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You experience in yourself the feeling of superior or inferior in view of things that are subject to formation and destruction - This is a big mistake. e.g. Certain people regard themselves as superior in view of the wealth they own, few consider themselves great because of big homes that they possess. Others feel great by wearing fine clothes, while still others proclaim their superiority owing to the high position they hold, one of dignity and respect; there are however few that regard themselves as quite inferior or lowly or insignificant in view of the non-availability of these things. This is a very big mistake. You are yourself an inalienable, sparkling part of God and are consciousness! And you hold yourself superior or inferior in relation to inert gross material things only – this is nothing but inferiority in your attitude! You are the acquirer and enjoyer of these things, knower of their beginning and their end as well. Why yet should you be a slave of such things? Riches come and go, friends meet and part in life. Knowing this simple truth, we commit a mistake by feeling superior or inferior only on their count! Think a little, please, and immediately it would strike your intelligence that if you are great merely because you occupy a high or significant rank or position, then you are really small as you hold dignity and importance only in the office. If we are great on acquiring wealth, then the greatness lies not in us but only in the wealth. We are not great. Sooner we realize this, better it is that we should never feel superior or inferior on the strength of things which are mere transitory or of fleeting nature.Your are yourself immensely great. Ordinarily you are part and parcel of the Supreme Divine Being i.e. God, but in case you ascend to sublimely devotional heights, you are the crest-jewel of Divinity. God himself says :“I am the Servant of my devotees.Devotees my Crest-jewel ! „“Mein to hu bhagatanakaa daas,bhagata mere mukutamani”You are really that whom God calls his crest jewel! When does one become a devotee? The moment one is released from the affinity with grossness (jadataa), that very moment you are a devotee! Therefore you should from this very moment hold in your mind the firm resolve that you would not view yourself in high or low esteem on the basis of petty things that have an origin and ending. You do earn and own these perishables, use and enjoy them, but not weigh your being great or otherwise on their count. The balloon of your ego is pumped full-blown on their airy strength and there lies the rub! What is the difficulty in understanding this simple truth! Tell me! If there is none, then accept the wisdom of this reality just now. It brooks no delay. It demands no preparation, expects no special intelligence, no extra power or stamina, nor any uncommon ability on your part. Accept for God’s sake that you will not consider yourself great because of the belongings of mutable and ephemeral nature. For, such an orientation is nothing but mere subjection or slavery. A slave can never be happy even in dreams - “paradheena sapanehu sukhu naahim” (Manasa, Bala. 102/3). We are God’s and God is ours – if you firmly believe this, then alone you will be truly great in the real sense.Being in body finite (jiva) is faction divine of God eternal! Conscious, pious, ocean of happiness and bliss natural !!” (Manasa, Uttara. 117/1)When does he become really unhappy though being the fount eternal of happiness? Only when he accepts the slavish subjugation of the objects perishable and transitory, he grows sad, morose and sorrowful. You don‟t want sorrow at all, but you systematically pile up the materials of unhappiness only and willfully slip into the slavery of perishable goods. There is no happiness in slavishness, not even in dreams!Listener: More people flock to him who is virtuous? Is that the sign of people’s greatness?Swamiji: If very many go to one because he is a man of virtues, then too you must be clear that virtues are not his real nature. These have also been acquired. If he is emptied of good qualities or virtues, then people will not go to him at all. Please think how can man be great because people happen to go to him. Is not then his greatness dependent on external factors? Does a person become superior or inferior, big or small because many people go to him or do not go to him? This is dependence on others - how can this be greatness?This is nothing but all dependence on others - “Paradheenata” – if we view ourselves as great because of virtues we possess, or because of our better learning and education, or because more people give us more and more honor and hold us in high esteem! Of what avail shall it ever be whether we have or don‟t have virtues or whether or not more people pay regards to us? We remain what we are! For, how can one be really great or otherwise only because more people regard him so? Do people become inferior or small because people treat them so? Can greatness ever be given or taken away by people? How can anyone be happy who regards his greatness or dignity dependent on other ones‟ opinions? Opinions are never stable. A slavery to opinions is no test of greatness. You collect money, pile up bank balances, create a rich store of precious stones, pearls, rubies etc., and begin to think that you are a big man enjoying a high social status! If that be the case, you are certainly mistaken. Make the best use of your riches and put your prosperity in the service and welfare of people. It will be mere humiliation if you are big only by belongings of virtues or wealth you own!God is not subject to coming and going. He is ever present. If you sincerely begin belonging to God, you will be “really” great. If you really grow great, you will never be touched by the pride of greatness, or by the fear of smallness. You lose nothing if others hold you low in esteem. Nor do you gain anything by the praise of others. If you be yourself, identify yourself with the eternal. He the great over lording spirit of the universe, and acknowledge your relationship with God in right perspective, then you will be truly great, great in the real sense. Then you will not be swayed by the so called greatness showered on you or withdrawn from you by other one‟s opinion!It is verily a bondage to hold oneself high or great merely on the strength of things and opinions of ephemeral or transitory nature. Bondage is not an animal! Redemption from this very thralldom is liberation. You are free the moment this bind is cast off. Tell me: don‟t you be self-reliant, free and liberated when you do not depend for your being on fleeting opinions and belongings, that endure not?Listener: You are right, holy sire!Swamiji: If it is all right, then why should we remain dependent? Please, be merciful and from this very moment thoughtfully accept that you will not regard yourself big or high simply because of the chair or the official position you occupy; not even by virtue of wealth are you going to feel yourself great. Neither we are big because very many people praise and honor us nor we shall feel low because people denounce or decry us. Can you in essence accept and believe this truth or not? Tell me.Listener: yes, we can do so.Swamiji: Then why delay at all? For whom are you waiting? For what sort of circumstance are you waiting, for whose particular power or might are you waiting? Which time, whose support or succor, whose instructions you are awaiting now? For whom are you awaiting? Tell me. I pray unto you that from just now you resolve that you would never regard yourself big or small, high or low on the count of petty things of transitory nature. The Lord has said:
“Agamaapayino „nityaastaamstitiksasva bhaarata” (Gita 2/14)
i.e. Things and beings which are perishable and impermanent – bear or brook them. To tolerate them is to be free from the totality of impact, their coming and going out of existence might otherwise cause. In such a state of freedom, there is bound to be a boundless peace of mind and blissful blessedness of heart. Do it and see it for yourself. True it is ! I cast no deception! You will feel extremely unburdened and enjoy supreme bliss as if you have escaped from sinking into death dealing morass.
