Talk held at 19:30
on Wednesday, April 22 2009
Peninsula-Excelsior Hotel, Singapore
By Sister BK
Raja Yoga Centre
About Sister Shivani
Shivani (Sister Shivani) is a popular motivational instructor and
lecturer whose regular television programmes and lectures have
inspired thousands of professionals, youth, and even children to
change their perception of religion, spirituality, and way of life.
After graduating as an electronics engineer, she went on to start up
her own software companies including one to teach children robotics.
Her practice of meditation for the past 12 years has enabled her to
explain to her audiences how values and spirituality can be used
naturally in daily life. Shivani is also a regular presenter on
Aastha Channel with a viewership of over 200 million. She also
appears regularly on Sony TV, Sanskar and Zee Jagran Channels which
are socio-spiritual-cultural networks.
Eh, Singapore is a bit weak eh? GOOD EVENING!!!
Thank you so much for the greeting. The reason why I repeated it was
because I noticed in the first time round it was quite weak. When we
greet we must do it with intention. Allow me to share
something with you: in Brahma Kumaris, we always greet each other
with “Om-Shanti”, which means?
Indeed. This is a constant self-reminder that I am a peaceful
being, instead of reminding that I’m an angry, hot tempered, or
The reason for
this self-reminder is because for the mind, the way it works is: “As
I think, so I become.” Peace/love/satisfaction are just words; the
most important in the end is the experience. Therefore, we
need to prepare the mind. We often forget to switch the tasks of the
mind. It so happens that oftentimes for a sharing event, the sisters
prepare the venue, the programme, the invitations, the cookies… we
prepare everything, but the most important thing: the mind of the
audience. The mind of the audience is not always prepared. I believe
many of us this evening came straight from work. How many of us are
still thinking about our day-time work at this very moment?
Audience: about 2
dozens raise their hands, most of them in a “half-way” manner.
Indeed, oftentimes we are not in the present, we are somehow
in the past or the future. Either the past or the future are not
To try to control
our thoughts, do a simple exercise now: sit back, relax… yes, that’s
right. You might like to uncross your legs as this might create a
little tension on the muscles. Oh, there’s no need to close your
eyes, this is not yoga!
(Laughter from the
Now, feel for a
few moments. What are the thoughts coming to your mind?
them. Some thoughts, you’ll find out, are just not important at all.
Why can’t we give
instructions to our own minds?
Lady 1: We’re not
aware of our mind.
Lady 2: We’re not
used to giving instructions to our own mind.
Brilliant! Exactly, because we are not used to giving instructions
to our own mind; instead, we are very used to instructing others.
(Pointing to the right and to the left) “Do this, do that!”
So you see, there
are so many useless thoughts. Do you still remember about a
particular insult that happened last year? 5 years ago? 10?
Ask the thought to
leave. There’s so much baggage we carry with ourselves; 2 hours, 2
days, 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years, 20 years… we somehow allow these
negative lines from others to stay; thus creating such heavy burden
to ourselves, and filling up all the boxes in our hearts! In this
way, there’s no more room for pure and powerful thoughts!
In Brahma Kumaris,
we do a little exercise: every hour, we take one minute to clear the
thoughts; just like anti-virus scan!
How do you think
you would feel if you also did this practice?
Lady: I think it
would be difficult to start.
Don’t say it’s difficult without trying! Maybe it will be difficult
for the first time, especially if this is the first anti-virus
scanning in 20 years! Imagine how many files you would have to scan
If we can clean
our thoughts every hour, the mind will be spotless.
Gentleman: How do
you define “clutter”?
Anything that feels uncomfortable to you. Every moment we are
creating thoughts. How many thoughts do we create each day?
Lady: About 500?
Clinically, 20-30 thoughts are created per minute. But this
is just when the mind is in a “normal” state. If we are hurt or
feeling strong emotions, the number goes up to 45 thoughts per
minute. So do the math. How many thoughts do we create each day?
Let’s say, about 50,000? Are we aware we are creating 50,000
thoughts per day? Taking a company as an analogy, it’s as if a
chairman of a company didn’t know his own product. But allowing all
the negative thoughts coming from others to take over our minds
would be comparable to having a chairman from another company coming
over and running our own company!
