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Forever Happy Now! Posts


Most parents of young kids today discuss only one thing when they meet up – about the schools that their kids attend.

Whether it is this curriculum or that, whether it has 2 playgrounds or 3, whether it has an Olympic sized swimming pool or not, whether the music room has western instruments or only eastern, whether the labs are equipped with the latest equipment or aren’t. And of course no discussion would be complete without talking about the ridiculously high school fees required to support such lavishness.

While all this education is phenomenal in imparting an ability to create wealth, is it enough to provide lasting happiness? Is there any guidance towards achieving man’s true objective here in human form?

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Unfamous 5

The famous 5 of Enid Blyton fame, are, well, famous! But there’s another 5 that aren’t. Not people, but qualities. And funnily enough, these 5 are accessible within each one of us!

Thích Nhất Hạnh, the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, emphasized five strengths for cultivating and harnessing inner powers in dharma practice:

  • Faith
  • Diligence
  • Mindfulness
  • Concentration
  • Insight

These strengths are inherent in us but may remain unrecognized until consciously cultivated. They serve to empower and enrich our spiritual journey.

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Paws and praise

For anyone who has a dog at home, homecoming transforms into a celebration. The doorbell unleashes fervent barks.

Before you know it, a blur of fur—your dog—outpaces any human, offering a welcome fit for royalty, conveyed in wags and jumps.

This daily ritual, far from ordinary, is an unwavering expression of pure joy.

Your four-legged companion’s greeting erases fatigue, replacing it with a heartwarming spectacle of affection.

Their boundless enthusiasm is a masterclass in mindfulness, reminding us to cherish the present moment with unguarded delight.

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Life is a journey meant for more than mere indulgence in pleasures. While savoring life’s joys is essential, it’s not the sole purpose. What sets humans apart is the gift of intellect, the ability to comprehend and ponder. This faculty leads us to seek the truth beneath surface perceptions.

In Sanskrit, the distinction between humans and animals is strikingly clear. ‘Pašu’, the word for animal, implies one who merely ‘sees’, perceiving things at face value, without delving deeper for truth. For them, utility lies in edibility or survival value.

Likewise, the English term ‘man’ finds its roots in Sanskrit’s ‘manusya’, denoting a human being. Derived from ‘mann’, meaning ‘to think’, it emphasizes that a human’s role transcends mere physical observation; it demands contemplation of the deeper truth. Thus, the essence of human existence lies in the pursuit of Truth, beyond mere enjoyment.

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Educated ignoramuses

This is the term my Guru uses to label all pseudo-intellectuals.

What is the meaning of this?

There are so many people who are far more conventionally educated than most Gurus.

Some of the most advanced Gurus may not have ever even gone to school or had a formal education.

So what does education mean? Is it just fancy MBAs or PhDs?

For pseudo-intellectuals, yes it might be!

But what is true education then? That depends on what we want to, nay, should learn. What should we learn then?

About our purpose on this earth. About our human birth, and what we are expected to do with it. About how to live up to our true potential.

Is this what formal education teaches us?

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Ruin booin

Everyone wants money. How much? More than too much. Having money is easy? Here’s a perspective:

The great investor Charlie Munger was once asked by one of his rich friends if leaving his kids a bunch of money would ruin their drive and ambition.

“Of course it will,” Charlie said. “But you still have to do it.”

“Why?” the friend asked.

“Because if you don’t give them the money they’ll hate you,” Charlie said.

Isn’t he just so much on point?

Imagine this. You have all the money possible. And then your kids either lose ambition or hate you. A smart cookie might say the best combo would be to have a lot of money and no kids. But everyone who has kids say that it’s the best feeling ever. And they’d gladly exchange their money to keep their kids. So want more money, honey?

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F for fear F for faith

We each fear death the most. If that fear goes, then every other fear can be managed.

How can we not fear death? Well everyone must go one day, but the antidote to the fear of death is the faith in God.


Because we are implicitly playing God, when we fear death. Wondering when that death will come and how. That’s why we are constantly worried about whether we will live or not. Isn’t that playing God? What if we would surrender that duty to God by having full faith in Him?

Ironically, we do have faith even if we think we don’t. Because we go to bed each night with the faith that we will wake up the next morning.

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Re Inc.

Would you want to live your whole life again, from scratch, including all the bad parts?

What if that life would be only the bad parts!?

Imagine going through grades 1 to 12 of school, all over again. Damn, I don’t even know how I managed to clear them once!

And then college and university.

And then all the bad interactions with so many people and all the other traumatic experiences.

It of course could have been a lot worse. But it’s not.

So ideally one should use this opportunity to improve our position, and work towards never having to come back, and re-do all this. The choice is ours. But most choose to stay permanent employees of Re Inc(arnated)!

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The idea of a thing vs the thing itself

It’s easy to mistake the mental image of an object or experience for the real thing. For instance, the idea of money is often associated with success and security. However, money itself is just paper or numbers in a bank account. The value we attribute to it comes from societal constructs. Similarly, happiness is frequently visualized as a life filled with laughter, vacations, and luxuries. Yet, true happiness is an internal state of contentment that can exist even in simplicity.

This distinction is important because when we chase the idea of something, we may miss out on the genuine essence of that thing. A person might accumulate wealth but still feel insecure, or chase moments of joy but never find lasting happiness. The map is not the territory; understanding this difference can lead us to more authentic and fulfilling experiences.

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Right turn

In the Ramayan, post-war, Hanuman rushes to inform Sita of their victory. Arriving, he’s tempted to avenge the rakshasis for tormenting Sita, but she halts him, narrating a stirring tale instead.

A man, fleeing a tiger, scales a tree, disturbing a resting bear. The tiger urges the bear to push the man down for a meal, but the bear, valuing hospitality, refuses. When the tiger coaxes the man to shove the bear, he tries but fails. The bear, resilient in righteousness, denies the tiger’s renewed plea to harm the man, imparting a timeless lesson: no evil should deter the righteous from their virtuous path.

Righteousness, demanding yet dignifying, holds an immortal essence celebrated across cultures and festivals.

Righteousness is not the easy choice, but it’s the revered one, crafting legacies of honor echoing through ages.

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I’m really not making this up. Imagine adults coloring intricate books, building forts with blankets, or having themed dress-up parties. It’s adults immersing themselves in children’s activities, seeking a slice of nostalgia and pure joy.

Real-world stores now cater to this, offering adult-sized ball pits, wall doodling sessions, and even crafting workshops reminiscent of our school days.

But here’s a thought: why did we ever distance ourselves from such simple pleasures?

Life’s demands shouldn’t push the child within us into obscurity.

Embracing a childlike demeanor – filled with wonder, non-judgment, and forgiveness – is not about immaturity, but about cherishing life’s moments.

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Deathly wish

The Gita in the 8th chapter says (Antakaaleti…) that whatever one thinks of at the time of death is what they will attain in their next birth.

Is this a loophole? Can one live a life callous about values and morals, and yet achieve salvation simply by thinking of the Lord at the last moment?

“Not so fast buddy”, is what Krishna seems to suggest.

Firstly, a life devoid of spirituality is highly unlikely to result in remembrance of the Lord at the time of death.

Secondly, in chapter 14, verse 14, Krishna makes it amply clear that it is the dominant guna that makes its appearance at death. This is not difficult to understand either. If the life lived has had only tamasik and rajasic gunas, then how can one expect sattva guna to dominate only at the time of death?

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You know all these NatGeo and Discovery ocean documentaries? They show some outstanding footage of what happens in the depths of the deep blue.

But I realized one thing. Even though many creatures hunt for a living, they don’t necessarily have a high success rate. A shark might try to capture its prey many times, but it too fails often.

So a quote I came across today (for humans, not sharks!) was on point:

“Self-reflection is how one loses their edge. A shark keeps swimming.”

It probably makes sense to introspect once in a while. But only introspecting and never taking action? Not a good idea.

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Gunateetha…is what? – part 2 of 2

We say yesterday how when one is free of the body-mind complex, one becomes a gunateetha. But how does one practically achieve this?

Krishna answers in the 14th Chapter of the Gita: “Through single-pointed, unswerving devotion!”

A doubt might arise. “But we see so many devotees around us, thronging temples and prayer halls. But they all also don’t seem that happy in their own lives – definitely not like what gunateethas are supposed to be…”

Great catch!

The focus word here therefore is “single-pointed” and/or “unswerving” aka unwavering.

As devotees, do we focus exclusively on the Lord? Or do we give him a small slice of time – like a few minutes a day or week? Is He the first thought we wake up with and the last thought we sleep with? And what of the millions of thoughts in between?

There is much introspection to be done for me!

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Gunateetha…is what? – part 1 of 2

So there are some terms in the Bhagavad Gita that are a bit difficult to practically imagine.

Like Gunateetha. A person who is beyond the Gunas. It’s hard enough for most people to come out of Tamasik guna (indolence) or Rajasik guna (high energy) and move towards Sattva guna (harmony). But then the best state according the Lord Krishna is one where the individual has transcended all the 3 gunas altogether!

