When all is illusory, only Hell is real?

A beautiful anecdote about the Adi Shankaracharya, the first shankaracharya from a Master.

Shankaracharya was in Varanasi. One day, early in the morning -- it was still dark because traditionally the Hindu monks take a bath before sunrise -- he took a bath.

And as he was coming up the steps, a man touched him on purpose, not accidentally, and told him, "Please forgive me. I am a sudra, I am untouchable. I am sorry, but you will have to take another bath to clean yourself."

Shankaracharya was very angry. He said, "It was not accidental, the way you did that; you did it on purpose. You should be punished in hell."

The man said, "When all is illusory, it seems only hell remains real." That took Shankaracharya aback.

The man said, "Before you go for your bath, you have to answer my few questions. If you don't answer me, each time you come up after your bath, I will touch you."

It was lonely and nobody else was there, so Shankaracharya said, "You seem to be a very strange person. What are your questions?"

He said, "My first question is: Is my body illusory? Is your body illusory? And if two illusions touch each other, what is the problem? Why are you going to take another bath? You are not practicing what you are preaching. How, in an illusory world, can there be a distinction between the untouchable and the brahmin? -- the pure and the impure? -- when both are illusory, when both are made of the same stuff as dreams are made of? What is the fuss?"

Shankaracharya, who had been conquering great philosophers, could not answer this simple man because any answer was going to be against his philosophy. If he says they are illusory, then there is no point in being angry about it. If he says they are real, then at least he accepts the reality of bodies... but then there is a problem. If human bodies are real, then animal bodies, the bodies of the trees, the bodies of the planets, the stars... then everything is real.

And the man said, "I know you cannot answer this -- it will finish your whole philosophy. I'll ask you another question: I am a sudra, untouchable, impure, but where is my impurity -- in my body or in my soul? I have heard you declaring that the soul is absolutely and forever pure, and there is no way to make it impure; so how can there be a distinction between souls? Both are pure, absolutely pure, and there are no degrees of impurity -- that somebody is more pure and somebody is less pure.

So perhaps it is my soul that has made you impure and you have to take another bath?"

That was even more difficult. But he had never been in such trouble -- actual, practical, in a way scientific. Rather than arguing about words, the sudra had created a situation in which the great Adi Shankaracharya accepted his defeat.

And the sudra said, "Then don't go take another bath. Anyway there is no river, no me, no you; all is a dream. Just go in the temple -- that too is a dream -- and pray to God. He too is a dream, because he is a projection of a mind which is illusory, and an illusory mind cannot project anything real.


A Story of Appreciation

One young man academically excellent person went to apply for a managerial position in a big company. He passed the first interview, the director did the last interview, made the last decision.

The director discovered from the CV that the Young Man's academic achievements were excellent all the way, from the secondary school until the postgraduate research, never had a year when he did not score good grades.

The director asked, "Did you obtain any scholarships in school?" the Young Man answered "None."

The director asked, " Was it your father who paid for your school fees?"

The Young Man answered, "My father passed away when I was one year old, it was my mother who paid for my school fees."

The director asked, "Where did your mother work?"

The Young Man answered, "My mother worked as clothes cleaner."

The director requested the Young Man to show his hands. The Young Man showed a pair of hands that were smooth and perfect.

The director asked, " Have you ever helped your mother wash the clothes before?"

The Young Man answered, "Never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books. Furthermore, my mother can wash clothes faster than me."

The director said, "I have a request. When you go back today, go and clean your mother's hands, and then see me tomorrow morning."

The Young Man felt that his chance of landing the job was high. When he went back, he happily requested his mother to let him clean her hands. His mother felt strange, happy but with mixed feelings, she showed her hands to the kid. The Young Man cleaned his mother's hands slowly. His tear fell as he did that.

It was the first time he noticed that his mother's hands were so wrinkled, and there were so many bruises in her hands. Some bruises were so painful that his mother shivered when they were cleaned with water.

This was the first time the Young Man realized that it was this pair of hands that washed the clothes everyday to enable him to pay the school fee. The bruises in the mother's hands were the price that the mother had to pay for his graduation, academic excellence and his future. After finishing the cleaning of his mother hands, the Young Man quietly washed all the remaining clothes for his mother. That night, mother and son talked for a very long time.

Next morning, the Young Man went to the director's office.

The Director noticed the tears in the Young Man's eyes, asked: "Can you tell me what have you done and learned yesterday in your house?"

The Young Man answered, "I cleaned my mother's hand, and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes."

The Director asked, "Please tell me your feelings."

The Young Man said,

Number 1, I know now what is appreciation. Without my mother, there would not be the successful me today.

Number 2, by working together and helping my mother, only I now realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done.

Number 3, I have come to appreciate the importance and value of family relationship.

The director said, "This is what I am looking for to be my manager."

I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the sufferings of others to get things done, and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life. You are hired.

Later on, this young person worked very hard, and received the respect of his subordinates. Every employee worked diligently and as a team. The company's performance improved tremendously. 

A child, who has been protected and habitually given whatever he wanted, would develop "entitlement mentality" and would always put himself first. He would be ignorant of his parent's efforts. When he starts work, he assumes that every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager, he would never know the sufferings of his employees and would always blame others. For this kind of people, who may be good academically, may be successful for a while, but eventually would not feel sense of achievement. He will grumble and be full of hatred and fight for more. If we are this kind of protective parents, are we really showing love or are we destroying the kid instead?

You can let your kid live in a big house, eat a good meal, learn piano, watch a big screen TV. But when you are cutting grass, please let them experience it. After a meal, let them wash their plates and bowls together with their brothers and sisters. It is not because you do not have money to hire a maid, but it is because you want to love them in a right way. You want them to understand, no matter how rich their parents are, one day their hair will grow gray, same as the mother of that young person. The most important thing is your kid learns how to appreciate the effort and experience the difficulty and learns the ability to work with others to get things done.

The Power of Positive Thinking

Each one of us has the same potential to grow - but the way we think affects the outcome!

Two seeds lay side by side in the fertile soil.

The first seed said, "I want to grow! I want to send my roots deep into the soil beneath me, and thrust my sprouts through the earth's crust above me ... I want to unfurl my tender buds like banners to announce the arrival of spring ... I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the blessing of the morning dew on my petals!"

And so she grew...

The second seed said, "Hmmmm. If I send my roots into the ground below, I don't know what I will encounter in the dark. If I push my way through the hard soil above me I may damage my delicate sprouts ... what if I let my buds open and a snail tries to eat them? And if I were to open my blossoms, a small child may pull me from the ground. No, it is much better for me to wait until it is safe."

And so she waited...

A yard hen scratching around in the early spring ground for food found the waiting seed and promptly ate it.

Wake Up With a Positive Attitude - Steve Rizzo

Waking up with a positive attitude is beyond important in today's world of constant stress, information overload, and classic insomnia cases. You must formulate your thinking patterns in a positive way as soon as you open your eyes in the morning. Steve Rizzo has some great tips on what to do, and how this can help.  Watch this video.

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