Monday, 15 August 2016

DEVI MAHATYAM/CHANDI PATH 108 DAYS: A SERIOUS SADHANA COURSE GRADUATE'S EXPERIENCE


I am so pleased to celebrate the great efforts of the esteemed MR, an Indian graduate of the Serious Sadhana  Course who decided to chant the Chandi Path for 108 days and has just completed this difficult tapasya. Well done!

She has also very kindly agreed to allow us to publish her own comments on how this went for her, and I know many of you think about chanting this (even more think about... just reading a chapter now and then!) but it's a very tough assignment and takes a lot of endurance.

Anyway, her words..

MR's story 

"My 108 days sadhana started off in the morning of Chaitra Navratri - 8th April, 2016 (Friday). I started with the regular puja rituals. Then I took the sankalpa to chant DS every day (except the 5 days of periods). On the first day, saw a rainbow in the sky. I assumed that to be the signal from Ma to go ahead.

I made sure to sit almost on the same time every day. At first, it took almost 4 hrs to complete the full puja rituals, dhyana and chanting. Then later on I could finish all within 3 hrs. At gross level I did not face any problem. 

But in the subtle level, I had problem in concentrating many a times. It was difficult to keep my mind from wandering away while chanting. Another problem that I faced was – feeling sleepy while chanting. But I could overcome these problems to some extent, later on. To concentrate while chanting, I developed the habit of visualizing all that is written in the episodes. To overcome drowsiness, I took tea just before taking bath in the morning.

I followed strict vegetarian diet. Did not allow any non-veg food (including egg) in the house. Got full co-operation from my husband.

There were many times when I felt the surge of emotions such as happiness, depression, anger, frustration etc. There were times when I felt all the sadhana futile. I wondered why am I doing this? Is Ma Durga really listening to my chanting? 

Many a time, I felt like I should discontinue. But then, there was one thought that kept me going – ‘I made a promise to Ma that I will chant DS for 108 days and I must fulfill it, no matter what’.

I felt, Ma Durga who is taking care of the entire creation, to her I can show my heartfelt gratitude in this tiny little way. There were many times when I felt a strange feeling in my heart and tears flowed non-stop, from my eyes. I have dedicated my sadhana at Ma’s lotus feet. It is she who made me do.

The ‘Kshma prarthana’ in the last, is very important. I used to chant it with full sincerity and beg for forgiveness for all the mistakes I did and also for the lack of concentration.

Now I have developed a strange addiction to DS and I am waiting eagerly to start again. I love chanting DS. There is certainly something strange about it.

I am still on the journey. I am still trying to know my ‘self’. And am waiting eagerly for the day when there will be no “I”. I am waiting to experience all that I know only in theory. The actual experience is the true knowledge.

I have written my experiences in a nutshell for you to read quickly, without wasting your precious time.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

SPIRITUAL ANNIVERSARIES... AND MEETING MAHARISHI



In the spiritual life, just as in the worldly, there are special times and dates that come round every year, bringing memories and associations that stretch back to earlier parts of our life. Each faith tradition in turn has a sort of well-marked annual calendar, and I'm sure many Indian readers of this blog will have vivid memories of  Navaratris past or present, or any number of religious festivals, just as we in the west can remember Christmases or Passovers or even Thanksgiving days in the US. 

But there is another calendar at work every year which is intensely personal, and consists of great moments that happen on your spiritual journey - or decisive points of change that only really get revealed with the benefit of hindsight. So...the day you met your Guru... the time you had some uplifting experience.. or when you began to turn your life around... you can come up with your own list. Add a comment and share your own experience!


The 4th of August

What has caused this post is that every year, unfailingly, the weather conditions come round to replicate one particular day etched in my memory, the 4th August 1976. Even if I forget it in the conscious mind, something about the quality of light, or warmth, or general conditions each 4th August causes my body, like some forest animal, to sniff the air and say "Aaah... it's that time again".

The day means little to anyone else, why should it? But for me, it marked a dramatic change in life, because this was the day I left England to go to Switzerland and begin working on staff for Maharishi's then-growing Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement. I would resurface back in the world over three years later as a fully fledged meditation teacher (first stop, war-torn Belfast, Northern Ireland), but that's a whole other story.

