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Self Esteem: Key to a meaningful living

Many times we get confronted with low self esteem. Many definitions, many explanations yet we find that every one of us seems to get bogged down with this problem. Introspection into this complex issue made me think of the problem and an analytical view is submitted herein .Self esteem is the major challenge of our era. It lies at the heart of many of the diverse issues and challenges we face in life.
The fact is precise that low self esteem does not seem to be the problem, that it is so very insidious. Many people who suffer from low self esteem attribute their life challenges to wholly different causes and very rightfully. It does not even occur to them to relate their problems to how they regard themselves at the deepest level. You ask them to trace the origin and the answers seems to be one of the many explanations like a mean boss, racial or sexual prejudice, a talent for choosing abusive love partners and so on. We try to externalize the problem trying to source the origin out of our existence. On the contrary it stems from deep within. However, doing this merely moves a person further away from the real problem, and consequently from the solution. Thus by disguising itself as some other more immediately visible issue, low self esteem is never tackled and overcome. It remains to rear its ugly head again.
How Low Self Esteem Arises
It is very strange to believe People with no apparent self esteem problems may still be susceptible at a subtle level. For example, failing to fulfill one�s dreams when one is young, and settling for a safe route to an unchallenging existence, can damage how well one regards himself. In later life, it could manifest in short temper, cynicism when others do try to better themselves, and even physical illness. However, it is difficult and sometimes impossible pinpoint the exact problem.
In other words, self esteem issues, often inherited from your parents, appeared at this early stage. There are many causes of low self esteem. We gain our predominant world-view by the age of five. In other words, whether you consider the world to be a safe or dangerous place, and whether you will react to events in a primarily positive or negative manner, is determined by this age. Parents are the prime shapers of our young psyches at this time. However, schools, society, and more importantly our peers also play an important role. Our later experiences in life merely reinforce the core impressions we gained at this very early age. Parents play a very significant role in shaping the psyche of the future child and more or less their actions can be reflected with their children�s self esteem. People say that I have taken full care of my children, provided them with every possible needs yet my child seems to have lost his sense of direction and has become wayward in terms of confidence etc. Spiritualist and even scientists believe that this care must begin whilst the child is still in the womb! Parents are too often far too casual about how they bring up their children. They unconsciously pass on their own limitations to them as a result.
The first thing is to understand the difference between self-esteem and self-image. Self-image forms as a result of comparisons you make between yourself and those around you. It is the judgment you make of yourself - the image you have of yourself. Sadly, it is often negative as you can usually find someone better than you at almost everything. Self-image in turn affects self-esteem. An easy way to understand this difference is to look at young children. They have perfect self-esteem because they have no self-image. They are not continually judging themselves against externals and falling short. As they grow older one can note the difference .
One need not work upon self-image. There lies the key. This is what many people try to do. However, working on self-esteem is the heart of creating radical change. One important issue is the all pervading issue of self talk. The key to improving your self-esteem is to take conscious control of your self-talk. Negative self-talk is the prime cause for creating and maintaining negative self esteem. The things you say to yourself in your mind, as well as the meaning you attribute to events in your life, combine to create the reality you end up live. A study has revealed that most people�s self-talk is roughly 95% negative. They see the worst in themselves and in everything that happens. Putting a stop to such self-destructive thinking is vital. It is our thoughts and expectations that shape and produce what we become. The quality of our lives is a direct result of them.
One excellent way to combat and overcome negative self-talk is through using positive affirmations. The principle behind them is that the brain cannot entertain two contradictory notions at the same time. Eventually one of the two contradictory notions must win out and cause the other to collapse completely. The belief that finally wins out is the one that you invest with the most emotional energy and constancy of thought. Putting all your emotional energy behind them gives the affirmations the power to destroy negative self-talk and low self esteem.
Recognition of the problem is the half way to the solution. The key to success in life is to recognize the existence of the problem in the first place! Therefore, consider where self esteem issues may be lurking in your life, but manifesting as apparently external problems. The key attitude for success in life is to take total responsibility for what happens to us. We must work upon ourselves continually in order to manifest what we want. To conclude creating high self esteem is one of the best things you can ever do to totally transform every aspect of your life. The results are time tested and reproducible.

