Why it’s important to live in the ‘here-now’

Our minds are now caught in a virtual web that comprises constant
communication with other people, constant bombardment with
information, constant worrying or thinking about yesterday or tomorrow.
But very rarely is the mind focused on just being in the ‘here-now’.

(Published in the Spiritually Speaking column of The Daily Guardian on October 19, 2020)

The present moment is the only reality. Everything that is happening to you is happening in the “here-now”. Being aware and centred in this current place and time is the only reality and is the true way to happiness. How much of our time have we wasted in pondering about the past or the future? The past is past and the future is not here yet and will never be. The reason that the future will never be here is because it is always something that is unreachable. When tomorrow arrives, it is no longer ‘tomorrow’ but ‘today’. Have you ever planned a vacation and during the days leading up to that vacation felt a kind of anxiety about the days leading up to it?

 If you use your present time thinking about the upcoming vacation, then you are not experiencing the present moment effectively. You may not be able to concentrate on your daily tasks because in your mind you are constantly thinking about the upcoming vacation. Eventually the time comes and you go on your vacation and before you even realise it, it is time to go back home. Instead the moments leading up to the trip should have been savoured and enjoyed for what they are. 

They are as much a part of your life as the trip itself. In other words, do not ignore or be unmindful of the present by constantly anticipating the events of the future. The “here-now” is the only reality. Time is a precious commodity which is to be cherished, each and every moment of it. Rushing through it either physically or mentally is also wasting it. Each moment is to be experienced for what it is. Even the moments of boredom. For they too shall soon pass.  Even the slower moments in life if you are completely present and immersed in them will increase your appreciation of them and relaxation in them.

 Focusing elsewhere in time and only thinking about the past or future will lead to anxiety and stress. This will also make you feel perpetually worn out and feeling out of touch with yourself.  The cure of this is to constantly remain in the present or the “here-now”. But how can we do that? “Here-now” means being aware and mindful of what is happening at this very moment. We are not distracted by the ruminations of the past or worries about the future but centred in the here and now. All attention is focused on the present moment.  

This is the key to being healthy and happy. It fights anxiety, cuts down on worrying and rumination and keeps you grounded and connected to yourself and everything around you.  Present moment awareness is the one sure way of having a complete experience. Our minds and thoughts are mostly in a constant state of flux moving from one time to the next—back and forth— past, future, past, past, future, future. Either we spend most of our time thinking about the past or worrying or planning our future. Very rarely is our mind on where we are and what we are doing.  In each moment of our lives is a lesson to be learned. Each moment of our lives is a hidden adventure that can be enjoyed. 

A great way to experience the “here-now” is to focus and pay attention to our breathing. The simple act of breathing in and out and observing it will bring us to the present moment. This is also the most simple and basic form of meditation and will do wonders to soothe our minds of all worry, stress and anxiety. Being “herenow” through breathing is a great way to anchor us to our reality. Also, many people in today’s world have forgotten the art of simple passive observation. Try this following experiment. While going for a walk or drive turn your brain and your consciousness into purely receiving mode. Eliminate temporarily the transmission mode. This means do not ‘think’ but simply observe. 

 Suppose you are a passenger in a car. Just look outside the window and observe. No thinking, no worrying, no phones, no communicating but just observing. You will be amazed by the result! Even your daily route to work which you may have travelled hundreds or thousands of times over the years will reveal many surprises unnoticed before. You will see new alleys, lanes, signs, trees, structures and other things never before seen.

 If done for enough time you may even hear a Divine inner voice inside you that will point out this truth to you gently. It may say, “I have led you down these paths every day, but you never noticed these things till now.” The observer then realises that though she had travelled on this route perhaps thousands of times earlier, she had never noticed so many of the things she saw that day. 

The fact that she could even hear the Divine voice talk to her could also be an indication of the same phenomenon—that sometimes the mind has to be still from the thoughts of yesterday and the hopes or worries of tomorrow and just be in the “here-now”. The Divine voice itself could be calling out to us all the time but perhaps could never be heard because of this same lack of observation of what is. Our minds are now caught in a virtual web that comprises constant communication with other people, constant bombardment with information, constant worrying or thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. 

But very rarely is the mind focused on just being in the “herenow”. With all this constant race and pursuit of material things, we forget the simple things. The butterflies and flowers, the leaves swaying in the trees, children playing in the park, the setting sun, the wind blowing through your hair, the joy of seeing a baby laugh or simply to sit in the rear seat of a car and observe the world as it passes by. 

There are so many things you will notice if you just look and see. It is not a ‘waste of time’, for at the end of the day, what are we really here in this world for? Sure, it is important to do things also. It is important to work and play and laugh and cry and love and hurt, but it is also very important to process all that information. It is important to feel the moment. It is important to live in the “here-now” and just be! After all, we are all human beings, not human doings. 

Prashant Solomon is a Delhi Based author and businessman

The Truth Is We Will Always Be Alive

(Published in the Spiritually Speaking column of The Daily Guardian on September 28, 2020)

What is the opposite of death? Think about this question and note down the first thing that comes to your mind. You will get your answer sooner than you think.

“What happens after death?” This is perhaps the most asked question in human history. There is nobody on this planet who has never wondered about the answer to this question. There is nobody in this world who has never lost a loved one. One of the biggest of life’s ironies is that the only thing certain in life is that everybody will die someday. Nobody can escape death. But life goes on forever! 

What does this mean?! Nobody can escape death but life goes on forever! This sounds like a very contradictory thing to say. But you will realise that this is one of the most esoteric truths of our human condition. So we will approach this question from various points of view.

Religions in our world are supposed to all teach us good things. Unfortunately, people of different religions often disagree on many things and these disagreements have often caused many problems. There is, however, one thing that they all seem to agree on – the existence of spiritual beings in a heavenly afterlife realm. Whether Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs or Christians – they all believe in this. Not only do they believe in the eternal life of the soul but also the existence of an elaborate and well hierarchical and organised spiritual realm of the afterlife. They all believe also in the existence of angels and spiritual beings of a higher nature. 

