Why do you have to search elsewhere when you are doing devotion to God? Kabir Saheb explained that everything that you search for in this universe is already contained in you, and many philosophers and religious people say that we are the microcosm of the macrocosm. Microcosm means a universe on a smaller scale containing everything that the macrocosm has. The same elements, the same energy, the same thought, the same intelligence and everything else that God used to create the whole universe, He used to create us. We are made of earth, water, fire, air and ether (prithivi, jal, agni, vayu, akash). The famous astronomer, Carl Sagan, said, “We are made of star stuff.” When you are, therefore, on a mystical path, you understand that God is in you, and everything that is outside of you is within you, because God that is outside is also within. Kabir Saheb said: “Where do you go and search for me brother, I am already with you.” Kabir Saheb has explained many times that you need to find God within. We can spend our whole life in going to all the holy places of pilgrimages – Kashi, Mathura, Ayodhya, Garh Girnar, Rameshwar, Jagdish, Dwaraka and in the west we go to the holy river Jordan, to Lake Galilee, to Sinai, etc., yet we do not find God. We return home and we are the same as before, because nothing has really changed, except that our bank balances have been reduced, and we have a memory of our pilgrimage. We settle down to the same life as before, pursuing all the material goals. We have not made a basic spiritual change in our personality.

What do people gain by doing various observances? People have a longing to attain God realization. People feel that there is more to life than just working, eating and raising a family and doing material things. That is why they are searching for that greater answer in life, but Kabir Saheb said that that answer lies within you. You cannot find anything outside that is going to give you that satisfaction, that eternal knowledge, that peace and bliss for which you are searching, but you will find them within yourself. Kabir Saheb has many sakhis that explain similar thoughts. In one such sakhi he said: kami krodhi lalachi in se bhakti na hoi, bhakti karai koi surama jat baran kul khoi. (Lustful, angry, and greedy people cannot do devotion; only a brave person without pride for his clan, caste and family lineage can do devotion). Let us try to understand this sakhi. The average person practicing his religious life is not likely free of these negative qualities. He has to follow those traditions or rules, or else he becomes an outcaste from his own caste and religion. Who is a kami? Kami is a person who is driven by desires, lust and passions. Lust for money, sex, fame and honour, and desires for various things. Who in this world is free of desires? Although they say that they are religious people, and they go to temples and do their devotion, can they truly say that they are free of the above qualities? How many people in the world can be free of anger? In the home there is often anger between husband and wife, between parents and children, between in-laws, between neighbours, between countries, and between political parties. You are hearing about them everyday, such as the killing, shooting, maiming, violation of human rights, etc. Kabir Saheb said that those people who are krodhi cannot do bhakti. How can they when their minds are not filled with God, but filled with anger and passions, hate and greed? He said that the person who is lalachi cannot do devotion either. Who in this world is totally free of greed, of wanting more, and longing for something? They try to keep up with the Jones’. They see something beautiful and they want that. They taste good food here, they want to go and taste it there. They see a nice piece of clothing and they want to get that. They see so much money earned by someone, and they want that. Kabir Saheb said, dekh parai chupadi mat lalchao ji… do not crave for what others have. So if people are full of lalach for something that is material, or immaterial such as for fame, honor, prestige and glory, they cannot be devotees. Kabir Saheb said, bhakti karai koi surama, jat varan kul khoi. Surama – the brave person, only he or she can do devotion. Brave in what? Not brave in war but brave in one’s own self. Brave in the knowledge that God is within. Brave in tolerating the criticisms of others, without fighting back. You deviate from your usual path and see how many people will try to correct you or criticize you, and tell you that you are doing the wrong thing. But you cannot do devotion in that way. That is the way that leads you to a blind end. You are following tradition of the family, caste and race, and you are not elevating yourself through gyan (knowledge) to see that what you are doing is not getting you to the right place. Kabir Saheb said that you have to be brave to accept the criticisms and cutting remarks of others. Brave to show them that you can be on the path to God, no matter what they say. If you cannot be brave and follow your true spiritual instincts, then you are fooling yourself. You then become a hypocrite. Kabir Saheb said many times that you should not be a hypocrite. There are many hypocrites preaching and practicing religion. Many do it for outward show and to satisfy their ego. He said, “the rosary moves in the hand and the tongue moves in the mouth uttering prayers; but all the while the mind moves in all directions; that is not prayer.