Prof GSPATNAIK is a consultant orthopedic Surgeon and a social scientist based in Bhubaneswar. He can be contacted at www.drgspatnaik.com


Spiritual Healing


Spirituality involves the recognition and acceptance of a God beyond our own intelligence and with whom we can have a relationship. This God can provide an experience of inspiration, joy, security, peace of mind, and guidance that goes beyond what is possible in the absence of the conviction that such a power exists.
Spiritual healing is when energy is transmitted to the person who needs it. The treatment works on the body, mind and spirit, which are seen as one unit that must harmonize for good health. If a separate healer is involved, the healer will place the hand on the person being treated to channel the energy from the Higher Source. The spiritual healing can help mental and emotional problems and physical conditions such as a frozen shoulder.
What is spiritual healing?
The channeling of healing energy from its spiritual source to someone who needs it is called spiritual healing. The channel is usually a person, whom we call a healer, and the healing energy is usually transferred to the patient through the healer's hands. The healing does not come from the healer, but through him. On the other hand, you don't need a healer to take advantage of spiritual healing. You can pray. The word "spiritual" refers to the divine nature of the energy, which healers agree comes from one external, invisible intelligent source. The healing energy from this source is available to all. Healers see the body mind and spirit as one interdependent unit and believe all three must work in harmony to maintain positive health. Any problem - be it a broken leg or depression needs the power of healing to restore the balance of the whole person. It is felt that sickness often starts in the mind, or at the deeper level of the spirit, and it is often here that healing begins.
New Age and the Dawning of a New Era
New Age is a loose term that includes everything from self improvement programs to awareness of mind-body connections. The movement is growing by leaps and bounds. Time magazine reported that in 1996, about 44 million Americans identified with the healing movement. It is estimated that Americans alone spend about $1.5 billion annually on books about spirituality and religion. About 42 percent of Americans have sought out alternative health care. So, there is no doubt that the movement is catching on.
"There is a hunger for being connected with a divine force. The hunger is not just for philosophy, but for experience," says James Redfield, author of the Celestial Prophecy. "The consciousness I am describing  the perception of synchronicity, mysterious coincidences  represent great opportunities to grow. That process works whether you are a brain surgeon or sacking groceries. Consciousness has the ability to break cycles of poverty."
Spirituality vs. Religion: Are they complimentary??
Spirituality can be seen as being distinct from religion. Different world religions have proposed various doctrines and belief systems about the nature of a God and humanity's relationship with it. Spirituality, on the other hand, refers to the common experience behind these various points of view. It is an experience involving an awareness of and relationship with something that transcends your personal self as well as the human order of things. This "something" has been given various names ("God" being the most popular in Western Society) and defined in ways that are too numerous to count. We call it simply as the God. You can choose to define what that means for yourself in whatever way feels most appropriate. Your own sense of a God can be as abstract as "cosmic consciousness" or as down-to-earth as the beauty of the ocean or mountains. Even if you regard yourself an agnostic or atheist, you may get a sense of inspiration from taking a walk in the forest or contemplating a beautiful sunset. Or a small child's smile may give you a special sense of joy.
Specific Benefits of Developing Your Spirituality
Safety and Security
Through developing a connection with God, you gain security through the conviction that you are not all alone in the universe, even at those times when you feel temporarily separated from other people. You feel increasingly safe as you come to believe that there is a source you can always turn to in times of difficulty. There is much security to be gained through the understanding that there is no problem or difficulty that cannot be resolved through the help of God.
Peace of Mind
Peace of mind is the result of feeling a deep, abiding sense of security and safety. The more reliance and trust you develop in God, the easier it becomes to deal without fear or worry with the inevitable challenges life brings. It is not that you give up yourself or your will to such a power; rather you simply learn that you can "let go" and turn to God when you feel stuck with a problem in living and don't know how to proceed. Learning how to let go when solutions to problems aren't immediately apparent can go a long way toward reducing worry and anxiety in your life. Peace of mind is what develops in the absence of such anxiety.
As you develop a relationship with God, you come to realize that he has created you and hence he has found something good in you. You are part of the universe. You're good, lovable, and worthy of respect just by virtue of the fact that you're God's creation. This realization can improve the way you look at yourself and will help you to improve your ego and what you think of yourself. You are still inherently good and worthwhile. Your own judgments of yourself, however negative, do not ultimately count if you are a creation of the universe as much as everything else. As one person put it: "God doesn't make junk."
Developing a relationship with God will provide you with guidance for making decisions and solving problems. God has a universal wisdom that goes beyond what you can accomplish through your own intellect. In traditional religions this has been referred to as the "divine intelligence." Through connecting with God, you can draw upon this greater wisdom to help you resolve all kinds of difficulties. By learning to ask God for guidance, you'll be surprised to find that every sincere request sooner or later is answered. And the quality of that answer generally exceeds what you could have figured out through your own conscious intellect or will. Here, God is like your co-pilot. God is always available in the instant of need to those who have made a habit of waiting quietly before Him for insight and guidance.