From "Be Good” by Swami Ramsukhdasji
To read in HINDI:
The 30 Cheapest Places To Travel In 2017, if your new year resolution is to Travel
Time to start packing your bags: 2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for budget travel. The dollar is enjoying historic highs — meaning your money goes much further in many destinations around the globe — and according to an American Express Global Business Travel report, airfares are expected to fall in 2017.
1. Mazatlan, Mexico
Why: The current exchange rate ($1 = 20.69 Mexican pesos) makes Mexico one of the most affordable destinations.
For the frugal traveler who wants to enjoy more culture than they might in the Riviera Maya, my top pick is Mazatlan. As the shrimp capital of Mexico and a foodie paradise, Mazatlan is teeming with awesome eateries and fresh, interesting dishes. Hotels (including all-inclusive properties) are extremely inexpensive and authentic since most aren't part of the huge chains. El Cid Marina has awesome pools that are perfect for families, great food and huge rooms. (Rates are as low as $100 for a family of four.)
You can also enjoy superb dining at a top-notch restaurant like Casa 46 for less than half what you'd pay in the United States.
Side note: Sinaloa (the state where Mazatlan resides) grows the bulk of produce in Mexico, so Mazatlan produce is unbelievably cheap as a result. You see this reflected in top restaurants all the way down to street markets.
2. South Africa
Why: In South Africa, the exchange rate is in our favor, but so is the fact that it's a developed tourist destination with a solid infrastructure. In spending a month in Cape Town earlier this year and relying on Uber to get me to and from meetings, activities and lunches, I averaged under $20 in transportation per day — a major win.
Hotels are cheaper, too: Take a standard room at Taj Hotels & Resorts in New York, and you are out about $786 a night, whereas in Cape Town, a room at a similar luxury property costs $266. Remember, South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, so seasons are the opposite: Consider going in low season (our summer) when hotels and safari lodges are even less expensive.
Airbnb and private villa rentals are also reliable and cheap options in the major cities. Travelers should also consider booking domestic airfare in advance for the greatest cost savings, since flights on South African Airways can sell out quickly.
The best value of all is the wine: Travelers can order a glass of one of the best locally produced varietals for less than the cost of a can of soda. For more information on travel in South Africa, watch "Michaela's Map: First Timers' Guide to Southern Africa."
3. San Juan, Puerto Rico
Why: The best way to get a deal in the Caribbean is to travel during the low season (end of April through mid-December) to destinations that have direct and frequent fights from your gateway; plenty of hotel inventory; and economies that aren't euro-based.
Puerto Rico fits the bill, and I'm a big fan of San Juan, which I think is seriously underrated as an easy and affordable getaway, especially for visitors from the East Coast of the U.S. Old San Juan oozes charm, and if you stay within the old city's two-square-mile radius you won't need a car rental to access great restaurants, sightseeing and shopping.
U.S. citizens can save themselves the cost of a passport since it's not required to visit, and since the U.S. dollar is the legal tender, there's no money lost on currency exchange. Hotel Casa Blanca and Villa Herencia are two of my favorite high-style/low-cost boutique hotels.
Why: Europe is on everyone's list of value-added trips this year and for good reason — the exchange rate is more favorable for American travelers than it has been in years. But the destinations I most dream about and long to return to are in South America, a destination that has long given travelers great value for money.
In Chile, I love Santiago for its vibrant food and wine scene — think tucked-away wine bars, delicious tapas and hip hotels in a beautifully chaotic city. For a lesser-known and truly special corner of the world, I love the small lakeside town of Puerto Varas. It is part of the lakes district in Chile and the northern start of Patagonia.
It is easy (and cheap!) to rent a car and explore this area. There is a surprising German heritage, so you'll see signs for "kuchen" (cake). With Puerto Varas as a hub, you can explore great places within a two-hour drive from the city: going to the top of a volcano, exploring waterfalls, finding the best cakes and food.
This area sees very few American visitors and everything is CHEAP. It's one of those places I almost want to keep to myself, but it's so special that I can't.
Why: With the U.S. dollar strong against the euro right now and the economic crisis in Greece keeping prices lower than other parts of Europe, it’s the perfect time to visit the beautiful island of Crete. Crete is a foodie dream come true.
A place where farm-to-table isn’t a new fad, it’s a way of life. The people here often live to be well over 100 years old so they must be doing something right! With truly stunning natural beauty (like Balos beach) and locals that welcome tourists with open arms, you are bound to have the trip of a lifetime and save a few dollars at the same time.
Why: For many, Morocco is the ultimate dream trip, and yet cost tends to keep most from visiting. But what you might not know is that it's one of the most affordable African countries, particularly when comparing flight costs. R
eaching Marrakech from cities such as Lisbon, Madrid and Paris may only set you back $40 to $100 roundtrip with many budget airlines. And this past Black Friday, flights from New York were a mere $400 roundtrip.