Kabir Saheb said that God created every body as human beings, endowed with the same potentials, aspirations and basic needs. Why should people then create artificial divisions according to caste, colour, clan, creed and religion? The truly spiritual person, doing meaningful devotion, must rise above these barriers, which serve only to decrease, rather than to increase, our humanity and spirituality.

Dr. Jagessar Das



What is the value of life? People do not often consider this question, because they take life for granted. We say that life has no price and it is beyond value, since no one can place a value on life. Religious people will say that life is a gift from God and is, thus, the greatest gift to anyone. But we all know that life is dear to every living creature. Every human wishes to preserve his life at any cost. Just so, every other living creature feels that its own life is very important, and needs to be preserved. The lowliest creature will try to avoid injury and to preserve its life. With life being so valuable, why do we pay so little attention to it and, so often, we relegate it to the back burners of our minds.

Observing the prevailing conditions in the world, we become aware of the fact that life is not always perceived as very valuable or “equal”. It is often said that before God we are all equal, but people change that around to say that among ourselves we are not all equal. This “inequality” is based on our human perceptions, which are often based on expediency and self interest. We can look at the value of life from various angles:

(1) Perspective. From an individual perspective life is most valuable and every person will try to preserve his life. He is motivated by a will to live – a very strong will, indeed. From this individual perspective others are not as important, for they represent the “non-self”. In any struggle to survive, the individual will put himself first, even if others would lose their lives. Perhaps, survival of the fittest is based on this individual perception, whether in man or animals. But in survival of the fittest, the fittest one does not pay attention to the value of life of the others.

Perhaps, we can take a spiritual perspective and see that life is the gift of God and very precious. As Dr. Albert Schwitzer would say: “Have reverence for life.” When life is seen from a spiritual perspective, we wish to save the lives of other people, for we see them all as children of God. Thus there are many self-sacrificing people, who are working very hard to save other people from their suffering. The saints of the world have been able to see life from this spiritual perspective, and accept all life as of the greatest value, and of equal importance in the cosmic order of things. Saints strive very hard to teach people the value of life and how to make life more meaningful and rewarding.

(2) Competitiveness. Competitiveness is widespread among people and animals. Competitiveness can be based on individuals or groups. An individual competes in as many ways as he finds it possible, in order to preserve himself. In sports one team strives for success by defeating another team. In warfare soldiers on one side think of their lives as very valuable and will sacrifice the lives of the opposing soldiers. This sort of competitiveness can also be based on greed, for acquiring things at the expense of others. Competitiveness also occurs when there are large populations, often with scarce resources. People will compete in order to stay alive, and to protect themselves and their families, at the expense of other people and their families. The struggle for survival results in competitiveness.

(3) Mental aberrations. People with aberrant mentality often value themselves and de-value the lives of others. A tyrant will rule oppressively often sacrificing the lives of those who oppose him, or do not support his tyranny. There have been tyrants throughout history, and even currently in the world, who slaughter other people, in order to further their own ends. Such people, obsessed with gaining power, are called megalomaniacs.

(4) Psychopath. The Psychopath will hurt or kill others without feeling any remorse or guilt. Yet he, himself, feels his own life to be very valuable. Perhaps, we can think of these people as murderers, rapists, child-molesters, etc.

(5) Criminals. Criminals do not value the life of others as they do their own. They can thus commit murders, undertake illegal drug manufacture and sale at the expense of causing addictions and death of others. They murder others whom they feel will get them into trouble, or threaten their profits and drug turf. Criminals do not have respect for the rights and property of others.