Prof GSPATNAIK is a consultant orthopedic Surgeon and a social scientist based in Bhubaneswar. He can be contacted at www.drgspatnaik.com


When Doctor was God


When I was a child, the doctor was God. Like God, in exchange for respect and obedience. The doctor's orders  guided us through the valley of the shadow, held out the hope of life eternal, and came when we summoned him, yea, even through snowstorms, to sit on the edge of our bed with his empowered doctors bag and lay his hand on our fevered brow. Often we treat doctors with a higher awe. Our parents were wise by definition but he was infallible by definition; The doctor knows best,  was an incantation you could lean on. We trusted him utterly. Like God, he was the safety net forever spread under our precarious lives. Like God, he was the powerful super parent standing backup behind our mortal parents, appearing as if by magic when our mother's remedies failed, black bag in hand: Well, well, what seems to be the trouble? Let's have a look
In the days before the all-purpose antibiotic, it was important for the doctor to figure out what ailed you, and this he did, not in the lab, but sitting on your bed. It was an art form as much as a science and a clever diagnostician were much admired. He touched your skin and lifted your eyelids and peered down your throat; he flexed your knees and elbows and thumped your back. He unbuttoned your pajamas and listened to your heart and lungs. His interest was inexpressibly comforting and most people felt better almost at once. Even if his bedside manner was brusque and his voice tired and impatient, that couldn't disguise the love he bore us. The love was implicit in his coming; why else would he be at our side? I am sure I wasn't the only child who wept upon learning that he charged money for his services, but even that didn't shake my faith in his love. Often I used to wonder and quite painfully that he is taking my father's hard earned five rupees fees yet my parents comforted me that he has a child like me and he too needs to go to school etc.
In nineteenth-century novels the heroine's grave condition was underlined by the number of doctor's visits per day. It's never clear exactly what he was doing on these visits, but visit he did, and often the languishing lady cheered up, sipped a little lemon tea, and recovered. Back then, illness was a more personal matter. It was said that those with a strong constitution would pull through, while the naturally sickly and patients whose constitutions had been previously undermined would turn up their toes and die of a fever like Sweet Molly Malone. Even those who believed in germs didn't give germs much credit; violent emotional scenes or fits of passion might throw a person into a fatal fever, at least in novels. The doctor stood by, lending the constitution moral support, shoring it up with a change of air, a change of scene, an ocean voyage.
If we transcend the history for the first half of the twentieth century, the doctor cured us with aspirin, orange juice, bed rest, and the laying-on of hands. If we worsened, he put us in a hospital where we stayed, complaining about the food, until he was quite satisfied with our condition. (Then he sent us bills, or sent them to our family if we perished, and the phrase doctor's bills rang ominously, and the impecunious often took years to pay them off.). Medicine has made tremendous strides since then, and by rights we should worship our doctor more fervently than ever, but somehow we don't. He never comes to see us anymore. Sometimes he doesn't bother to discover personally exactly what the matter is by inspecting our ailing bodies; if for some reason he needs to touch us, he first puts on latex gloves and a mask. Then he writes a prescription that should cure whatever it is, and if that fails, he orders lab tests. He makes us to fill out daunting piles of paper that look like tax forms. Rumors circulate about his income, comparable to sports stars; sometimes we think he might be healing us as much for money as for love. Heis a quitter, too, and when we seem really sick he thrusts us away from him, sends us off to a specialist we've never seen before. Indeed, we may never have seen our doctor himself,now called a health-care provider.before.
Since doctors no longer talk to us by phone presumably because of multitasking and their quest of earning only money offering advice and consolation and prescriptions free of charge, some conscientious providers have now gone on-line, so we can share our ailment with our computer. If temperature is elevated, click here} .It's lonelier to be sick now and scarier than it used to be, and millions of us have turned our backs on the new doctors and searched out Chinese women with needles, massage therapists, manipulators of joints, chanters of mantras, and purveyors of roots and barks and herbs and essential unguents. They seem friendlier. The shamans and wiccans with cures from the woods and ditches are more reassuring than the doctor himself, who has turned so cold and uncaring and who may not be God after all.
In the great yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, in 1793, the famous Dr. Benjamin Rush saw well over a thousand patients, bearing the cure he'd invented and believed in passionately. His treatment consisted of ripping their guts out with mercury purges and draining off most of their blood. This savage remedy should have killed them all, even if they hadn't been already sick, but an astonishing number survived and flourished. He had tremendous confidence and courage. He strode into their evil-smelling chambers and sat on their vomit-soaked beds and smiled and said, You have nothing but a yellow fever. Probably they trusted him. Probably they thought he was God, and loved them, and it would be ungrateful and impious of them to die.
More of us stay alive today under the tender care of the antibiotics that replaced the doctor. We must learn to feel the same respect and trust for our bottle of pills, and smile weakly but gratefully at it when it comes to our bedside. Press it to our fevered brow, this pharmaceutical father figure squeezed into a plastic tube, with two refills and possible side effects but comforting, powerful, and wise. And probably very soon now medical science will have the bottle programmed to murmur, when we take off the lid, Well, well, what seems to be the trouble? Let's have a look.

