Are You Doing Your DUTY???? Or…….

English: The inscription says: "Our holy ...
English: The inscription says: “Our holy obligation is to reach a helping hand to the brotherly peoples “. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is DUTY a loaded word for You? Do you ever ask that of yourself? Is that a question that ever plagues you?

It does me…

I constantly ask myself – ” Am I doing my duty?” “Am I doing my right duty?” Questions that poke me, make me reflect and agonize over sometimes.

Do you know what exactly “Duty” means?

Duty is derived from “Right-Conduct” which is a very lose translation of the Sanskrit word “Dharma”.  Duty is attached to every role we play in life.  I have a duty as a Daughter, Wife, Mother, Grand Mother, Friend, Employee, Employer, a Citizen – every role we play, every hat we wear comes with a set of terms and conditions relating to that role.

Duty is not limited to people.  Wetness is the duty of Water, Heat is the duty of Fire, and when those elements perform contrary to their duty – things start to go wrong.

Whilst Duty is a synonym for Obligation, Duty is more than Obligation.  Obligation can be externally imposed and Duty is intrinsic to our nature.

Performing my duty in an obligatory way can be devoid of love.  Anything done without love will soon become an obligation, an imposition, a chore that we come to resent. What would be the result of doing something out of resentment? I begin to regret my actions. It eats me and the  build up is hazardous for  my health and detrimental to the health of my surrounds.  

Sathya Sai Baba says,

“Duty without Love is deplorable;

Duty with Love is Human;

Love without Duty is Divine”

Now we all teeter between the first two statements, performing our duty with and without love.  We generally perform our duty with love when it comes to family and friends and perhaps even our jobs.  There are certain duties that we perform without love – cleaning in my case.

But what does it mean to Love without Duty?  

Is it possible to love something or someone knowing that we have no obligation to do so, knowing that we are not bound by duty to love?

How would that look? Would that be spontaneous actions? Would that be responding rather than reacting? Would Love without Duty show up as kindness, empathy, caring?

We can easily do those things with nature, animals and children. But when it comes to extending love without a duty to adults, we struggle.

Why is it easy to love a child or a puppy spontaneously without hesitation?

I think we can do that because we have no preconceived ideas about who they are other than what we see in front of us – little bundles of innocence, joy and purity and we get drawn to those qualities instantly.  Whereas when we come in front of adults our previous interactions are the first ones that jump into our minds before we even finished saying hello and those interactions color our greeting instantaneously.

We put people in pigeon holes and expect them to stay there, forgetting that people change all the time.  Our sense of security is threatened when a person acts differently to how we know them to be.

Those colored perceptions and judgments make us forget to look at the intrinsic beauty, innocence and purity of each human being.  

Result – at best we are polite or walk away, at worst we clash openly, with hostility. And of course, we regret later and agonize over our actions.

So how is Love without Duty possible?

Every time we come across somebody we picture them as a child, innocent and exuberant brimming with pure joy.  We deliberately not let our previous interactions color our perceptions in the moment.

It is very difficult to do that especially when we know we are wronged by someone.  Remembering that they are doing their ‘duty without love’ and therefore their actions are deplorable  will help in separating the person from the action.

If water catches fire, we put the fire out and move on, we don’t condemn water for its action.

Separating people from actions and labeling the actions help us to interact with love and compassion. It is a deliberate, constant and continuous practice.

Ultimately ‘Love without Duty’ is the only balm that would heal the wounds and the only obligation we have in order to create peace within us and in our society.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?

Would love to hear your comments.

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari







“Are We Separate From Each Other – Truly??”

The duck-rabbit, made famous by Wittgenstein
(The duck-rabbit, made famous by Wittgenstein – Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I get jealous when I come across people who live or seem to live life with full of enthusiasm and excitement.  I am sure there are people who feel similarly of  me and the way I live my life.

We live a life of comparisons most of the time.  Why do we feel this way? Why do we always think that somebody else has it all together?  The proverbial ‘Grass is greener on the other side’ – we tend to live that at one time or another, some more than others.

And yet the highest spiritual truth is as Thich Nhat Hanh says – “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness”.  Illusion is called “Maya” in Sanskrit and that is what we all are immersed in and are journeying to get out of, some more advanced on the path and others at the very beginning of the trail, nevertheless, all on the same path.

The root cause for the feelings of desire, anger, greed, attachment, envy and jealousy – the 6 inner enemies,  is the feeling of separateness that rises through comparisons of ‘better than’, ‘more than’, ‘happier than’, etc. etc.,

If I recognise the ‘Oneness’ then the enthusiasm in one or the beauty in the other should not be the causes for disturbances in me.  I should be able to recognise those qualities in others as an extension of mine.

But it is not easy to do that -why?  Why do I forget the ‘Oneness’ and repeatedly strengthen the ‘illusion of separateness’?

When I operate from the realm of the 5 senses that constantly reiterate and reinforce good and bad, beauty and ugly, when those senses remind me of my physical boundaries, that is when I get rooted in the separateness as boundaries become solid.

Is it possible to blur the boundaries so the spectrum of colors are seen in the distinct edges?  Is it possible to train the vision to see the Oneness?