How does such a gunateetha even function then? How is such a person to be recognized?

In the 14th Chapter, the Lord spills the beans.

He clarifies that the gunas are only associated with prakriti or the world around us, including our bodies and minds. As long as we associate with the body and mind, we will always be under the influence of the gunas.

And therefore by extension, when one is free of the body-mind complex, one becomes a gunateetha!

And how to do this? Concluded tomorrow!

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It’s Deepavali again. This beautiful festival comes year after year, with just one aim. Which is?

Well in the essence of tradition, Deepavali celebrates the joyous return of Prince Rama to Ayodhya, marking the end of his 14-year exile. Symbolically, it mirrors our contemporary journey, as we navigate challenges akin to Ram’s banishment from his realm of peace and prosperity. Deepavali, at its core, signifies the victory of good over evil (including inside us). The lighting of lamps illumines not just the world outside but our very souls. Amidst the festivities, our actions carry profound symbolism.

Cleaning the house becomes a metaphor for purifying our minds, discarding emotional stains of the past.

Donning new clothes and household items symbolizes the ushering in of newness as we transform our thinking and behavior.

Exchanging gifts takes on a profound meaning, offering each other the priceless blessings of pure thoughts and feelings.

Savouring sweets becomes a pledge to sweeten our words with love and respect (while also adding to the waistline!).

Starting new account books reflects our resolve to reconcile past issues and embrace acceptance.

Happy Deepavali!

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Tip sip

Came across an interesting anecdote today from a well-traveled friend.

In most parts of the world, he said that anyone in the service industry will be happy when they are tipped for their quality of service. A few extra bills and the smile on their faces would be telling.

In a few countries however, tipping is a requirement, a mandate, no matter what. “If you don’t tip”, he said, “they can even become angry and abusive!”

In Japan however, he said tips are actually frowned upon. It is culturally insensitive to offer tips to waiters, taxi drivers, hotel boys and anyone else.

Why? Because they believe that they need to do their best at work irrespective of any additional incentives, and they also trust the original bill that is charged is all-inclusive.

Good service begins in the mind!

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Embracing TIME

Jay Shetty’s book Think Like a Monk has an interesting acronym: TIME.

It represents four transformative habits: Thankfulness, Insight, Mindfulness, and Exercise.

Thankfulness encourages recognizing life’s blessings.

Insight propels a journey within for deeper understanding.

Mindfulness invites present-centered awareness.

Exercise emphasizes physical well-being.

Integrating TIME into our daily regimen can steer us towards holistic wellness and enduring happiness, enriching our journey towards a fulfilling existence.

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The Lasso Way

Apple TV has an outstanding series called Ted Lasso, which we’ve discussed before. Season 3, the last and final one, just concluded. It was super. No big spoilers below, but don’t read if you don’t want to!

Trent Crimm, originally a harsh newspaper critic of Ted Lasso, turns over a new leaf, and even writes a book, called “The Lasso Way.” He then requests both Coach Lasso and Coach Beard for their feedback.

The contrast couldn’t be more pronounced. While Coach Beard’s feedback is direct and detailed, Ted Lasso, true to his character, simply writes that everything is perfect. He also adds, that the only suggestion he has, is to change the name of the book, because it was always about the team, and never about him.

If only everyone would be so kind and understanding!

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Medical spirituality

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor!

But from my experience going to some, generally we would have some problem, like say a stomach ache. We don’t go to a plumber for this, although a leaky gut might need some plumbing of another kind. The doctor would have to be a general physician at first and then maybe a gastroenterologist. And the all important medicine? Some specific tablet or syrup that only the doctor can prescribe.

Our life’s problems are no different.

What is the illness? Samsara, aka our dependence on external factors for attaining and maintaining happiness. Who’s the doctor? This one is easy, the Guru of course! And the medicine? Scriptures, spirituality, devotion, God… take your pick.

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It’s amazing sometimes, the bravery I see around me.

So many politicians, especially those fighting for justice, are willing to step up and speak up. Unafraid of the consequences.

Don’t they have a family? Of course they do, and yet they do their duty in unimaginably bold ways.

With the recent wars that have broken out, most people would be fleeing the scene. But I see brave men and women who work as journalists running towards the battlefield!

Such level of bravery is mind boggling. Many spiritual masters do suggest that one should be completely fearless. Like a fight for dharma. Because ultimately we are not the body or mind.

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Know who should be the judge of any court? We each of course! Because we are born judg-ers!

Ever found yourself silently judging? We see someone act, and instantly, there’s a mental thumbs-up or thumbs-down. We all do it, right?

Guru Sri Sri Ravishankar suggests imagining judgments as breezes, brief and passing. That there’s something freeing about being immersed in love and compassion, where these judgments lightly touch and go. They guide our choices, like picking the freshest apples from a market, and shaping the company we keep. Some folks lift us up, others not so much.

It’s quite the journey, this dance with judgments. Can we completely eliminate it? Sri Sri says it’s not possible unless we attain the state of Being, as then we are always full of love and compassion.

What’s your take?

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Bent Lee

There was a clickbaity article recently on a man who asked to be buried after his death along with his 1 million dollar Bentley. And obviously I clicked on that clickbait (how else would such folks make money if not for suckers like me!).

I couldn’t imagine why anyone would think that they could take their car with them. Maybe to coolly cruise past the gates of heaven?

As it so happens, Mr Lee’s (don’t know his name, so we can call him Mr. Lee) brain was not bent out of shape. Quite the contrary actually.

He was trying to use his Bentley to bring awareness to people about the noble opportunity of organ donation. We feel we may useless after death, but actually the death of one person (inevitable to all) may bring life to another. Well bent sir!

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Utterly butterly

What’s a lovely analogy to understand the concept of soul and atman and other similar confusing terms?

The Amritabindu Upanishad of course!

Here’s an outstanding 4-liner:

Cows are of various colors, milk is one-colored,
the wise man looks upon soul as milk,
of bodies as cows of different garbs,
knowledge is hidden, as butter in milk

Utterly butterly delicious!

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Humble mumble

Came across a powerful, self-explanatory and yet profound line today.

Humility is a powerful virtue that involves thinking of oneself less, rather than thinking less of oneself.

That’s it. That’s the post for today. Much to reflect on!

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There’s a lovely sanskrit word called mumukshatwam. It refers to a deep yearning for liberation.

So deep, that the yearning for liberation is the only thing that the spiritual seeker yearns for.

Funny it is then, when my Guru asks a gathering of devotees, “How many of you want liberation?”, and all hands fly up immediately.

He then proceeds to add just one more word, “How many of you want liberation, now?”.

And suddenly all hands go down!

Hilarious, but the joke is on us ????

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Living peacefully

There’s war all around us in the world.

And incredibly, there’s war inside of each one of us as well. In our minds. Constantly fighting a variety of emotions and desires, with nary a clue of what is right or what is good.

So how to live peacefully then? The saints say this:

  • Continuously chant and attribute all actions to God for a joyful life.
  • If an actor doesn’t bring his stage role home, should we let our worldly roles define us? Remember, our pursuit of God isn’t an act because God resides within each of us.
  • When surrendering to God, let go of titles like devotee, scholar, or wealthy person. Then peace will prevail.
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The direction is clear of what happens with me:

Something in the physical plane triggers my senses. The senses pass on information to my mind. The mind then gets super excited and begins planning for the future as though it’s already happened. This in turn waylays the soul, keeping it from achieving it’s true objective (of realising itself).

Spiritual wisdom unanimously dictates that this direction is wrong.

Our soul is meant to lord over the mind and the senses, not the other way around. Instead of focusing on the distractions of the outer world, we need to focus on the peace within.

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A-song of a-sanga

In the Bhagavad Gita’s Chapter 15, there lies solid wisdom on achieving inner peace and happiness. This chapter introduces us to ‘samsara’, a term denoting our attachments.

We often hinge our inner tranquility on three things: VVP – Vyakti (people), Vastu (objects), and Paristhithi (circumstances).

However, this dependence is a double-edged sword, leading to impermanent joy and potential suffering.

The antidote?

‘Asanga’, which translates to detachment.

Contrary to popular belief, detachment isn’t about negating emotions or connections. Instead, it’s about cultivating an intelligent relationship with our surroundings, including our very own bodies. By understanding the inherent value in everything, yet recognizing that none can offer everlasting peace or happiness, we find our way to a balanced existence.

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How hard can it be?

That’s exactly what goes on in the mind of tech titan Jensen Huang, the founder and CEO of Nvidia. In a recent interview, when asked if he’d start a company again in 2023, he chuckled and said, “Building Nvidia was a million times harder than any of us expected.”

But here’s the kicker. Despite knowing the difficulty involved, he’d constantly trick his brain by asking, “How hard can it be?”

Jensen candidly shared the rollercoaster of emotions – vulnerability, embarrassment, shame, and the endless challenges. But would he do it again? “Nobody in their right mind would,” he quips. Yet, the superpower of an entrepreneur is blissful ignorance. They dive in, thinking, “How hard can it be?”