(6) Depression. Depression is another factor which de-values life. The depressed person will often contemplate or commit suicide without much thought to the value of his life. He feels that life is not worth living.

(7) Helplessness. When people perceive themselves as helpless, then life does not hold much value. Take, for example, droughts, poverty and famine. People are dying by the thousands everyday. Parents, helplessly, watch their children die. While the helpless people suffer and die, the armies and gun bearers hijack food convoys trying to help the starving people. They value themselves greater than the poor helpless people, and thus take the food for themselves, or sell it on the black market for profit. Often the value of life is determined by the relative strength of powers. One power, or army, or person that is more powerful, values itself more than its weaker counterpart. Similarly, the weak person or power will begin to de-value itself, because of a feeling of helplessness against a greater power.

Life is an immeasurable attribute or gift endowed with consciousness, intelligence, mind, emotions, senses, imaginations, will and judgment. All of these are intrinsic to life and are immeasurable. All have the same source, which is God, or the Supreme Being. Life itself is, thus, very valuable to all living beings. The only difference occurs in the degree of evolution of consciousness in various beings. If we are to live in harmony with nature, then we need to value all life, and to have reverence for all life.
Dr. Jagessar Das
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Dr. Jagessar Das



(Lecture delivered at the Vancouver Meditation Society, April 20, 1990)

When the mind is in equilibrium it is at peace. Our mind is absolutely still. Our body is fully relaxed, our thought is controlled, but we are fully conscious. Does one experience stress in such a state? What is stress and how do we manage it?

Stress is of two kinds. We have positive stress and negative stress. We need positive stress in life in order to do anything. What stress means is a disturbance of the equilibrium. If a car is going straight and you do not do anything to it, it will just go straight. But if you want the car to turn or stop, you have to do something to it. It is similar with stress. It has to be positive in order for us to do anything useful, because positive stress does not give us distress. That means that we are using our abilities, our mind, and our bodies to achieve something that is good for us. That kind of stress is good. You have to get up in the morning to go and work, therefore it is something useful. You get an income. But negative stress is what we want to avoid.

How do we avoid a negative stress? First of all we must realize that stress is due to the fact that things are not going exactly the way we would like. If we owe the bank money, and do not have enough income to repay the loan, then we suffer distress. We worry, lose sleep, lose appetite and become depressed. You can add a hundred stresses like that – your children are misbehaving, you or family members are sick, a friend dies, or someone takes you to court. Thing happen, so stress is always there. How do you avoid stress?

To avoid stress it is best not to develop stress in the first place. But how do you do that? You accept the fact that whatever is happening in your life is “proper” for you at that time. All the saints have taught that. According to the Law of Karma, whatever is happening to you is just. There is a saying, “Man proposes but God disposes.” You can make plans, but if they do not fit in with the Divine Law, then they may not work out for you, and you develop stress. It is because you have not developed the understanding, that whatever is happening in the course of natural law is normal and proper for you. It is said that, jaise karni, waise bharni (as you sow, so also you will reap). Why are these teachings given to us? It is for reducing stress because we must, first and foremost, realize that we are Atma. We are soul. Soul has no distress. Soul is absolutely pure. The quality of the soul is spoken of as sat-chit-anand (existence, consciousness and bliss). When bliss is within, how can you have distress?

We have distress because we do not accept that we are the soul, and think we are the body and its adjuncts. But we are Divine beings, the source of bliss. Then whatever else happens is due to the interplay of our actions, mind, emotions and feelings. But you can say that because we are human beings, we have to use the body, mind, emotions, and feelings. We have likes and dislikes. That is true. But how do you avoid stress if you say, “I am only human.” You have to think of it in this way, “I will develop positive emotions such as ‘I will love. I will be charitable. I will be kind. I will be humble. I will avoid the negative emotions of lust, anger, attachment, greed and egoism (kam, krodh, lobh, moha and ahankar.)” These are the five big obstacles to peace. These are the things we do not want because they create problems for us. We get attached to some person and, if that person dies, we go into mourning. You know that some people cannot get over that loss. They get depressed. All these things happen because of attachment called asakti. Deha asakti is attachment to the physical body. It dies. The one that you loved dearly will not come and embrace your dead body. People do not want family members to die at home. They die in the hospital or nursing home. Death comes to everyone, yet it is a source distress.