Food is by far my main reason for visiting as often as I do, and typical meals can range from $2.50 to $15 for two, which includes appetizers, entree and unlimited mint tea. For vegetarians and vegans, the country is especially great, as veggies are cheaper than meat and fresh fruit smoothies are barely $1.
Souvenir shopping can get a bit intense when you realize leather goods such as wallets, handbags and weekenders run from $5 to $60. (A shopaholics dream!) When it comes to accommodations there's something to fit everyone's budget, my favorite being Riad Yasmine (only $80-$160 per night).
For those looking for Moroccan luxury while still on a budget, my go-to is Riad Kheirredine, which will have you living like a queen without breaking the bank and even provides a cell phone during your stay to ensure guest safety.
Why: Modern conveniences and history collide in Belize. It's a perfect place to take a budget romantic vacation. Many of the four-star hotels offer extras, like bicycle rentals, included in their low rates, as well as Belize's excellent local wines.
Some affordable resorts to check out are George Hardie's Las Vegas Hotel in Corozal (Northern Belize) and the oceanside Royal Caribbean Resort in San Pedro along Ambergris Caye. Both can be booked for under $100 per night.
Meals are also crazy cheap, but delicious. Two can eat at an upscale restaurant for less than $30, and much less at an everyday venue.
Why: Affordable upscale accommodations, cheap and remarkably healthy food and beautiful sights make Vietnam a standout among budget-friendly South Asian destinations.
Eat your way through historic Hanoi, kayak in the emerald waters of Halong Bay or relax in ancient Hoi An and the nearby beaches. There are clean, safe accommodations to fit everyone's wallet. In Hanoi, my favorite is the Tirant Hotel, near the old town, where you can bag a room for less than $70 a night.
Don't miss the Hanoi street food tour: For just $20 per person, a guide will lead you on foot or by scooter through backstreets, markets and footpaths.
You will eat like the locals and learn the names and ingredients in the dishes so you can order them again. And be sure to take the time to sip a bowl of steaming "pho" noodle soup in restaurants, push carts and food stalls, where a street meal and a beer can cost the same as a caramel macchiato at Starbucks.
9. Costa Rica
Why: Costa Rica is the one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and to be able to see this on a shoestring is an incredible opportunity.
There's a ton of national parks to explore, for instance, that only cost a few dollars to enter. Once there, you can then enjoy free self-guided walks that won't cost you a cent, but will deliver some great encounters with amazing wildlife like tapirs, monkeys, sloths and macaws.
Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Parks are two of the best. Public transport is also super cheap in Costa Rica, with buses generally less than $10, even for an eight-hour ride. This makes traveling between destinations in this compact country very affordable and means you can see a lot in a short amount of time.
In addition, budget accommodation in Costa Rica — even at some of the best surf beaches — can be as little as $6 per person. And a "plato tipico" (local dish) can be enjoyed anywhere for as little as $2-3.
Why: Portugal is a pocket of affordable travel in contrast to the rest of Western Europe, especially if you get off the highways and take the back roads (where you can also avoid tolls).
A bottle of delicious port and a plate of the day with a glass of wine can be found for around €5 each. Nowhere else in the world can its "California Highway 1 meets Tuscany" landscapes be enjoyed on such a budget, especially now that the dollar is strong against the euro.
Why: Although Ecuador is not quite as inexpensive as Peru to the south, it’s an easy and affordable destination to travel to, especially if you stay a bit off the beaten path. It’s a short cheap flight from Florida with budget airlines like jetBlue and TAME, and accommodation is pretty cheap.
Shop at your local market and you can get a week’s worth of groceries for $10. And Ecuador has lots of variety; from surf beach towns like Montanita, to the volcanic Banos with famed hot springs at the gateway to the Amazon basin, to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cuenca in the high Andes, there’s a lot to see. The bus systems are good and domestic flights cheap and plentiful. F
ind a free accommodation option like house-sitting or volunteering, and your trip can be even cheaper.
Why: Barcelona is ranked right up there with cities like Paris and London as one of the most popular European cities, but it is by far the most affordable. This is thanks to low-cost tapas restaurants, endless free attractions and affordable things to do.
Have a meal of tapas and wine at El Xampanyet for around €10-15. Soak up the rays on the beach at Barceloneta. Get lost in the La Boqueria Market.
And take the tram up to Tibidabo (only €5) for sweeping panoramic views of the city; it's also where you can experience a vintage amusement park and a gorgeous cathedral.
13. Where: Guatemala
Why: Often bypassed in favor of nearby Costa Rica, Guatemala is unique unto itself in Central America. And because it's a bit more "off the path" in the region, it's also easy on the budget and a nice place to splurge.
The villas and hotels rimming Lake Atitlán have all the beauty you could want for a small fraction of the price you'd pay in Europe or elsewhere. From the lake, you can then delve into the country's unique culture by visiting the indigenous markets and villages in the Guatemalan highlands.
Lush Atitlan is a gorgeous, affordable place to stay in San Marcos La Laguna, the prettiest and most culturally interesting of Lake Atitlan's villages.
14. Bonaire & Curaçao
Why: In the deep Southern Caribbean, Bonaire and Curaçao are always out there on the edge of everyone's Caribbean consciousness. Both are known for scuba diving, but also for other water sports, hiking and amazing secluded beaches.
Vacation villas that let you live like a local are plentiful and affordable on both islands, but chain hotels like the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino are an option on Curaçao (great if you're using points).
Bonaire gets its very first chain hotel at the end of 2016 when a Marriott Courtyard opens.
15. Las Vegas
Why: If you can avoid the slots, there are lots of free things to do in Vegas: The Flamingo's flamingo habitat, the fountains and conservatory at the Bellagio and the outdoor movies at the Container Park are just a few.