So I want you to come walk with me a while you put yourself in my place. I was young, just 22 years old, and that summer had graduated from Oxford University, then spent a month or two lazing around in one of the hottest summers the UK has ever experienced. Always in the background of this hot summer was this looming mission to go work on TM staff, a big unknown which my parents of course thought was simply throwing my young life away. I thought differently. I was fired up by TM's idealism, by the practice of daily meditation, just by the newness and oddness of eastern spirituality - which at the time was an exotic flower beginning to bloom in the west, long before yoga became a lifestyle choice. 

TM seemed to offer amazing possibilities - Maharishi had even made the cover of Time magazine  the year earlier, so there was a sense of idealism, of a belief in the ability to revolutionise the world in a spiritual way. Idealism and the young are meant to go together, and when they do, produce enormous bursts of productive and world-changing energy. So, I had hopes, wishes, a desire to serve a higher cause. And furthermore it annoyed my parents. What young man could ask for more?

At the time, I was part of a group of fellow Oxford students, and we had all lived in the same two houses, had our own rock band, our own jokes, some were girlfriend and boyfriend and in general life was good. So good, in fact, I ended up without quite meaning too adding a girlfriend, well more like a brief liason, that summer of a visiting Norwegian girl who was a friend of one of our group. This was an odd enough development, but as the summer wore on, I had another aim in mind. I waited for that telegram (no emails in those days) that would tell me where and when to report.

It came, told me to make it to TM's main ashram in Switzerland, and off  I  had to go by train from the parched, drought-stricken countryside in the south of England to connect up to Victoria Station, the big London terminus which had the trains to the continent. The day was 4th August. It being high holiday time, the train was completely packed. I remember some friends turned up to see me off, then I sat in the sweltering heat waiting for the train to depart. I was excited, curious, a little nervous... and cramped.

About 15 minutes before the train was due to go I heard my name called on the station tannoy. I panicked! Should I leave my bags on the train? I asked the person next to me to guard my belongings then off I jumped, ran as fast as i could all the way down the platform, somehow found the right office, and got the tel;gram... my destination had changed to Austria! With two minutes to go, I managed to run back to my carriage and finally the journey began.

Freshness

In those days there was no tunnel linking the UK to France, so the only way over was via a ferry, which of course was also packed. Seat found, I watched the ferry get underway — and the White Cliffs of Dover slip into the background. Five long hours later, it reached Oostend, the major Belgian rail hub, found the right train... and as the sun fell sped through first Belgium, then France, then on into Switzerland. Somewhere along the way I finally fell asleep after serenading two Finnish tourists in the same carriage with the guitar I'd brought along and a bunch of songs.

When I woke up, lifted the plastic blind to see the dawn come up as the train rattled along, it was like waking up to a transformed world. The contrast between the lush green fields that we were passing with the dry brown fields of an overhot England could not be more striking. It seemed like the first greenery I'd seen in a 1000 years. Everything looked fresh, abundant, almost hallucinogenically green and verdant, fields covered by gentle clouds of early morning mist.

One of the great things about long train journeys is this gradual but inexorable shift in climatic conditions. Normally, the further south you go from England the hotter it gets, but this year -unusually - it was the other way round. It was like coming alive, being reborn, on that long train ride and I've often thought since then of one wise saying (cant remember where from) "It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive". Something about a journey from the known to the unknown makes us ponder the bigger journey of life as we pass from childhood, to youth, to adulthood - and this was the symbolic transition point from youth to manhood, though I did not realise it at the time.

More trains, this time from Switzerland through to Austria, destination Innsbruck, a city surrounded by mountains and stuffed with beer cellars - which I avoided. I had a few hours to kill so went to the art gallery which was full of giant heroic paintings from the 1930s. 

From Innsbruck I would finally have to leave urban civilisation behind and go way up into the mountains to find the place the TM course for which I would be working would be held. Somehow I found the right bus, although the bus driver shook his head when I told him "Axamer Lizum", trying to tell me in German (which I did not speak) that there would be no return buses... but then he gave up, and early afternoon saw me sitting in a bus that left the city, surrounded by Austrian women with huge bags of shopping, and the bus quickly began to climb steep slopes, past hamlets of  picture-postcard perfect wooden chalets festooned with hanging boxes of flowers, and gradually disgorged its passengers in little groups until only I and the bus driver were left (in my memory the bus driver was still shaking his head). 

Finally... around 4pm, after more than 24 hours of travelling, the bus pulled into this huge empty car park, surrounded by steep hills covered with pines, and the bus driver motioned me to get out. He quickly turned the bus round and I was alone.