Because we have ego, we feel hurt when someone insults us. We need to get rid of the ego. Do you know why that ego is the biggest stumbling block in spiritual life? God is the source of everything, including us. What we are seeing is delusion, or Maya. It is God’s “projection” to make manifest this universe. But when we have ego, we are unconsciously separating ourselves from God. We are assuming a separate identity from God, and that is wrong. It’s called avidya (ignorance). We must accept that God dwells within, and is the source of bliss, happiness, health, strength, and wisdom. When you have all of these qualities within, then you do not accept distress in your life. Whatever comes, you are prepared to accept, and you “thank” God for the suffering. One of the great Sikh Gurus, when he was being tortured on a hot iron by Emperor Jahangir, said, “tere kiye, mitha lage” (O God, what is your will is pleasant to me.) We may not have the same fortitude, but we need to think along that line. We must always have that attitude that God is the source of bliss and happiness, and that God dwells within us as the soul.

You have to go above the mind to reach the soul, and that is what we do in meditation. You rise above the mind, intellect, ego and feelings and be neutral. In that neutral state you are attached only to God. God is “Neutrality.” God does not have favourites, gender, or religious partiality. That is why people of all religions, cultures and creeds can pray to the same God, and they all think that God is listening to them in their language. But if you look at it from an overall point of view, that same God is God everywhere. We must try to understand this, also that God’s peace is within, and we must not give way to anxieties, depressions, and worries. The very fact that the soul is within means that we have the strength to accept and endure adversities. We do not have to reduce distress from one hundred percent to fifty or twenty-five percent. We can reduce it to nearly zero by not developing stress in the first place.

We allow stress to stress us. For example, if someone insults us, we have a choice. Do we react to it? Do we feel vengeful and fight back? Or do we withdraw and feel depressed? Or do we ignore it? Whatever somebody calls us does not change us. It only reveals that person’s attitude and feelings. “Judge not that ye be not judged.” What does Jesus mean by that? When you judge somebody you are judging yourself. If I stay quiet and you call me a hundred names, who is being judged? I am still the same person, the same name, same weight, same height, same soul, same everything, but you are revealing your mind.

These are only a few examples I have given to help us understand why we must not develop stress, because stress is not the nature of our inner being. We allow stress to build up because of avidya (ignorance) of our true nature, our power and ability. That power is given to us by God residing in us. When we practice meditation, we attune ourselves to the Divine Being. When we are attuned to the Divine Being, there is no more stress in life. We obtain bliss.

Dr. Jagessar Das


You have feelings. I have feelings. All people have feelings. I think that all people know what feelings are. People can feel happy, fearful, apathetic, depressed, hurt, love, rejection and many other types of feelings. Feelings may be very superficial or short lived, or may be life long and deep rooted in the personality. Feelings are important when we have to intermingle with other people. With feelings, we express certain states of mind by which we communicate what we feel with other people. Other people will then react to our feelings, and develop feelings of their own. Feelings can sometimes be compatible and rewarding, such as mutual feelings of love and respect, feelings of empathy and compassion, feelings of mutual joy in sharing certain common experiences. Feelings can also be aggravating, or cause suffering. A depressed feeling in one may induce the same in another person, so that both would feel depressed. Anger can be contagious, as can hate and pride. These take their toll on individuals and interpersonal relationships. Yet, feelings are very important if we are to express ourselves as human beings.