These past few
days in Singapore we have conducted some workshops. In one such
workshop, a brother came up to me and shared: It’s not that I am not
happy. I’m perfectly peaceful and happy when I am alone. You see, I
wake up in the morning happy, shower, have my breakfast, go to work…
all in a happy mood. But the moment I step into the office, I become
angry. This guy is making an error, that other guy is committing a
mistake, how not to get angry?
We always say:
It’s not me. It’s the situation or the people around me that is
disturbing me. Somehow, we give away to others the power of control.
How many people in
your life have the power to control your life? I.e. How many people
do you allow to “annoy” you?
Oh! Serious case eh?
(Laughter from the
Ha ha, well,
actually it’s quite true for many of us. How many of us have been to
India? (Some in the audience raise their hands.)
If you have been
to India, you certainly know about the road conditions in India. In
many places, there are no “real” roads, so everybody can do whatever
they want. So people are abusing each other, continuously.
When I visited my brother in Mumbai, he was behind the steering
wheel. In a period of 1 hour on the road, he cursed at least 10
times. So angry! Next day, I asked him to change. Was it easy?
(Many in the
audience shaking their heads.)
Was it easy?
(Less people in
the audience shaking their heads.)
Was it easy? EASY! Just change one thought. We are the only ones who
can make ourselves irritated. We might request or ask others to do
something, but if they don’t, we can change our own perspective.
When we are
resisting people, what are we trying to do? We are trying to judge:
Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Actually, each one is right in one’s own
way. Let me give you an example: mobile phones. Have you noticed
that in the beginning of this sharing session, we did not ask you to
switch off your mobile phones? We used to announce before the start
of the talks, but still, there would always be someone who didn’t
switch off the mobile and in the middle of the talk, a musical ring
tone would set off. I used to be very irritated about this, this is
basic courtesy, right? How come people don’t understand? But of
course, I was not showing my anger out, especially since I’m giving
out these spiritual talks! (Laughter)
So I changed my
perspective, and started enjoying these little ring tones as music.
And I would tell the owner of the phone: oh! Nice little music you
have on your mobile phone, thank you for sharing; can you sms it to
me as well? (Laughter)
about changing perspectives, and I believe this is a very common
situation amongst all of us: the difference of opinion about parents
and children. The son wants to be an artist, but the father insists
the son should be a doctor. The attachment to one’s own definition
is so strong, that there’s no room allowed to see that the other
one’s “right” is also “right”.
No one does
anything wrong because there’s always a logical reason behind why
they choose to do it. This could come in the form of lying, bribing…
and how about the bombings in Mumbai last year (2008)? Do you think
the bombers thought they were right in doing so? That they had a
reason? We might think it was a horrible tragedy, but for the
bombers they had every reason to do so.
However hard it
might be for me to see the other party’s perspective, it doesn’t
change the fact that the other party has a different perspective.
I should have the power to bend and see the other side. Sometimes I
may not agree, but at least I can understand that there are
situation in many families: Children go home, and parents tell them:
How come you are drinking/smoking/staying out late/not staying home
to study hard…etc.??? (you are wrong)! With time, the accumulated
result from such consistent negative energy is: resistance. Then
again, with time, the resistance evolves into hostility, and this
time round, it is the kid who’s going to tell the parent: you are
daughter started smoking, and without trying to understand the
reason behind the “misbehavior”, my sister always scolded her for
this, until one day my niece shouted back: “I hate you!” Can you
imagine how devastating it is for a mother to hear her daughter say
that she hates her? I often hear youngsters sharing with me, that
they purposely return home only after being completely sure their
parents have gone to sleep. (Laughter)
So you see,
words don’t matter, but energy does! We are so used to being
judgmental or critical towards others; the energy we project is
oftentimes very negative. And imagine, we have a weird tendency of
projecting this negative energy especially towards the ones we claim
to love most!
How many people
out there do we love/respect unconditionally?
(Some raise their
unconditionally means loving without trying to change the person you
love; in other words, to have complete acceptance. In fact, the
closest ones to us are often the ones who are trying to change us
the most, and vice-versa. As such, all the negativity accumulates;
because by trying to change the person, you are basically saying:
“You’re wrong, you’re wrong, do it MY way, which is the right and
the only way”. And when it doesn’t work, we feel frustrated and
tired, and we think we need to take a break: now I’ll take a cup of
coffee, or go to the spa, or go for a holiday; in the hope that
these activities will clear the clutter. They don’t!