You can also find many places for cheap eats if you are willing to get off The Strip to do so. Check out the nearby Crown and Anchor, which serves up delicious British favorites, and Ninja Teriyaki Sushi 2 Go for fresh-made amazing sushi rolls in a no-frills setting.
Why: Sadly, the average income in Cambodia is about $950 per year. What does this mean for international travelers? Your international airfare might be expensive, but once you are in Cambodia, you can live well. Tuks tuks (a combo bike/taxi) and food cost just pennies. Even international hotel chains and luxury river boats down the Mekong are more affordable than other Asian destinations.
Before visiting, I suggest doing your homework to support luxury companies like the Shinta Mani Resort, whose foundation plays a large role in its community, building water wells, schools and farms and providing the best healthcare in the country to its employees. Culturally conscious companies like Aqua Expeditions sustainably introduce their guests to the communities along the Mekong River, including the floating markets and the farmers in the rice fields; the company can even arrange a conversation with a local Buddhist monk to discuss the significance of his journey from childhood to monkhood.
Why: If you're looking into an exotic long-haul trip, Bali offers a ton of high quality experiences for a great value. You can easily stay in a private villa overlooking stunning rice paddies with a private pool for around $50 per night. (Airbnb is a great way to go).
However, if you want to splurge a bit but not go overboard, a stay at a high-end luxury resort will still cost you less than a stay at a luxury resort, for example, in Maui. Not to mention, spa and transportation costs are quite low relative to other exotic locales, as well as the amazing and healthy food options that end up being a fraction of the cost elsewhere in the world.
Why: The weakened euro has made any trip to Europe more affordable, but this is especially true in Greece. The struggling economy craves tourist dollars and makes it known with affordable pricing on everything from hotels to food.
In Athens, you can book a three- or four-star hotel for well under $100, like 360 Degrees, a nice and modern hotel with a huge breakfast buffet included and an awesome location directly on Monastiraki Square.
Throughout the countryside, prices may be even better. Best of all, you can sit down to an amazing Greek meal with drinks (Mythos or Ouzo?), appetizers (Saganaki, anyone?) and entrees of your choosing for less than half what you'd pay in the States. Heck, you can pick up Souvlaki or a gyro for $1-$2. Souvenirs are insanely cheap, too.
Why: This forgotten corner of Europe is a wonderfully off-the-beaten-track budget destination in an otherwise very touristy and expensive continent.
With fantastic beaches along its coastline, including the fishing port of Saranda, Albania gives visitors the chance to enjoy the Mediterranean waters for a fraction of the usual price. Accommodation starts from as little as $5 per person and fishing trips or boat rides to the nearby islands are similarly well priced.
There's also some fascinating historical sites across Albania that are either free to enter or cost only $2-$5. From the moutainous medieval town of Gjirokastër to the Roman ruins at Butrint, this is a diverse and very different side of Europe, which is definitely worth visiting before the crowds do.
20. San Luis Potosí, México
Picture a perfect class III white water rafting experience through a limestone canyon of turquoise waters, a visit to a living garden of eden, complete with art sculptures, hidden pools, butterflies and waterfalls, a hike to the largest known cave shaft in the world, which you can rappel into, and a series of waterfalls for cliff jumping.
Top this all off with a plate of homemade tacos and a local beer for $2, and you've got yourself a piece of adventure paradise on a budget.
Still very much under the radar to anyone outside of Mexico, San Luis Potosí could be compared to Costa Rica in terms of adventure and Cambodia in terms of affordability. Since Election Day, the dollar has been especially strong in Mexico, offering an even better excuse to travel south of the border.
21. Quebec City, Canada
Why: Take advantage of the weak Canadian dollar and travel north for a 25% discount on prices.
Enjoy a slice of Old Europe without the jet lag or the cost of a transatlantic flight. Indulge in some of the best French food outside France — steak-frites, oysters and pastries at a bargain price. Stroll and shop in the narrow cobblestone streets of the picturesque Old Town and enjoy night parades and ice canoe races during the colorful Winter Festival in January and February.
22. Buenos Aires
Why: One of the world's most intoxicating cities, Buenos Aires has only grown in popularity, but it's still relatively cheap compared to European and Asian capital cities. There are many green parks, French-inspired architecture, late-night dancing, custom leather shops and fantastic food.
Taxis are relatively cheap (around $5-8 a ride), but you should also walk for miles in all of the distinct neighborhoods, like Palermo (try Salon Canning, a super casual milonga, or dance hall, after midnight). Must-try cheap eat in Buenos Aires: anything dulce de leche. It is everywhere — inside crepes, drizzled over grilled bananas and in gelato.
Tip: Bring a ton of American cash and you'll get better deals in many places. For example, I bought my custom leather jacket at a shop called Uru Recoleta (close to the famous Recoleta Cemetery) and was able to buy it for much less than using my credit card because I brought American dollars.
On Sundays, the place to be is the San Telmo market for browsing leather, antiques, watches, jewelry and more.
Why: While Haiti still remains under the radar as a travel destination, many people have been flocking to the vibrant country, and I can see why: The island provides all the stunning Caribbean characteristics without the high costs. Outside of holiday seasons and the later part of the summer, flights from New York range from $300 to $500, and even cheaper when flying from cities in Florida.
The real gem is how cheap the hotels are, with many starting at $50 to $150 per night including airport transfers. Even the newest Marriott Port-au-Prince will only set you back $130 to under $200 a night for larger rooms.
One of my favorites is Wahoo Bay Beach, which has epic mountain and ocean views from its stunning pool and rooms. You can take small boat tours around the area for a couple of dollars per person. Lobster, conch and crab can be caught right from the water and prepared for you without costing more than $10.