If I soften my eyes and perhaps even squint a little as if I am trying to see a hidden picutre in an optical illusion, an image within the image, then the edges soften and get blurry and before I know I can hold both pictures in my vision – the visible and the hidden, both clear at the same time.

Softening the vision is one way of seeing past the solid edges and recognising the inner core.      That can only happen when I soften the vision on myself and not hold my edges solidly – meaning when I blur my vision towards myself so the hidden and the outer coexist without judgment, when I love myself for who I am, when I soften towards myself, only then can I fully and completely soften towards the others and those soft edges in me and the other happily come together in a dance of celebration and I am awake from my illusion of separateness.

Just softening the vision will not be enough to do the trick completely.  Vision should be softened accompanied by a word or a phrase that triggers images of Love.  That can be any word or phrase – from “beauty” to “love” to “compassion” to “kind” or even specific names and images of Holy Beings who walked this earth or are walking now – like “Jesus”, “Buddha”, “Allah”, “Rama” etc.,  This is a concept recommended as a spiritual practice in all faiths.  Hinduism calls it “Nama Smarana”, Islam calls it “Zikr” and Christianity recommends the practice of Rosary.  The reasoning behind this spiritual practice is that the  word and/or image evokes the same qualities within us.

When we take time to soften the vision and evoke an image through the word whilst interacting with each others, it will be impossible to treat the others with contempt, or unkindness.  Judgments drop like autumn leaves.  The image evoked through the word will be powerful enough to help us ignore the hard outer edges and concentrate on the soft glimmering inner image that tantalizes us initally but fully becomes visible through practice – like the ‘optical illusion’ once the hidden is visible, we cannot seem to see the original image.

For me the practice of saying “Swami” (the name of a Form that is beloved to me) every time I come across somebody works.  Even the minor random judgments that pass through the mind stop as the mind questions me ‘would I be thinking that if it was really Swami in front of me’ and the judgment stops as mind surrenders to the rising silence filled with love.

It works beautifully, but I have to remember to do it.

Yes, we forget to do the practice.  But the only way to continue is to pick up where we left off every time we remember, without judgment, guilt or blame.  Those feelings are the liquid nitrogen that freeze the solid edges of separateness and it takes a lot of warm waters of love to thaw.  AS soon as the cold vapors of negativity are sensed and felt, we need to remember to blow the warm breeze of positive soothing words and images. Only that kindness has the capacity to thaw the solidity of separateness.

Awakening from the illusion of separateness comes with practice and unless we are willing to do that we will continue to live in the world of ‘me & you’, ‘us & them’, separate and suffering.

So, what would work for you if you were to decide to awaken from the illusion of separateness?

Leave your comments as I am interested to know.

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari


Who is A ‘Guru’?

Full moon rising, seen through the Belt of Venus

The word ‘Guru’ has lot of negative connotations in the western world.  It is understandable because in a world full of horror stories of how Guru’s exploit the innocent, a cautious approach to that word is expected.

So, what does the word ‘Guru’ mean?

Today is the auspicious day of ‘Guru Purnima’ and understanding what ‘Guru’ really means is important.

‘Guru’ is a Sanskrit word and is made of two syllables. ‘Gu’ signifies darkness and ‘Ru’ denotes that which dispels darkness.The term “Guru” means one who dispels the darkness of ignorance.

What are we ignorant of, that needs dispelling?  We are ignorant of our own inherent goodness and capacity.  We are ignorant of our capacity to manifest love in all situations.  We are ignorant of our potential hidden within us.  We delve in darkness created by our own limited thinking arising due to attachments and desires.

The truth is, we are beyond the limits that we place on ourselves.  When we shine the light on that darkness that we have created, it disappears.  It was  not darkness, it was absence of light.

How do we shine light on our darkness?  There is no better ‘Guru’ than our conscience – that little voice inside of us which quietly and continuously whispers right words of advice, which we tend to ignore or not hear at all because our mind’s voice is so loud. That tiny voice that makes us recognise the right from wrong, that makes us squirm uncomfortably until we hear its reasoning, that voice is our true Guru because it is without attributes, and is formless.  Another meaning of ‘Guru’.  Gu = without attributes and Ra = without form.

If we heed that voice, which is non-judgmental, patient, loving and truthful in its persistence and is always steering us in the right direction, we are living the path of Righteousness or Right Conduct or Dharma. We are following our ‘Guru’.

It is because our minds are so clouded we tend not to trust that little voice or even unable to tell the difference when it is our inner voice speaking and when it is our mind’s voice shouting.

How do we develop the capacity to discern the difference? Usually the first impressions we get is the inner voice speaking to us.  When there are nagging doubts about something, when something doesn’t feel right or when we get a distinct feeling in the gut, usually that is the ‘inner voice’ trying to get our attention.  It gets bold and loud when we listen to it and follow its advice.  Just as a true Guru never deserts his pupil, the inner voice too, never goes away. We can only strengthen it by paying attention to it and trusting its guidance.  Before we know, we are confidently walking on our chosen path brightly lit by our own indwelling ‘Guru’.

We may need teachers who can show that path but ultimately the ‘Guru’ that we need is right under our noses

Do you agree?

Drop a line here in comments or on Facebook. Would love to hear your opinions.

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari