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Five Golden Principles
Wherever you live, there you are living in your home. The significance is not in living in your home, but if you live in God's kingdom then there is much significance and greatness. This home (kingdom) you have called your own. But this home was from the very beginning belonging to God only. Even right now it is God's and later on also it will remain God's. If you die, then surely this house will not go with you. It belongs to God only. Therefore from today onwards, accept that I live in God's home. Really speaking you are living in God's home. When you come to Haridwar the you say - Oh ! this is gateway to God's home. When you come to Vrindavan you say that this is the place where God engaged in His divine loving pastimes. When you go to Ayodhya then you say we have come to God's palace. Accept it as God's kingdom or God's home, then this very house that you live in will become Vrindavan. At all times let that thought prevail, that I am living in God's home, and we are his very dear ones that belong to him. From today onwards accept this. All of you, do not consider your home as belonging to you. Oh' It is God's home! We have considered it our home in the middle somewhere. Before it was God's, and later on it will be God's then in the middle how can it become ours? Simply for no reason you have put a stamp on it. There is a point that you must pay close attention to - whatever work you do, accept it as God's work and then do it. Whether it is washing your clothes, taking a bath. This body is also God's, therefore to serve God you are doing it's work. Eating and drinking is also God's work. Office work and business is also God's work. The Master of this entire world is God, therefore the master of all the bodies is also God.Therefore work related to this body and to this world can be whose work? It is God's work only! What a wonderful thing this is! We live in God's kingdom and we are doing His work - these are two points. Now the third point is - All the things that are in the house, they too belong to God only. If the house belongs to God and you belong to God then can the things belong to someone else? Mothers and sisters should want that they should take those things that belong to God and cook with them. In the mind must be the thought that Oh! it is for offering food to God that I am cooking this meal. Now offer the foods prepared to God and thereafter however many people that are in the house, understand them to be God's people and offer them food.Understand them to be God's loving people, they are God's very loving and sweet children. I am feeding them. I am serving God. Just like if you love someone's child, then his mother will be very pleased, won't she? similarly, if you serve God's children, then God will be pleased. What a wonderful point this is! Cooked God's food, offered it to God and fed God's children with the prepared foods. When you eat yourself, then too think of it as God's "prasad" (partaking in the food offered and blessed by God). How very wonderful! "Tumhi nibedit bhojan karahin | Prabhu prasad pat bhooshan gharhin || (Manas 2/128/1) As discussed earlier, make everything an offering to the Lord; not just food. If you wear jewellery, offer it to God "Thakurji". Wear only those clothes that belong to Thakurji. Let all things be taken in as if it is "prasad" (offering to the Lord), then all things will get purified. Have you seen this or not, that when food is offered to Thakurji's as "prasad" and is later distributed to all, then every person will bring forth their hand to receive the "prasad". Even if the smallest portion is given, then too he will be happy. Whether he is a millionaire or a billionaire, he too will bring his hand forward, and if you give him a small piece of the "prasad", he will be happy. Is this person hungry for sweets? If some millionaire or a billionaire asks for "prasad" and if you tell him let us go to the market and I will buy it for you from the market, then he will not be happy. He will say, am I starved of sweets or what? I want "prasad". Now tell me the importance of "prasad"? It is Thakurji's (God's) "prasad" (offering to the Lord). Everything in the house belongs to the Lord. If you follow this, then I would like to share with you a very great point. Have mercy and simply do it, then it is very great thing and very beneficial. Place "tulsidal" (the sacred basil leaf) on all the money - wealth that you have at home. On all the jewellery, clothes on everything place "tulsidal." Even for the house, offer it. On all animals, place tulsidal. On all children, place "tulsidal" Now whose children are they? They are Thakurji's (God's) children.It is like magic. If you are able to do, then I will share, but do it from the heart, then it will be magical. Son is rebellious and does not listen. With a true heart, lift off the proprietary interest (sense of mine-ness) you have in him and say that he is not mine at all. He is only Thakurji's (God's). The son will become totally alright. Just as when food it offered to God it become sanctified and many great people revere it. Similarly, with a true heart, completely