24. Santa Catalina Island, California
Why: Santa Catalina Island is one of my new favorite places. It is way more than a weekend SoCal jaunt. Hotels are quaint and average under the $200 per night mark. The Avalon Hotel is a charming choice. It’s right in the center of town, making it an easy walk to almost any activity. There is plenty to do, like kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, ziplining, hiking or just beach sitting.
The Catalina Island Museum is a must-visit stop to get the full story of the island's fascinating history, including its Hollywood connection. Food and shopping choices are extensive.
And you don’t need a rental car. Getting to the island is easy: Catalina Express Ferry whisks you to there from three different ports, Long Beach, Dana Point and San Pedro. I prefer Long Beach because flights there are often lower priced than neighboring LAX.
Why: With 17,000 islands, you are bound to find the ideal paradise to suit your travel and budget in Indonesia.
There are stunning untouched beaches that offer world-class snorkelling and scuba diving in Raja Ampat, fascinating Unesco World Heritage Sites dating back to the 9th century in Yogyakarta and — everywhere you turn — the friendliest locals. In Raja Ampat, we found a homestay that included breakfast, lunch and dinner — plus it was right on the beach for around $29 USD per person per night. For more, see Food Fun Travel's "Bali Food Guide."
Why: The entire Balkans region is an excellent option for budget travel, and if you haven't been before, I recommend starting with Bulgaria.
From wine country to snowy peaks to the Black Sea coast, it's an adventure playground that every budget can afford. In Bulgaria's wine country you can get a full winery tour with multiple tastings plus bread and cheese for about $5 (check out Villa Melnik winery), take a hike through Bulgaria's famous sandstone pyramids and then sleep in a beautiful authentic style hotel like Zlaten Rozhen with breakfast included for about $30.
27. Cusco, Peru
Why: Most people who pass through Cusco are en route to the very popular Machu Picchu, but you should make sure to spend a few days, maybe even a few weeks in this colorful city. Not only is the city absolutely stunning and oozing with culture, most accommodations range from $20 to $100 a night. Peruvian textiles are extremely affordable and the vibrant colors are stunning.
Eating out in Cusco can be extremely cheap, if you know where to eat. Restaurants are quite affordable compared to most American and European restaurants, but street food here is the real winner. I'm personally addicted to ceviche and can't find it cheaper than $15 for a small portion in the states, but in Cusco's San Pedro Market you can find ceviche plus Peruvian fried rice for only $3.
On my last trip, I had steak and ceviche nearly every day and never spent more than $15 for two including a drink and soup.
Why: Meagen Collins: This ancient European country is starting to grab the attention of travelers from all over the world. Georgia has so much to offer — beautiful scenery, unique culture and tradition everywhere you look, and the food will leave you drooling for more.
Add to that the fact this country lays claim to being the birthplace of wine (winemaking here goes back 8,000 years) and you have the ultimate new travel destination.
In Georgia, you can get a full meal plus copious amounts of wine for two people in a higher end restaurant, with live entertainment and still spend less than $30 — total. But get there fast: Word is getting around about this little gem and it won’t be tourist-free for long.
Why: This country is one of Africa's best budget travel destinations, with some extremely affordable accommodation situated along white sand beaches and next to an azure ocean. (Check out Villa Sands or Terraço das Quitandas.)
There's great scuba diving, too, and you can easily feel like a millionaire here for nothing! For more ideas, see Big World Small Pocket's "17 Incredible Budget Travel Destinations Still On My List (That Should Be On Yours Too!)."
30. Dallas, Texas
Why: Dallas is often overlooked, but packed with fun, food and great places to stay at prices far below the national average. (The city was voted the most affordable destination in the U.S. last year by Priceline and continues to remain a great value.) Downtown buzzes with excitement and culture, and the nearby Design District is exploding with eclectic shopping for home décor.
The high-rise Omni Dallas has rooms with stunning floor-to-ceiling views of the city starting at just under $200, putting you in the center of the action. With a rental car, you can fully explore everything the city has to offer. Look at fringe cities like Grapevine and Plano for the charm of small towns of yesteryear with main street shops and eateries.
The Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine is convenient to DFW airport and offers full-out luxury at rates around the $200 mark.
An Easy Spiritual Discipline
!! Shri Hari !!
While giving lectures to the children of the demons, Prahladji says – what effort is required in realizing Paramatma (God, Supreme Being) ? - “koti prayaasosurbaalakaah?” (Srimad Bhagwat 7/7/38)
There is one point that one must remember regarding sense objects that, things of this world are not present in all places and at all times. For attaining these, one has to make significant effort. However God is present at all places, at all times, in all beings, and in all situations. There is not a place, time, individual, thing where he is not present. For his attainment all that is needed is intense longing. Just like we have a particular object in our possession, then it is on looking at it that we are able to see it! But to see God, it is not essential to even look in a particular direction, because Paramatma is outside, inside (within-without) and everywhere. Therefore, one can attain Him simply by longing to attain Him!
In realizing God, no effort is required. In this, the only requirement is a deep thirst, a want. And even this want is not difficult. In reality, this need is present in all human beings, naturally and on its own; because man feels something lacking within him, but the mistake he makes is that he wishes to fulfill the deficiency with the aid of the world. All things in this world cannot be acquired by all, they never have and they never will be and even if they are acquired, then too they will not remain with you. Even if the things remain, then, you will not remain. There will definitely be separation from it. Before too there was separation and later on too there will be separation. In between the union is only perceived, it is not there as such. Then too we consider our relationship with those things and desire them, this is a very big mistake.