Modern day science also has opened up majorly to the concept of extra dimensional existence and multiple planes of existence. Quantum theory talks about many more dimensions of existence and also about the superior nature of consciousness when it comes to reality and what exactly reality is. If consciousness can exist here, why can’t it continue to exist forever in some other realm of existence? Plus, what is reality anyway?

Now coming to another point of view – that of medical cases of NDEs (near death experiences). In 1975, Dr Raymond Moody wrote the life changing book ‘Life after Life’ which was the world’s first major glimpse into the world of NDEs. Near death experiences have now been reported in large numbers across the world since 1975. Not only are the accounts of people who were declared clinically dead fascinating, even more fascinating and convincing is the similarity of reports that have emerged cutting across religions, castes, educational, financial and national barriers. 

Most of the accounts clearly describe that the person who ‘died’ was fully aware of peacefully and painlessly leaving their human body, floating upwards and being drawn into a tunnel of light. This light has been described as being a thousand times brighter than the sun but does not hurt the eyes. When they emerged on the other end of this tunnel, they were greeted by deceased family, friends and relatives and it was like a big reunion party. Then there was a being of light who came and who emitted an overpowering (in a good way) sense of peace and love and particularly causing the person experiencing this to feel loved beyond anything they could ever have experienced on earth. One person explains this as (paraphrasing) – “Imagine the love of a mother towards her baby, the love of two people madly in love and every other love you have ever experienced while on Earth, add all that up and then multiply it by 100 billion. That is coming close to the magnitude of love you feel in that world”.

Then the person is shown what is called a life review in which they see some events from their life and see how their actions impacted others. So if you made somebody feel very good and loved, you would feel what they felt. If you hurt somebody and made them feel unloved, you will feel what they felt. This is judgement and karma right there. It is not a punishment, it is a realisation and your next life will be a chance to work through differences. Then these souls were either given an option to return or were told it was not their time and they had to return and they did return to earth. Medical records confirm these things. Some of these patients’ hearts were stopped for nearly 30 minutes and today doctors and nurses increasingly talk more openly about these things that they were witness to. The NDE in most cases had a very positive effect on the experiencer. They became a lot more compassionate and spiritual after the NDE. 

Michael Newton in his book ‘Journey of Souls’ talks about how in his hypnotic regressions that he conducted on thousands of patients they were taken back to the place between incarnations. Life Between Life (LBL) sessions he calls them. These fascinating accounts tell about how we all have soul groups, soul families, spirit guides and how life on the other side is well organised and much like earth but without the bad things like wars and diseases. But again there is not a single place or dimension to go to. It is very hierarchical. There are lower, middle and high and higher and highest levels and each one of these can have hundreds or thousands of sub levels. The world of light and spirit is eternal and infinite. 

Both NDE and LBL cases also shared more interesting things about the world beyond this physical world. All the experiencers say they felt as if they were back to their true ‘home’. Earth is not our true home but a place where the soul comes to have a “human experience”. The world of the spirit is more real than Earth. Much like we perceive the wakeful state to be more real than the dream state. Colours and sounds are highly enhanced and there are colours that do not exist on Earth. Another very interesting observation is the absence of linear time. “The past, present and future are all happening simultaneously and time is not at all the way it is perceived on Earth,” says an NDEr. 

So this is a topic that can be written about in reams of reams. But for now, it is comforting to know that our loved ones who passed away are still there and are watching over us from that side. Many have communicated in dreams and through other messages. Sometimes you see something like a billboard that reminds you of somebody you have lost. Maybe a song suddenly plays that was their favorite. Sometimes butterflies are considered to be signs of the afterlife as butterflies are a sign of transformation from a lower grosser life to a higher subtle form of life. 

You and your loved ones who have passed away will be reunited. In fact, it goes beyond that. When you cross over you meet your family and friends not only from this life but from all your past lives as well. Even if they are reincarnated it doesn’t matter. According to Journey of Souls, the soul that comes to Earth only brings about 30 percent of its energy in each incarnation. 70 per cent of the soul’s energy is always in the spirit world. This is often called the “Higher Self”. Our higher selves are still in the spirit world along with our departed loved ones. We do not realise this because our waking consciousness is tied with this physical body. Sometimes we can experience the higher world during dreams. That is why sometimes in dreams we feel like we meet our departed loved ones and even the ones who are still on Earth. This is the meeting of the higher selves irrespective whether they or on earth or have returned back ‘home’.

Even the word ‘death’ itself proves that it is not the opposite of life. 

Remember that question I asked you in the beginning of this article? 

Many of you probably said ‘Life’ is the opposite of death. Wrong answer! The opposite of death is ‘Birth’. Life is eternal and therefore has no opposite.

Enjoy your eternal and infinite adventure of life. Whether on Earth or beyond, we always have been, always will be; and even at this moment, somewhere in some form are alive!

Don’t worry be happy

(Published in the Spiritually Speaking column of The Daily Guardian on September 14, 2020)

‘Here’s a little song I wrote. You might want to sing it note for note. Don’t worry.. be happy!’ 

This is the opening line of the famous song by Bobby McFerrin back in the 1980s called ‘Don’t worry, be happy.’

Now, more than ever, people all over the world should listen to this song and heed the gentle yet most powerful advice ever – DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY!

Life is a study in uncertainty. Each morning is a new mystery. We have no idea whatsoever how things will go. Today could be just another day or it could be the last day of ours on this planet. Does it matter really? The only thing that truly matters is that we are alive at this moment.

Worrying is an exercise in futility. Though it is one of the most common traits in human beings. The thing about worrying is that it is totally useless. If you have the power to change or prevent something, then do it. If you don’t have the power to change or prevent something, worrying about it will make no difference whatsoever. 

Does this mean that we should be totally passive and fatalistic? Not at all. Just because worrying solves nothing doesn’t mean that we just sit there and do nothing. Do your best to create a situation that you want and let nature do the rest. Have faith in the Divine and leave the fruits of your action in the hands of the Divine. 