I didn't know then... but quickly learned.. that Axamer Lizum, the final stop on the way had been the sight of the winter olympics a few years back. There was nothing but a modern looking rather ugly hotel, and huge jagged mountain peaks visible behind the slopes. The air was bracing and chilly, my first ever taste of proper mountain air - as intoxicating as wine.

Who are you?

I shouldered my bag, took the guitar and walked into the hotel, the site of a TM advanced course. If you have ever stepped into a place where large groups of people meditate intensely, you will recognise the almost palpable wave of energy that hits you as soon as you go in through the door. It  sort of stops the breath. You can feel this throbbing silence with subtle senses you might not realise you have, but which awaken in such circumstances. 

I wandered around the hotel, it seemed empty, although in fact every course participant (there were around 100 people of every nationality) was doing their afternoon meditation programme. Finally I found an office where two young men in suits were sitting. They looked up in surprise. "Who are you?" asked one. I handed them my now battered telegram, which they studied from every angle. "But we know nothing about this," another said. I tried to explain the last-minute change of destination, and eventually, a phone call later, all was sorted. I was to work on staff. They showed my my room in the basement, very narrow with a huge high ceiling and a narrow window, and told me my elevated position: pot washer.

So, in this atmosphere of meditation intensity, I found myself with a multinational group of other staff members, all earning credit to go on TM teacher training courses, and then dealing with an unexpected bout of homesickness and insecurity. What on earth was I doing there? Within a day I had decided to quit, but despite this, stayed on, and soon got used to the life.

Every afternoon I had free, so began a lifelong habit of wandering into the mountains, which in high summer were free of snow and covered with wild flowers, gorse, flowing with streams, and also a place of pasture for herds of beautiful cows, each with cowbells. The place rang with this sound of cowbells, a constant gentle tinkling noise in the background. 

I soon made friends. One in particular was far from home - a hippie Australian, one of the kindest people I ever met. When you are homesick you need a kind word or two, and he was just one of the sweetest people I'd ever met. The cook was a motherly Italian girl. The other figure that loomed large was an elderly Austrian teacher called Andreas, small, slim and bald, who had worked on staff in the early days of the movement in the 1950s so knew Maharishi personally. He was a doctor and had come on his summer holiday to help out. 

In our young naive state we staff thought he was an enlightened being and treated him with exaggerated respect. I laugh when I think about it, but he did have a fantastic aura, his face shone with light. 


The benefits of a potato

Andreas came to the rescue  one evening when i was having to carry a huge pot of boiling water out from the kitchen to the main dining room. Being young and eager, I was overeager and the inevitable happened. I lost my balance, the pot crashed to the floor and scaled my right leg and foot. I think I felt shame more than anything else, but then the foot began to throb with pain. Andreas offered the perfect solution. He got some raw potatoes, and shredded them in a grater, wrapped them in a wet cloth, and applied the potato as a poultice over the burn. What a wonderful folk remedy! When the potato got too hot, it was time to grate some more. My foot quickly healed.





Meeting Maharishi

Little did I know it at the time, but in fact that service in the first course was only to last a month, and the climax to this month for the course participants was a visit from the great Maharishi itself.  There was a frenzy of cleaning, scrubbing, preparing, but eventually the afternoon came and we heard the news "Maharishi is on his way." Even the staff were allowed to see him. So we all dressed up as smartly as we could.

About ten minutes before he came, the cows from the mountain all spontaneously came down to the car park, with a massive collective jingling of cow bells and a sustained burst of mooing. This still is something I cannot explain. but i've met this phenomenon many times with spiritual teachers, and in times when my mind is filled with peace on retreats seen the same thing - there is a Yoga Sutra from Patanjali that Serious Sadhana Course students should remember, on Ahimsa, peacefulness.. that when you radiate Ahimsa, then all hostilities cease, and animals lose their natural fear of you. It's a great sign you are on the right path!

Then... the great moment.

He was a small man, Maharishi, familiar from 1000 photos, the famous guru of the Beatles, the Beachboys, Mia Farrow and other celebrities. Always dressed in a white robe, at the time with a greying beard but otherwise full of life, with these deep deep eyes like in the picture above. He came holding a huge bunch of flowers, garlands around his neck, and as he moved down a long darshan line, it was like this treacly wave of bliss preceded him, this enormous ocean of energy in which he was the centre. He passed me by, the longed for  "Ah my son, Thou hast come to me" never materialised, but I remember to this day that wave of energy, that feeling of someone being at the dead calm centre of a storm. 