wipe off your proprietary interest and only consider him as belonging to Thakurji (God) then he will be purified. He will become sacred. Try it and see for yourself. The challenge is to completely lift off your proprietary interest. Just like another person's child, similar is this child. if he dies then too no affect on you. He is not our child, if he dies the it is Thakurji's, whereas Thakurji's never dies. If he dies here, then there he is born. He is never apart from Thakurji. By doing so, the son will be purified. It is the truth. Sense of mine-ness (mamta) itself is impurity. Sense of “mine-ness” (proprietary interest) is impurity. It is due to mine that there is impurity. If you give donation - charity, then have no relation with it. “Daatavyamiti yadaanam deeyatenupakaarine” (Gita 17/20) “Anupakaareene” does not mean that the other person does not do anything helpful. IT is an understanding that previously the person did nothing beneficial, and there is no expectation that he will oblige in the future. Give donation to such a one, with whom you have no self-interest. Give to such people. Do not keep a selfish relation with family members. Both will lead to the same, as in the end only one will remain. Serve where there is no sense of mine or where you serve there get rid of the feeling of mine. It will be the same thing. We are God’s. We live in His kingdom. We do His work. We receive his Prasad. And with his offering, we serve his children. I too am receiving his “Prasad”. This is true “Pamchaamrt” (Five Golden Principles). From today onwards, grab hold of these points. “Sarvabhaaven maam bhajati” and in all sentiments and feelings worship only the Lord, therefore have the sentiments that this body belongs to “Thakurji” (My Lord). I am doing my Lord’s work. Then you will be able to do a favor for the Lord that Maharaj! (Great One) I am doing your work. A Brahmin used to keep saying - daily I feed one Brahmin. He used to eat himself and have the sentiments that daily he is feeding a Brahmin. It is such a great thing! Similarly, the entire family and various families all belong to Thakurji (God). I am taking care of Thakurji’s family. Even Thakurji says that he is taking care of the family Brother! God will be touched that yes! It is true! He is taking care of my family. When there is no sense of mine-ness, when there is no attachment, then God says that He is taking care of my family.In all sentiments, let God’s work alone be done. This will turn into pure devotion “avyabhichaari bhakti” We want to take nothing, we have no sense of mine-ness. There is neither selfishness nor proprietary interest. Whether home members listen to you or not, whether they serve you or not, we have to serve Thakurji’s family. We have to serve him, Brother! If family members do not work, then we should be happy, it is a good thing! If they work and do everything according to our preference, then understand that our good deeds are getting exhausted. Therefore if they do nothing and further give us trouble and sorrow, then it is a good thing. Even if mother-in-law causes suffering, if daughter-in-law gives sorrow, if sister-in-law or any one give pain and sorrow then be happy, thinking we are greatly benefited. We have to serve, and if they give pain then we will be doubly benefited. On one hand there will be benefit of serving “seva” and if they give pain and sorrow then your sins will be reduced. When will suffering remain, tell me? Even on getting suffering, there will be joy. There will be no place remaining for sorrow and suffering. All roadways will be blocked, then that itself is “sarvavit”. Have you understood this well? If you are becoming happy and unhappy with this world, then you have not understood this well. We are living in ever bliss. We have not the least bit of unhappiness. God supports, protects and takes care of everyone. He takes care of all, then such a devotee of God does not experience any sorrow at all. They remain ever blissful, they remain so joyful that with their association you feel delighted and intoxicated. By remembering Thakurji (God), bondages break off. Simply by reciting the divine Name, by remembering the Lord, by listening to His divine plays (stories) sins are destroyed, He is that pure. “Pavitraanaam pavitram yo mangalaanaam cha mangalam" In essence what is the point? It is a small thing. “I am only God’s” not anyone elses. For serving I belong to the world, but for our own purpose, I am no one elses. I only belong to God, simply accept yourself as being God’s, then this house belongs to God, this kingdom belongs to God, this family belongs to God, the wealth and possessions belong to God, the work is God’s, the food is God’s everything will become God’s. This is the absolutely Truth.I am sharing based on my very experience. The child that the mother has accepted as her own, when he climbs into the mother’s lap then the mother is pleased and joyful. If he climbs from the back onto her shoulder, then too she laughs and if he intentionally pretends to cry ‘Um-Um-Um” the Maa smiles that look he is pretending with me. What is that action performed by a child that the mother does not like? The child