You have considered yourself to be one with the body, this body is me and this body is mine, this is the main mistake! You are not the body! If you were the body, then you would not die at all and if you died, then you would take the body with you. After dying the body (dead) remains right here, and in that body too we are present. But neither the body goes with us, nor the body stays with us. Therefore accepting that you are the body is a mistake and to consider the body as ours is also a mistake. We cannot keep the body, the way we wish to keep it. We have no control over it, then how is it ours? If the body is not ours, then this money, wealth, glories, family etc. how are they ours? Therefore, what is the difficulty in accepting that this world is not ours? Only God is ours. It has become difficult to regard the thing that is in fact ours – God, as our very own, because we regard the world as ours.
The scriptures say that Paramatma (God) is our very own and the world in not our own - your experience tells you this. At this time though you may not believe this, you are unable to accept this; however do not lose your self-assurance. Do not think that we are unable to accept this at this time. Though it is not believed at this time, but in fact, “I am this body” this is not so. Stay firm with this point. Whether you believe or not, whether you experience it or not, do not worry about it; but do not make this point worthless.
This body is not me, and it is not mine – this point is true, and I am God’s and God is mine, this point is also true. Even on being true, it is not accepted, then this is our weakness. How can our non acceptance make the truth become false?
Questioner - How do we end up making this false?
Swamiji - Whatever we see through our senses, intellect, we consider it to be real and our own; by this the point becomes false. Due to this, even if we are unable to give up sense of mine-ness with those things, then so be it; but “body and world are not mine” this is the truth – that much you must honor. If you don’t see God, then so be it, but God is ours and we are God’s, this point is true. Even if Brahmaji says that “See you are of the world and the world is yours, you are not God’s and God is not yours,” then too clearly say that “Maharaj! We will not listen to your point” So be it, even if we have not experienced this so far, even if it is not entirely sunk in; but this is the truth! God Himself has said - “Mamaivaansho jeevaloke” (Gita 15/7) “this being is a part of Me alone” Saints and great souls have also said so - “ishvar ans jeev avinaashi” (Manas, Uttar. 117/2) Therefore I join my hands and pray to you, have mercy on me and accept this point today. Even if there is no change in you upon acceptance, there is hunger and thirst just like before, there is likes and dislikes just like before, but please do not make these talks false. We are only God’s - accept this, thereafter whether you experience or not , whether you are awakened within or not, do not worry about this. In the end, this point will become firm; because this is the truth.
It is the absolute truth that “Only God is mine, there is no else” (mere to Giridhar Gopal, doosero na koyi.) What is the difficulty in accepting this? You certainly know how to accept. Just as you accept someone as your friend, your Guru etc., similarly you also know about not accepting, just as initially you accepted yourself as a bachelor, but on getting married, you no longer saw yourself as a bachelor, but you begin to accept yourself as a married man. If you leave the household life and become a “sadhu”, then you stop considering the house, the family as your own, and you begin to regard the Guru Maharaj as your very own. Therefore you already know both – about acceptance and non-acceptance. Everyone has knowledge of acceptance and non-acceptance. Now apply this knowledge by engaging only in God, and not in the world.
The mistake we make is that while listening we accept, but then we trivialize it. Whereas that which is not true, we begin to accept it as true. One more mistake we make is that brothers-sisters say that we forget this point. Really speaking if you have firmly accepted this, then even if it is not remembered then so be it. Without remembering, you accept that you are at present in Vrindavan. Has any brother-sister completed even one “mala” repeating that “ I am in Vrindavan”? Just one time you accepted that you are currently in Vrindavan, then do you have to try to remember time and again? Is there any doubt about? When someone asks, you immediately say that you are in Vrindavan. Similarly, without remembering too, the point remains within. When you start to believe that you are in Haridwar, then this will be considered a mistake. Therefore I do not regard the not remembering as a mistake. “I am God’s” - if this is not remembered then it is not a mistake; but the mistake is when one accepts that “I am not God’s and I belong to the world.”
After accepting one time with a true heart that you belong to God, then if you don’t remember at all, so be it. Now what is to be remembered is God’s name. Repeat His divine Name (japa), remember Him, Sing His glories, meditate on His divine play, meditate on His form - these are to be done. After accepting God as your very own, let it be. But do not doubt that you are God’s. Whether you a believe or not, whether you experience or not, do not be concerned.
Many people say that what difference has this made to your life? Even if there are no changes, that is, no change in measurement, no change in weight, no change in color, no change in mannerism, no change whatsoever, then too it is OK! However “I cannot accept, I cannot remember, I am not capable, I don’t have the rights, I am not the proper recipient, I did not meet a Guru, I did not meet any saint, the times are not good, it is the age of Kali yug; the environment is not proper; associations are not good” - by talking about these, do not make trash this point. By applying various tactics, if you continue to make this point trashy, then you will not attain perfection. However, if you do not scrap this point, then surely you will attain complete knowledge. This attainment can be in a few days, months, or it can take years. If you continue to indulge in worldly pleasures, then it will take very long, but in the end you will attain that complete knowledge.
Those who work in the fields, they sow the seed in the fields and feel at ease. That seed gives birth to a sapling on its own. If time and again one takes out the seed to look at it, then the seed will never germinate. There is a story. There was a mango grove. The monkeys were eating mangoes from there so the gardener threw stones at the monkey and scared them off. While going each of the monkeys took one mango in their mouth and one in each of the hands and began to run. The monkeys had a meeting that this evil gardener is not letting us eat the mangoes! Some wise monkeys said that how can they let us eat mangoes from their own groves? If we also have a mango grove, then no one will refuse us from eating mangoes from there. They thought that we have the mango seeds, why don’t we grow these. All we have to do is sow the seed, water it then the grove will be ready, and we will eat plenty of mangoes! On consensus from all those that were present, they decided to proceed. They sowed the mango seed on the bank of a river nearby. Now, time and again they removed the seed to look to see whether the mango had started growing or not, and then they would re-plant it! Till dusk, they kept removing the seed and replanting it! Can a mango grow like this? If you want to farm, then sow the seed, water it, and become free of all worries. That which is not there right now, it will most certainly germinate and appear as sapling; then that which is the truth, why will it not materialize? We are God’s and God is ours – this is the truth and it is spontaneously realized. What is the effort required in accepting this? What force is needed? Do you need some knowledge? Do you need some abilities? The simple straight-forward point is that we are God’s and God is ours; we do not belong to the world, and the world is not ours. Now, do not root is out, like the kernel. In other words, do not test it that are there any changes in us or not? When the seed germinates, the plant will also grow, later on the mangoes will also grow and it will all be great! However have mercy and do not overlook this point. This is a very easy means of God Realization and there is nothing else to be done. Simply, “I am God’s and God is mine.” Do not waiver from this firm determination.
This brother sitting here, first regarded himself as a bachelor, but now he is married therefore he now says that he is not a bachelor. Now if someone asks, are you married? Then will he say, wait a minute, let me think; this year I did not get married, the year before also I did not get married, but twenty years ago I got married, Yes-Yes, now I remember, I am married! Why do you not say so? Because once married, it is done. This is acceptance. Even if someone asks in deep sleep, then too you will say that you are married. Similarly, “ I am God’s and God is mine” this will be remembered without attempting to remember. There will be no mistake in this. A mistake is when you will think that I am not God’s, and God is not mine; because my conduct is not proper, my behavior is not good, Do not raise such obstacles. Even if there is no faith, no trust , no remembrance of God, no changes for the better, life has not improved spiritually, even if nothing whatsoever has happened, then too do not scrap this acceptance (maanyataa), that I am God’s and God is mine.
I have even asked those great men in my eyes and they said, that those men that accept God as their very own, the responsibility of making Himself known to them is borne by God. The reason is only God can make Himself known, we cannot know Him. Where we are incapable, there God’s capabilities come to use. This is such a great point that “ I am God’s and God is mine, I am not the world’s and the world is not mine.” You have the capability of accepting this! Whatever abilities you have, that much you apply. That which you do not have, God will fulfill those. “Sune ri meinne nirbal ke bal Ram.” In those things that you are powerless, there, God’s powers comes to use. However, in those things where you are able to apply your powers, if you do not apply that strength then in this the fault is yours, the responsibility for this is not on God. You accept a few people as your own and others you do not accept as your own - why do you not apply this ability towards God? Whatever you are capable of doing, that is the extent of the hope that God has from you. That which you cannot do, God does not expect that out of you. What do you hope from a little child, do you expect that he carries a heavy bag of wheat flour and bring it home? You only expect as much as he can do. Then does God lack even that much honesty? Will God tell you to do the things that you cannot accept? That which you can accept, you must accept that! That is it! This spiritual discipline that I have shared with you today, is so easy, and so straight-forward and all can do it. Whether someone is a learned and educated person, or uneducated, whether it is a brother or a sister. Whether you have good conduct or bad, whether you have good qualities or bad qualities, whether you are a gentleman or a evil man, however you are, all can simply accept this.
It has been said for a chaste (pativrata) wife -
Ekayi dharma ek barat nemaa |
Kaayam bachan mana pati pad prema ||
(Manas, Aranya. 5/10)
This is my husband, on having a firm acceptance of this, however may be the husband, she will become a chaste wife. Was Ravan a great and extra-ordinary man? However, Mandodari being a chaste wife, followed her “Dharma” properly, whereby she was able to get to know the greatness of Lord Ram, whereas Ravan, even on being told, did not listen! Where did Mandodari gain so much knowledge? This knowledge came from “pativrata dharma”. Can God say that your husband is not of good conduct’ therefore you will not attain salvation? No, He cannot say so. If his conduct is not proper then what are we to do? We have abided in our “pativrata dharma” properly, then God will give it’s full glories - “Binu shram naari param gati lahayi” (Manas, Aranya. 5/18). The responsibility to attain that eternal and highest state, is not on her. That responsibility lies on the scriptures, the saints and on God. She fulfill her “pativrata-dharma” then she is abiding and fulfilling the commands of the Rishis-Munis, Saints-great souls, and God; therefore they will have to give her salvation. If the husband is not capable, then how is it his fault? Mother and father got her married so he became her husband. Her fault will be when she does not follow her “pativrata-dharma”. Similarly “I am God’s and God is mine” - this point, if you do not accept then it is your fault. But if you want to accept from within and you are unable to do so, then don’t be concerned. Apply your complete strength. At the very minimum, do not accept the opposite, do not trash this point. This is an extra-ordinary point that has been shared with you.
I am God’s and God is mine” - only accept this much, then further along what should happen will happen on its own. After accepting this, become free of any uncertainties and ambiguities. Now whatever effort is needed, you do. Do divine name repetition, chant the Lord’s divine name (kirtan), do satsang, engage in spiritual studies, go to the temple, behold the Lord. Do not do any actions that are opposed to God and the scriptures. To the extent that is within your control, as much as you can do, that much you should do. Do not waiver on this point, whether unfavorable times come or favorable; whether someone approves of you or opposes you. This is the truth; thus we have accepted it ! Accepted it once and for all.
Now a question can arise that if we do so, but thereafter do not attain God, then what? The answer to this is that till now, in so many years, what great work have you done, which will be short-changed? If it happens it will be gains only. From all of you present here, any of you tell me, what will be the loss? There will be no loss, and I do not deceive! There will be only gains; because this is the truth, and the truth will ultimately be realized as the truth. How long will a false thing last? By regarding this body and this world as our own, will it become ours? They have never been ours and will never be ours; however, if you regard them as yours, you will have to suffer and you will have to cry! Instead of being deceived by it, and later on accepting it as true, it is better to accept on my saying. Tell me what deception will it lead to? And if you are deceived, then you have been deceived so many times so far, therefore one more time be deceived by my saying! However if amongst you all, if any of you see this as a deception, then tell me brothers! There is no deception oin this whatsoever. Besides gains, there is not the least bit of any losses. Not only do I say this, but God Himself has said this - “mamaivaansho jeevaloke” (Gita 15/7) and Saints and great personalities have said so – “Ishvar ansh jeeva abinaashi” (Manas, Uttar 117/2). Therefore accept, grab hold of this point with a firm conviction. This is the principle that has been agreed upon by saints. Saints and Great Souls have done so and seen for themselves and they have showered us with their grace by writing this down, and to reveal it. Just as some father, earns a lot of wealth, and gives it to his son, then what effort did the son have to go through ? Similarly, this is the wealth earned by the Saints and Great Souls, which they are giving to us. Now it is our duty to protect it, not to waste it. It becomes worthless upon looking at it and doing. You regard as real, those things that are seen with your senses and intellect and the things that are done, but you consider the words of saints and great souls as imperfect. This is a mistake. That which is seen is not there. Actions are not permanent and their fruits are also not permanent. Thus depending on them, by dishonoring the Truth, do not choke the Truth. Do not cause violence to the Truth. By violating the Truth, the Truth is not harmed, rather we are harmed, we only take a fall. Truth will always remain the Truth. Truth will never be wiped out - “Naabhaavo vidhyate satah” (Gita 2/16). If you do not abide in it, you will not benefit. Therefore, accept the point that - “I am God’s and God is mine”. This point is a very easy, but of a very high stature. It encompasses everything.
Narayana! Narayana !! Narayana !!!
From "Bhagwaan se Apnaapan " in Hindi by Swami Ramsukhdasji
"How can I be as great as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson?
Through all this, I find strangely inspiring these words by Justine Musk - ex-wife of Elon Musk. She's answering a question on Quora which asked"How can I be as great as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson?"
Here goes:Extreme success results from an extreme personality and comes at the cost of many other things. Extreme success is different from what I suppose you could just consider 'success', so know that you don't have to be Richard or Elon to be affluent and accomplished and maintain a great lifestyle. Your odds of happiness are better that way. But if you're extreme, you must be what you are, which means that happiness is more or less beside the point.These people tend to be freaks and misfits who were forced to experience the world in an unusually challenging way. They developed strategies to survive, and as they grow older they find ways to apply these strategies to other things, and create for themselves a distinct and powerful advantage. They don't think the way other people think. They see things from angles that unlock new ideas and insights. Other people consider them to be somewhat insane.
If you're not obsessed, then stop what you're doing and find whatever does obsess you. It helps to have an ego, but you must be in service to something bigger if you are to inspire the people you need to help you (and make no mistake, you will need them). That 'something bigger' prevents you from going off into the ether when people flock round you and tell you how fabulous you are when you aren't and how great your stuff is when it isn't. Don't pursue something because you "want to be great". Pursue something because it fascinates you, because the pursuit itself engages and compels you.
Extreme people combine brilliance and talent with an *insane* work ethic, so if the work itself doesn't drive you, you will burn out or fall by the wayside or your extreme competitors will crush you and make you cry.
Follow your obsessions until a problem starts to emerge, a big meaty challenging problem that impacts as many people as possible, that you feel hell-bent to solve or die trying. It might take years to find that problem, because you have to explore different bodies of knowledge, collect the dots and then connect and complete them.
It helps to have superhuman energy and stamina. If you are not blessed with god-like genetics, then make it a point to get into the best shape possible. There will be jet lag, mental fatigue, bouts of hard partying, loneliness, pointless meetings, major setbacks, family drama, issues with the Significant Other you rarely see, dark nights of the soul, people who bore and annoy you, little sleep, less sleep than that. Keep your body sharp to keep your mind sharp. It pays off.
Learn to handle a level of stress that would break most people.
Don't follow a pre-existing path, and don't look to imitate your role models. There is no "next step". Extreme success is not like other kinds of success; what has worked for someone else, probably won't work for you. They are individuals with bold points of view who exploit their very particular set of unique and particular strengths. They are unconventional, and one reason they become the entrepreneurs they become is because they can't or don't or won't fit into the structures and routines of corporate life. They are dyslexic, they are autistic, they have ADD, they are square pegs in round holes, they piss people off, get into arguments, rock the boat, laugh in the face of paperwork. But they transform weaknesses in ways that create added advantage -- the strategies I mentioned earlier -- and seek partnerships with people who excel in the areas where they have no talent whatsoever.
They do not fear failure -- or they do, but they move ahead anyway. They will experience heroic, spectacular, humiliating, very public failure but find a way to re-frame until it isn't failure at all. When they fail in ways that other people won't, they learn things that other people don't and never will. They have incredible grit and resilience.
They are unlikely to be reading stuff like this. (This is *not* to slam or criticize people who do; I love to read this stuff myself.) They are more likely to go straight to a book: perhaps a biography of Alexander the Great or Catherine the Great* or someone else they consider Great. Surfing the 'Net is a deadly time-suck, and given what they know their time is worth -- even back in the day when technically it was not worth that -- they can't afford it.
I could go on, it's a fascinating subject, but you get the idea. I wish you luck and strength and perhaps a stiff drink should you need it.
Original Story: http://www.quora.com/How-can-I-be-as-great-as-Bill...