One of the ways to stop worrying is to look at your situation in life and be thankful. People often complain about things that they perceive to lack. Not enough love. Not enough money. Not enough of this or that. Instead people should sit back and count their blessings. Not metaphorically. Actually sit down and make a list of all the things in life that you have. Be thankful for what and who you have in your life. 

Your health, your family, your job or career, your education, your ideas, your friends, your life itself. Surely everyone has something to be thankful for. Focus on these things and be thankful. Doing this, will create a ripple of positive energy that flows outwards from you. In time, when you realize how much you have to be thankful, you will start to feel positive and happy and this will spread to those around you.

Do not ever worry about things. If you have power over them, correct them and if you have no power over them, there is no point in worrying. But remember this, prayer and faith in God can and does change things many times. 

The times we live in are stressful indeed, but when stress begins to control us, it can lead to fatal consequences. We have all heard about the things that are bad for us – smoking, drinking, obesity, etc. but the real killer is stress. The bad news is that we live in a world full of stress. But the good news is that stress can be managed. When we realise this, we can take control of our lives and overcome the stress. How?

Happiness is a hidden gem that often remains hidden. But yet, the irony is that it can be achieved rather easily if we change our approach and attitude towards life.

There are many ways that we can make adjustments in our lives – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually that can lead to us being happy.

Physically

As you read this article, you are breathing. Feel the air coming through your nostrils, feel it going into your lungs and be aware of it as it is exhaled. Simply focusing on your breathing is relaxing and regularly doing this is perhaps the easiest form of meditation. It reduces stress and will make you more centred in your thoughts.

Exercising is also a great way to reduce stress and make you happy. One can start with taking a daily walk for a minimum of 30 minutes. While you are doing this, try to think of something pleasant or funny. Try not to think about work or other stresses while walking. Going to a gym and exercising is also great and remember that you can start with lighter exercises. The feeling you get after exercising is the reward itself. Generally, one feels very relaxed and happier after a workout.

Mentally

There is a whole world of information and knowledge that is waiting to be discovered. Read something online or watch some interesting videos on YouTube. Watch something funny on TV. Humour is a great stress reliever and puts things into perspective. Life is not meant to be always serious and humour is a great way to remind yourself about the balance needed in life.

Reading transports your mind into another world of sorts. Imagination and wonder are great ways to be happy and reduce stress.

Writing is also a great way to relieve stress. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to write an article or a book (although that would be great) even just jotting down your thoughts in a notebook or writing a diary is a great way to let out vented up stress and energy and express yourself. You never know what comes out of you when you write. Every bestseller began with a single word.

Emotionally

In our daily relationships, there are good days and bad days. Sometimes we have fights, arguments, and disagreements with people whom we love. Sometimes we suffer from breakups, separation or divorce. These situations can lead to major emotional trauma and stress.

But the good news is – don’t worry, be happy! Believe it or not, you are the only one person responsible for your own happiness. We tend to become emotionally dependent on others. But we must love ourselves too. This is not a selfish kind of love. It is not saying that we don’t love others, but it is saying that we love ourselves just as we love others. 

Watching a nice movie, play or reading a good book can also lead to an emotional charge that will not only entertain you, but also teach you some new perspective about life. It will help you to get rid of emotional stress.

Spiritually

We are spiritual beings currently on planet earth to learn, explore and grow. The sooner we realise this, the sooner happiness will come.

Prayer can be as simple as just talking to God the way you talk to yourself. Be thankful when you pray but don’t be shy. Express your desires to God and if it is something good for you, the process will begin that will cause that to manifest. 

Chanting the name of God or a mantra is also a way to charge you spiritually. An instant blessing is received by a person who takes God’s name with reverence. 

Meditating increases our awareness and leads to a state of bliss that relaxes us and decreases stress and also gives us a glimpse into a larger peaceful world of energy and love. There is a field of spiritual energy that surrounds us and binds us. Meditation helps us gain access to this field. 

Soon we realise that we are on a spiritual journey and the only thing we take with us back to our spiritual home after we leave our bodies is our thoughts, feelings and karma. In the end, all is good.

So once again, don’t worry, be happy!

Calculating The Living Cosmos

(Published in Spiritually Speaking The Daily Guardian August 31, 2020)

“The cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be.” –  

Carl Sagan (1934-1996), US astrophysicist and creator of the hit TV show ‘Cosmos’.

A lot has been discovered since the time Carl Sagan passed away in 1996. We now know that there are most likely at least one planet around every star in the universe. That is a lot of planets and stars. For us to understand our cosmos and our role in it, we should start by looking inside our own selves. Is the material cosmos a smaller part of a larger energetic and spiritual cosmos? It could be. But first, let us look at some mind boggling numbers. 

There are over 7.8 billion human beings on planet Earth as per August 2020. Let us take that number as 8 billion. That seems like a lot of people doesn’t it? But it is insignificant compared to the number of stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. There are 400 billion stars in our Galaxy. Divide 400 by 8 and you get 50. That means there are 50 stars in our Galaxy for every human being on planet Earth! That is right. Imagine the size and vastness of the Galaxy. Imagine how many places and things there are and how many intelligent forms of life must be out there.

Macrocosm and Microcosm

The good news is that  our Milky Way Galaxy is not the only galaxy. Latest estimates by astronomers put the number of galaxies in the ‘known’ universe at about 2 trillion i.e. 2,000,000,000,000 and on an average each galaxy has a few hundred billion stars. And according to what we know now – each one of those stars should have at least one planet. 

The way the universe is made is orderly. All of these 2 trillion odd galaxies are not just randomly floating in space. They are arranged into clusters and superclusters. Our own Milky Way galaxy is a part of the Laniakea supercluster of galaxies. It is mind boggling to think of the immensity of the universe outside the earth.