Jensen’s secret sauce? A rock-solid support system. Surrounded by those who’ve been with him for decades, he says, “They never gave up on me.”

The next time we’re facing a challenge, we could channel our inner Jensen and ask, “How hard can it be?”

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Swami Chinmayananda said that when desire is fulfilled – the left hand side gate opens. That gate is called Greed.

Desire fulfilled = Greed.

When desire is unfulfilled – the right hand side gate is opened.

That is called Anger.

Desire Unfulfilled = Anger.

So the main gate leading to both these gates is desire.

The triple gates to hell.

So we must close these three gates all together. That is the only prescription.

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Focused Wisdomism

  • Life’s journey: Sometimes we take detours from the divine roadmap.
  • Scriptures shoutout for: Compassion, humility, and selfless love vibes.
  • Beware! Greed and fear: peace stealers on the prowl.
  • Universal truth alert: Judgment day awaits, not as one day, but as a continuous karmic tracker so deeds don’t lie.
  • Bhagwad Gita wisdom drop: Arjuna’s quest & Krishna’s focus mantra?
  • Focus mantra: Think divine, act in line, and the universe will align.
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3 means of devotion

According to saint Gondavalekar Maharaj, there are 3 methods of devotion:

  1. Words of the scriptures
  2. Words of the saints (seniors / Guru)
  3. inward search by oneself

Which one do you like, and which one do you think works best for you?

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Babaji’s powers

A lot of spiritual seekers today run after anyone who can show off some siddhis (aka powers). A name that is used by many is that of purportedly one of the greatest Gurus and mystics of all – Mahavtar Babaji.

My knowledge about him is just from various books – not least of which is the famous “An autobiography of a Yogi”.

With so many people running after mystical experiences and opening up their kundalinis and all sorts of occult practices, spirituality almost feels like a lost cause to one who does not experience any of these.

What does Babaji himself say?

“Believe me my child when I say, that the man who loves others, who is devout and who lives the life of self-surrender is many times more powerful, even in altering his own circumstances, environments and tendencies, than the man who has learned all the Scriptures, who has mortified himself by sitting in the midst of five fires, who has mastered pranayama, who has shut himself in caves, who has awakened his kundalini and who has repeated millions of mantras millions of times and who has performed the most mysterious and elaborate ceremonies for the fulfillment of different specific desires.”

Aum Namaha Babaji Maha -Vishuddhi (I bow to Babaji, the Great Purity). An Excerpt from ‘The Voice Of Babaji’.

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Belling the chef

In a quaint little restaurant we visited recently, a bell hung aloof in the corner behind the door. It had a note attached to it which read, “Ring if you liked the experience!”

While there was a lot of cheer and laughter, no one bothered to ring the bell, as they exited the restaurant with full bellies and preoccupied minds.

After several entries and exits, one little child pressurized his father to pick him up so that he could reach the bell.

With great gusto, the little boy rang the bell more than once and the smile on his face was wide as a mile.

What was wider though? The smiles on the faces of the chefs in the kitchen, all of whom stood in a line, with their palms folded in gratitude for the recognition.

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Analogical – part 5 of 5

Concluding post today – with another lovely set of outstanding analogies, enabling us to intimately understand the depths suggested by our scriptures:

25. The Mirror and the Reflection: Just as a polished mirror reflects accurately, a purified mind mirrors our true nature.

26. The Artist and the Artwork: Similar to artists crafting masterpieces, the divine orchestrates our lives with intricate care.

27. The Guest and the Host: Much like guests finding solace in hosts’ homes, our souls discover refuge in the embrace of the divine.

28. The Raindrop and Ocean: Just as raindrops merge into oceans, our individuality merges into the expanse of universal consciousness.

29. The Jewel and the Light: Similar to jewels sparkling in the light, the soul radiates brilliance in the presence of divine knowledge.

30. The Wind and the Sky: Just as wind moves through the sky, experiences flow through the canvas of our awareness.

These analogies, like facets of a diamond, reflect the sophisticated-yet-simplistic wisdom of our ancients. By embracing these insights, we can embark on a transformative journey towards self-discovery and everlasting contentment.

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Analogical – part 4 of 5

More brilliant analogies from the wise ones, continued below:

18. The Sailing Boat and Wind: Like boats sailing with the wind, we journey through life with the divine wind of grace.

19. The Firefly and the Sun: As the sun dims fireflies, ego diminishes in the radiance of spiritual awareness.

20. The Needle and Thread: Similar to threading a needle, enlightenment requires focused awareness and effort.

21. The Seed and the Tree: Just as a tiny seed contains the promise of a mighty tree, our souls hold latent potential for spiritual growth.

22. The Pot and Space: Much like pots occupy space, the soul resides within the body while transcending its limits.

23. The Ocean and Waves: Just as waves emerge from oceans, our experiences arise from the boundless sea of Reality.

24. The Gem and the Dirt: Like a gem’s brilliance unaffected by dirt, the soul remains pure amidst life’s impurities.

Final set of analogies concluded tomorrow!

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Analogical – part 3 of 5

Continuing our voyage of scriptural wisdom seen through the lens of popular analogies:

12. The Musical Instrument and Musician: Much like musicians draw melodies from instruments, the divine orchestrates our lives, weaving together the symphony of existence.

13. The Honeybee and Flowers: Just as bees extract nectar without harm, we are required to engage with the world while preserving harmony.

14. The Fire and Fuel: As fire purifies through consumption, the soul burns ignorance and attachments to reveal its radiant essence.

15. The Child and Mother: Akin to a child’s solace in a mother’s arms, we seek refuge in the nurturing embrace of the divine.

16. The Silkworm and Cocoon: Like silkworms breaking cocoons, the Gita guides us to transcend self-imposed limits.

17. The Moon and Reflection: A tranquil mind reflects brilliance, akin to the moon mirrored in a still pond. And even if the pond has ripples, the moon itself is unaffected.

More analogies tomorrow!

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Analogical – part 2 of 5

More common analogies continued today:

7. The Sun and Clouds: Like clouds momentarily veiling the sun, ignorance can obscure our inherent brilliance.

8. The River and Ocean: As rivers merge into oceans, the soul dissolves into boundless consciousness.

9. The Garden and Weeds: Just as a garden thrives with weeding, we nurture positivity while uprooting negativity.

10. The Dream and Wakefulness: The Gita’s wisdom unveils the illusory nature of the material world, much like dreams upon awakening.

11. The Fish in Water: Just as fish thrive in water, souls flourish in the vast expanse of divine consciousness, revealing our inherent connection.

Analogies continued, tomorrow!

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Analogical – part 1 of 5

A journey through the Bhagavad Gita is best undertaken via analogies. They guide us like torches in the night, bridging ancient teachings with contemporary understanding. Here are some illuminating analogies used by several saints and Gurus across various books:

1. The Cow and Its Calf: Just as a cow tends to its calf without attachment, the Gita teaches performing duties without fixating on outcomes.

2. The Potter’s Wheel: Like a potter molding clay, divine forces shape our lives. Surrendering to the Lord aligns us with cosmic rhythms.

3. The Water Drop and Ocean: A drop merges with the ocean, echoing unity; like the individual dissolving into universal consciousness.

4. The Lamp and the Wind: A windless place doesn’t disturb a lamp’s flame. The mind too should remain undisturbed amid sensory distractions.

5. The Snake and the Rope: The Gita warns against confusing the transient with the eternal, akin to mistaking a rope for a snake.

6. The Lotus in Mud: A lotus rises pure from muddy waters, teaching purity amidst life’s challenges.

More analogies tomorrow!

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Tank half empty or half full?

In the realm of sports, moments of extraordinary tenacity often emerge, leaving an indelible mark on our hearts. Recently, I came across a riveting YouTube video that encapsulates this spirit in its purest form.

Picture this: A car race of paramount importance, with victory within arm’s reach. Max Orida, the leader, finds himself agonizingly close to the finish line when destiny throws a curveball. His fuel gauge reads empty, threatening to shatter his dreams.

Rather than surrendering to despair, Max’s spirit ignites a fire within him. With unwavering resolve, he leaps out from the car, and begins pushing his vehicle, every muscle straining against the odds. The crowd holds its breath, witnessing a testament to human willpower.

In that heart-stopping moment, Max transcends mere competition. He embodies the essence of perseverance, transforming a potential loss into a triumphant narrative. His actions remind us that when passion meets determination, even the most daunting challenges can be conquered.

Let Max Orida’s incredible feat be a beacon for us all. In the face of adversity, may we summon the fortitude to push forward, no matter how dire the circumstances. For it is in these moments that we forge our own path to victory, leaving an indomitable legacy for generations to come.

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Naturally patient

In the rush of modern life, nature whispers a vital lesson – patience. Much like a blooming flower unfurls its petals slowly, we too can find strength in moving at our own pace. The river carves its path patiently, shaping landscapes over time. Likewise, patience allows us to mold our experiences, creating meaningful stories.

