The VibHuti – The story behind the white streak on my forehead

In many cultures across the globe, ash has a special spiritual meaning.

VibHuti (or Holy Ash), also called Thiruneeru or Vibhooti, is a word that has several meanings in Hinduism. Generally, it is used to denote the sacred ash which is made of burnt dried wood in prayer ceremonies.

Appa, Amma or Thatha would put VibHuti on my forehead when I was a child. Several elders in the family would also put VibHuti on my forehead as they blessed me during festivals. I also got Vibhuti when I visited temples.

To carry the practice forward, I put VibHuti on the boys forehead.

I am not very religious. So, as the grown up me puts on Vibhuti on myself, it is a reminder of how fickle existence is as we know it is. It is a reminder to me not to take anything too damn seriously. It is a reminder that I’ll return to the dust one day.

Because I went to Catholic schools where the nuns taught me, I am alsofamilar with Ash Wednesday
“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Eccl. 12:7).

“In Life, Hinduism asserts, that one should be humble and remember his status, that is of his Mortality.

Accepting Mortality wholeheartedly calls for great effort, and once you accept this, you would not behave in such a way that hurts others.

Because the Vibhuti represents the Ashes one’s Body is turned into after death, the applying of Vibhuti reminds one constantly of his mortality.”
Source: https://ramanan50.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/what-is-vibhutithe-holy-sacred-ash/

Learn more:

http://www.indianmirror.com/culture/indian-folklore/Holy-Ash.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vibhuti
http://www.spiritualresearchfoundation.org/incense/vibhuti
http://www.saibabaofindia.com/significanceofvibhuti.htm
http://shaivam.org/campaigns-of-shaivite/making-of-vibhuthi

5 Love Languages

We think everybody is like us.
We want everybody to be like us.

Not everybody is like us.
Each person is different.
Each person is unique.
Everybody wants to be loved in their own unique way.

I realized several years ago that I was using motivating “terms” that worked on me with Kumar and Adi. Didn’t work. It backfired so badly. It was very frustrating.

After several years of trying to figure it out..I hit a brick wall. That is when one of my friends pointed me to “5 Love Languages”. It was a Eureka moment.

I did the “5 Love Languages” quiz. I also had Adi and Kumar do the quiz. It lead the three of us to understand how each of us wants to be loved. We discussed and laughed about it.

For several months, we worked on using the “love language” that was needed by the other person and not the one we wanted for ourselves. Initially, it was hard work…because we were changing our auto-pilot natural way of being and doing. But, like building muscle or adapting a habit, it eventually came to us. We still lapse. But, we know now how to get back on track.

You would think it is common sense to love as somebody wants to be loved. But, alas, as you know, common sense is not so common.

Do yourself a favor. Take the quiz. Have the family take the quiz. Have a discussion afterwards. Laugh about it and promise to each other to honor them and love them as they want to be loved.

And, tell me how it goes.

Even if you don’t believe in this, go through the exercise to see things from a different perspective than you would normally see.

Trust me. It will be one of the best things you did for yourself and for your relationship with the ones that truly matter in your life.

Reading List Interchange

Usually, I am the one to pound Adi’s email inbox with must-read articles.

Nowadays, he forwards the most interesting stuff about latest research,findings and articles.

Here is one that caught my eye.

How To Live The Good Life: 4 Easy Secrets Backed By Research

Here’s how to live the good life and easily boost the positive emotions in your life:
Smile: Flex that happiness muscle. (Feel free to thank me repeatedly over the next three decades.)
Laugh: How many things prevent divorce and can help you deal with the passing of a loved one?
Touch: Telling them how you feel need not involve telling. And you’ll be a better team.
Tease: Free your inner snark. A little teasing makes things fun. And it makes things last.

Nietzsche once wrote:A person’s maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play.

And what do kids do a lot more often than we adults do?

Smile.
Laugh.
Touch.
Tease.

Today, resolve to approach life like a big kid. Now that’s the good life.

 

Are you turning Better or Bitter?

I usually don’t fall sick. When I sense the onslaught of a sickness, I use the power of my mind to fight it.
Perhaps, that is what is keeping this terrible cold that wants to torture me at bay. That combined with coat, socks, scarf and being dressed like an Eskimo inside the house.

Anyways, we are about a month away from the year to end. So, here are my reflective thoughts.

bitter-or-better-ambal-balakrishnan

Over the last few years, I have realized only 2 things happen to people as they grow up. They either become BITTER or they become BETTER. That is it. Those are the only 2 things that happened.

That is my hypothesis. You don’t have to agree with it. In fact, I much rather that you go through your own reflection and prove me wrong.

So, let me explain my thinking.

I went through a lot of hardships when I was my younger self.
I think those experiences have left me very resilient.
I laugh now more than I ever did .
I take on challenges with a rather playful attitude.
I have also had the fortune of meeting many cherished souls that despite so many hardships, have become better over the years.
They have seen tough times and have done the “Phoenix Rising” act many times over. I adore these people. I look up to them as my role models. I learn from them. They inspire me to get better as I age.

Sadly, that is not everybody. Several people become bitter over the years. It is very sad to see. But, that is the unfortunate truth.

I think not facing adversity in life during early years possibly has something to do with it. They might have not built the “I-have-digged-myself-out-of-deep-shit-and-can-do-it-all-over-again” muscle. But, here is the good news. It is never too late to build that muscle and turn out better.

I also think that not planning for one’s life in early years or placing importance on things that don’t actually matter…leaves one very susceptible to “issues” later on in life.

One of my favorite Tamil poets Vairamuthu says:
Chinna chinna tholvi ketten
Seekkiram aarum kaayam ketten

What it means is the following:
I ask for small failures.
I ask for wounds that will heal soon.

I recite this poem to the boys often.
I wish failure and wounds for them and myself.
I want them and myself to continue to build resilience.
I fight hard to control my motherly instinct.
I let them fight the good fight for themselves.
I step back more often than I should.
Trust me, it requires a lot of self control to step back.

My mother in law used to tell me “Ambal, only keep the good memories”. That is also something that I teach the boys.

Do yourself a favor. Find somebody that really knows you, cares for you and is a straight shooter.

Ask them, “Am I getting bitter or better?”

I hope I’ll only grow better.
I hope that you’ll only grow better.

Because, after this game ends, I would so want to see you on the other side in the Better Camp.

Alrighty?