Our human experience tells us that some feelings are beneficial or welcomed, whereas others are not beneficial, but are positively detrimental, and are not welcome. We like to develop the positive feelings of love, happiness, satisfaction etc. We do not like to develop feelings of hurt, rejection, loneliness and depression. We like to be with people who will help to create positive feelings in us, and avoid people who will arouse negative feelings. It is for this reason that some people become very popular, because they make other people feel happy. Other people become unpopular because they make other people sad, depressed or angry. The basic nature of all of us is such, that we do need the positive feelings, and we want to avoid the negative feelings. Why then are there so many negative feelings engendered either by ourselves, or by other people with whom we come in contact. Why do some people create negative feelings for others? Sometimes this is done unknowingly and sometimes knowingly.

In order to create good feelings in others, it is important for us to have good feelings in our own selves. We cannot have hate or disgust in our hearts, and expect to cheer up other people. We cannot have malice or disrespect and say bad things about people, and expect to make them happy. Sometimes we say things that we do not really intend to say, and we end up hurting other people. We then have to apologize, and explain that we did not really mean what we said. This is truly not a good situation in which to be. How can we avoid such occurrences?

There is a saying that if you cannot say something good about someone, then don’t say it.” Similarly, if you cannot feel something good towards others, then don’t feel it. That means to keep your mind and heart clean of all negative feelings towards other people. It is important to avoid passing judgments on other people, and, at all cost, to avoid gossiping. Never belittle anyone, or say unkind things about them. Recently, I listened to a self-improvement lecture on the television. The speaker said: “Always have respect for those who are absent.” This really means that we can never say anything bad about anybody who is not really with us. And when they are with us, we do not want to say anything bad about them anyway. One of the best ways to avoid hurting the feelings of the people is to realize that we are not ourselves perfect. When an imperfect person tries to judge, or say things about another person, what is said may also be imperfect. If we realize our own imperfection, in the human sense, then we must accept that other people may also have imperfections. We are all really in the same boat. This is why it is taught that we must not judge other people. The golden rule also states that we should not do onto others what we would not have them do onto us. Stated positively, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Realize that God dwells in the hearts of all people. To say something that hurts the feelings of others is to make that divine part of you stained with negative attributes. At the same time, you are pouring negative feelings into another being who has divinity within him. If you truly understand this, which is a basic spiritual teaching, then you will cease hurting the feelings of other people. The rewards will be great for you, and for others, in terms of having purity in the heart manifesting as purity in thought, word and deed. Once this purity is experienced, a great burden of all the negativities, hostilities, rejections, depressions etc., will be removed. Your life will become sublime. Contemplate what Satguru Kabir said, “I went searching for evil people, but I could not find any. When I searched my own heart, I found that no one was as evil as me.”

Dr. Jagessar Das



No one has freedom! We are all caught in the web. This web has no ropes, is invisible, yet it binds powerfully. This web is ubiquitous. It snares has whole world. Actually, most people are happy to be caught in this web, but there are others who would like to extricate themselves from this powerful web.

You may ask, “What is this web?” Think about your life for a moment. You’ll quickly note that you are bound by desires and longings, by passions of anger, hate, jealousy and so forth. You are bound by attachment to fame, family, religion, work, belief systems, habits and personality traits, desires of innumerable types, and various obligations that need your attention. These are only a few of the invisible ropes that bind you in this web. Without mindfulness and introspection, a person is not consciously aware of the web in which he is entangled. Not being fully aware, he does not even know that he’s caught in a web and therefore ought to seek freedom.

But you contend that this is life, and there’s no need to seek freedom. We need to understand what freedom means in this context. It does not mean freedom that you are free to ignore your life’s responsibilities and be a vagabond. Nor does it mean you live in isolation, shunning contact with other people. It also does not mean not to have love in your heart for others. This freedom is one of detachment, one of freedom from the effects of Karmas, one of being fully engaged with your own consciousness as it relates to universal consciousness. This freedom means that you recognize that you are spirit or soul, connected with the universal spirit we call God. Be aware that God is “absolute freedom,” and the spirit that we are partakes of that freedom. God is Spirit, and we as spirit cannot be separated. God’s omnipresence ensures that He is with us, and in us as the life force and consciousness animating all of us.