But wait a minute! This immensity of the macrocosm of the universe is mind boggling but equally mind boggling is the fact that the microcosm is equally if not even vaster. Did you know that an average 70 kg human being is made up of about  7 x 1027 (7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) (that is 7 Octillion!) atoms! In each breath there are trillions of atoms exchanged. Also it is estimated that we have about 10 trillion cells inside of us.  

That is way more than the estimated number of stars in the known universe which if you take 2 trillion galaxies and the average number of stars as 100 billion per galaxy comes to 2 x 1023 or 200 sextillion stars! To give you an idea of the sheer magnitude of these numbers – there are more stars in the known universe than the total number of grains of sand on every beach on planet earth. 

But the number of atoms in one single human being is much more. In fact it is 35,000 (7 octillion divided by 200 sextillion) times more than the estimated number of stars in the known universe!

So our bodies are grander universes in themselves.

96 per cent of the universe is either dark matter or dark energy.

Now we all know that we live in a universe of energy. There is something beyond the material seeable universe. There is an entire energetic and spiritual plane of existence. But where is this? Can we actually know it and can it be discovered or at least do we have a hint of this huge colossal spiritual universe?

Actually, we do. 

It is now known that despite the hugeness of the whole universe with all its trillions of galaxies, stars, planets and all – all of this so-called ‘material’ universe comprises only 4 percent of the universe’s mass. Approximately, 23 percent is ‘dark matter’ and 73 percent is ‘dark energy’. Here ‘dark’ refers to unseeable, undetectable and unknown. The nature of these two things is unknown to scientists at the moment but they know that these things not only exist but that together they comprise 96 per cent of the known universe. Imagine that! 

The same applies to the microcosm as well. If you look at the atomic structure, most of the mass is inside the nucleus but that comprises a tiny percent of the atom’s size. Plus there is a huge distance between each atom in terms of the tiny atomic scale. You can say that most of the atomic world is comprised of ‘emptiness’.

What if even all of this is just one large part of something much much bigger? Well, modern science says that this entire universe itself could be just one out of possibly infinity of other universes which collectively can be called the ‘multiverse’. So the Cosmos (remember the quote by Carl Sagan in the beginning of this article) could be way bigger than what we originally thought.

We are Godstuff

“The Kingdom of God is within you,” says the Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 17:21 of the Bible. When the creation of the Cosmos took place, the raw materials had to come from somewhere. It is too simplistic to say that they “just came” out of nowhere. The basic building blocks of the entire Universe are the same three subatomic particles – protons, neutrons and electrons. There is absolutely no difference between the protons, neutrons and electrons in you and the chair you sit on. They are the same. There is fundamentally no difference between anything when it comes to the basic building blocks that make everything. This is important to note because it immediately makes you feel the ‘oneness’ of all things throughout the Cosmos.

So, the Creative power that made the entire Cosmos had to have used ‘itself’ as the basic ‘stuff’ that made the protons, neutrons and electrons as well as the almost unimaginable energy that goes into every single atom of creation. So not only are we (as the late astronomer Carl Sagan loved to say) ‘starstuff’, but we are all ‘Godstuff’ that has been mixed and matched in different permutations and combinations and is made to interact with each other amidst the delusion that we are actually separate. We are as separate as the individual drops in the ocean – which still retain their existence in some stretch of imagination, but at the same time, have merged with the larger entity called ocean. They still exist, but now as a part of a larger, more powerful being. Like the cells in your bodies are individual beings in their own sense – they have a fixed boundary or body, they are born, they reproduce, they absorb oxygen (so they breathe in a sense) and then they die. They may even have consciousness, but miniscule compared to the consciousness of a human being. Yet, our physical bodies are nothing more than a conglomerate of trillions of cells. Are we the single body or the sum total of trillions of cells?

So what is 96 percent of reality? 

Most of reality is unseen and unknown currently. Let us propose a theory. But first a quick reference to the world famous book written by Paramahansa Yogananda ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’. In the chapter ‘The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar’,  Yogananda tells us about the physical, astral and causal universes. The physical is the material universe, the astral (energetic) is more subtle and is the place the souls go to after leaving earth and the causal (spiritual) is even more subtle and more refined, this is where more advanced souls go and ultimately the highest plane of existence is the merging with God. Each one of these universes have their own sets of planets, stars, solar systems  and galaxies. 

I feel that this could be the answer to what is 96 percent of reality. Maybe ‘Dark matter’ is the astral universe and ‘dark energy’ is the causal universe. Yogananda did also mention in the book that the physical is smaller than the astral and the astral is smaller than the causal. 

If so then 96 per cent of the Cosmos is spiritual and divine in nature and just waiting for us to explore it. The best part is we are our own spaceships in this regard. Meditation can give us glimpses into these vasts energetic and spiritual realms. Go deep inside you, take a deep breath and explore the vastness of the glorious infinite realms within you!

Spiritual Beings Having A Human Experience

(\Published in The Daily Guardian on August 17, 2020)

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Read the quotation above again and let this truth sink into you. Let this thought envelop your very being. Then read it again. This one quotation, if pondered, will change the way you think about the world, world events, your own role in this world and your life itself. Two very important aspects are being talked about — who we are and what is happening to us. According to this, we are actually spiritual beings having a human experience and not the other way around. So we are immortal and eternal beings on a never ending journey.

When you dream at night you are no longer aware of your physical body. But you clearly are still conscious in the dreamscape. While there may be a fluid nature to the experience, it is actually ‘you’ who is experiencing something. So who are ‘you’ exactly? The real you is your consciousness or spirit. It is the eternal I am. During sleep we do not remember our bodies or the surroundings but we still have the awareness of being. We are spiritual beings who are currently using a physical body to experience the lower frequency physical world.