is mine. Similarly being God’s if we do all work, then all our actions will become worship and adoration of God. What to speak of worship and adoration, it makes God pleased, happy. Whatever work you do, God continues to remain happy. He is my child. My child is playing. What delight! The point is only one, to become God’s. This is the truth. If I ask you that have you taken birth in this household knowingly? If you are living, then are you intentionally living? If knowingly you are living, then who would be dead? No one would die. If you are living in a healthy body, is it knowingly so? If you were knowingly living like this, then do not ever fall sick. Whatever strength and intelligence you have, has it been knowingly acquired? Then why get old? Don’t become dependent. But you are becoming dependent. Therefore this pride is your own, nothing else. Your are simply filled with pride. Therefore I am Thakurji’s (God’s). I am dependent on God. Whatever strength Thakurji (God) gives, that alone I do. How much work did Hanumanji do? When Ramji went to Lanka, he created a bridge and then crossed the bridge. But Hanumanji simply flew over to the other side. Whose strength does he have? The strength that Hanumanji has comes from Thakurji (the Lord). “Baar baar raghubeer sambhaari.” “prabisi nagar keeje sab kaaja. Hrdey raakhee kosalpur raja.” It comes in Valmiki Ramayan that Hanumanji roared that even if thousand Ravans come they cannot spoil anything of mine, I am servant of the Lord (Thakurji).The world is suffering due to pride. Therefore have mercy and leave the pride, offer it to God, that I am God’s. All our strength has to be applied in doing God’s work. “Tvadeeya vastu Govind tubhyameva samarpaye”, “Sarvabhaaven bhajati maam” - with all sentiments they worship and adore God. Divine Name recitation is adoration, chanting holy name is adoration, reciting various scriptures is worship and adoration, to listen, to share, is all worship. By “Sarvabhaavena bhajati”, getting up, sitting, eating, drinking, sleeping, waking up, all work is God’s work that we are doing. What an elevated thing this is. We have taken refuge in the Lord and we will do only His work. The work is not ours at all. This is not our house, therefore it is no our work. All work is Lord’s work. I have heard from saints, he who cannot regard anything as his own, neither the mind, nor the intellect, nor the body, nor the life breath, nor the senses, nor the house, nor the wealth. When all things belong to Thakurji (Lord), then wherever they live there is nothing but joy! Everything is given to the Lord. Therefore they remain ever blissful. We have heard one thing about a Saint. Saints are very unique. When they go to the market and see the various different sweet dishes that are displayed, fruits that are kept and stores that are well decorated. Wherever they see some great things, there they stand-by and in their mind say, Lord (Thakurji), please partake in this offering. Please take these sweets as an offering. Simply standing they blissfully offer it to the Lord. Similarly, you too offering everything to Thakurji, please accept this offering, then it all becomes an offering. You tell me, what is the difficulty in doing this? Then you too do this. Who is preventing you from doing so? Wherever you see anything wonderful, offering it to the Lord (Thakurji). Everything belongs to Thakurji. What should we do? We will simply rejoice. Now we have no work remaining. Now it is only Lord’s work, Lord’s Name, Lord’s contemplation, listening to Lord’s divine stories. What work is remaining for you to do? You are doing the Lord’s work. Lord is the master of all the work in this universe. By offering everything that belongs to the master at his lotus feet, how much do you have to exert, tell me? You tell me that this is mine, but for how many days? How many years will you continue to say that it is mine? As such it will eventually remain the Lord’s. Therefore while living, turn it over to Him from the heart, then it will be joyful! What an easy and what a deep well grounded point this is! Saints have said - “Ram naam ki sampada do anter tak dhoon | Yaa to gupatee baat hai kaho bataave koon" Who will tell such a great point? And how easy it is! What a high class point this is ! What a worriless, fearless, blissful point this is ! neither worry, nor fear, nor dejection, nor desire to live, nor desire to die. We have no desire whatsoever. May our desire be blended (one) with the Lord. Now however the Lord does, however he keeps us -
“Jaahi vidhi raakhe Ram, taahi vidhi rahiye |SitaRaam, SitaRaam, SitaRaam kahiye"
We have no demand, nor any wish. By this our troubles will be wiped out, and God will become pleased with us. By considering it as ours, there will be worries. It is my room. Certain things are lying there. Clothes are drying there. Someone will take them, then there will be worries. Now when it is all offered (turned over) to God, then what ecstacy ! If it goes away it is the Lord’s, if it remains it is the Lord’s ! Narayana! Narayana! Narayana!
From book in Hindi "Jeevan Upyogi Pravachan" by Swami Ramsukhdasji
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.
It is human nature to take the support of one or the other. Every living being wants to get the shelter of someone, wants to make someone his support. Why is there this sort of nature? It is so because the being is the inseparable part (ansh) of the Supreme Lord (Paramatma). If he takes the support of only the Lord, then he will have no need for any other shelter. But till he gains resort of the Supreme Self, he goes on seeking shelters one after the other. He needs to take God’s shelter, but instead he takes the support of various others. He seeks the shelter of wealth, of his abilities, his strength, his family, his knowledge, his talent and skills, but these shelters do not last.
Only God’s shelter should be sought – this idea seems to make sense in mind and understanding, but we do not give up other shelters! Though you are not bound in giving up others shelters, rather you are altogether free, yet by taking special support and shelter of others, and by continuing to gain consolation and pleasures there from, an illusion has arisen in the heart that how without this support or how by giving up this shelter you will be in a position to live at all! How will you be able to sustain? How will you be able to manage your livelihood? By the surging of this kind of emotion, a sort of cowardice has taken root in the mind, that you cannot leave their shelter!
Whose support is there when we are under the spell of deep sleep? No one else’s dependency or support is there, not even of God’s! In that state, there is a certain sort of semi-unconsciousness, a kind of swoon. In that state, the shelter of the world is automatically given up, but that of ignorance (moodhataa) persists. Thus it is a sheer illusion that we cannot live without someone’s shelter. Or, else, tell me on whose support do you exist or live during deep sleep? In deep sleep “shushupti” you exist even without or in absence of world’s shelter or support.
Please be kind and do pay attention to this one point of great importance. We do not get as much happiness from depending on the world, as we get in sleep from leaving the dependence on the world. The extent of joy and freshness that we experience, the energy that we accumulate from leaving the dependency of the world, these do not come from taking the support of the world. What to speak of conservation of energy, it is exhausted away! By continuing to depend on wealth, family, intellect, abilities, etc. you become restless, tired, and exhausted. Your energy is used up, and then you leave every one and fall off asleep. And while sleeping you once again regain the energy. In this manner, by sundering of worldly shelters a distinctive and refreshing power will grow in you. And by taking the shelter of God, boundless will be the strength, so limitless will be the power that no fear or anxiety will ever haunt or trouble you! For this reason alone it is said -
“yam labdhvaa chaaparam laabham manyate naadhikam tatah.” (Gita 6/22).
“Higher than this there has been no real or great gain at all.” There is no higher gain than this, nor can, nor shall it ever be! But this will occur only on giving up all the ephemeral or perishable shelters of the world. The mistake which is often committed is that you do not give up the shelters which are believed and known to you as being perishable. You repeat and recite the Divine Name of God, you meditate, you sing God’s glory and contemplate on spiritual matters, but simultaneously you keep shelter of the perishable things! Without totally relinquishing the shelter of the perishable world, one cannot entirely and in toto take the shelter of God. Without seeking complete support (of God), total power cannot be secured.
There is no dearth or paucity from God’s side. To the extent you seek God’s shelter, to that very extent you will get consolation, power and gain. You will undoubtedly get illimitable power if by totally giving up the shelter of the world, you depend on God alone for everything.
Where is that God? In this regard, may I tell you one thing that He is in the heart of all beings’ – “sarvasya chaham hrdi samnivistah” (Gita 15/15); “isvarah sarvabhootaanaam hrddeserjuna tishthati (Gita 18/61). He is the Indwelling Spirit of all the beings; but the difficulty is that the being looks only outward, he does not look deep within. You regard yourself that “I am”. Of that “I-ness,” Atman (Self, Spirit) is the support; and God, the Supreme Self, Supreme Spirit is the shelter even of the Atman – mamaivaamso jivaloke (Gita 15/7). Your Atman is an inseparable part of the Paramatman. You (amsa) are in one “ksetra” i.e. body and your “amsi” (God) is in all the bodies (ksetras) - “ksetrajnam chaapi maam viddhi sarvaksetresu bhaarata.” (Gita 13/2). The Gopis said - “na khalu gopikaanandano bhavaanakhiladehinaa mantaraatmadrk” i.e., “you are not mere the child of Yashoda, you are the witness to the Inner Self of all the beings, of all the bodies in living and inert forms, whether they be gods, demons, ghosts, or spirits or be they the residents of hells or heavens, devotees or meditative and contemplative seeker of Truth or God-loving fellows. But how are You here, when you are all these?”