At this point I would like to quote two of Kabir Saheb’s sakhis that have relevance in this essay:

“When I was born everyone was happy while I cried.
Let me live such a life that I approach death happily, while others cry.”

“People are dying all the time, but they do not know the secret of dying.
Kabir says, “Die in such a way that you do not have to die again.”

You may say this is a horrible topic, talking about death. We all have to die so it is not a horrible topic at all! Why else are we talking of Freedom? And all religions are talking of Freedom, Salvation, Nirvana, Moksha, Satori and other terms. Some religions teach of going to Heaven or to Paradise. Can we really go to these “places” if we are trapped in a web? Let’s expand on these two sakhis:

These two popular sakhis of Kabir Saheb are teaching about karma. In the first one he is pointing out what all of us know. But he wants to teach us that we must have freedom before death. This means that all of our karmas are abolished. We have purified our thoughts, words and actions so that there are no karmic effects remaining. It is the state of
moksha. Kabir Saheb taught that moksha must be obtained while living, while we have our faculties with us. If we had not obtained moksha while living, then we will not obtain it after death. We would have to be reborn in order to work out our karmas. Only then can we die in freedom. So we depart “laughing” while others cry at our death.

In the second sakhi Kabir Saheb teaches us that people are dying all the time but they do not “know” the secret of dying. We ought to die in such a way that we do not have to die again. This also means to obtain moksha, so we do not have to be born again and die again.

Inevitably, we have to work out our past karmas. Kabir Saheb explained what we have to do in the Brahm Nirupan (my publication), such as Dhyan Yoga (Yoga of Meditation), attributes to cultivate, remembrance of the Name, and actions that are forbidden, among others. By practicing these, and following the guru’s instructions, we will work out our karmas and obtain moksha. Our awagavan (cycles of birth and death) will come to an end, and we will enjoy bliss, a state “that passeth all understanding” and also described as Sat Chit Ananda (Existence, Consciousness, Bliss.)

While observing the above, we need to keep in mind that we are doing everything in God’s name for our welfare and that of our family and society, and to do everything with humility, love and cheerfulness.

May Kabir Saheb’s blessing be with everyone!

Dr. Jagessar Das



(A Continuing Discussion)

Amrita: “From what you have been saying, Deviji, it makes health and ecological sense to be a vegetarian. But the majority of the world’s people do not think about these things. Actually, many people think that animals were made as food for us. To me, it appears contradictory that people follow religions, and then kill living beings for food. Perhaps you can discuss this matter further.”

Deviji: “I am glad that you have raised this question, Amrita. The fact is that most people do not follow their religious teachings in diet as in other things, such as rituals, creeds and observances. Lord Buddha, after whom Buddhism was formed, never taught people to eat meat. He is called the Compassionate Buddha. When he was fed meat on one occasion, he became quite ill. But a large number of the Buddhists are meat eaters, and there are 376 million Buddhists in the world. Similarly, the Christian Bible teaches not to kill, as one of its commandments. And there are about 2.4 billion Christians in the world. In the Bible, in the first book of Moses, called Genesis, Chapter 1, Verse 29 states: “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” The Bible also relates the story of Daniel when he proved to King Nebuchadnezar that a vegetarian diet was superior to the meat diet that the King served at his court. Daniel asked the King to be allowed to remain a vegetarian, and in a few days his wisdom surpassed those of his meat-eating colleagues. He was able to interpret the King’s dreams by his insight. The others could not. He was also much healthier in body and mind.

There are approximately 1.15 billion Hindus in the world, and their scripture teaches them to practice ahimsa (non-violence). Unfortunately, many Hindus are also not vegetarians. However, on an average, more people in India are vegetarians than in most other countries. There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Allah is said to be the Merciful. It is difficult to conceive that a Merciful Allah will instruct his followers to be violent towards innocent creatures. As you can see, girls, there are approximately 7.5 billion people in the world, and most of them are instructed through their scriptures not to kill. This clearly shows that most people are supposed to be vegetarians. Being vegetarians will fulfill their religious obligations much better than being meat eaters.”

