Rooted in the hearts of many Hindus is the belief that if you breathe your last in Kashi (Varanasi) you attain what is popularly known as ‘Kashi Labh’ or ‘the fruit of Kashi’—moksh or “release from the cycle of rebirth impelled by the law of karma”.
Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan in Varanasi is one of the three guesthouses in the city where people check in to die. The other two are Mumukshu Bhawan and Ganga Labh Bhawan. Established in 1908, Mukti Bhawan is well-known within the city and outside.
Bhairav Nath Shukla has been the Manager of Mukti Bhawan for 44 years. He has seen the rich and the poor take refuge in the guesthouse in their final days as they await death and hope to find peace. Shukla hopes with and for them. He sits on the wooden bench in the courtyard, against the red brick wall and shares with me 12 recurring life lessons from the 12000 deaths he has witnessed in his experience as the manager of Mukti Bhawan:
People check in to die.

1. Resolve all conflicts before you go


Shukla recounts the story of Shri Ram Sagar Mishr, a Sanskrit scholar of his times. Mishr was the eldest of six brothers and was closest to the youngest one. Years ago an ugly argument between the two brothers led to a wall to partition the house.
In his final days, Mishr walked to the guesthouse carrying his little paan case and asked to keep room no. 3 reserved for him. He was sure he will pass away on the 16th day from his arrival. On the 14th day he said, “Ask my estranged brother of 40 years to come see me. This bitterness makes my heart heavy. I am anxious to resolve every conflict.”
A letter was sent out. On the 16th day when the youngest brother arrived, Mishr held his hand and asked to bring down the wall dividing the house. He asked his brother for forgiveness. Both brothers wept and mid sentence, Mishr stopped speaking. His face became calm. He was gone in a moment.
Shukla has seen this story replay in many forms over the years. “People carry so much baggage, unnecessarily, all through their life only wanting to drop it at the very end of their journey. The trick lies not in not having conflicts but in resolving them as soon as one can,” says Shukla.

The trick lies not in not having conflicts but in resolving them as soon as one can.

2. Simplicity is the truth of life

“People stop eating indulgent food when they know they are going to go. The understanding that dawns on many people in their final days is that they should’ve lived a simple life. They regret that the most,” says Shukla.
A simple life, as he explains, can be attained by spending less. We spend more to accumulate more and thus create more need. To find contentment in less is the secret to having more.

3. Filter out people’s bad traits

Shukla maintains that every person has shades of good and bad. But instead of dismissing “bad” people outrightly, we must seek out their good qualities. Harbouring bitterness for certain people comes from concentrating on their negatives. If you focus on the good qualities though, you spend that time getting to know them better or, maybe even, loving them.
To find contentment in less is the secret to having more.

4. Be willing to seek help from others

To know and do everything by yourself might feel empowering but it limits one from absorbing what others have learnt. Shukla believes we must help others, but more importantly, have the courage to seek help when we’re in need.
Every person in the world knows more than us in some respect. And their knowledge can help us, only if we’re open to it.

He recounts the incident of an old woman being admitted on a rainy day back in the 80s. The people who got her there left her without filling the inquiry form. A few hours later, the police came to trace the relatives of the old lady who, they said, were runaway Naxalites. Shukla pretended to know nothing. The police left. When the lady’s relatives returned next morning, Shukla asked the leader uninhibitedly, “When you can kill 5-8 people yourself why didn’t you simply shoot your Nani and cremate her yourself? Why did you make me lie and feel ashamed?” The grandson fell to his knees and pleaded for forgiveness saying no one amongst them is capable of helping his religious grandmother attain salvation. He respects that, and is the reason why he brought her to Mukti Bhawan.
We must help others, but more importantly, have the courage to seek help when we’re in need.

5. Find beauty in simple things

Mukti Bhavan plays soulful bhajans and devotional songs three times a day. “Some people”, he says, “stop and admire a note or the sound of the instruments as if they have never heard it before, even if they have. They pause to appreciate it and find beauty in it.”
But that’s not true of everyone, he adds. People who are too critical or too proud, are the ones who find it hard to find joy in small things because their minds are preoccupied with “seemingly” more important things.

6. Acceptance is liberation

Most people shirk away from accepting what they are going through. This constant denial breeds in them emotions that are highly dangerous. Only once you accept your situation is when you become free to decide what to do about it. Without acceptance you are always in the grey space.
When you are not in denial of a problem you have the strength to find a solution.

Indifference, avoidance, and denial of a certain truth, Shukla believes, cause anxiety; they develop a fear of that thing in the person. Instead, accept the situation so you are free to think what you want to do about it and how. Acceptance will liberate you and empower you.
Stop and admire a note or the sound of the instruments.