Nature’s examples abound: majestic Redwood Trees grow slowly, standing tall for centuries, teaching us the power of steadfast growth. Caterpillars transform into butterflies, reminding us that change takes time, but the end result is worth the wait. Geodes, crystal-filled rocks formed over millions of years, show that true beauty emerges from patient, gradual processes. The Grand Canyon, carved by the Colorado River over eons, teaches us that persistence creates breathtaking masterpieces. Watch a spider construct its intricate web, showcasing the power of patience in achieving a goal. Coral reefs’ slow growth over thousands of years reminds us that small, consistent efforts lead to immense beauty and resilience.

Rushing seldom leads to lasting success.

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Mother necessity

“Look for the, bare necessities, the simple bare necessities, forget about your worries and your strife!” croons the ever-happy Baloo the bear in The Jungle Book cartoon classic.

The bare necessities is absolutely right. We don’t need much more than that to be happy, because happiness, as we know, is simply a state of mind.

But, necessity is the mother of invention. And as our necessities grow from bare sized to bear sized, inventions and gadgetry around us have proliferated.

Has happiness also proliferated? Hardly.

What might be the mother of necessity itself then?

Perhaps God, or chanting his name. When we are thinking of Him all the time, nothing else becomes important, and He will take care of everything else.

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Formulaic Godliness

At the core of our spiritual journey lies a delicate interplay between God, mind, and man, elegantly captured by two poignant equations:

  1. God + Mind = Man
  2. Man – Mind = God

These formulas encapsulate the essence of our quest for spiritual enlightenment.

To bridge the gap between ourselves and the divine, we must first understand the profound influence of our own minds.

Through dedicated concentration, a practitioner seeks to calm the ceaseless waves of thought, offering the mind a steady foundation.

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Which one are you?

An optimist. A pessimist. Or a realist.

The world loves optimists. Absolutely glorifies them.

Pessimists are always given the stick.

Realists? Do they even exist?

Here’s what Swami Swaroopananda says.

Be a realist. Why? Because an optimist never sees a problem, while the pessimis sees nothing but the problem. A realist approaches the situation with full awareness, mindful that things can go wrong and also the courage to see it through. 
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Quick change

You must have seen those magic shows where there’s a person that can change their dress really bloody quick. Like blink-of-the-eye quick.

The Gita says that our bodies are like clothes only. That death just results in the soul discarding one body to don another.

Within this life itself, we may change clothes multiple times each day, and a few hundred-thousand times through our lives.

The toughest clothes to change into would undoubtedly be ochre robes. Most people don’t even attempt to change into them.

But the irony is, that even after changing into ochre robes, if the mind is not tamed, outside clothes are of little use.

Clothes can be changed very fast. But the mind?

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Mission statement

We come across many mission and vision statements of large organizations, and famous people too.

What are the 4 steps to crafting these, and more so for oneself, according to Arthur Brooks, the creator of the concept of Happier-ness?

  1. Does whatever is being done glorify God? If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t matter what the other 3 steps are.
  2. Serve others.
  3. Have an adventure.
  4. Make a living.

These are the 4 steps to be followed to achieve any goal, and to be followed in the same order.

It’s ironic that most people follow the same order, but usually in reverse!

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Peanut butter and jelly. Batman and Robin. Yin and yang. You just can’t separate these two out right? Just like 2 sides of a coin.

Here’s another. Desire and attachment. They’re always together.

Desire something deeply? In no time, you’ll be attached to it.

Attached to something deeply? It’ll lead you to desiring for that very thing or even other things for longer and longer.

To cut one is to cut none. To cut both is to find growth. Spiritual growth.

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Born loser

This is what Sadhguru begins one of his talks with. He says we are all “born losers”.

Wow, a scathing attack from a spiritual leader, one would think?

But is he wrong?


He proceeds to explain. We are all born losers because the moment we are born, we each begin to lose the most important thing we have: time!

What are we doing with this time? Are we maximising it in our service of others and our quest for the Self? Or are we simply whiling it away, living as egomaniacs and fueling this gross body that will anyway whither away soon?

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Learn to learn from

In a lovely podcast of Marlene Puffer, the Chief Investment Officer of a Canadian pension fund, I found a golden nugget.

She was describing how she began her career as an outsider. She was always in academia, with multiple degrees and what not.

And one day, at the grand old age of 29, she found herself in a teaching job as a professor of finance.

Her problem? She was all theory and no practice. Why? Because she hadn’t had the opportunity to work at Wall Street or other financial firms.

While she did suffer from imposter syndrome at first, she came up with an excellent solution. She knew she had very good theoretical knowledge and was very well read. Instead of feeling insecure in front of her much older and much more experienced students, she learned to learn from them instead, and layered it on top of her theoretical prowess.

“Hey Mike, you’ve got 15 years of experience working in FX derivatives, why don’t you share your perspective and learnings on how you did things at Morgan Stanley?”… and so on… Pretty cool no?!

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In the lovely book called Discourses by Shri Gondavalekar Maharaj, there are innumerable outstanding nuggets of wisdom.

One of them asks us to focus on the present, which we know. And not worry about the past or future, which also we know.

As a corollary, what he says (paraphrased) is, “On a daily basis, what are you using the prapancha (sense objects) for? If prapancha are being used simply to gain happiness, then clearly that happiness will never last. So what to do then? Use the prapancha as a playground to simply perform your duty. Then see the magic unfolding.”

So lovely!

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The real cause of burnout

On a cool interview of Bjørn Gulden, the global CEO of Adidas, one amazing insight came about. So much so that the interviewer (none other than CEO of Norges Bank, Nicolai Tangen) came back to the same point a few minutes later, even though the conversation had meandered to something else by then.

What is the real cause of burnout then, according to Mr. Gulden?

He says that since day 1 of his job, he has always been himself. He has never put on a pretense about anything. Since he doesn’t have to pretend, and doesn’t have to appear to be someone he is not, he carries no excess baggage on his head.

In his view, the reason for burnout is simply that people are constantly having to artifically put on a guise of who they aren’t. Maybe appear sharper, speak cooler, engage as though more knowledgeable etc. And doing so, say 12 hours every day, day after day, is what causes one to get burned out. Without it? One would enjoy working!

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Reverse bucket list

How many items are there in our bucket lists?

100s if not 1000s?

Wanting to have multiple experiences, to traveling across multiple countries, to trying out all sorts of fancy restaurants and what not.

The list can go on forever.

And that’s exactly why a “reverse” bucket list is such a great idea!

In a normal bucket list, as you complete one activity and check it off, you still see several hundreds left undone, leading to dissatisfaction.

But in a reverse bucket list, we only put things once they get done. This way, everything is always checked, and gives us the opportunity to be always happy!

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Picture time as an expansive, black canvas. The saints saw that it’s not time that moves; rather it is we that traverse its expanse. We begin our journey at one point and conclude it at another, creating the illusion that time commences here and culminates there.

Yet, time is an undivided continuum, an unbroken whole. We transition from birth through childhood, youth, middle age, and into old age, painting our existence across this canvas. Therefore perception of time’s movement stems from our own progression. In truth, time remains an immutable, encompassing unity, ever-static in its entirety. But do we truly comprehend the profound nature of time, or are we merely skimming the surface of its profundity?

Colloquially, we refer to “timepass” when are whiling away time, not putting it to productive use. But what is truly happening? Is time passing us by, or are we passing by time?

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A company called WeWork has been in the news for the last many years. First for revolutionizing co-working office spaces, and more recently, for the fall of its valuations from the billions to the millions.

But WeWork is one thing. And WhyWork is another. No, it’s not a startup that you haven’t heard of, but a simple query to the universe.

Why work, when we are anyway asked to give up the results, and give up doership? If it ain’t gonna matter, then why work even a smatter?

Well the answer to that is simply because work needs to be seen as a means to an end (purification of the mind), not the end itself. The work is simply a journey, which is why the Gita never cares about the work itself, but only about “how” the work is done (with full surrender to the divine)!

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Praying in future tense

We’re probably always wanting something out there in the future.

When this want becomes fervent, it may morph into a prayer even.

With every cell hoping for a magical future.

But do we realize that many years ago and many prayers ago…

…we asked for things, that have become a reality, even if it may not seem so.

A comfy life, some travel, some family time, decent money and status, good health. Many of these we may have wished for, and indeed got, but do we remember? Or are the prayers of yesteryear simply replaced by new prayers hoping for even more cheer?

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Nobody likes corrupt people. Not even the corrupt ones themselves.

But everyone has weaknesses.

And exploiting a weakness in someone could be the first step to corruption.

Offer them something to solve a serious problem, and they will forever be indebted, leaving open the possibility of crossing a line as a favour.

But there exists only one person who is incorruptible. The one who is a jnani. The one who wants only mukti and nothing else.

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Dancing confusion

In the realm of spirituality, seekers often ponder the art of engaging wholeheartedly with the world’s ups and downs, versus withdrawing into a state of inner calm and detachment. Can one gracefully transition between these two states? To immerse ourselves in life’s vivid experiences, yet also find solace in a serene, desireless state.

An analogy could be pertinent.

