Another year has passed, 52 weeks or 365 days, 8760 hours or 525,600 minutes. However you may compute, this is a lot of time gone. Time, that will never come back. The other day, some people asked me to record a video message for the new year. I thought for a few moments and decided to pass because I’m not sure if I have anything new to say. What should I tell you? That we should drop our anger, our negativity, or we should be persistent, or that we should be compassionate? Or should I tell you that you should discover your own truth? You already know all this and more.

We all set our own benchmarks in life and most of us work towards our own desires and goals. I have realized that you cannot make anyone listen to you, you can’t make them see your viewpoint until and unless they want to see it. Most around you will walk over, walk around, walk into, or walk up to you at their own convenience. Very few care. If we remove ourselves from the struggle to change the other person, ninety percent of the puzzle of life is solved instantly.

Changing the other person is important sometimes, people tell me. Agreed. Because what if they harm you and everything that matters to you, they say. Walk away, is my answer. And, what if you can’t walk away? Reject. And when you can’t reject? Ignore. What if you can’t ignore? Accept. And, what if you can’t accept either? Suffer. If we can’t distance ourselves, nor reject, ignore or accept them, then we leave ourselves with no choice but to suffer. And, is there any way of avoiding the suffering? Yes; meditate on your true nature of bliss. Your existence is eternal and infinite, it is beyond how you are treated by others. This can only be realized and not understood.

So, there you go, that’s my message for the new year: We can rise above our suffering and to do that, we must take responsibility for our choices. We alone have to take care of what matters to us. We can’t (we shouldn’t, in fact) expect the other person to appreciate, understand or support what we stand for. Based on the numerous emails I’ve read and replied to in the last three years, this is one of the primary lessons I’ve deduced. Today, I don’t have any story or humor for you. Instead, I just wanted to share with you a couple of important developments and express my gratitude to certain people. Since we are on the subject of emails, let me start with that.

In the past 3 years, devoting nearly 4,000+ hours to emails alone, I read over 90,000 and replied to more than 40,000 emails. Most of the time, it’s been unmanageable. I tried various methods, like, delaying my responses, putting an auto-reply, flagging certain emails, or creating a form to limit the length of the message but nothing really worked. I would love to respond to your emails but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get through them all.

Therefore, beginning 1 Jan 2015, I will no longer be monitoring my current email address nor sifting through my emails on my own. There will be two ways of contacting me: visit this page here. Or, simply reply to the post you receive in your inbox every week. But, please note that your email will be read by 2-3 other volunteers who will be assisting me with this work. So, please don’t write anything confidential. If your email contains a question that is useful to many, I’ll try my best to cover it in my weekly posts. If you have a personal query, you’ll have to see me in person at the ashram.

At the beginning of 2014, I had said I would publish three books this year. In the past one month, I published my memoir available to readers in India only and an e-book on wellness available worldwide. I wanted to finish reviewing and publishing my book on depression but a large number of readers, outside India, have been asking for the memoir. So, as my third book, I prepared my memoir’s manuscript for worldwide distribution and I’m pleased to report that it is now available on amazon.com as an e-book (here). If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download Kindle app for free and read the memoir on your laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Thank you all who helped in spreading the word about my memoir. Some of you even made the book cover as your Facebook cover photo, I was told. This really touched my heart. (Now, that the book is launched, you can take the book cover down.) I would like to thank everyone who not only took the time out to read the memoir but also post a review on Flipkart or Amazon. Many of you wrote directly to me and I thank you for that. Having said that, please note that when you email me your review, while I appreciate it, it doesn’t really help anyone. If you are okay to go public with your review, then please go ahead and post it on Amazon or Flipkart or both. A large majority of readers pick a book solely based on the reviews. My heartfelt gratitude to those who posted their reviews online. 5-star, 4-star or 1-star, it doesn’t matter. When you post your review online, it helps me, helps others and it helps our cause.

In 2014, I traveled extensively in India and abroad. Speaking for more than 180 hours, I gave more than 70 discourses including the ones at the ashram and at various other locations in India, USA, Canada, Australia and Singapore. This is in addition to devoting over 300 hours to private audience with more than 1000 people. I spent 250+ hours on the road, 150+ hours on the airports and roughly 100 hours on the plane. Even though it was exhausting, what kept me going was the boundless love I received everywhere I went. None of this would have been possible without the gracious and tremendous assistance from a number of hosts and other individuals. Thank you all who worked tirelessly and selflessly to make this year a success and took care of every single detail before I could even think of it.

I’ve stopped thinking of ways of repaying you because what you have done for me just can’t be repaid in anyway. The team that translates my posts in other languages, those who publish my videos every week, the team that gives regular updates on social media, those who create beautiful posters of my quotes, people who have always made themselves available to read my manuscripts, I’m short of words to express my gratitude.

In 2015, I plan on spending more time reviewing my books (nonfiction on meditation and chakras, and some literary fiction) I wrote last year. You can expect to see one fiction and one nonfiction from me next year. I won’t be traveling much at all and will be available to meet at the ashram as per the schedule on my blog. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to write weekly posts.

Season’s greetings and thank you again. May the Universe reciprocate your kindness multifold. It always does.

Peace.
Swami

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