Stress has always been there. We have to become wiser in understanding what we really want out of life. The simple purpose of human life, is to do things better and better all the time. Instead of competing with others, and frustrating myself in the process, I should compete with my personal achievements. If I played the flute yesterday on stage, and there were clapping and going over my performance, the next time, even if I play it with the same vigour and interest, I will still not be happy because I want to surpass my previous performance. Would you call this ego? No. But if I say, “I am going to do better than someone else, ” then it is ego arising out of a competitive feeling. It is precisely this competition.

Arising out of to prove ourselves better than someone else that creates tension. When we are really competing with ourselves we are not stressed. In fact, we are happier: “Yes, I would like to achieve this.” There is joy in achievement. Ego manifests in so many ways. When we say, “Let me out perform myself, I will do better than yesterday,” and we take pride in ourselves, this is called pride. Of course, it is an offshoot of ego. Also, when we say, “Okay, I can do this,” this is my ability. There is no ego about it, though it reflects ego at some level. When we say, “I am so-and-so, I am a PhD,” there is no ego about it. But when we say, There is nobody other than myself who can play better flute,” or “Nobody is better than my PhD thesis,” or "Nobody is better than myself", "then it is blatant arrogance."

All three are the manifestations of ego. Yet one will take us in the right direction where we can evolve ourselves, our abilities; The other one will hurt the whole society, starting with ourselves first. So our lifestyle, I think, is suffering today because we are trying to compete with others. If we are only competing with ourselves and our achievements then the society will be a lot happier. We have to inspire our children, but not by giving wrong examples. For example, even the negative elements in society: One phone call, from one country to another phone call, and. You Know how they share the with other information.  It is amazing.

Well, when you analyse, this word 'upavasa' 'upa' and 'vasa'. Upa' means 'above' and 'vasa' means 'to stay'. When my my manas,  my... entire consciousness is in tune with the higher being, and it remains there all the time, mentally, consciousness-wise, then I would call it a true upavasa. The fasting, as we understand it today, is not taking food, just being on liquids or a limited diet of mainly fruits only, also has a purpose, but it has no religious connotation behind it. We have made it so that people out of fear will obey that “Yes, I have to fast.” It has mainly a health reason. I give a simple example, take your child to the seashore and everyday let him measure the water level. Take fifteen sticks, all of different colours. On the first day, put a stick where the water comes furthest. On the second day, you put it, and so on the water level will go on changing as you put the sticks, and you will have all fifteen levels or different levels of water levels. Now you ask your child, Why is it so? Is somebody adding water into it? Or is somebody taking away the water? Why is the water level going up and coming down? How is this happening?” Then say, “Think about the position of the moon in relation to this water.”

Then the child will say, “Oh, when it is the full moon the water comes nearest to the road.” So we slowly teach them that the water rises. Since our body is composed of almost 60 percent water, there is a lunar impact on our physical system also. Water cannot come out of the system, but it creates a tension within, just as if there was no open boundary around the sea. What happens when the water is rising? What happens to a vessel? It will be under tremendous pressure. Likewise, the term 'lunatic'– where does it come from? It is the effect of lunar... the moon, on the mind of a person. It creates an extraordinary impact on our body system at various levels, starting with the blood pressure, and it becomes more and more noticeable as... The physiological system of the person is compromised. If a person is healthy he will be able to combat it; But people who are weak or on the verge of falling sick, always have to face the lunar effect.

This can be measured actually from the eighth day if you start measuring the micro-changes in our blood pressure, moods, and so many other things. We can notice a rise in blood pressure starting from the eighth day until the fifteenth day. In between, if we fast we can nullify this impact. On the eleventh day. That is how the tradition of ekadashi came into our... culture. But then we tied it up – “Oh, if you don'tdo ekadashi God will not be pleased.” But this is how our people listen. If we give them a carrot they will surely do it. If we give them a stick they will surely do it.

Very, very intriguing, Suppose your child asks you for something which is not suitable, would you give it? He deserves something and if you do not give it to him at the appropriate time, it creates a problem. Similarly, a person on the street is seeking some help, they need some food. If they are able-bodied, then we think many times that why are they behaving like this? Can't they work? Then the famous logic comes up that it is better to teach a man how tofish than to give a fish. There are many view points on this, so one cannot generalise.  But... by large we can generalise about one thing: That it is good to give. It is like a river that continuously keeps flowing. Its nature is to go on flowing until it reaches the ocean.

On the way... if the river had the consciousness to think before acting, if it decides, “Okay, let me stagnate myself. Stop myself here for a while,” it will form a pond, and in no time it will start stinking when the water evaporates. Similar is the situation with wealth. As a business person if you are manufacturing medications, prescription medicines and you find out that the government is allowing 5 percent plus or minus presence of the active medicinal ingredient. That means you have the liberty of having 95percent or 105 percent. You decide: "Okay, let me put 90 percent only." But then you decide not do that, but put 100 percent. It is a good thing that you do. But the very fact that you changed your mind – that you had a negative idea first, that itself is bad.

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