Rachna: “It is truly amazing and quite interesting, Deviji, when you explain vegetarianism in the light of religious teachings. It appears that the natural and proper diet for human beings is the vegetarian diet. I wonder if people will ever pay much attention to this aspect of spiritual life!”

Deviji: “It is very interesting to speculate what people in the world will do. Religions have been around for thousands of years and, so far, people have not really lived up to the true spiritual teachings. There are a few people who pay attention to religion, and try to live up to its principles. But the majority, unfortunately, do not make much effort to pursue a true spiritual life. As the world population increases, and violence in the world increases, and as land becomes scarce, people may gradually realize that it makes a great deal of sense to live as vegetarians. Violence begets violence. Violence against innocent creatures results in violence among people. Every action has a reaction. The action towards killing any creature cannot go without producing a reaction. Unfortunately, the reaction has to be endured by human beings.”

Amrita: “Perhaps, another way to look at this issue of diet is to compare all animal meat with human flesh. Animal meat is not really different from human meat. They both consist of muscles, nerves, blood vessels and blood, lymphatic vessels and connective tissue. People will not think of eating human flesh, and since animal flesh is so much like human flesh, I would think that people should abstain from eating them.”

[The religious populations are for 2012 from Wikipedia]

Dr. Jagessar Das



H ave God in your heart,
A nd you will be happy.
P eace will embrace you,
P utting all sorrows behind.
Y ou have God’s blessing,
N ow and throughout life,
E ven if you do not know.
W ake up! God is your inner Self,
Y et you remain unconcerned.
E ach day dedicate yourself,
A nd promise that this year,
R esplendent light shines in you.

Dr. J. Das



People all over the world, belonging to different religions and different cultures, practice certain rites and ceremonies, and hold certain beliefs that are not logical, and which serve to hinder their spiritual progress. Many times a whole religious system will become a victim of such practices and beliefs. Sometimes the ones in “religious” authority teach and perpetrate these beliefs and practices. In religious life, as in any other walk of life, people must practice that which makes sense, and which is conducive to their material and spiritual welfare. But many people believe and practice what have been handed down to them, without examining the value of those beliefs and practices. As human beings, endowed with the faculty of “Vivek” or rationality, especially in spiritual matters, we should try to believe and practice those things that make universal sense. This will be possible only if we examine our beliefs and practices with an open mind, and be willing to make changes, rather than to adhere to certain things that serve to keep us in spiritual bondage.

Take for example the offering of gifts to departed ancestors practiced in many cultures. These gifts take the form of food, clothing, flowers, incense or other materials as ordained by certain religious precepts. The major religions teach that the soul is Eternal. They also teach that people will reap what they have sown. According to the Law of Karma, people need not reap in this life time all of what they have sown in this current lifetime. They can also reap them in another lifetime, and actions performed in previous life times can be reaped in this lifetime. This holds true because the soul is Eternal and will keep on changing bodies until it attains perfection in union with God. Now, after a soul departs from its discarded body, it must take on another body in order to reap what it had sown. The soul in “limbo” cannot accept anything. It must have a body before it can accept anything. Otherwise it will be like expecting electricity to do some work when it does not have anything through which to work, such as a television set or any other electrical device.

Let us speculate for a moment that the departed soul has been reborn and is now in the world somewhere. To whom is the devotional person making his offerings? Suppose that soul is born within his own family, or perhaps is his own child, and his child is beside him as he is making his offering to the departed soul. Suppose the person takes his child along to offer gifts to the departed not realizing that that departed soul has already taken birth and is going along with him to offer gifts to himself? The practice becomes meaningless and foolish. That is why Guru Kabir fought against such practices that lead to self-deception rather than self-illumination. In one of his sakhis he said, “Offering a handful of rice to his departed father, he makes a crow his father.” (The crow eats the handful of rice left outside for the father.)