Over the next few years I was to see him on many occasions, and eventually became a teacher of TM myself... and even greeted him as he stepped out of a helicopter. But I've never forgotten that visit he made up in the mountains of Austria, in the long hot summer of 1976.

Life changed for me, and 4th of August is the day I choose to remember that change. Forgive an old man his ramblings, but... such beauty!









































  


































Monday, 1 August 2016

SADHANA ISSUES #1: WHO TO TRUST, WHERE TO TURN



The first of a new series dealing with basic sadhana issues:

Let's assume you are getting a little more serious about spiritual practice, but you find yourself sort of paralysed. What do you do? Where to turn? Who to trust? 

Perhaps the first lesson you need to take on board is the simple axiom "Trust your heart, not your mind". 

The mind and short cuts

Lets take that mysterious inner presence we call the mind in the English language, though sanskrit has far more detailed and delicate distinctions between manas, the buddhi, and ahamkara. Let's keep it simple for the moment.

If you have a scientific background you may remember that light always takes short-cuts , the quickest route. So it is with the mind. 

Your mind is predicated on taking short-cuts to safety and satisfaction, avoiding effort, and going for the short-term, especially if this short-term solution promises that a) someone or something does all the work for you, and b) something promises you power, safety and control. 

Anything beyond the short-term for the mind is hard, because it is normally restless and constantly moving. The sages give us many examples and similes to ponder: The mind is like a monkey, hopping from branch to branch and making a commotion. Yup, that feels true. The mind is also described as being like a bee, travelling from flower to flower in search of nectar. Both of these pictures involve restless movement. 

Getting serious about sadhana often involves trying to escape from unpleasantness - running away from adverse circumstances or life problems, like an unhappy marriage, loneliness, a bad job, no job, disrespect and powerlessness. What does the mind do in such circumstances? It speeds up, panics and goes for the nearest possible solution without any care.

So the mind may lead you to believe that maybe the way forward is complicated Vedic chanting, or learning some wonderful powerful secret mantra, or finding this great Guru who will lift every burden from your shoulder.Then, when nothing much seems to change, everything gets dropped and you are back to square one. 

The problem in many ways is the legacy of available literature and scriptures about gurus and sacred texts. Pretty much every sacred text you repeat for worship involves a "These are the benefits" list at the end of it. The Chandi Path is one example... but take your pick from Kavachas of deities, Chalisas, stotras, all of them promise something. Many however also add words like "if regularly recited" (or in the case of Nrsimha kavach "if recited 32,000 times), or "if recited with devotion". 

This is the mistake the mind tends to make: reciting something just like that, without attention or care, or focus, or devotion, and it is like planting a seed in a desert. The key to it all is your attitude and reverence. 

The heart has its reasons

This is where the heart comes into it. The heart is what leads you to not make effort, but sustain it. The heart leads you the Guru that is right for you. the heart tells you also what is not right for you, too. The heart's messages come as a sense of intuition, a sort of inner compass that tells you when you are wandering off the path you should be following. 

Meditation uncovers the heart in all of us, because it helps still the mind. It is like the sun and moon... you can only see the moon in its glory when the sun goes down. And only when the mind is still is the heart revealed.

The heart leads you on in sadhana. And it will tell you whom to trust and what to do. The heart also does not work short-term. The heart knows that everything has its season, its time to flower and grow, and that some things are too delicate to be rushed. This is directly contrasted to the "I must have it and have it now" mania of the mind. So... trust the heart! 

The Buddhi

But there is a third factor in play, and it is actually the most important of all in the setting up of spiritual practice. It is the Buddhi, often translated as the intellect, but essentially that part of our mind that makes a choice and says yes or no to the mind's direction and hasty conclusions. The buddhi is what is primarily purified in the initial stages of sadhana. By spiritual practise we clean our ability to choose, to allow or limit.

The Buddhi in action is that which gets you exercising, or going to paid work, or choosing not to binge on chocolate or cakes. The Buddhi is the gatekeeper of the mind, and the enforcer of discipline. Somewhere in this is what we call "common sense" in English - and if you ever get involved in a spiritual group bunched around a charismatic teacher, you need plenty of it! Things can quickly get very wierd in the hothouse of a spiritual movement...