7. Accepting everyone as the same makes service easier


The secret to Shukla’s unfazed dedication and determination towards his demanding job can be understood via this life lesson. He admits that life would’ve been difficult if he treated people who admit themselves to Mukti Bhavan differently, based on their caste, creed, colour, and social or economic status. Categorisation leads to complication and one ends up serving no one well. “The day you treat everyone the same is the day you breathe light and worry less about who might feel offended or not. Make your job easier,” he says.

8. If/When you find your purpose, do something about it

To have awareness about one’s calling is great, but only if you do something about it.
A lot of people, Shukla says, know their purpose but don’t do anything about realising it, making it come to life. Simply sitting on it is worse than not having a calling in the first place. Having a perspective towards your purpose will help you measure the time and effort you need to dedicate to it, while you’re caught up in what you think you can’t let go or escape. Take action on what truly matters.
Categorisation leads to complication and one ends up serving no one well.

9. Habits become values

Shukla recommends cultivating good habits to be able to house good values. And building good habits happens over time, with practice. “It’s like building a muscle; you have to keep at it everyday.”
Till one doesn’t consistently work towards being just or kind or truthful or honest or compassionate, every single time he is challenged, one cannot expect to have attained that quality.

10. Choose what you want to learn

In the vastness of the infinite amount of knowledge available to us it is easy to get lost and confused. “The key lesson here is to be mindful of choosing what you deeply feel will be of value to you,” he says. People might impose subjects and philosophies on you because it interests them and while you must acknowledge their suggestions, the wise thing to do is delve deeper into what rejoices your own heart and mind.
With a smile on his face Shukla says, “In the last days of their life a lot of people can’t speak, walk or communicate with others with as much ease as they could, earlier. So, they turn inwards. And start to remember the things that made their heart sing once, things that they cared to learn more about over the course of their life, which enriches their days now.”

11. You don’t break ties with people; you break ties with the thought they produce

You can seldom distance yourself from people you have truly loved or connected with in some way. However, in any relationship, along the way, certain mismatch of ideologies causes people to stop communicating. This never means you are no longer associated with that person. It simply means that you don’t associate with a dominant thought that person brings with him/her, and to avoid more conflict you move away. The divorce, Shukla affirms, is with the thought and never with the person. To understand that is to unburden yourself from being bitter and revengeful.

12. 10 percent of what you earn should be kept aside for dharma

Dharma, Shukla doesn’t define as something religious or spiritual. Instead, he says it is associated more with doing good for others and feeling responsible about that. A simple calculation according to him is to keep 10 percent of your income for goodwill.
Many people donate or do charitable acts towards the end of their life because death is hard on them. In their suffering, they begin to empathise with others’ suffering. He says those who have the companionship of loved ones, the blessings of unknown strangers, and an all-encompassing goodwill of people exit peacefully and gracefully. That is possible when you don’t cling on to everything you have, and leave some part of it for others.


**This was originally featured on  Project Fuel

Carl Jung is a deep philosophical thinker who examined all aspects of the self when writing about the human experience. He was clear on the notion that we are spiritual beings. Having a spiritual relationship with oneself truly helps us to understand the deeper aspects of who we truly are.
To some people, this idea translates to religion, finding solace in the existence of something greater than yourself. My opinion is that this is a fickle form of spirituality that does not truly help a person get to the core of who they are (or, alternatively, who they are not).
“Carl Jung was one of the creators of modern depth psychology, which seeks to facilitate a conversation with the unconscious energies which move through each of us. He contributed many ideas which continue to inform contemporary life:complex, archetype, persona, shadow, anima and animus, personality typology, dream interpretation, individuation, and many other ideas. He had a deep appreciation of our creative life and considered spirituality a central part of the human journey” says www.cgjungpage.org.
This summation of Carl’s life and work connects deeply to what Collective Evolution is all about. After putting together the quotes in this article, I gained an even deeper appreciation for Carl Jung and his work, since I uncovered the conscious themes that were apparent throughout his teachings.
Here are 20 quotes from Jung that serve as an accurate representation of his work, and also provide much to reflect on.
20 Profound Quotes By Carl Jung That Will Help You To Better Understand Yourself:
1.“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
2. “Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”
3. “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
4. “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
5. ”One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.”
6. “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”
7. “Don’t hold on to someone who’s leaving, otherwise you won’t meet the one who’s coming.”
8. “If you are a gifted person, it doesn’t mean that you gained something. It means you have something to give back.”
9. “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
10. “Loneliness does not come from having no people around, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”
11. “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.”
12. “A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them.”
13. “Depression is like a woman in black. If she turns up, don’t shoo her away. Invite her in, offer her a seat, treat her like a guest and listen to what she wants to say.”
14. “Mistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth, and if a man does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase in knowledge if he knows what it is not.”
15. “Your perception will become clear only when you can look into your soul.”
16. “Everything about other people that doesn’t satisfy us helps us to better understand ourselves.”
17. “What you resist, persists.”
18. “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”
19. “We may think that we fully control ourselves. However, a friend can easily reveal something about us that we have absolutely no idea about.”
20. “A dream is a small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens up to that primeval cosmic night that was the soul, long before there was the conscious ego.