Article published in the Orissa Post.Prof GSPATNAIK is a consultant orthopedic Surgeon and a social scientist based in Bhubaneswar. He can be contacted at www.drgspatnaik.com

Should we become a Devotee? Teachings of swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda became one of India's leading social reformers of the modern era and was a champion of humanitarianism and service to God through service to others. He is revered both in the East and West as a rejuvenator of mankind through the eternal truths of Hinduism. He spoke widely on Hinduism and its true meaning as written in the vedas and founded the Ramkrishna Mission, one of India's leading charitable institutions.
What is Life
Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy---by one or more or all of these--and be free.
Pleasure is not the goal of man, but knowledge. Pleasure and happiness comes to an end. It is a mistake to suppose that pleasure is the goal. The cause of all the miseries we have in the world is that men foolishly think pleasure to be the ideal to strive for. After a time man finds that it is not happiness, but knowledge, towards which he is going, and that both pleasure and pain are great teachers; the ultimate goal of all mankind, the aim and end of all religions, is but one--reunion with God, or what amounts to the same, with the divinity which is every man's true nature.
The ideal of man is to see God in everything. But if you cannot see Him in everything, see Him in one thing, in that thing which you like best, and then see Him in another. So on you can go.
In this world of many, he who sees the One, in this ever-changing world, he who sees Him, who never changes, as the Soul of his own soul, as his own self, he is free, he is blessed, he has reached the goal.
Bhakti Yoga
Bhakti-Yoga is a real, genuine search after the Lord, a search beginning, continuing and ending in Love. One single moment of the madness of extreme love to God brings us eternal freedom. "Bhakti is intense love to God." "When a man gets it he loves all, hates none; he becomes satisfied forever." "This love cannot be reduced to any earthly benefit," because so long as worldly desires last that kind of love does not come. Bhakti-Yoga does not say "give up"; it only says "Love; love the Highest"; and everything low naturally falls off from him, the object of whose love is this Highest.
Purpose of Devotion
Bhakti is its own fruition, its own means and its own end. Those to whom the eternal interests of the soul are of much higher value than the fleeting interests of this mundane life, to whom the gratification of the senses is but like the thoughtless play of the baby, to them, God and the love of God form the highest and the only utility of human existence.
Bhakti admits no elements of fear, no being to be appeased or propitiated. There are even Bhaktas who worship God as their own child, so that there may remain no feeling even of awe or reverance. There can be no fear in true love, and so long as there is the least fear, Bhakti cannot even begin. In Bhakti there is also no place for begging or bargaining with God. The idea of asking God for anything is sacrilege to a Bhakta. He will not pray for health or wealth or even to go to heaven.
Advantages of Devotion
The peace of the Bhakta's calm resignation is a peace that passeth all understanding, and is of incomparable value. The great quality of Bhakti is that it cleanses the mind, and the firmly established Bhakti for the Supreme Lord is alone sufficient to purify the mind.
Of all renunciation, the most natural, so to say, is that of the Bhakti-Yoga. Here, there is no violence, nothing to give up, and nothing to tear off, as it were, from ourselves, nothing from which we have violently to separate ourselves; the Bhakta's renunciation is easy, smooth, flowing, and as natural as the things around us.