The choice

Then there is the choice you are going to make about who to trust, or specifically the problem of trusting in God, the Divine, whatever you call it, when you can see so much messed up and cruel in creation. We do live after all, in a world where everything eats something else, even if it is only light. Suffering is everywhere. Bombs go off. Cheats, scoundrels, black-hearted or mad types lurk in every street corner.  All this can create a toxic inner bomb of anger, frustration, desire for revenge (it's amazing how many people get in touch with the blogger just to get some revenge for some insult they have been brooding over) . 

Your choice, if you really want a spiritualised life, is to stop all this nonsense. And then contemplate God at work. In the Vedic religious traditions, deities often have a benign but also wrathful side - there is room to allow the nastiness in the world. Contemplate God, really sit down and ponder "What and who do I believe in?". Even if the answer is just something like "Well, i believe in the Truth", keep contemplating. God is always near you. That's not a fanciful inspirational thought but a reality. God is near you. So why can't you feel God's presence?  And if you could feel, would you want to?

Sadhana is not easy, dont be fooled into thinking that. It does not produce instant results. This is what the Buddhist Dhammapada has to say:

Acts carelessly done
Practices corruptly performed
The Holy life lived perversely
Lead to little or no benefit at all.

If anything is to be done
Do it well
With energy and devotion.

As a border city must be carefully protected
So guard yourself both within and without.
Build your defences wisely and in time.

If these things are not attended to 
At the right moment
Great sadness will come.

The clear seeing which knows
That which is flawed as flawed
And that which is pure as pure
Can lead beings to transcend misery.

312-3, 315, 319

























Tuesday, 19 July 2016

GURU PURNIMAH 2016: THE GREATNESS OF THE GURU
















How do we even describe the greatness of a Guru? It's not really possible. But many have tried. It is the way of devotees to honour those from whom wisdom flows, to thank them for all the great changes that come from alignment with the Guru. And humans being humans, especially in India, the feeling of gratitude can become very excitable — and before you know it the whole Guru is covered with flowers and their feet sore from being touched by thousands.

So what's going on — and what is the best way to honour a Guru? Indeed, should one honour a Guru at all?

Students of the serious sadhana course will be familiar with the this whole concept because we examine it in detail over the course. There are of course gurus and  Gurus. there are gurus obsessed with money and status and control over others, way to the other side of the spectrum, the great free beings or Avadhuts who need no one or nothing, self contained in bliss, but who faithfully follow the instructions of God and become hubs for the transmission of dharma.

It is always, fundamentally, the same dharma. Truth is truth, it is just clothed a little differently along the ages. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had a good analogy of Gurus of this kind being like engineers who come along and repair and clear the road of dharma, which needs repairing after a while as conditions change on this earth plane. It is still extraordinary how many great souls became active in India just about the time that nuclear power became a reality and how we were all threatened by nuclear annihilation in the battle between two superpowers. 

The real worship

The real worship of the Guru is worship of dharma, of the path of light, justice and morality and nobility, embodied in the ideal form of the great god-king Lord Rama. Studying Rama's noble actions is a way to see dharma in action. Everything is there - the courage, the wisdom, the goodness and you can study the Ramayana to see what happens when goodness meets its opposite.

The Guru's job is to follow God's instructions. My own Guru, Sri Sri Sri Shivabalayogi was initiated into tapas by Lord Shiva himself as a teenager... and there after only did or said what Lord Shiva told him to do. Lord Shiva told him to teach meditation, so that's what he did. 

So worshipping a Guru is worshipping an open window, a portal, through which the divine light pours. Many of you may have had the lucky experience of being in the actual physical presence of a Guru who is opened in this way. and it is like being next to ... what? a galactic event. It shakes you, fills you, and normally the most worldly of humans will then nod off to sleep because they cannot stand this form of radiation.

The real worship is therefore worship of the Paramatman. And this same Paramatman shines in you... so you don't need to look elsewhere. Gurus tell us this time and time again, but few ever listen or take this on board. 

God is within you. God -however you conceive of God - lives in the cave within your heart. This is not just words. Meditate intensely, regularly, boldly, single-mindedly without deviating and you will see this brilliant truth.You need to get your scheming mind out of the way and the best way is meditation. 