Imagine playing a role in a romantic flick alongside our favorite hero or heroine. In those scenes, we’re fully present, singing songs and reveling in the joy of the moment. But once the scene wraps, if we hold onto that role too tightly, we might be at the receiving end of a tight hand-to-face from said actor playing the favorite hero / heroine. There’s a delicate balance here. By recognizing it is only a role, we remain untangled, fully present in the day-to-day world, yet with a tranquil, uncluttered mind.

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Business-personal solutions

Here’s a thought provoking tweet by one Justin Welsh.

“Every problem in business can be solved in 1 of 2 ways. 1) Looking at your company data. 2) Speaking to your customers.”

I found this quite profound, and realized that this is not just the solution to business problems, but also applicable to our own personal and professional lives.

How can we look at our own data? By doing a quick self-audit. What are we doing right or wrong? How much time are we wasting. What are the pain points in our lives?

And who are our customers? Everyone we interact with regularly perhaps. And we can surely ask those who we are close with for self-improvement feedback!

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Action value – part 2 of 2

What else on action?

Vinoba also suggests that action should be offered as a sign of reverence, not as a payment or a duty. He gives an example of dakshina, which is a gift given to a teacher or a guest as a mark of respect. He suggests that dakshina is not measured by its amount, but by its sentiment. He says that water is sprinkled on it before it is given, to symbolize the feelings in the heart of the giver. He quotes a verse from Manusmriti, which says that a student can give a flower, a fan, a pair of sandals, or a pitcher of water to his teacher, as long as he gives it with devotion. He suggests that such a gift becomes priceless, because it is charged with love.

Vinoba illustrates this point with the story of Rukmini and Satyabhama, two wives of Lord Krishna. Satyabhama tried to weigh Krishna with heaps of gold ornaments, but failed. Rukmini put a single leaf of Tulsi (a sacred plant) on the scale, and it equaled the weight of Krishna, because it was full of devotion. Vinoba says that this is true of the actions of a karmayogi too. A karmayogi is one who performs selfless and desireless actions as an offering to God.

But there are so many actions to perform. How to choose? Simply what the Guru suggests, which will invariably involve providing maximum benefit to maximum people.

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Action value – part 1 of 2

What determines the value of an action?

Is it how much or how well it is done? Is it the result or the motive?

Here are some excellent insights from a book called Talks on the Gita by Vinoba Bhave, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and a pioneer of the Sarvodaya movement. He delivered these talks in a jail in 1932, when he was imprisoned for joining India’s freedom struggle. He spoke on the Bhagavad Gita, one of the sacred Hindu scriptures, that guides us towards living a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Vinoba compares action to a stone, or a piece of paper. It has no value by itself, unless it is filled with feelings. He gives an example of a letter from his mother, which had only a few lines, but was priceless to him, because it conveyed her love and care. On the other hand, another letter that had fifty pages, but lacked any emotion, was worthless to him. He suggests that action should be infused with the warmth of feelings.

What else? Concluded tomorrow!

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Shut up and get out

Swami Chinmayananda said exactly this to a reporter in an old interview.

“Shut up and get out.”

And then he smiles, and says that he’s not telling her personally to shut up and get out.

Instead what he’s giving is golden advice.

Shut the mouth up.

And get out of the body-mind complex.

So cool, isn’t it?

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FortyTwo – part 2 of 2

So what answer did Elon Musk find? In the whimsical universe of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams, one finds not just humor and absurdity but also unexpected pearls of wisdom, especially when it comes to spirituality.

It’s a tale where the Earth is revealed to be a supercomputer designed to calculate the “Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything,”. And what is the final answer? Simply the number “42.”

This comically simple answer raises profound questions about the nature of spirituality. The search for meaning, for many, is a lifelong journey.

So much so that Elon himself believes that it’s not about the answer, but about finding the right question. What question about the complex creation we are part of will even come close to having an answer like 42?

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FortyTwo – part 1 of 2

Most of us want to be really rich. Why? So that we can chill and be free, and do what we want without others having to tell us so.

That’s a far off dream for me at least, but someone smartly asked Elon Musk this question. With some $180 billion in wealth that is more than the GDP of many countries, what keeps him ticking? Why does he go to work daily? What is the driving force behind his pursuits?

He answers almost sheepishly in his interview. As a teenager, he tried his best to figure out the purpose of life. He read all sorts of philosophical books and could yet not figure anything out.

Finally he read Douglas Adams’ sci-fi novel The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. And what did he learn from that? Did he get the answer to his question?

Continued tomorrow!

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Broken pointers

In the heart of Silicon Valley, Pierre Omidyar embarked on a mission that would redefine online commerce. In 1995, he birthed eBay Inc., envisioning a global marketplace for the exchange of goods and services. This visionary act began with an unexpected muse – a broken laser pointer, the first item ever listed. What seemed like an odd choice held a profound spiritual lesson: within imperfection lies hidden value.

Who the heck would want a broken laser pointer? Lo and behold, Omidyar got a bid for USD 14.83. He could scarcely believe his eyes, and hence wrote back to the bidder, who confirmed thus: “Yes, I am a collector of broken laser pointers”.

Incredible no?

This narrative mirrors the essence of our human journey. In our flaws and imperfections, there lies untapped potential waiting to be unearthed. Omidyar’s broken laser pointer became a symbol, reminding us that our own perceived ‘brokenness’ can be the catalyst for realizing our boundless potential.

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Intellectual difference

Here’s a question that was raised recently. “What is the difference between a sanyasi and a tyaagi?”

Honestly, I had not a clue, even though I faintly remembered reading about it somewhere, or listening to it during some talk.

Lord Krishna discusses sanyaasa and tyaaga in the 18th chapter of the Gita.

According to some experts, sanyasi means one who renounces everything. While a tyaagi only renounces the doership of the action, and of course the fruits associated with it.

Some experts suggest sanyasis and tyagis are effectively the same.

Other experts find other variations.

Which is correct? Maybe it doesn’t matter. Many concepts of spirituality are incredibly esoteric, and can leave the mind spinning. Unless intellectual debate is one’s profession, it’s probably much better to begin giving up doership and the fruits. But maybe that is even harder than simply intellectualizing things!

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Energetically yours

Came across a very interesting thought. It’s not radical or new. But a different perspective on the same thing.

Who is God?

Most will describe him as an old man with a flowing beard. No, not Santa Claus, although he does fit the description.

Said God apparently gets angry when we do bad things. And if we do good things, then he rewards us.

But is that how we have experienced God? Hardly.

A better way to think of this is that God is just energy. He is the energy that created all of Creation. He is also the one that sustains all of it, and eventually leads to destruction and recycling.

So if everything is God’s energy, what are we doing about it? If we do bad things, then God’s energy gets suppressed. But if we do good things, we practice gratitude, we are kind to others, we are empathetic and compassionate, then we automatically become free flowing channels of God’s energy. Isn’t that incredible?

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Happiness pointers

Happiness is not a destination, it’s a direction.

Happiness is not a style, it’s a skill.

Happiness is not a possession, but a state of mind.

Happiness is not in perfection, but in acceptance.

Happiness is not avoiding pain, but embracing growth.

Happiness is not about having, but about appreciating.

Happiness is not driven by luck, but by choice.

Happiness is not tomorrow or today, it’s now!

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Do we really own anything? All the money of the richest people in the world. Where will that go when they die? In today’s digital currency age, all that moolah can’t even be printed to take to the grave.

Do we really own anything then? Not in the least. We are merely temporary caretakers of Creation. Of what is already Created by God aka the Creator aka Divine Consciousness.

If we truly accept that we are only caretakers, then we would not stress so much about everything. We would be able to give to those deserving and destitute far more easily.

And whatever is left after we give, that too becomes blessed. Because there too it is the same caretaking principle. A branch when cut from the tree, dies in a few days. But a branch which continues to allow divine energy to flow through experiences the bliss of creation.

Every single thing we have is part of a larger cosmic canvas. If we train ourselves to recognize this, we will automatically see all our problems receding, and all the bliss of the Creator flowing unto us.

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Escape and not – part 5 of 5

In a world often driven by materialism and self-interest, Eddie Jaku’s words serve as a refreshing reminder of what truly matters. In his memoir, “The Happiest Man on Earth,” Eddie shares a profound lesson he learned from his father: “Kindness is the greatest wealth of all. Small acts of kindness last longer than a lifetime.”

Eddie’s father emphasized that kindness, generosity, and faith in one’s fellow man are more valuable than any monetary wealth. This lesson became a guiding principle for Eddie, shaping his interactions and relationships throughout his life. He shares a simple yet profound mantra: “May you always have lots of love to share, lots of good health to spare, and lots of good friends who care.”

In a world that has witnessed the depths of human cruelty, Eddie’s message is a beacon of hope. He encourages us to cherish and spread love, to appreciate the gift of health, and to nurture genuine friendships. His life story is a testament to the transformative power of kindness, even in the face of unimaginable adversity.

Eddie’s journey demonstrates that while life may present challenges, it is our response to these challenges that defines us. By choosing kindness, love, and understanding, we can create a legacy that outlives us, touching the hearts and lives of generations to come.