"Bhakti is greater than Karma, greater than Yoga, because these are intended for an object in view, while Bhakti is its own fruition, its own means and its own end." The one great advantage of Bhakti is that it is the easiest, and the most natural way to reach the great divine end in view; The path of devotion is natural and pleasant. Philosophy is taking the mountain stream back to its source by force. It is a quicker method but very hard. Philosophy says, "Check everything." Devotion says, "Give up all to the stream, have eternal self-surrender." It is a longer way, but easier and happier.
Bhakti-Yoga does not say "give up"; it only says "Love; love the Highest"; and everything low naturally falls off from him, the object of whose love is this Highest.
With love there is no painful reaction; love only brings a reaction of bliss; if it does not, it is not love; it is mistaking something else for love. When you have succeeded in loving your husband, your wife, your children, the whole world, the universe, in such a manner that there is no reaction of pain or jealousy, no selfish feeling, then you are in a fit state to be unattached.
Disadvantages of Devotion
Its great disadvantage is that in its lower forms it oftentimes degenerates into hideous fanaticism. The fanatical crew in Hinduism, or Mohammedanism, or Christanity, have always been almost exclusively recruited from these worshippers on the lower planes of Bhakti.

That singleness of attachment to a loved object, without which no genuine love can grow, is very often also the cause of the denunciation of everything else. All the weak and undeveloped minds in every religion or country have only one way of loving their own ideal, i.e. by hating every other ideal. Herein is the explanation of why the same man who is so lovingly attached to his own ideal of God, so devoted to his own ideal of religion, becomes a howling fanatic as soon as he sees or hears anything of any other ideal.

Ways of Attaining Devotion
There is Bhakti within you, only a veil of lust-and-wealth covers it, and as soon as that is removed Bhakti will manifest by itself. In Bhakti-Yoga the first essential is to want God honestly and intensely. One way for attaining Bhakti is by repeating the name of God a number of times. Mantras have effect---the mere repetition of words...To obtain Bhakti, seek the company of holy men who have Bhakti, and read books like Gita and the Imitation of Christ; always think of the attributes of God.
But theorizing about God will not do; we must love and work. Give up the world and all worldly things, especially while the "plant" is tender. Day and night think of nothing else as far as possible. The daily necessary thoughts can all be thought through God. Eat to Him, drink to Him, sleep to Him, and see Him in all. Talk of God to others; this is most beneficial.

Get the mercy of God and of His greatest children; these are the two chief ways to God. The company of these children of Light is very hard to get; five minutes in their company will change a whole life, and if you really want it enough, one will come to you. The presence of those who love God makes a place holy, "such is the glory of the children of the Lord". They are He; and when they speak, their words are Scriptures. The place where they have been becomes filled with their vibrations, and those going there feel them and have a tendency to become holy also.
Stages of Devotion
We all have to begin as dualists in the religion of love. God is to us a separate Being, and we feel ourselves to be separate beings also. Love then comes in the middle, and man begins to approach God, and God also comes nearer and nearer to man. Man takes up all the various relationships of life, as father, as mother, as son, as friend, as master, as lover, and projects them on his ideal of love, on his God. To him God exists as all these, and the last point of his progress is reached when he feels that he has become absolutely merged in the object of his worship.