Lets us take another example. Many people of all religions believe in holy shrines, temples, rivers, mountains, statues, etc. Many believe that visiting the holy shrines or bathing in the holy waters, or circumambulating holy temples, and praying to statues will remove their sins. They give magical powers to these various places. If bathing in the holy rivers, e.g. Ganges, can remove peoples’ sins then, after the bath, all these people should have perfect lives. But this is definitely not the case. If sprinkling holy water from any holy river can purify or heal anyone, then all his accumulated ‘karmas’ should be removed, and he should have perfection. But this also is not the case. The Law of Karma is exact and will operate in spite of all the holy pilgrimages and baths. The most holy shrine is the “temple” in one’s own heart. If one would visit that temple where God manifests as life and consciousness, then he may be able to attain freedom from sins. No shrine that exists outside of one’s self can have any greater power than that shrine that dwells within the Self. When you go to a holy shrine God goes along with you, because He is that living, conscious presence that animates you. Why then go into all the trouble to visit “holy places.” Why not go inside and “visit” with God directly? Think about it!

Dr. Jagessar Das

New Year’s Interfaith Luncheon Needs Your Help!

The New Year’s Interfaith Luncheon takes place on Saturday December 30th to feed seniors, homeless guests and other community members.

Bring your whole family and let’s have fun in cooking, serving and eating together, as an act of caring the most vulnerable in our community.

Some of the dishes offered in the past were Lasagna, Pasta, Shahi Paneer, Mashed Potatoes, Turkey, Daal, Naan, Fried Rice, Cakes, Rasmalai, etc.

Please let me know what dish you would like to offer/cook by following the link below or sending me an email directly.

I will let everyone know once I have a complete list. We have served around 100 people in the past year.

You can also choose to simply join us to help out in the preparation in the morning and/or for serving.

We will meet at 7 am, have breakfast together and start cooking. We serve lunch at 11 am sharp.

Location: St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 1480 George St, White Rock, BC V4B 4A3

This lunch plays an important role in the community as most of the community lunches/dinners do not take place around that time due to the holiday season.

We mostly have seniors (who stay home alone during the holiday season) and the homeless guests who enjoy a warm, healthy and tasty meal with us.

If we have enough food left, we will take the remaining food to our usual location in North Surrey to serve our homeless brothers and sisters, after the lunch.

Please call (778-294-0146 or 778-989-1044) or email me only if you have any questions.

With love,

Social Media Blitz – Sabbath Day Observance

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Surrey Stake invites you to participate in a “Social Media Blitz” to support the teaching of Sabbath Day Observance.  This social media campaign is scheduled for Sunday January 21, 2018, which happens to be World Religions Day.

For the one day blitz, we are encouraging our interfaith friends to use the unique hash tag #BCSabbathDay.  The unique #BCSabbathDay will allow us to track posts, tweets, etc during our one day effort and repost to our Stake Facebook page.

Many faith communities have a holy day or day of worship or meditation during the week.  We would like to reach out to other faith communities to encourage them to participate by using the same #BCSabbathDay hash tag sometime during the same weekend to help us trend.

Posts, tweets, etc. should be focused on appropriate activities for Sabbath Day Observance or the day of worship or meditation.  (What make that day special or different?)

In order for this Social Media Blitz to be successful, we are asking everyone to:

  • Use the prescribed hash tag, #BCSabbathDay
  • Make their posts public so that we can track them,
  • Inform their friends about the event, and
  • Specifically ask at least 5 friends to repost their entries so that it contributes to the trending effort.To track your specific faith community, you can add an additional hash tag, but for all of us working together, we at least need to use the same hash tag.

For more information, please contact Sherry Marceil, Director of Public Affairs – Surrey BC Stake, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Faith in Harmony