Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Tattva has moved!

With the new year, Tattva now has a new look. We have moved over to wordpress, and you can now find us at: 

If you would like to continue receiving updates you will have to sign up on the new website. Thanks and wishing you a spiritually successful 2016!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Tattva has moved!

With the new year, Tattva now has a new look. We have moved over to wordpress, and you can now find us at: 

If you would like to continue receiving updates you will have to sign up on the new website. Thanks and wishing you a spiritually successful 2016!

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Enemies of Growth

This morning I quizzed someone about their new year's resolution. Their reply - "my life is going great, I don't need to change a thing - resolutions are for losers!" I had never heard that before! How could someone feel their life to be perfect - with no room for improvement? Without making the effort to grow, to learn, to explore and to challenge our current ways of functioning, how can we truly realise our potential? That said, I began thinking how consciously or unconsciously we could all fall into the same trap. Observing my own life, it seems there are key enemies which stagnate our growth and development. We slide into mediocrity and averageness when we are too busy, too arrogant or too comfortable to really invest in our life. Growth consists of key ingredients:

Time - our valuable hours are consumed by pressing issues and daily demands. Some things surely require immediate attention, but we have a chronic tendency to unnecessarily promote tasks in our 'to-do list' that may well be urgent but not really very important. Thus, we end up neglecting that which doesn't frantically tag on our consciousness, but which is key to the bright future ahead - time spent reflecting, planning, considering and questioning. We need to free up tangible time and mental space to "think out of the box."

Humility - to improve, we must first acknowledge we are not the best version of ourselves. This requires humility. Our own pride convinces us we've found the best way to function. We think ourselves one step ahead of everyone else - its difficult to see how we could be wrong. A humble person accepts their limitations, looks for guidance, ever seeking an opportunity to refine and enhance their character and lifestyle.

Courage - life is a perennial tension between comfort and aspiration. We seek to explore, to grow, to achieve, yet we also desire security, safety and certainty. Truth be told, we have to sacrifice one to get the other. If we opt to remain in the comfort-zone, we may have to live with the inevitable feelings of being humdrum, run-of-the-mill and unexciting. On the other hand, if we dive for our dreams we’ll have to ready ourselves to brave the rocky road of uncertainty and opposition. Every significant achievement has its price tag. In an age where security, establishment and balanced prosperity have become the guiding beacons for our comfortable life, only a few have the courage to follow their dreams.

In the coming year I'll attempt to free up some time, challenge my established way of functioning, and cultivate some bravery to explore new things. Not sure whether it will bring huge external successes, but i'm convinced it'll be internally rewarding. Roll on 2016.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Street Spirituality

High streets are intriguing places; a microcosm of modern life. It’s where people descend in their thousands, searching for something extra to enrich their existence. These urban hubs are a melting pot of entertainers, campaigners, shoppers, beggars and advertisers, a marketplace for the latest commodities and ideas, a space for meeting, sharing and exploring. Here you’ll find people from every imaginable socio-economic background, swarming like bees around a hive.

Enter the monks. Yes, you read it right. Crazy as it may sound, this is where we spend many days and weeks; standing on street corners, speaking to random people, and showing them spiritual books. It’s quite a task to stop someone in their tracks, cut through the myriad of thoughts, penetrate the bubble of their life and begin a dialogue about deeper subject matter. Some people naturally tune in to the concept of spirituality and wisdom, while others are sceptical, uninterested and otherwise-engaged. Either way we always have a laugh, a smile and learn something from each other!

Amongst whatever else I do in life, this simple and sublime activity is what I relish most. It’s a humble attempt to positively contribute to the world, and something which reconnects me with my calling. Sometimes it’s agonizingly difficult, and other times it feels like a mystical drama being orchestrated by higher powers. Either way, it’s where I feel at home. My most memorable, magical and moving experiences in life have been in bustling high streets, sharing spirituality with people. With the arrival of the festive season, we embark upon another month-long marathon. This year it’s a special effort, and everyone’s invited to get involved (Facebook:

Thursday, 5 November 2015


Someone recently referred to me as a 'man of faith'. I detected the condescending tone in his speech. It was, I’m pretty sure, a subtle put-down. Faith is often frowned upon in today’s society – savvy people consider it unscientific, sentimental, primitive and a sign of weakness. Believe in what you see, they say, and take charge of fortune by shaping life on your own abilities and strength. It’s a psychological approach developing from reductionist science, which aims to explain everything in mechanistic, empirical and routine terms. It’s quite apt that the net result of ‘reductionism’ is to severely limit and impair our experience of life.

Faith is, without doubt, the most beautiful, extraordinary and empowering quality in existence! Without it, the world would be dull, dull, dull – life would be restricted to the boundaries of our own logic and rationale. Pretty limited indeed. People say faith doesn’t make sense, but that’s exactly why it makes miracles. Someone believed there was something beyond “the odds.” Someone knew there was a power and inspiration more profound than his own. Someone had the humility and wisdom to tap into a higher source of strength. Time and time again, we see how faith opens doors to the unknown.

This placement of faith is indeed a part of our natural psychology. In cultured societies it actually grows organically. Unfortunately, regular exploitation and abuse of faith has promoted scepticism and suspicion as the orders of the day. To live by your own judgement and discrimination is seen as safe and secure. Yet even that is a farce, since everyone, regardless of their ontological worldview, is impelled to put faith in something lest we're rendered entirely dysfunctional. Thus, the great saint Visvanatha Cakravarti states adau sraddha“in the beginning there must be faith.” Faith is the foundation of our spiritual life, and the Sanskrit word for it literally means “to put your heart into something.” As we deepen our faith and endeavour with heartfelt conviction, an ordinary life morphs into a transcendental drama of magic and miracles. Gradually, we begin to realise how much we've limited ourselves over the years! It’s actually incredible how one can be so close and yet so far, simply because we couldn’t take a small leap of… faith.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Acid Test

Sometimes I pause for thought – “what is motivating my spiritual journey?” The fact that one continues on with a seeming enthusiasm, year after year, may not tell the full story. When we receive appreciation, respect, encouragement and a plethora of impending opportunity, it’s somewhat easy to carry on with a gusto and drive. There is, after all, an immediate sense of achievement, value and purpose. The defining moments, however, often occur when that reciprocation is not so forthcoming. That’s the acid test to measure the sum and substance of our spirituality. In those difficult times we witness where we are actually drawing our enthusiasm from. Is the driving force a genuine spiritual connection or more based upon material gratification? What happens when all the results are taken away?

Periodically, we'll all be confronted with situations where people are oblivious to our sacrifices, unappreciative of our endeavours, and seemingly unimpressed with our contributions. People may even misunderstand our purpose and cuttingly criticise us. Swami Prabhupada talked about a period of his life where he was "crying alone in the wilderness." Few who heard, even less who genuinely appreciated, and scarcely anyone who actually helped. He nevertheless continued on with no loss of enthusiasm. In such testing times, the level of our spiritual purity is exhibited and developed. One must be fixed in the consciousness that there is divine appreciation for our sincere endeavours, even if the individuals around us aren't so forthcoming. When Mother Teresa scribed her poem entitled "Do it Anyway," she concluded with a poignant reminder - "in the final analysis its between you and God, it was never between you and them anyway."

Thus, in the rollercoaster journey of life, the ‘good times’ and ‘bad times’ all have their part to play. Whatever encouragement we receive is being willed by providence because it’s the ‘need of the day’ in our spiritual journey. Those times of stability, prosperity and recognition, should be utilised for spiritual immersion so we can build up assets of inspiration, gratitude, strength and unbreakable faith. And when the acid test comes, when we’re stripped of that encouraging support, crying alone in the wilderness, then we exercise the internal muscles by practicing resilience, humility, patience and tolerance. The test will expose us, educate us and hopefully inspire us. It’s a learning curve and I’m trying to remain alert – surprise tests are always around the corner.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Free Speech

We live in an overcommunicated world. The prevailing culture insists we reply to all text messages within 10 minutes, be mindful of the mountain of emails building up in our inbox, and religiously return random ‘missed calls’ on our phones. Don’t forget to regularly post something witty on Facebook, follow your best friends on twitter and utilise all the free airtime minutes on your contract! It is, after all, good to talk. But what is the net result of this web of exchange? Does it foster a greater sense of relationship and community? Is it a case of more connected, but further apart?

Silence, it’s said, is the art of conversation. You may have noticed how we struggle with a quiet moment. When it does arise, most will instinctively grab their smartphone in a desperate attempt to engage their mind. Think about the last time you saw someone, under the age of 30, sitting down and doing absolutely nothing. Rare indeed! Even more unusual is to be with another person and not utter a word. It feels awkward and uneasy. Alien and unnerving. Yet silence is imperative – it forces us to understand, assimilate, reflect and think deeply about what is actually going on. Often times, however, in order to frantically fill those vacant moments, we end up generating substandard content to share with the world: meaningless, inconsiderate and shoddy communication.

Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely room for chitchat, niceties, and light-hearted exchange between humans. It would be unnatural to jump to the other extreme of strictly regulating our every word. The Bhagavad-gita, however, offers the over-arching model to guide speech. Words, Krishna recommends, should be truthful, pleasing and beneficial. How much of our written and verbal communication would make it through this filter? Along with freedom of speech, it may be worthwhile to remind people of their longstanding right to freedom of thought. Think once before you act, twice before you speak, and three times before you post something on facebook.

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something” (Plato)

Wednesday, 16 September 2015


I’d like to make a confession (nothing major). While driving on the M25 last week, I sped ahead on the main carriageway and then abruptly cut into the junction exit road; a convenient way to avoid the huge tailbacks and get to my destination pronto. As you can imagine, I got quite a few angry horns and unsavory looks. It prompted me to think about whether spiritualists need to worry themselves with worldly morality. How important is it to follow social niceties? Is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ simply a subjective and relative worldview based on the prevailing cultural milieu of the day? Isn’t a spiritualist automatically moral? Does following such ethics contribute anything to the divine journey?

Although following a transcendental path, a healthy amount of down-to-earth morality may not go amiss:
  • It helps the world - morals, ethics and conventions govern human interaction, creating peaceful and progressive civilization for everyone. Spiritual or not, we’re all living in the world and it helps to keep things in order
  • It helps us - following moral codes fosters a more considerate consciousness within ourselves. We develop a sense of respect, empathy and thoughtfulness, which supports our spiritual endeavours. 
  • It helps our purpose - Although the average Jo may not value profound philosophical understanding, they will likely be impressed by a ‘good’ person. Immoral spiritualists may find that their lofty presentations only go so far.
Yet is seems that this innate sense of morality, an inherent sense of right and wrong, has a deeper spiritual drive behind it. We have a sensitivity and selflessness programmed into us, which instinctively checks us from madly pursuing what we want and completely disregarding others. It seems there is someone within, prompting that sensitivity and selflessness, reminding us that cultivating these qualities will bring us to a higher state of consciousness and a deeper sense of happiness. The repeated message reverberates loud and clear - "we find ourselves, by thinking of others."

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