We all begin with love for ourselves and the unfair claims of the little self make even love selfish; at last, however, comes the full blaze of light, in which this little self is seen to have become one with the Infinite. Man himself is transfigured in the presence of this Light of Love, and he realizes at last the beautiful and inspiring truth that Love, the Lover, and the Beloved are one.

When the devotee has reached this point he is no more impelled to ask whether God can be demonstrated or not, whether He is omnipresent and omniscient, or not. To him He is only the God of Love; He is the highest ideal of love, and that is sufficient for all his purposes; He, as love, is self-evident; it requires no proof to demonstrate the existence of the beloved to the lover. The magistrate-Gods of other forms of religion may require a good deal of proof to prove them, but the Bhakta does not and cannot think of such Gods at all. To him God exists entirely as love. The perfected Bhakta no more goes to see God in temples and churches; he knows no place where he will not find Him. He finds Him in the temple as well as out of the temple; he finds Him in the saint's saintliness as well as in the wicked man's wickedness, because he has Him already seated in glory in his own heart, as the one Almighty, inextinguishable Light of Love, which is ever shining and eternally present.
The Bhakta at last comes to this that love itself is God and nothing else. Where should man go to prove the existence of God? Love was the most visible of all visible things. It was the force that was moving the sun, the moon and the stars, manifesting itself in men, women and in animals, everywhere and in everything. It was expressed in material forces as gravitation and so on. It was everywhere, in every atom, manifesting everywhere. It was that Infinite Love, the only motive power of this universe, visible everywhere, and this was God Himself.

"I may know that I am He, yet will I take myself away from Him and become different, so that I may enjoy the Beloved." That is what the Bhakta says.
Feelings of Devotee
If a man does not get food one day, he is troubled; if his son dies how agonising it is to him! The true Bhakta feels the same pangs in his heart when he yearns for God. The great quality of Bhakti is that it cleanses the mind, and the firmly established Bhakti for the Supreme Lord is alone sufficient to purify the mind. "Lord, they build high temples in your name; they make gifts in your name; I am poor; I have nothing; so I take this body of mine and place it at your feet. Do not give me up, O Lord." Such is the prayer proceeding out of the depths of the Bhakta's heart. To him who has experienced it, this eternal sacrifice of the self unto the Beloved Lord is higher by far than all wealth and power, than even all soaring thoughts of renown and enjoyment.

The peace of the Bhakta's calm resignation is a peace that passeth all understanding, and is of incomparable value. When the devotee has reached this point he is no more impelled to ask whether God can be demonstrated or not, whether He is omnipresent and omniscient, or not. To him He is only the God of Love; He is the highest ideal of love, and that is sufficient for all his purposes; He, as love, is self-evident; it requires no proof to demonstrate the existence of the beloved to the lover. The magistrate-Gods of other forms of religion may require a good deal of proof to prove them, but the Bhakta does not and cannot think of such Gods at all. To him God exists entirely as love. I know one whom the world used to call mad, and this was his answer: "My friends, the whole world is a lunatic asylum; some are mad after worldly love, some after name, some after fame, some after money, some after salvation and going to heaven. In this big lunatic asylum I am also mad, I am mad after God. You are mad; so am I. I think my madness is after all the best."
The true Bhakta's love is this burning madness, before which everything else vanishes for him. The whole universe is to him full of love and love alone; that is how it seems to the lover. So when a man has this love in him, he becomes eternally blessed, eternally happy; the blessed madness of divine love alone can cure for ever the disease of the world that is in us.
May we see the reflection of revered Swamiji in every Indian.

Prof Gourishankar patnaik is a consultant Orthopedic and spinal surgeon and social scientist based in Bhubaneswar. He can be contacted at drgspatnaik@gmail.com and www.drgspatnaik.com


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