God, too, will send you a Guru when and if it is necessary. Be content with that. Many people want a Guru to be a sort of tame adviser, like a phone-in line, as equally interested in our little lives as we are and willing to stay up night and day to pamper our egos and make sure we are lucky and win all the time. Wrong idea! Gurus are there to bust all this rubbish. And it can be painful to have your little expectations shattered - and then comes the backlash! 

Do everyone a favour this Guru Purnimah and if nothing else: a prayer of thanks to God that dharma is still accessible in this Kali Yuga. Stay grounded, simple, humble.. and blessings will flow.





Saturday, 4 June 2016

RECONSIDERING THE DESIDERATA

My generation in the west, the hippie generation in the 1960s, had a thing about posters, a sort of revived popular art form that allowed us, like our children and childrens children after us, to cover the walls of student accomodation with all sorts of wonderful artwork. I wish I still had mine, as some would be worth a fortune!
One of the most ubiquitous, seen almost on every wall, was the text of what was called the Desiderata... Some wise and humane words of advice (words you will find below) about how to Live. We thought at the time that they came from some 17th century gravestone, but in fact they were written by a psychiatrist. No matter the source: these words in the pre internet days achieved the feat of becoming a cultural meme that spread across borders.
Subsequent generations may know the words, or stare at them blankly. I first read them when I was 16 years old, and they had a profound impact on my life.
In fact over the years, those words keep reappearing in the mind, and I have yet to find them unhelpful, or untrue. No! More than most wise words, these really are wise... Not tied to any religious tradition (that is a clue in itself to their twentieth century origin), not filled with brutal commands, threats of punishment, exclusivities - the kind found in most religions. Humane, wise, mature.
Going quietly in the noise and bustle... i have never forgotten those words of advice. There is a whole world of treasure found even in this simple injunction. Go quietly! Even in the 1960s the world was almost unbearably noisy... Not just with cars, planes, radios, TV, engines, mechanical noises of all kinds, but the noise of antagonistic ideas, views, arguments.

Since then, the noise has grown considerably louder. People in fact can go crazy with their own mental chatter. So: cutting the noise has always been part of the way I like to live my life. Only in silence, inner and outer, does the underlying sense of the world and our place in it appear. 
The Desiderata also contained advice that the young me no doubt quickly dismissed, about keeping interest in your career, looking out for trickery and so on. But all that is as true now as it was then. Readers of this blog will be amazed and how many scam emails turn up, sent by goodness knows who for the purposes of cheating and deceit. How can such nastiness exist? Well, we are on the earth plane of existence, and this world of ours contains many nasty characters. Within each of us, too, lies a shadow side, so its part of the human experience - dealing with our own weaknesses and failings, but not to the point of self-destruction.

The words on love seem also deeply true. It can spring from nowhere.. As perennial as the grass. Then there is advice on discipline... Beyond a wholesome discipline be gentle with yourself. My word, how many people I have known who tend to create truly terrifying versions of angry judgemental Gods ready to leap on any minor infraction of some mispronounced mantra! What utter nonsense, so just always... Be gentle with yourself in the very big words.

Now at the age of 62 I think I have earned the right to give my young self my own little Desiderata. So... The original masterpiece is at the end of the post. But what follows is Baba Desiderata 2016!

My advice to the young me:

Be sure to walk your own path, listen to your own heart. It will be different from most people in the world around you, so you will need courage.

You are going to fail many times. But pick yourself up, keep going.

The mysteries of life will unfold by regular meditation. Never forget that meditation belongs to no particular faith or creed. It is a way to harness the incredible powers of the human mind and will.

Your view on God will change many times as you progress in life. Dont be afraid to experiment, to learn from each religious tradition and be fearless in cutting away the dead wood of religions and movements.

You will find that people are stubborn, mostly greedy and contracted. But you will also find real gems out there. The great souls will mostly be hidden from the curious and violent. But their presence saves us from disaster.

In the world, you will have to deal with suffering. Much of this is because everything is always apparently changing, breaking down, shifting. But you will find security if you look, there are many clues to the unchanging.

Love those you love, avoid those you dont. You cannot love everyone. But forgive others 1000 times over. We are all frail.

Old age has fantastic blessings, so do not be afraid to embrace it.

Be grateful for the incarnation. Beauty is all around, every second of every day. Never go sour on life, it is a waste of time.

THE ORGINAL DESIDERATA
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, "Desiderata".[1]