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Escape and not – part 4 of 5

In his memoir, “The Happiest Man on Earth,” Eddie Jaku reflects on the profound impact of perspective. After enduring the horrors of the Holocaust, he could have easily succumbed to bitterness and despair. Instead, Eddie chose a path of positivity and gratitude. He writes, “I have a belief that if you have good morale, if you can hang onto hope, your body can do miraculous things. Tomorrow will come.”

Eddie’s philosophy is proof of the strength of the human spirit. Despite the immense suffering he faced, he recognized the importance of hope and the power of a positive outlook. He believed that even in the darkest moments, there’s always a glimmer of light.

His message is clear: cherish every moment, embrace the good and the bad, and always choose happiness. As Eddie beautifully puts it, “Life is beautiful if you let it be. Happiness is in your hands.”

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Escape and not – part 3 of 5

Eddie further recounts a harrowing journey he endured once on a train to Buchenwald. Packed into open wagons and exposed to the biting cold, survival seemed impossible. Yet, even in those dire circumstances, Eddie and his fellow prisoners found a way to stay warm. They crafted a large blanket from their jackets, huddling together, only their heads peeking out, as snow piled on top.

But it wasn’t just the cold they had to contend with; hunger gnawed at them constantly.

And then, a glimmer of hope: as the train passed through Czechoslovakia, kind-hearted women ran alongside, throwing loaves of bread to the starving prisoners. It wasn’t much, but even a morsel of bread symbolized more than sustenance. It was a testament to the enduring spirit of humanity, a beacon of hope in the darkest of times.

Eddie’s story is as a powerful message that even in the face of immense cruelty and adversity, acts of kindness can shine through. It underscores the belief that hope, fuelled by the compassion of strangers, can be a lifeline in our most desperate moments.

Meanwhile, we need to question our own supposed sadness and depression. Given our lives are infinitely better than Eddie’s, do we have a reason to be sad, even for one second?

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Escape and not – part 2 of 5

Another story unfolds in the grim surroundings of a concentration camp, where Eddie was forced to work on machinery. Every day, he was chained to his machine, with only a drunk and abusive guard for company. The guard’s cruelty seemed boundless, but life had a twist in store for Eddie.

One day, Eddie was summoned by the man in charge of the factory, a man named Goh. Expecting reprimand or worse, Eddie was taken aback when Goh, with tears in his eyes, revealed that he had been a prisoner of war with Eddie’s father during the First World War.

Goh expressed his deep sorrow for the atrocities Eddie was enduring and, while he couldn’t help him escape, he promised Eddie something invaluable: sustenance. From that day on, Eddie found extra food hidden in his machine, a small act of kindness in a world devoid of humanity.

Eddie’s encounter with Goh is a testament to the unexpected places where kindness can be found. It’s a reminder that even in the darkest corners of human history, there are glimmers of hope and humanity. As they say, it’s always darkest before dawn.

More tomorrow!

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Escape and not – part 1 of 5

In his book “The Happiest Man on Earth,” Eddie Jaku shares his deeply moving experiences as a Holocaust survivor. Among the many tales of resilience and hope, some stand out: Eddie’s audacious escape from the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Auschwitz, a grim symbol of the Holocaust, was a place where hope was a scarce commodity. Yet, Eddie, with his indomitable spirit, devised a plan. Hidden inside a drum, he was smuggled out of the camp on a truck. However, the joy of freedom was fleeting. Still wearing the Auschwitz uniform, he became a target in a world that might not always show kindness.

In search of refuge, Eddie approached a house, hoping for sanctuary. Instead, he was greeted with gunshots, a stark reminder of the era’s deep-rooted fear and prejudice. Injured and with dwindling options, Eddie made a heart-wrenching decision: to return to Auschwitz. Using the returning workers as cover, he seamlessly re-entered the camp, his brief stint of freedom now a haunting memory.

The same Eddie has written a book titled “The Happiest Man on Earth”. If we were to go through an ordeal 1/1000th as bad as his, would we even be able to smile, let alone write a book on happiness?

Continued tomorrow!

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In a recent interview of monk-Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the interviewer asked him a simple question.

“Do you think you were lucky to have met your spiritual Guru?’

Pat came Yogi ji’s reply.

Janmjanmantar ka prarabdh hai yeh.

Which means that him meeting his Guru was no accident, but many lifetimes of accumulated karma!

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This was the word used by a David Von Drehle, an award-winning journalist. What was he talking about? Youngsters, of course ????

But it’s equally relevant for anyone else too.

David’s latest book, “The Book of Charlie: Wisdom from the Remarkable American Life of a 109 Year-Old Man,” is a best-seller about resilience and what it means to live well.

He says that people are complexifiers, always trying to complicate everything. How true isn’t it?

He agrees that sometimes life can indeed seem very complicated.

But how to un-complicate it?

By simply spreading kindness, generosity and joy. That’s it.

Profound, and worth thinking over many times.

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Mind test

Here’s an interesting exercise.

Imagine a person suspects terminal illness. So they go to the hospital and get some check-ups done.

All day and all night, they are unable to eat, sleep or work properly, constantly consumed by the anxiety of what the report might contain. Will it be 12 months to live? Or even lesser?

And then the report comes.

The doc gives an “All clear”. Nothing to worry about.

All the problems of the world have suddenly vanished. Eating, sleeping, working have instantaneously become joyful activities.

But what changed? There was no terminal illness before the test, and no terminal illness after the test. Just the mind…

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The most critical definitions

There are two global epidemics that the world is facing today.

Nope, Covid isn’t one of them.

The first is depression. And the second is anxiety.

We all feel anxious and / or depressed at some point.

Here’s the simplest and most profound definitions I’ve heard of these two terms, which I came across recently on a podcast by David Von Drehle.

Depression = regret for things of the past.

Anxiety = fear of things of the future.

Deceptively simple, yet 100% true!

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With any problem in our lives, we pray for a solution.

What is this solution?

To magically make the problem go away of course.

To change the playing field, to change the circumstances, to change the experience itself.

But is that really a solution? Is that really a lasting solution?

What is the ideal solution then?

To pray to change not the circumstance, but to change me!

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The SHIELD to happiness

Was watching a video by an enthusiastic and energetic 75-years young Alvin Foo. The gentleman was asked how he maintains such good health. And his answer was golden. He said he lives his life by the acronym SHIELD. What is SHIELD?

“S” for Sleep: 7 hours. Prioritize rest, allowing the body and mind renewal for each day’s vigor.

“H” for Handling Stress: such as via meditation to conquer challenges with a calm mind.

“I” for Interaction: Cultivating relationships (friends and family) to uplift and dispel isolation.

“E” for Exercise: Keeping agile and energetic by embracing movement you enjoy.

“L” for Learn: Fueling your mind with new knowledge, keeping curiosity alive.

“D” for Diet: Nourishing your body with vitality-enhancing foods.

Simple and doable!

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Real reality

  • The recipe is not the dish.
  • The plan is not the journey.
  • The blueprint is not the building.
  • The script is not the performance.
  • The idea is not the execution.
  • The schedule is not the event.
  • The description is not the experience

What do these mean?

That at some point, no matter all the theory, it is only practice and execution that counts! A good lesson for me.

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No, this is not Dynamic TNT, although the message itself is far more explosive.

Someone analyzed the life of Abraham Lincoln. In one particular year, he was going through absolute hell. On the work front, he was absolutely being clobbered. His 11 year old son died. His wife went into depression.

And yet, Abe Lincoln came out successful.

How did he do it?

The answer lies in DTNT.

Do The Next Thing.

Stop being stuck to whatever problem is there, and move on. Do the next thing.

Such simple yet exceptional advice for me!

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Fun for fun’s sake

On a podcast that was discussing happiness, the speaker threw out two normal English words. One was ‘amateur’, and the other was ‘dilettante’.

The meanings of both words is somewhat similar, in that there is interest in a field, but perhaps limited expertise.

The podcast itself was all about how if we do more things that are new and experimental (such as learning a new sport, a new language, a new art or skill etc.), then the chances of being happy are very high. Why? Because while learning these activities, we become engrossed in the moment, and quit complaining about mundane issues.

What I loved then was the etymology of both those words.

Amateur apparently comes from amour, which is to love (your work), and dilettante comes from delight. What fun!

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Pray for what? – part 2 of 2

So what do we pray for then?

Perhaps many things, but what struck me as I was sitting quietly yesterday was the following:

1. Clarity. We are faced with innumerable choices all the time. How do we know which decision to make? Which choice is right? Hence I would pray for clarity, in all aspects of life.

2. Protection. There is so much of negativity all around us. So much of anger and hate and ego and malice. Who is protecting us all the time, if not the grace of the Guru and the blessings of God?

But what do the self-realized souls pray for?

Simply for the well being and happiness of others, always!

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Pray for what? – part 1 of 2

What should we really pray for? We mostly pray for money and promotions and good health and good marks and success in various tasks we set out to do.