 We are spiritual beings having a “human experience”. Spirituality is reality and everything physical or energetic is a part of that reality. We experience life as a human so that we can learn and grow and evolve spiritually. Life on earth is about learning lessons. It is about using our talents to make the world better in some way. It is about loving yourself and others. Just like a scuba diver or astronaut needs a special suit to survive underwater or in space, the same way the soul takes on a human body in order to survive in this physical world. ‘

So where do we come from when we are born and where do we go when we die? First, do we even understand these things? If you ask somebody a simple question, “What is the opposite of death?”, 90 percent of people answer: “Life”. Seems like a simple answer. But it is the wrong answer and you will see why. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal and therefore has no opposite. Birth and death are simply entry and exit points. They are doors that open from the spiritual world into the physical world and then back again. Neither did your existence begin at birth, nor would it end at death. These two things are simply transitions from one world to another, from one frequency to another.

Imagine you are watching Netflix and you get bored and change the channel to Amazon Prime. Now you are watching a different show. But just because you switched from Netflix to Prime does not that mean that Netflix has stopped broadcasting? It is still flowing in the background. But now your device is tuned into another frequency. So it is with physical life and non physical life. The place where we have come from and where we go ultimately has been described in many spiritual texts and accounts as a place that is made of light, energy and thoughts.

Our souls exist there in a more subtle form which has been called the astral body and then even higher levels exist which are called the causal body. These frequencies have been described to range from realms of existence that are much like our earth but with more subtle energies to higher dimensions full of light and love and much more beautiful than earth without any negativity, disease, parasites, wars and so on. It is a place where there is much learning and evaluation of lessons learned on earth. Some may call the higher levels ‘heaven’.

Dr. Raymond Moody in the early 1970s changed the world forever with his book, Life after Life, which brought the near-death experience or NDE into popular culture. Many years later Dr Michael Newton came out with Journey of Souls, which brought the life between life (LBL) sessions into popular culture.

The NDE is an experience where someone was declared clinically dead for a few minutes (mostly following a heart attack or accident) and reported floating out of their body and entering into a bright light which led them into an energetic tunnel or vortex. At the end of the tunnel they met their loved ones who had passed on before them and also met a council of elders and saw a life review in which there were specific moments highlighted from the incarnation that just ended. They would see and feel how they made others feel by their conduct. Then they were asked if they wanted to come back. In some cases they did not want to come back but were told they have to. In every case, they reported that they felt love and that they were back home. Then they returned to their earthly bodies. These NDEs are all scientifically recorded and acknowledged since most of these occurred in hospitals.

LBL sessions on the other hand are hypnotic regressions that take the subject to the time between incarnations. In each case, the subject describes that the souls live in soul groups and soul families and that there are spirit guides that are assigned to them. Plus the spirit world is a very organised and hierarchical place and not random. Time and space do not exist there and it is a very fluid place where transportation and communication both happen telepathically.

We also reportedly meet our loved ones who have passed on from earth and this includes loved ones from all our previous incarnations. There is a constant feeling of being loved and this love seems to exist everywhere in the spirit world. We meet souls that were with us through many incarnations and some souls who are with us mostly in the spiritual realms but may not necessarily incarnate with us. Even if someone reincarnates then, according to Dr Michael Newton, they only take about 20-30 percent of their energy with them to earth and the rest remains in the spirit world which means that there is constant interaction between souls even if they are incarnated. The higher selves are connected even if their incarnations are happening simultaneously.

Another aspect of the spiritual world is reportedly a constant divine light and music that plays. Plus there are no restrictions on the senses and everything is alive. Also it is reported that everything is highly enhanced — the sounds and colours are much more vivid than on earth and some colours do not even exist on earth. Also people have described that the spirit world is a lot more real than physical life. Just like conscious life seems more real than a dream, the same way, life in the spirit world seems more real than life on earth.

Along with this, it is clear that we are all souls and that there are many levels of existence with various forms of spiritual beings of different development levels. Some are teachers, guides and soul family members that are all helping us in our infinite and eternal spiritual journey. Many reports say that there is no end to the realms of consciousness and evolution. Even the great ones that have come to earth are still evolving further on their journeys. It is an endless experience designed by God to explore and learn.

Everyone has lost a loved one. It is natural to mourn and miss those we have lost. But remember that we actually never really lose anyone because they still exist in another realm of existence. That realm is our true home where we all came from and where we will all return some day. There we will be reunited with our loved ones. Till then keep living life to the fullest and take each new day as a new opportunity and remember that we are on earth for a reason and there should be no worry or no hurry to leave.

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Stop Unreal Expectations

(Published in The Daily Guardian August 3, 2020)

We all expect things in life. Whether from other people, from ourselves or from situations. It is normal to have hopes and expectations. However, giving too much importance to unrealistic expectations is a recipe for disaster and should be avoided to have a peaceful and happy life. There is a popular definition of expectations. It goes like this. “Expectations are premeditated resentments.” When we have expectations, it is like we are pre planning the future resentments that are bound to occur. But whether it is expectations from others, from yourself or expectations others have from you or whether it is expectations from life and situations in general, the good news is you can learn to minimise them. Not having unrealistic expectations is a great way to grow spiritually and we will discover why.

We all have experienced it. You expect your loved one to say or do something that pleases you. It doesn’t happen and you feel dejected and disappointed! It starts from childhood. Kids expect parents to spend time with them. But parents are too busy. Disappointment. You expect your best friend to like something you do, but they don’t. Disappointment. You expect your spouse to like the same kind of food, TV shows and movies that you do. They don’t. Disappointment. Or you expect them to express their feelings more often and they don’t. Disappointment. You expect your children to always think the way you do and automatically think that they will live their lives the way you want them too. They don’t. Disappointment once again. 

You are not alone. We all have had these moments in our lives and felt disappointed with other people. The reason is not about good or bad, or loving or less loving. The reason is because of unrealistic expectations. If you do not expect, you will not be disappointed. Unmet expectations can lead you down a very dangerous path of thinking that you are not loved or that you are unworthy in some way. But that is not the reality. 

Every soul that is born has a history of multiple lives before. Each incarnation leaves certain imprints on our souls. Those imprints from previous lives and from this current life as well has an effect on the way we think about and perceive the world, ourselves and others. We often forget that even the ones we love the most have a spiritual and karmic history that is different from ours. We all have our own individual journeys. We can not expect that anyone else will be exactly the way we expect them to be. 

Unrealistic expectations aren’t always about other people. Sometimes we expect too much from ourselves. We always try to push ourselves too hard or are overly critical of ourselves. Often the cause of this is two fold – comparison with others and understanding our own limitations. 

It is natural to desire things that others have. We see someone in a fancy car or a fancy house and we start to compare ourselves to them. We start to expect things from ourselves in relation to that comparison. We need to remember that everybody has a different situation and looking at other people’s lives should not change our own life plan. You can learn lessons from the lives of others but remember that your goals in life, your dreams in life are yours only. Expect from yourself only what you think you can handle and not because someone else is living a lifestyle that you desire. When you compare yourself with others you will never be satisfied. 

Learn to give time to your inner self through meditation and creativity. Take a breather and enjoy the moment! It is OK to take a break in life. Just because you expected your life to be a certain way which did not happen does not mean you have failed or that you need to be upset or disappointed. Remember no matter how much we plan, life has its own plans for us. There will always be some new opportunity for you to explore and always a new lesson to be learned.

The same applies to other people’s expectations from you. Remember that your thinking and actions should not depend on what other people expect from you. Your dreams and goals and the kind of life you want to live should be lived only because you want to live it like that. People have a tendency to want to control others. Many people must have experienced this in life. It could be a parent, spouse or boss. These people need to manage their own expectations and your life should never be about fulfilling the expectations of others. 

We all expect things from life itself. As kids we probably expected to be millionaires by the age of 40. Some expected to be famous and powerful. Everyone must have had certain expectations in life. This is natural and normal. Having an expectation which is in the form of hope and desire is fine. It is when we allow our expectations to rule our happiness that problems are bound to occur. Remember that life has its own plan for us. We could call this karma or destiny. But the trick is to live in the moment. Strive to do the things you enjoy. Let the joy of doing it be its own reward. Once you do it, don’t expect people to praise you or don’t expect that you will suddenly become famous or powerful. Keep on doing what you want to do without expectations of the outcome or the accolades of achievement. Life is about the journey and not the destination. Take each day as it comes without expectation.

Acceptance is an important part of spiritual growth and not having unrealistic expectations is a great way to achieve this. Learn to let go. This does not mean that we have no boundaries. Not expecting things from others does not mean that you become a pushover. Self respect and self love is the most important thing. If you are not happy the way someone is treating you, voice it and do not accept. Communication is necessary. Do not expect that the other person will know your problems and what you are not liking. Accept others for who they are. Everyone is different. That is what makes life so wonderful.

Not having unrealistic expectations helps you on the spiritual path. We are all on an infinite journey across multiple incarnations in a variety of dimensions and worlds. We should always be open to learning lessons and understanding that our happiness is within us and can never be gained by expecting anything that is beyond our control. We can only control ourselves and our reactions to external situations. This will teach us to accept and forgive ourselves and others. These are among the most spiritual of all virtues.

So while some expectations are natural, we must avoid unrealistic expectations from others and from ourselves and from life itself. Enjoy the journey. There is something waiting for you that is better than your wildest dreams or expectations!

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To Love And To Create

(Published in The Daily Guardian July 20, 2020)

Prashant Solomon

Being creative is one of the most important reasons we are here on this Earth. Many people question the reason they are born. Is it just a coincidence you are here? Are we only a statistic or a mere blip of insignificance in human history? Nothing can be further from the truth. There are basically two things that are important about life and everything else is a derivative of these. To love and to create. 

In many books about ‘near death experiences’ or NDEs there is an interesting similarity that many people experienced. They were asked two questions in common by a Being of Light or a Higher Power when they were declared clinically dead and their souls returned to the spirit world briefly before returning to their bodies. The questions are – what did you learn about love? How did you use your God given talents to help the world? That’s pretty much it. Of course, there are other things that happened during the NDEs but that is something for another article. 

Here we are going to look at the second question in more detail. 

Each of us comes to this earth with some inherent talent. Everyone has heard the phrase ‘hidden talent’. A talent is always connected to some creative quality in a human being. Whatever it is. Writing, painting, singing, music, business, politics, diplomacy, philosophy, acting, love, relationships, parenting, cooking and the list goes on and on. 

Many times the real ideas or creative bursts come to us in moments where we are logged out of this virtual world. Endless sessions on WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Netflix, etc. etc. are entertaining for sure and if used properly can be a source of new ideas and information. But they need to be used in moderation because too much of these stifles our creative pursuits. 

This means it is important for us to have periods when we switch off our phones, TV, computer and Internet. Reestablish our relationship with our creativity and with nature. The mind and heart need to be at peace for creative imprints to be made upon them. Creative imprints often come from higher planes of consciousness and higher dimensions. Many of the worlds greatest artists, businessmen and inventors say they got their ideas from dreams or from what seemed like a coincidental ‘idea’ that just randomly popped into their minds. Many of these enter the mind during the hypnagogic state of mind when you are just on the verge of falling asleep. 

The hypnagogic state can provide insight into a problem. Many writers, artists, scientists and inventors such as Beethoven, Salvador Dali, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Isaac Newton have credited hypnagogia and related states with enhancing their creativity. So remember to pay attention to this state of mind just before sleeping and if possible keep a notebook and pen near your bed.

Other states of mind like when you are not focussing on your thoughts such as  during a shower or driving are also times when ideas frequently come into our minds. 

But simply having ideas is not being creative. Creativity is a marriage between ideation and innovation. These words are often used interchangeably, but they do not mean the same thing. Ideation is getting ideas, but innovation is executing these ideas in a practical manner. Both are needed for creativity to be a successful and game changing force.