We’re just so
hopeful that we’ll succeed in changing other people. Why? We all
hope we’ll be successful in changing the others so they can suit our
own needs and make ourselves happy; and when we fail, we feel
How many of us are
raise their hands) Oh! For how long?
Couple: 24 years.
I’ll share with you a story about a couple. The husband never picks
up the shoes, the wife insists that the husband should pick up the
shoes and the couple starts fighting for this. So if this applied to
you, being married for 24 years, would it mean that you’ve been
trying to change your husband for the past 24 years? (Laughter)
In the case of the wife who insisted in the husband picking-up
the shoes, I asked the wife: “So why didn’t you pick the shoes
up yourself instead?” The wife said:
”Because I’m afraid that once I start doing it, I’ll have to do
it forever!” (Laughter)
Such hostility or
fear is very common. We tend to think, “it’s not that I cannot stay
steady/stable, but if I choose to keep quite or not shout back,
people will see me as weak.” Do you see the absurdity in this whole
inner dialogue? It’s completely based on assumptions!
It is very easy to
shout back, but just because everyone else might be doing it, it
should not be seen as natural. We are so used to instantly and
automatically reacting to negativities that we think it is natural
to be unhappy. When we react every single time negativity hits us,
we are actually consuming a lot of negative energy and putting aside
the potential to be happy. All emotions that are natural also
make us feel comfortable and happy.
We do have a
choice on what to create, even when the environment is tough.
Taking for example the current financial crisis. Do you realize that
now in India, there are not enough psychiatrists? Such a profession
was not even important before! This shows how much people are giving
up the power of choice that naturally belongs to themselves. So, if
I still have a choice, what do I do? When none of my family members
are emotionally well, what do I do? Sink with them? No, heal. And
healing we certainly are capable of.
Let me share with
you another story: I met this couple and was counseling them. The
husband beats the wife constantly, and every time the wife cries and
cries and cries. The wife says: “I will not stop crying if he does
not stop beating me!” So much negativity, so much rejection and
hostility, maybe even hatred!
On the surface, it
seems like 2 different actions: violence is socially not acceptable,
whereas crying is. In fact, they are both the same: they’re both
So I talked to
them more, and realized that the husband grew up lonely; he was not
loved as a kid. So he grows up, and suddenly has someone to control.
So he was beating his wife to fill out that vacuum. When the wife
understands the emotional vacuum and needs of her husband, she
starts seeing him with sympathy, as a little boy who needs love.
So you see, no one
else can create good or bad feelings and thoughts, only myself.
To let go of
someone who hurts you is not to do a favour for him/her. It is to do
a favour for yourself, so that your mind doesn’t create pain
to yourself anymore. If we hold that thought, then there’s no need
for the so-called forgiveness, because there’s nothing to forgive
in the first place.
I remember a woman
came to me and told me about her story: she was raped when she was
only a little kid, and has grown to be afraid of others since then.
She was over 40 years old, not married, no friends. Then, in her
heart, she started letting go of the person who raped her, and she
was so happy: I have not lived for the past 35 years of my life
because I couldn’t let go! She had freed herself from hurt.
woman in Orissa who was normally doing charity work for her village,
had her young 2 sons murdered mercilessly by the villagers on the
grounds of different religions. After the tragedy, she still kept
going on with her charity work: “I let go!”
If we allow our
hearts to be filled with pain/guilt/negativities… there will be no
room for others or for love.
Let’s do this
little exercise all together:
From now on,
for 24 hours, I will not allow myself to be disturbed. Check your
thought for one minute every hour.
In order to
maximize our inner potential, we should be consciously creating
powerful and positive thoughts:
-Look at our
selves as the master of the situation.
thoughts every hour.
-Just as we do
exercise to keep our bodies healthy, we should tune our thoughts
first thing in the morning to keep our minds fit.
At the end of the
talk, as we walked out of the fully-packed room, the sisters from
Brahama Kumaris Raja Yoga Centre distributed some home-made cookies
with the little hand-made note card:
the art of forgetting the past, you remember how to fly.”