Voting For Joy

vote

India, the world’s largest democracy, is in the throes of a thrilling and tumultuous election. But this is NOT another post about voting wisely on election day – this post is about living wisely.

We need to be conscious that we are casting our vote not just once in five years, but every day. Every choice we make is a ballot for the world we want to live in.

Every product we buy is a vote. Companies run on profits. So if there are fewer buyers, the assembly line stops. Every television channel we watch is a vote for more such programming. Advertisers pay media networks for audiences and if we stop watching, it eventually stops being produced.

Some votes are less obvious. If we put money into a company’s shares purely for the promise of returns, regardless of its human and environmental policies, we are casting a vote. If we buy a product because it’s a little cheaper regardless of how it was produced, we cast a vote. We vote every day with our wallet.

Most importantly, what we give attention to in our own lives every moment is a vote. If we indulge in our anger, we empower that within us. If we are casual about our integrity, we contribute to a world that is corrupt and lazy. Every time we are conscious and kind, we contribute to a world that is the same.

So let’s vote consciously every day. Let’s vote for peace instead of meaningless entertainment distractions. Let’s vote for health over the call of junk-food consumerism. Let’s vote for love and blessing over isolation and anxious self-concern. Choose what you want to vote for and live it!

As we get more awake to our daily votes, we won’t need to blame government for their broken promises. We will be shaping the planet in the most powerful way possible – through our time, attention and money.

Our life is a vote for the world we want to live in.

So vote wisely.

BLESS YOU!

blessings

A few days ago, I was unexpectedly invited to a high-profile party. In general, I find almost everything unpleasant about parties – the ear-damaging thump-thump of music, the smoke-and-alcohol fog, the stilted conversations and the late-late hours. But this time, as my wife Aditi and I dressed, it struck me: “You know why we are going? Our job is to bless everyone there.

The idea came with force and clarity and resonated for both of us. So as we drove, we sent blessings ahead to the party. When we reached, we silently, sincerely wished real joy on all those we could see. It wasn’t difficult because we  genuinely adored the host, and were fond of many of the guests. Bathed in an aura of blessing, we found ourselves easy and open, generous and unselfconscious. We saw God in many different forms and ended up having a smooth, beautiful time.

The next day, as we reflected on how unexpectedly perfect the night had been, I connected the dots. And I realized that for the last few years, the joy of blessing has grown almost unnoticed.

Today, I do it as often as I remember. On flights, I bless everyone on the plane as we take off. Before meetings, I bless those who are going to be there. After meditation, I play a little audio track which reminds me to dedicate the positive potential of this meditation. I even bless my blog posts before I publish so that they may reach those who need to read them.

This gradual love for blessing was triggered a few years ago after a conversation with my brother and mentor GD. When I was going through a dark spell of frustration at how life was not working out for me, he suggested as a solution: “Why don’t you try wishing for others what you want most in life?”

In those days, grappling with mental advaita gymnastics, I thought his suggestion was sentimental, feel-good foo-foo. But I instantly experienced its joy. Over time, as I heard more about it from GD, I saw the deep insight behind it.

For example, it is impossible for the mind to bless and judge others at the same time. To bless someone, you cannot vibrate with the lower frequencies of scarcity, fear or anger – you have to hold the energy of love and abundance.

The state of blessing is also close to our true nature. So, as you clean your inner load, the bedrock of quiet blessing begins to shine naturally (A sage, without saying a word, is a blessing to the planet). Not surprisingly, every ancient religion prescribes some form of blessing or prayer – it is the simplest way to connect with your true nature!

Initially, blessing seemed wiser use of intention than manipulating the universe into manifesting what I had to admit were conditioned egoic desires. Over time, the sheer joy of doing it caused it to spread to other parts of my life.

A few months later, GD recommended a little book, ‘The Gentle Art of Blessing’ by Pierre Pradervand (which I would also endorse unequivocally). “By blessing,” Pradervand says, “I mean wishing from the bottom of the heart, in total sincerity, the very best for those people – their complete fulfillment and complete happiness.” In his book, Pradervand suggests:

On awakening, bless this day…
On passing people in the street, on the bus, in places of work and play, bless them…
On meeting people and talking to them, bless them…
As you walk, bless the city…
P. S. And of course, above all, do not forget to bless the utterly beautiful person
you are.

Do try this if you feel inspired. Take a few minutes to bless others in whatever words work for you – the sincerity matters more than the phrasing. Picture them joyful and forgive them for any real or imagined wrongdoing; forgive yourself for the same. If the other is not ready to receive the blessing, Pradervand says, it stays in their aura until they are – but for you, the result is always instant and liberating.