Every product you see around you or that you use in your daily life is the result of somebody’s creative action. It is not enough to merely have an idea. What if Steve Jobs dreamt of making a cool mobile phone that had a camera and other things and then just forgot about it? What if the Wright brothers had an idea of a machine that could fly but did nothing to make it into a reality? These are just two examples. The world is a better place today because of the creative entrepreneurship of many people. 

This is also what will give people the ultimate satisfaction in life. Not just money, power, position or fame. These should never be the goal. The goal should be to do something that helps the world in some way. A book you write could change lives. A movie you make could stop wars. A song you write could increase compassion. A business you start could employ thousands. A product you manufacturer could change the way the world works. It all starts with an idea for something new or an idea to make something better. But action is needed to make it a part of people’s lives.

The recent global pandemic and lockdown which is still going on is a reminder that looking inwards and becoming more compassionate and creative can and will make our own lives better. In the process, new ideas have emerged already. Online meetings and online education have become the norm. But there is still a lot of ideation and innovation that is yet to come. Creative action will come that will change the way we live, work and play. New industries will emerge and the world will become a better place ultimately. 

We now recognise that we are all in the same boat and that global problems affect everyone. This is a great opportunity and a great awakening – spiritually and creatively. Most great periods in human history were preceded by either pandemics or wars or both. This period is no different. If new creative action is taken by more and more people, the world that emerges from this cocoon of creative and introspective opportunity will be better and brighter.

Now briefly let us look at the first question that was asked to NDErs. 

What did you learn about love?

It is said that to “swim in a sea of love” is the source of creativity and that love is the creative dimension and creative energy that surrounds us and binds us. Love becomes us. Life’s a journey to realise and remember that truth. When we give and receive love in its divine form which means an unconditional love that is when magic happens and our creative action becomes more effective and is able to touch not only the mind and the heart but also the very soul of everybody that comes in touch with that creative action. 

Love is a strength and power that resides everywhere but needs to be tapped into and when combined with our creative action the world will become better, happier, wealthier and stronger in every way.

Prashant Solomon is a Delhi based author and businessman

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The Changing River of Life and Its Meaning

(Published in The Daily Guardian July 6, 2020)

Prashant Solomon

One of life’s most powerful ironies is that the only constant in life is change! This is perhaps best described by the philosopher Heraclitus in the 5th century BC in the following way – You can never step into the same river twice. Because neither the river nor you are the same. 

This indeed is one of the ironies of life and at the same time one of the greatest dynamics in the universe. There is a universal flux which exists throughout all of creation. A flux that ensures that nothing is immune to change. Even physically, we may not realise it, but we are constantly changing with each and every breath. The food that we eat becomes us and so does the air we breath. The inhaled and exhaled breath causes quadrillions of atoms to be exchanged. So even physically like the river analogy we are always changing and never the same. 

Just as we are constantly changing physically, we are also changing mentally, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically. Are we the same person we were just a few years, months, weeks, days and even hours ago? Every moment that we are alive we are experiencing something new. Even if it looks like the same monotonous life, it is not. We are reborn with each new breath. Our bodies, minds and souls have evolved to some degree. 

The universe is constantly moving and everything is changing. The earth is moving around the sun as the sun is moving around the center of the galaxy as the galaxy is expanding further into the vastness of space. 

But in our absorption in this space time continuum we do not realise how far we have moved forward. In the same manner we do not realise how many things life teaches us every day. Every moment that we spend on this planet is different from any other moment in the past and is different from any other moment that will be in the future. This is the nature of change. Not only is change the only constant, everything is constantly changing.

And what exactly is the lesson we can learn from this? 

The fact that everything can and does change also implies that everything and everyone is like a variegated shade of gray. There is no purely light or dark or black and white that lasts forever. Everything keeps changing and this applies to everything we think or hold in our minds and opinions.

There is nobody who is totally good or totally bad. Everyone is a shade of gray in these moral and ethical values as well. So this is what is the lesson to be learned? Never judge and be prejudiced towards anybody or anything because everything and everyone changes. 

Sometimes change is for the better and sometimes for the worse. Not being judgmental and being forgiving is very important because nothing is permanent and even the worst people can and will eventually be redeemed. Sometimes the so called ‘best’ people can and will be tempted and challenged and fall from grace. And then after another cycle they will again be redeemed. And thus it goes on.

Change enables you to be the person you want to be. It is also a valuable life skill. Being able to change your approach shows a commitment to progress and confidence in your own ability. Internal changes should be made constantly to ensure that no stagnation takes place.

Some changes are beyond our control. These changes, whether good or bad, will teach you something new. These make you more flexible and understanding and prepares you for the future. 

Everything in life is changing all around you – technologically, politically, economically and socially. Life is more exciting, rewarding and enjoyable when things around you always change. This also keeps you in the moment and open to adapting.

Change creates new opportunities and experiences which some may consider risky. But taking risks and managing failure is what life’s all about. Some kind of a risk is necessary for progress and facing risks and moving ahead is what builds confidence and enables progress. There are many benefits that new experiences can bring as well.

Change is a ticket out of bad situations. As long as you embrace change, you will find that your situation need not last forever. Something bigger and better is waiting. If you reject change, experiences and opportunities are likely to pass you by.

Sometimes the past can hold us back, but moving on should be a slow and steady process and not rushed. Little changes that occur every day stimulate progress and put you one step further away from the bad situation you have left behind. Don’t let your yesterday dominate and dictate your today. Personal growth happens when you look ahead and learn from the past but with the intention of making the present and future better. 

Seasons change, rivers flow, technologies come and go, the years fly by and people will grow alongside you. Your life is counted by the changes you have been through and not by awards you won or money you earned. You will never forget the opportunities you embraced, the chances you took or the times you failed and picked yourself up again. Those milestones are all a part of the journey of life and are significant in their own way.

Your personal development relies on the changes that have happened in the past which have led you to where you are now. And what you learn and experience today will help to carve your future path. 