“Vikhanasaarthito vishvagupte sakh udeyivaan saatvataam kule” (Srimad Bhagwat 10/31/4) - “you appeared when Brahmani prayed to you”. Why did he pray? “Visvaguptaye”
i.e. he prayed for the protection of the universe. For, Thou alone are the saviour of Creation, none else has this power to protect. Besides, you have “appeared” – not born – in the Yadava clan “udeyivaan saatvataam kule”. When the sun rises, no body says that the sun is born, because the Sun is present even before it appears to rise in the eastern skies! Likewise God descends in divine ways. He is not born like our bodies are born.
Mind, intellect, senses, body, individuals, things, objects, money, wealth etc., nothing belongs to you, nothing stays with you; every moment it is parting from you, and yet you seek their shelter! Here in lies your mistake. Relinquishing the shelter of such things, please seek the shelter of God alone - “maamekam saranam vraja” (Gita 18/66). “Tameva saranam gaccha sarvabhaavena bhaarata, tatprasaadaatparaam saantim sthaanam praapsyasi saasvatam” (Gita 18/62).
Seek the shelter in Him alone, wholeheartedly. By His grace you shall attain supreme peace (total unconcern from worldliness) and eternal abode. We are all free in seeking the shelter of God, no one is dependent. None is incapable of taking His shelter and support.
This very moment you “can” seek the shelter and support of God, because He is with you and you are with Him. Neither He can ever be separated from you nor can you be ever separated from Him. If He parts from you, then there will be two Gods; one He, and the other one you. His indivisibility, omnipresence and supremacy will be disintegrated. His significance will not remain if he separates from you. He cannot, therefore, be separated from you. Nor can you be separated from Him. Yes, you may regard yourself separate from Him, but you cannot be separated from Him. Similarly, you can certainly regard yourself dependent on the world and seek shelter of worldly goods and materials, but cannot be dependent upon them for all time. You took the shelter of wealth, family, friends, intelligence, ability, power etc., but could you and can you really be dependent on them permanently? You know it, believe it and yet you seek their shelter. What an illusion! What an error! It is so because such supports will not last. Therefore, turn your back upon them all and seek only God’s shelter. Do not take the support of anyone or anything else. Make use of wealth in the best possible manner. Do all work but trust only in the ever-abiding shelter of Almighty and Eternal God. The Saints have said:
Pativrataa rahe pati ke paasaa
Yom saahiba ke dhiga rahe daasaa.
i.e. “Just as the chaste wife lives under the shelter of her husband, so also the devotees of the Lord live under God’s support and shelter only.”
Jagajjanani Janaki used to pay great respects to her parents-in-law much more than her regards for her parents-in-law much more than her regards for her own mother and father; but when her Lord Bhagavan Sri Ram left for the forests, she gave up even the in-laws. King Sri Dasharatha said to such an extent that if Janakadulaari stayed back in Ayodhyaa, his life would be saved; and yet she chose to live for and with Lord Sri Ram. She could not think of staying or living without Lord Sri Rama. How can moonlight remain in absence of the moon? How can the daylight remain without the sun? How can the bodily-shadow live without the body? So also, no Jiva (being) can ever live apart from God. But, since he seeks the shelter of the world, alienating himself from God, he time and again suffers misery. If he did not take the support of that which is going to separate, and takes the support of that which will stay forever with him, than he will undoubtedly be greatly benefited and joyful.
Please, decide right now and once and for all, that you will not take the shelter of the world. You earn money, do all the work that is to be done, but do not make wealth and world your life’s resort or shelter. So far you have taken much from the world, so you work for the world to repay your debt to it, not to seek it’s shelter now. As a matter of fact, the world is not worthy of being a shelter, for it is constantly changing. It changes with such dynamic speed, that we cannot see it twice. Only that which changes is called “samsara” - “sam sarati iti samsaarah”. As God is Mercy Incarnate – “prabhu murati krpaamayi hai” (Vinaya-Patrika 170/7), so is this world change incarnage. There is noting in it except change. You have wrongly regarded worldly as worthy of your shelter. Now turning away from it, only take shelter of the Lord’s Lotus feet, right now! Yes! Just now!
“Mere to Giridhar Gopa, dooseron na koyi”, “ek baani karunaanidhaan ki, so priya jaake gati na aan ki.” - Do not take the shelter of others. With complete sentiments take total refuge in the Lord. “Tameva sharanam gaccha sarvabhaavena” (Gita 18/62), “Sa sarvavidbhajati maam sarvabhaavena” (Gita 15/19); “Sarva bhaav bhaj kapat taji moho param priya soyi” (Manav 7/87 Ka). Verily indeed, your kinship with God is self-evident and profound. Yoke yourself not with the changing world – this is the entire thing. The only thing! That is all there is to it!
From book "Be Good" by Swami Ramsukhdasji
नारायण ! नारायण ! नारायण !
Actions and Consequences
When a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world it can cause a hurricane in another part of the world.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
"Main is baat se sehmat nahi hoon. Hamaare har kaam ka prabhav aakash mein rehte har parmanu par padta hai. Agar yeh baat sach nahi, toh phir sab nirarthak hai. What is the sense of existence then? The hedonism and nihilism of your namesake, Charvaka?"
The three quotes clearly says that our actions.. (When I refer "Our" it means - Each one of us, Action of each life form) has an impact on the universe, on humanity, on all life forms.
But the question I am trying to understand is:
Why do we commit the crime?
Why do we do something wrong?
Butterfly Effect clearly states that the even a non-human action can have consequences which can eradicate
the humanity, which can affect billions of people.. but still why we "the intelligent species" do something which can directly harm/hurt one/many individuals?
Why don't we take responsibility for our actions and its results?
Why do we just throw it on time/god/religion/ or any other individual?
Why do we do it for small materialistic goals?
If we think that our actions do not have any effects and I will pass through this phase just like that - then we are wrong.
I believe there are 4 types of people in this regard:
a) People who are unaware: They live a life of where they don't want to use their brain.. they just eat, sleep..have sex .. reproduce ..and die. I can't fully blame them because they are as good as animals .. who don't do any good to the society but don't do any harm either.
b) People who are educated, yet deaf dumb. People who have used other people's knowledge resources to grow learn, but haven't used their education in their life to do anyone's good
They are happy having ear, brain and still pretending to be deaf.. and because they want to have fun ..and die with it.. they believe that what my actions or one person's action will change anything.. so why bother.
These are actually dangerous ones.. because they eat resource and still produce shit for them and other's life.. these people should actually be killed..not even kept in prison.
Because these people don't have societal objectives to live in their life.
c) Educated People committing a crime for materialistic goal:
People who want to gain financial or any other materialistic goal, they believe it's "okay", because who cares. If I eat another human being to satisfy my hunger, then how does it matter. Who is watching me? Because apparently, god or any other greater power doesn't come in their way a small financial gain at the expense of another individual.
The total number of these type of people is actually bigger. Moreover, because of few of these fishes, the pond is getting diluted, and the meaning of basic relationships is getting weaker.
They want to use every chance to power over any other individual. (Power is not just financial, but satisfying one's ego can also be considered a materialistic wealth).
These are bigger problems from Type B.
They should not just be killed, but should be hanged at every cross section of road, so that it can get it can become an example.
d) The Change Agents:
People who might/might not are educated - Might/might not have resources - Might/Might not get right direction
But they believe that their action can will cause an effect on the society, on the universe, on the human race. They are little passionate, little stubborn individuals.
They live their life for an ideology..to spread something.
Be it a Dance in the case of MJ, be it science in the;case of Hawking.. or Jim Carrey in the field of Comedy they just want to master their field of passion, educate and spread an important message in the society.
They are actually the soldiers .. who live and die for their ideology and make sure it gets spread.
I am not saying that third type of people is what we should aim for - NO... because ideally D type of people are born or created because of inefficiencies created by type A, B, C people. (evil is needed to create good)
Because society creates norms..rules.. boundaries.. so nature creates type D people to break them.
Ideally, I believe that every human being should be a mix of type A and D...where they both live their life with a motive and peace..but keeping a firm balance.
Oh ...I forgot the basic core .. Actions and Consequences :-)
So, typically we commit a crime because we when we think that our actions will lead to:
- No Result
- Results that won't be bigger
- Results that we can deal with
- Results that we can ignore or
- Result/loss we can live with
If we make the human population aware and educated and empower them with the thought of responsibility of being an agent of change, I believe we can change the way people think and act and hence making a better society at larger.
I thank the director and producer of #ShipOfThesus for making a masterpiece. I really recommend the movie with an earpiece on.
In case, of any comments/thoughts about the piece, please feel free to share your comment.
P.S: I am not a writer, I am not a Poet. But just an ordinary person expressing his opinion and concerned about increasing rate of Type B, C people in the world.;