Longtime forest ranger in Germany, Peter Wohlleben, has been studying the forest since he first decided to become a conservationist at 6 years old. He followed his passion for nature throughout college, where he studied forestry and went on to work as an Office Manager of a forestry office. Now he works at the forests in Eifel Gemeinde Hümmel and Wershofen. He recently published a book titled “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World” that made German forests popular again.

In the book, he explains how trees have their own network, fondly called the “Wood Wide Web,” that keep the trees in a forest interconnected and cause the trees to react to situations in inexplicable ways. Peter took Sally McGrane from the New York Times on a walk through his beloved forest and showed her a pair of beech trees. He said,
“These trees are friends. You see how the thick branches point away from each other? That’s so they don’t block their buddy’s light.” He added, “Sometimes, pairs like this are so interconnected at the roots that when one tree dies, the other one dies, too.”
Sounds a bit like how some humans operate as well, such as when elderly loved ones die within months or even days of each other because they can’t stand to live without the other.
The terms used in Peter’s book are largely anthropomorphic, meaning he regularly applies human terms and verbs to trees. This is something many biologists, who have known for years about the trees’ behavior, take issue with because his choice of language may lead readers astray. For example, he says that the trees “talk” rather than “communicate,” despite the fact that scientists say that they don’t talk in the traditional way that humans would expect.
Nevertheless, Peter is determined to continue using this language for a very important reason:

“I use a very human language,” he told McGrane. “Scientific language removes all the emotion, and people don’t understand it anymore. When I say, ‘Trees suckle their children,’ everyone knows immediately what I mean.”
Scientific journals and books on the subject often make the reader feel disconnected and can dissuade regular people from learning more about something they can’t relate to. Instead, with Peter’s book, they feel more connected to nature and the forests than ever before. After reading that trees can count, learn and remember, nurse sick neighbors, and warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a the “Wood Wide Web,” a fungal network, people are more intrigued than ever by the mysterious beings. Their behavior is wondrous to those who have never heard of their abilities, such as the fact that they keep the stumps of fallen companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots. Scientists still don’t know why this is, but it adds to the curious nature of the trees and makes people empathize with them.
In an age where computers and phones are what people turn to for entertainment rather than outdoor fun, reading about trees provides the motivation to return to our roots, so to speak. Germany has a long history with enjoying the forest, and that trend is returning thanks to Peter’s book, in which the English translation was published last September.
What are your thoughts on this news? Please share, like, and comment on this article!

While more and more people are becoming educated about the true history of Monsanto and genetically engineered foods, most still don’t realize one extremely important piece of information: the FDA’s surprising lack of safety testing.
In regards to GMOs, the FDA’s declaration of “substantial equivalence” means that there is no long-term, independent safety testing of new foods and crops that have been genetically engineered.
When it comes to the forthcoming GMO pineapple, that is once again the case: the FDA has said that Del Monte’s proposed creation is “safe” based solely on information submitted by the company itself. There is a distinct lack of information on long-term potential health effects, however.
The new GMO pineapple has been given a rubber stump, and it could be headed to store shelves. Here’s what you need to know about it.
New “Pink” Pineapple To Be Grown in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the most diverse and natural paradises in the world, but now the country is expected to be the site of the latest GMO experiment: an “extra sweet pink flesh” pineapple.
Here’s how the new pineapple was created according to the FDA:
“Del Monte’s new pineapple has been genetically engineered to produce lower levels of the enzymes already in conventional pineapple that convert the pink pigment lycopene to the yellow pigment beta carotene. Lycopene is the pigment that makes tomatoes red and watermelons pink, so it is commonly and safely consumed.”
According to the company’s information the product is “safe,” but the process itself has many questioning it, wondering if perhaps any unintended consequences will come from “playing God” with such a widely consumed food.
While genetic engineering can be explained simply in a surface way, it also can create unseen changes at a cellular level that the everyday person is not aware of, critics say. When GMOs were originally approved, the FDA ignored its own scientists’ warnings about potential allergens and long-term health concerns.
The FDA and GMO companies disagree with critics on the need for long-term independent safety testing, however.
“(Del Monte) submitted information to the agency to demonstrate that the pink flesh pineapple is as safe and nutritious as its conventional counterparts,” the FDA said according to this report from NBC News.
According to the NBC report, the pineapple will simply be labeled “extra sweet pink flesh pineapple,” suggesting that no special labels showing that it is genetically engineered will be required.
For more on the pineapple, check out the full NBC News report by clicking here.
Social media thumbnail picture is a concept of what the pineapple may look like via FoodandWine.com.
**This was originally featured on http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/

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