The times we live in today is a great example of how quickly and definitely life can and does change. We can not change our external situations too much but we can control our attitude and reaction towards them. We can also learn from these changes and use them to change and grow from within. Life is an eternal voyage of change and we are all eternal voyagers! As Heraclitus mentioned, “we can never step in the same river twice”. But don’t worry, there are many rivers to enjoy in this universe!

Prashant Solomon is a Delhi-based businessman and author

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Be Your Own Best Friend

I have started writing a fortnightly spiritual column in the Daily Guardian newspaper. My first article ‘Be your own best friend’ was published on June 22, 2020.

I am posting the content of the column below:

Are you your own best friend?

When we are alone with ourselves, instead of feeling bored or lonely, that time would be much better spent by looking inwards and introspecting. If this lockdown has a silver lining, this is one of them – it has given us a chance to slow down and look inwards. It has given us a chance to think about what truly matters in life. Our family, our health (physical, mental and spiritual) and our happiness.

But we have also seen and heard lately about the growing problem of depression. People are feeling lonely and lost. There is a simple solution to this. Love yourself and become your own best friend.

Loving yourself and being your own best friend is as important as breathing. Now this does not mean that you become selfish, self centered or narcissistic. On the contrary, it makes you more loving, attentive and compassionate towards others. Unless you love yourself first how can you spread love to others?

Physical life is a journey that our souls are experiencing. It is a journey to evolve through experience, to learn through feelings and relationships and it is a chance to work out and balance our karma created in other lives and some from this life. The importance of self love cannot be understated. For our soul to complete its mission effectively it is important to be happy. It makes life a lot more pleasant to traverse through. Self love is the quickest and most efficient route to true happiness.

When you fall in love with somebody or something you want to cultivate that by spending time with the person or thing you love. A new hobby you cultivate often feels like it is the best thing in the world. Now here is the secret to ensure that you are always happy in any situation that life brings you to.

Do not get attached to the point that you can not be happy without it. Some attachment to our loved ones – family, friends, etc. is natural and necessary. Love is never meant to be indifferent. Love is meant to be unconditional. 

However the reality is we have no control over anybody else. We can only control our own self and our own reaction to others or outside events. That is where the whole concept of self love and being your own best friend comes in.

You are your own only eternal companion. If we learn to love ourselves and be our own best friend, life will be a lot easier. From the time we were created in the great bosom of the Cosmos, we have travelled far and wide from lifetime to lifetime encased in different bodies but in each lifetime we were our own true companion. Others are there and then go away. 

In physical life we become attached to material things and to people. The idea of being in love is a great thing and is something that we should all do. But the feeling that we can ‘not live without’ someone else (whoever it is) is not correct. 

Why should we be our own best friend? Why should we love ourselves? Well the answer is simple. When you love yourself, only then can you truly love others unconditionally. The kind of love that is divine love is unconditional in nature. It is not reserved only for somebody in certain circumstances. Of course as human beings in families and society we all get attached to our family and friends and this is normal. But our happiness and love should not be dependent on others. 

When we become emotionally dependent on others it is the beginning of potentially disastrous consequences. Why do we hear so many cases nowadays about depression and people living miserable lonely lives and even taking their own life? This is because people are becoming too attached to external things to make them happy. 

The idea that you can be happy only if so and so is in your life or if you get X or Y thing is one of life’s delusions and fallacies. It is a part of the facade that this world is designed to make you believe. We must overcome this by looking inwards and remembering that we are our own only true eternal companion. When we learn to love ourselves first in a non selfish way that is when transformation and spiritual evolution progresses. 

When you are your own best friend and love yourself, you will never be lonely. You will be able to enjoy your own company and be able to communicate with yourself. Self communication is very important. Talk to yourself – out loud. Go somewhere where you can be alone for a few minutes every day and talk to yourself out loud – just like you talk to other people. Discuss your thoughts, fears, ideas, worries with yourself as if you are talking to somebody else. In time, you will be amazed by the answers you will get. In truth, the positive, loving and powerful ideas you are getting are coming from your Higher Self – that part of your soul which is always in the higher spiritual realms. ‘You’ as you know yourself in this physical human consciousness is only one tiny aspect of your full self. 

When you love yourself you are loving God (Creator/Source) for we are all small parts of God. Invest time and energy into building a solid loving relationship with yourself. This will make you happier in your daily life as you soon realise that true happiness is dependent only on one person and that is – you! Nobody else can make you sad or happy unless you want it! 

Love everyone but know that everything is in passing. ‘This too shall pass’ as the saying goes. Channel the love of the cosmos through you and build it up. Then spread it outwards. Be the love. Be the receiver, transformer and transmitter of that divine love. Know that you are your own best friend and nobody can make you sad, lonely and unhappy unless you permit it. If people are there in your life good, if they are not, well that is Ok too. You are the only one who will always be there with you within God. This is not a possibility but a fact. 

Be your own best friend!

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Coronavirus lockdown – not all bad

The world is under lockdown! The year 2020 is still being dominated by the Coronavirus Pandemic. With just about every country on Earth being affected and most of the world in lockdown, this is perhaps the most significant event that we have ever witnessed. With millions sick and thousands dead across the world, there is obviously sadness in the air. With many businesses either shut down or about to be and many people losing their jobs this is a financial emergency for the entire world.

That being said, everything is not all bad. The lockdown has its positives as well. It has given the world a much needed downtime. People are at home with their families and this is a good thing. We are getting to rediscover our relationships and also we are able to rediscover our selves. I have used this time to read, try to write (going through writers block at the moment), paint, exercise, meditate and the best of all – spent time with my kids teaching them and helping them with homework.

So Coronavirus doesn’t have to be all bad. This is the first time that the entire world is literally and realisably (is that a word?) in the same boat! It is the first time that we have come together against a common enemy. The world has definitely changed forever. Even after the lockdown ends (or at least THIS particular lockdown, there could be more coming unless the vaccine is found) things will not be the same for a long long time. But that’s Ok. We don’t know what’s coming next – maybe it will be better than what was before. Stay safe everyone.

Watch my videos on this below: