest Hemingway. The lives of these eight senators represented what America as a nation is supposed to be about. For this splendid literary effort, JFK was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1956.
Till today, this book is heralded as one of the best-written works on American political history. It shines a powerful light on the risks undertaken by the senators; the unpopularity they had to endure; the defamation they suffered and the vindication that followed after a long and weary political struggle.
Perhaps Kennedy, in writing this book, wanted to remind himself of the possible pitfalls and rocky path that led all the way to the White House. In truth, his sense of foreboding would later be played out to its fullest effect when he became president.
However, Profiles in Courage as a work about moral courage can be learned by anybody from any part of the world. It also serves as a source of inspiration for those who are about to embark on a political career of unknown proportions.
JFK has captured the essence of what it is like to be a true politician.
As his brother Robert Kennedy says in the foreword: "It is not just stories of the past but a book of hope and confidence for the future. What happens to the country, to the world, depends on what we do with what others have left us."
Non-Americans who read this book may find some of the political dilemmas unfamiliar. Nevertheless, the book makes a strong case for leadership, personal principles and strength of character.
Profiles in Courage should not only be read by the voting public, but the oliticians as well. In it, politicians will find situations that they are familiar with. Perhaps somewhere in between the pages, they may find the answers to their own political problems and dilemmas, or at least some inspiration and reassurance.
Author: Marilyn vos Savant
Publisher: St Martin's Press/New York

IT can now be revealed that the smartest person on earth could very well be a woman, and her name is Marilyn vos Savant. It is with great humility that I accept this decision on behalf of my much-astonished gender when the Guinness Book of World Records listed in its 1986-89 editions that vos Savant has an IQ of 228, the highest in the world.
The Power of Logical Thinking, which is basically a book on challenging and puzzling mathematical questions, was published in 1996. Any reader would have thought that such a book must be one of the driest subjects to be digested.
But vos Savant is actually one of the most entertaining writers I have ever come across. Normal people would expect a genius like her to talk "above their heads".
Instead, they would, as I did, find out on reading her book that she makes the most difficult questions seem so simple.
This American magazine writer has a weekly column in Parade called "Ask Marilyn". It is the Sunday magazine for 341 newspapers in the United States, with a total circulation of 37 million and a combined readership that touches 81 million.
The "Ask Marilyn" column receives about 40,000 letters every year. Like many students from the arts stream, I found and still find mathematics to be a strange subject of unfathomable proportions, but vos Savant has made a believer out of me from a single reading of her book.
One of the issues brought up in her column that propelled her popularity to the stratosphere is the Monty Hall Dilemma. Vos Savant's analysis of this counter-intuitive problem is discussed at length in this book.
On September 9, 1990, Craig F. Whitaker of Columbia, Maryland posed this question to "Ask Marilyn": "Suppose you're on a game show, and you're given the choice of three doors. Behind one door is a car, the others, goats. You pick a door, say No.1, and the host, who knows what's behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. He says to you, `Do you want to pick door No. 2?' Is it to your advantage to switch your choice of doors?"
Vos Savant's reply was startling because she advised Whitaker to switch because door No. 2 has a 2/3 chance of winning while door No. 1 has only 1/3 chance. When America woke up on Sunday morning to read her answer, it sparked a gathering storm of responses. Before long, members of the academia, including professional mathematicians and PhDs, begged to differ.
The outcome of the whole affair made the Parade columnist even more popular than the US president at that time, for a while.
This book delves into the pitfalls of misunderstanding mathematics and not being familiar with the intricacies of numbers and statistics. For those who have been groping in the dark, vos Savant is like the Goddess of Mathematics.
She has this uncanny ability to dissect and analyse any problem thrown at her and deliver a simple and irritatingly logical answer.
It is no wonder then that Marilyn vos Savant is America's most beloved mathematician.
TRANSLATED BY: Edward Fitzgerald
PUBLISHER: St Martin's Press

ABOUT 900 years ago, in a land called Khorasan, a scientist and astronomer who sometimes doubled up as a poet looked up at a clear night sky filled with countless stars. He pondered over man's fate and the ageless galaxies beyond. Inspired, he began to pen his first rubai, or quattrain.
In total, Omar Khayyam wrote more than 75 quattrains, reflections on fate's fickle decisions, man's fleeting existence and the lack of wisdom among mankind, and these became known as the Rubaiyat.
About eight centuries later, on the other side of the world, far removed from Persia, was born another poet, a bon vivant who would have shared Omar's zest for life if he had been born at the same time as the ancient astronomer.
Edward Fitzgerald was from a family that was used to a life of wealth and luxury. With his privileged education at Cambridge, and across the lengthy timeline that linked Persia and England, it was almost as if Destiny had decreed that a transcript of Omar Khayyam's original Rubaiyat be delivered into Fitzgerald's hands.
The Rubaiyat in its original form was probably written and driven by an undeniable inner passion that possessed Omar. When he read the Rubaiyat, Fitzgerald had already established an academic familiarity with several Arabic languages, among them was Persian. In Omar, Fitzgerald discovered a kindred spirit who shared his love for wine, life and a fascination of man's mortality.
It is said that Fitzgerald took great liberties in his translation with the Rubaiyat. On this, the world's reading population will have to thank Fitzgerald for his splendid translation of Omar's inspiring poetic imagery.
Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat is not meant to be digested in a single evening. The flavour of the ancient Persian nuggets of wisdom is akin to the bouquet of a fine wine. It must be consumed in measured moments.
Enjoyment of the Rubaiyat can only be experienced when the heart and the mind of the
reader move with rhythmic coordination in conjuring images that tell stories of a time when life placed a higher value on other considerations alien to our times.
For example, in one of the quattrains, Omar says:
And If the Wine you drink, the Lip you press,
End in what All begins and ends in
- Yes; Think then you are To-day what Yesterday You were
Tomorrow you shall not be less
Some of the quattrains flow with a musical refrain that echoes with our
heartbeat. For instance:
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough.
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread -
and Thou Beside me singing in the
Wilderness -
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
The world should be grateful that two learned and talented men, from ages long past, had inexplicably and unintentionally combined their inspired writings for the benefit of generations that followed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Course In Miracles
By Helen Schucman
Publisher: Foundation for Inner Peace

IF YOU are faced with a choice of reading only one book for the rest of your life, let it be this one. It is certainly the most amazing book I have read in my entire life.
It is actually a three-in-one book. The first volume is called the Text; the econd is Workbook for Students and the third, Manual for Teachers. Originally, it was published in three parts but the ACIM, as it is generally called, has merged to be one book.
This book was born under unusual circumstances. The writer is Helen Schucman who was a research psychologist as well as an associate professor of medical psychology. Schucman preferred to refer to herself as the "scribe".
Schucman had made public that the writing on this book was through inner dictation. She said she was aided in the process by Dr William Thetford, who was a professor of medical psychology.
ACIM is a comprehensive self-study spiritual thought system. It does not impose any special conditions on the part of the reader except a willingness to partake in its lessons.
In its introduction, it says:

"This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite."

Even though the book is all about spirituality, the writer herself is a self-professed atheist. Schucman said: "I do not believe what has been written but I do know the principles work." A strange statement about an otherwise astounding book.
ACIM was published in 1975 and has since been translated into nine other languages with another 11 in the translation process.
This book alters a person's perception of life in general. It teaches you to "see" beyond what is before your eyes. It makes you understand the link of all that exists and what can never die.
The whole message of ACIM can be distilled into just a few lines. And they are:

Nothing real can be threatened
Nothing unreal exists
Herein lies the peace of God.

ACIM changes your life if you allow it to. It alters an individual's sense of perception and transports you to another level of consciousness. If you have the discipline to follow the 365 lessons in the Workbook for Students, it will clear your mind, unlock your heart and free your soul to wander to its real home.
In its 30 years of existence, it has spread its message and lessons across the world. The ACIM book cannot be found in bookshops. It can only be obtained from its source, the Foundation For Inner Peace. That is, through the Internet.
Students who have "undergone" the course believe the book "finds" them when the desire and quest for spiritual fulfilment burns brightly in their hearts.
To read the book is to embark on a journey without distance. It teaches its reader that "heaven is here, there's no other place; heaven is now, there's no other time."