Are these the things we should be praying for? Of course, we can pray for anything we want, and no one can force us otherwise.

But all of the above things are purely material and short term, aren’t they? Except health of course. But health too is largely in our hands. If we stuff ourselves with processed garbage that is ubiquitous today, then what will our health be like if not garbage?

So then what else can we pray for?

Concluded tomorrow!

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Heard this in a cool TED talk clip. A very strong lesson and takeaway for me.

The speaker had observed children’s habits closely, and shared an anecdote.

In a drawing class, an otherwise uninterested-in-school 6-year-old was keenly drawing something. When the teacher went to the child and asked her what she was drawing, the girl replied, “I’m drawing God”.

To which the teacher said, “But no one knows how God looks like.”

Pat came the reply, “They will, in a minute!”

The takeaway?

Kids don’t care about being wrong. That’s why they learn so much in such a short time, like picking up new languages, without a care in the world of what others think!

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8Rules (part four): The Everlasting Journey of Love

In the concluding chapters from Jay Shetty’s “8 Rules of Love,” we are introduced to a powerful and uplifting perspective on love’s boundless nature. The eighth rule, “Love Again and Again,” is a celebration of love’s infinite potential. Love isn’t a one-time experience or confined to a single chapter of our lives. It is not a finite resource. It’s an ever-evolving journey, filled with countless opportunities to love, learn, and grow.

Shetty encourages us to view love as a continuous process, not limited by past experiences or future apprehensions. Every interaction, every shared moment, and even every setback is an opportunity to practice love. It’s about opening our hearts, breaking down barriers, and embracing the world with renewed passion and hope. Whether it’s the love between partners, the love for a friend, or the love for oneself, every form of love is valuable and transformative.

This rule is a reminder that our capacity to love is limitless. No matter the challenges we’ve faced or the heartbreaks we’ve endured, there’s always room to love again. It’s about recognizing love’s boundless beauty and allowing it to guide us through life’s many twists and turns.

In this boundless journey, every day presents a fresh canvas, allowing us to paint a new chapter in our ever-evolving love story, filled with hope, passion, and endless possibilities.

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8Rules (part three): The Resilience and Renewal of Love

The sixth rule, “Win or Lose Together,” is a testament to the resilience and unity required in love. Relationships aren’t always about sunny days and calm seas; there are storms to weather and challenges to face. But it’s not the challenges themselves that define a relationship; it’s how we face them. Do we let them pull us apart, or do we face them hand in hand, united in our resolve? Jay Shetty emphasizes the importance of solidarity in love. It’s about standing together, supporting each other, and emerging from challenges stronger and more connected.

But what happens when, despite our best efforts, love takes a different turn? The seventh rule, “You Don’t Break in a Breakup,” offers solace and hope. Breakups, while painful, are not the end. They can be a new beginning, a chance for introspection, growth, and self-renewal. Shetty reminds us that endings can also be opportunities. They offer a unique chance to rediscover oneself, to reflect on the relationship, and to prepare for a brighter, more informed future in love.

Together, these rules teach us about the resilience of love and the strength that can be found in both togetherness and endings.

Rule 8, and conclusion tomorrow!

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8Rules (part two): Navigating the Depths of Love

In the continuation of Jay Shetty’s “8 Rules of Love,” we are introduced to the third rule, which challenges our very perception of love. What is love? Is it just a fleeting transient emotion, or is it something deeper, more profound?

Shetty prompts us to “Define Love Before You Think It, Feel It, or Say It.” It’s a call to introspection, urging us to articulate this complex emotion. Love transcends the physical passion and the initial fluttering butterflies. It’s about shared dreams, mutual respect, and a deep, unspoken bond that ties two souls together. Now what you expected no?

As we traverse this path, the fourth rule shines a spotlight on the role of our partners in our love journey. Titled “Your Partner Is Your Guru,” this rule is a testament to the invaluable lessons we glean from our significant others. They become mirrors to our souls, reflecting our strengths, highlighting our vulnerabilities, and constantly pushing us towards personal growth. Through the ups and downs, the joys and challenges, our partners teach us about love, life, and most importantly, about ourselves.

Embracing these lessons can transform our love life into a journey of continuous learning and growth, where every moment spent with our partner becomes an opportunity for self-discovery.

Continued tomorrow, and day after!

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8Rules (part one): The Foundations of Love

In Jay Shetty’s interesting book, “8 Rules of Love,” he delves deep into the intricacies of love, unraveling its many layers.

The first rule he introduces is the significance of solitude. Contrary to popular belief, solitude isn’t about feeling isolated or lonely. Instead, it’s about valuing introspection, taking time to understand oneself, and laying the groundwork for genuine love. Through self-reflection, we discover our deepest desires, confront our fears, and prepare ourselves for the love we truly deserve.

Shetty then introduces the second rule, emphasizing the role of karma in our love lives. Every action we take, every choice we make, and every relationship we’ve had leaves an indelible mark on our souls (across multiple janmas or births I’d think!). These past experiences shape our present and future, influencing how we approach love. Recognizing and understanding this karmic journey is essential. It’s a profound lesson in accountability, teaching us that our past actions, both good and bad, play a pivotal role in our current relationships.

Together, these two rules set the stage for a love that’s both introspective and expansive. They remind us that genuine love starts with understanding oneself and acknowledging the forces that have shaped our love journey.

More rules, tomorrow!

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Secret ingredient

Now I’m no cook. I know next to nothing about the kitchen. A few dishes to survive? Sure, I can whip something up so that I won’t starve. But serve my cooking to others? Wouldn’t do it to my worst enemy even! With that simple disclaimer out of the way, an interesting book is “Masala Lab” by Krish Ashok. And within it lies a tale that resonates with every culinary enthusiast. Readers are gracefully led into a traditional kitchen, where generations-old recipes are passed down with love and care.

As the author meticulously lists the ingredients for a crispy multi-lentil pancake – adai as it is known in South India and specifically in Tamil Nadu – a profound revelation emerges. The grandmother, a character brimming with wisdom, introduces a secret ingredient that transcends the tangible: Patience.

Through this narrative, Ashok captures the essence of cooking as an art, where patience isn’t just a virtue but a vital ingredient. In our modern world, where instant gratification is often sought, this story is a poignant reminder of the timeless values that form the foundation of great cooking, whether in the kitchen, or as a recipe for one’s own success!

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A spider’s tenacity

Stan Lee, the legendary comic creator, once faced skepticism when he pitched an unconventional superhero idea. “I saw a fly on a wall and thought, what if a superhero could stick to walls? And thus Spider-Man was born,” he reminisced.

But challenges awaited. Stan’s vision of a teenage superhero with personal problems was met with stark criticism. “People hate spiders. Teenagers are sidekicks, not protagonists. Superheroes don’t have personal problems,” his publisher retorted.

In a twist of fate, Stan decided to feature Spider-Man in a magazine on the verge of cancellation. The result? Overwhelming success. His publisher, once a critic, now wanted Spider-Man as a series.

Stan’s journey underscores a powerful message. That if we have an idea we genuinely believe in, don’t let naysayers get in the way. In Stan’s words, “Just do your thing. Do it as well as you can. That’s what truly matters.”

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Work perk

On a recent trip to a beautiful but politically-charged place, I couldn’t help but notice the substantial presence of army officers and patrols.

They’ve been placed there for good reason of course.

But my heart went out to them – for their courage and sacrifice, all to keep the rest of the country safe and sound.

Are they different in any way? They too are human. But their postings are in far flung areas, often involving standing for hours together, holding heavy guns, ever ready to thwart a terrorist attack. Do they see family often? Not at all. Do they get to savour relationships? Hardly.

Yes, it is a job, and a very hard one that needs to be done. I cannot do it, as I wouldn’t be able to last a day in their grueling circumstances. But we can pray for them – as my Guru does – for their safety and well being, which is more critical than any other work perk.

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Often I’ve seen well-off folks haggle with poor roadside vendors and hawkers, even for chump change.

To an outsider, it might seem trivial, a petty argument over mere cents. But to the haggler, it seems like a battle worth fighting.

Why would someone do this? Maybe because when our lives lack significant worries, we inflate the importance of trivial matters? We focus on the loose coins of our lives, ignoring the wealth of happiness and peace that surrounds us.

The haggling with roadside vendors is simply a euphemism. There may be many such irrelevant and minor things which take up too much of our time, but which we should perhaps wean away from.

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Granted genius

Many years ago, a young Angela Duckworth (today author of bestselling book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance) heard a phrase that would shape her life. Her father, in his candid manner, would often tell her, “You know, you’re no genius!” This statement, far from discouraging her, sparked a flame of determination. She only saw a challenge to prove him wrong.

Angela’s journey was not an easy one. She faced numerous obstacles and setbacks, but she remained undeterred. She pursued her passion for psychology, eventually becoming a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. There, she dedicated her work to studying grit and self-control, two attributes she believed were critical to success.

Her father’s words echoed in her mind as she delved deeper into her research. She realized that success was not solely dependent on innate talent or intelligence. Instead, it was the result of passion and perseverance, the very qualities she had demonstrated throughout her life.

Angela’s story is a testament to the power of grit. Despite being told she was “no genius”, she went on to win a MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the “Genius Grant” – how ironic isn’t it?

How do we each react in the face of adversity? That’s a good answer to have!

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GP when?

When is Guru Purnima? Depends on the lunar calendar yada yada.

But in this year’s GP celebrations some time ago, a satsangi simply listed the following 3 conditions to figure out if we are on Guru Purnima day or not.

1. We feel the grace of the Guru around us

2. We feel gratitude for the blessings of our Guru

3. We are engaged in some activity which involves remembrance of the Guru

The beauty of these 3 conditions is that every single day can be Guru Purnima… and so it should!

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The Laws of Human Nature – part 6 of 6

Continuing the last 3 laws/takeaways from the book called the Laws of Human Nature by author Robert Greene.

  1. The Law of Aimlessness – Without a clear purpose or direction, we drift through life. We must find our life’s aim and pursue it with determination.
  2. The Law of Self-NarcissismSelf-love can blind us to our faults. We need to be aware of our own narcissism and strive for a more balanced self-image.
  3. The Law of RashnessActing without thinking can lead to disaster. We should take time to reflect before making decisions, especially important ones.

    That’s a wrap – an excellent and big book of 18 laws summarized into a few lines. Hope you enjoyed reading, and find the applications useful in daily life!
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The Laws of Human Nature – part 5 of 6

Continuing the takeaways from the book called the Laws of Human Nature by author Robert Greene.

  1. The Law of FlatteryFlattery can be a powerful tool, but it must be used wisely. Insincere or excessive praise can be seen as manipulative.
  2. The Law of Grandiosity Overestimating our abilities can lead to dangerous overconfidence. We need to stay grounded and realistic in our self-assessment.
  3. The Law of Gender RigidityGender roles can limit our understanding of ourselves and others. We must embrace the full range of human qualities within us, regardless of gender.

    Continued tomorrow…
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The Laws of Human Nature – part 4 of 6

Continuing the takeaways from the book called the Laws of Human Nature by author Robert Greene.

  1. The Law of Infection – Emotions are contagious. We are influenced by the moods and ideas of the people we spend time with. We need to be mindful of the company we keep and the ideologies we adopt.
  2. The Law of the Endless ChainEvery action has consequences that extend far beyond the immediate moment. If we understand the chain of cause and effect, we can better predict and control the future.
  3. The Law of Non-EngagementSometimes, the best way to win is not to fight. We can avoid getting emotionally entangled in other people’s problems and conflicts.

    Continued tomorrow…
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The Laws of Human Nature – part 3 of 6

Continuing the takeaways from the book called the Laws of Human Nature by author Robert Greene.

  1. The Law of DefensivenessThis chapter discusses the human tendency to become defensive when challenged. It advises us to be aware of this trait and to use it to our advantage in conflict and negotiation situations.
  2. The Law of Self-SabotageThis law highlights the human tendency to sabotage our own success due to fear and insecurity. It encourages us to recognize and overcome these self-defeating behaviours.
  3. The Law of RepressionThis law discusses the human tendency to repress uncomfortable emotions and memories. It advises us to confront and process these feelings to achieve emotional health and stability.

    Continued tomorrow…
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The Laws of Human Nature – part 2 of 6

Continuing the takeaways from the book called the Laws of Human Nature by author Robert Greene.

  1. The Law of Compulsive BehaviourThis law discusses the repetitive patterns in human behavior. It encourages us to recognize these patterns in ourselves and others, and to use this knowledge to predict future behaviour.
  2. The Law of CovetousnessThis chapter discusses the human tendency to desire what others have. It advises us to be aware of this trait and to use it to our advantage in negotiations and power dynamics.
  3. The Law of ShortsightednessThis law highlights the human tendency to focus on immediate gains rather than long-term benefits. It encourages us to think ahead and consider the long-term consequences of our actions.

    As we can see, each law is relevant and power-packed, and the gist is contained above. It just needs some thoughtful reflection and conscious work for self-transformation. Continued tomorrow…
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The Laws of Human Nature – part 1 of 6

There’s a very interesting book called the Laws of Human Nature by author Robert Greene. What is the book about? Well, the title is obviously a bit of a giveaway. And it is very detailed and profound. So I thought to summarize the takeaways from each of the 18 laws in it. And we’ll do it using another rule – the rule of 3s, because it is said that the human mind can’t remember or digest more than 3 things at once!

  1. The Law of Irrationality – This law emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and rationality. Our emotions make us irrational. So the law encourages us to understand our emotions and biases, and to use this understanding to make more rational decisions.
  2. The Law of Narcissism – This law highlights the human tendency towards self-obsession and the need for validation. It advises us to be aware of this trait in ourselves and others, and to use it to our advantage in social situations.
  3. The Law of Role-playing – This chapter discusses the importance of understanding the roles people play in society. It encourages us to see beyond these roles to understand people’s true intentions and motivations.

    Continued tomorrow…
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Shooting for the loon

It’s outstanding that India was able to send a rocket and rover to the Moon for less than a hundred mil. This when other countries have done it for billions. Of course there are differences in the way the launch was planned and the time taken to reach the destination. But this is, after all, truly rocket science, and I’m surely not a rocket scientist, not even a scientist.

But what struck me as amazing was how all the rocket scientists at ISRO prayed at various temples before the launch.

Why should they pray? They are people of science no? They are more scientists than many other classes of scientists perhaps. They can’t get away from anything like I do by saying, “Hey this is rocket science!”

They pray perhaps because despite knowing so much about science, they still acknowledge that there is too much they do not know. And a billion things that they cannot control. The prayer gives them strength and hope. It may or may not give them a successful rocket mission. But it wouldn’t matter, because they would always be giving their best, no matter the outcome.

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Self studying or studying self?

Each life unfolds like a rich tapestry of truths, some steadfast and others transient, reflecting our evolving understanding. Wisdom from the Rig Ved encapsulates this beautifully— ‘Ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti’, implying the truth is singular, but the learned describe it in countless ways.

Life, in essence, showcases our judgments— floating like transient bubbles on water’s surface— as reality. Yet, with time, we discern the difference between our ephemeral judgments and enduring truth.

This understanding paves the way for ‘swadhyay’, a profound practice of self-study. It’s not just about immersing oneself in scriptures, but about diving deep within, studying our own ‘self’. As we throw light on our inner consciousness, we unlock our true essence, realizing the singular truth within us.

Swadhyay aids our transformation, shedding light on our evolution— from past notions to growing wisdom, from rigid patterns to adaptive behaviors, from a defined sense of belonging to its dynamic expansion. It facilitates our blossoming, guiding us towards an enlightened state of existence.

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The Pratfall Effect

Think perfection is good? Think others will like you if you are perfect?

In Jonah Berger’s insightful book “Magic Words”, he introduces us to a fascinating psychological phenomenon known as the “Pratfall Effect”. This concept revolves around the idea that our minor blunders and mishaps can actually enhance our likability.

Berger illustrates this concept through an intriguing experiment. A group of students were introduced to a trivia contestant (an actor in reality). This contestant was portrayed in two different scenarios – as highly competent, answering most quiz questions correctly, and as less impressive, answering only a few correctly. In both scenarios, the contestant clumsily spilled coffee on his suit.

The results were surprising. The competent contestant, despite his blunder, became more likable. His mistake humanized him, making him more relatable and endearing. This is the essence of the Pratfall Effect. It shows us that our imperfections can be our assets, making us more human and approachable.

So, the next time you stumble or make a mistake, remember the Pratfall Effect. It’s these little imperfections that make us who we are, and often, they make us more likable. So we can embrace our pratfalls oops I mean pitfalls, for they are a part of our unique charm, while always working on our competence of course!

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Love-it Post-it

In the realm of innovation, sometimes the most groundbreaking ideas come from the most unexpected places. Take the humble Post-it note, for instance. This ubiquitous tool, found in offices and homes worldwide, was born out of a ‘mistake’.

Spencer Silver, a chemist at 3M, was on a mission to create a super-strong adhesive for the aerospace industry. But, as life would have it, he ended up with a weak, pressure-sensitive adhesive that could be easily removed. It was far from what he intended, but Silver knew he had stumbled upon something unique.

For five years, he championed his ‘failed’ experiment within 3M, sharing his discovery in formal presentations and casual water cooler conversations. Yet, no one knew what to do with it. It was a solution waiting for a problem to solve.

Enter Art Fry, another 3M scientist, who attended one of Silver’s seminars. Fry, a choir singer, was grappling with a minor yet nagging issue – his bookmarks kept falling out of his hymnal. Eureka! What if he could use Silver’s adhesive on his bookmarks? They would stick without causing any damage. He tried it, and voila, it worked!

The Post-it note was born, not out of a meticulously planned project, but from a ‘failed’ experiment and a choir singer’s frustration. Maybe making mistakes and getting frustrated could be our recipe towards the next great thing – who knows!

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Primal Desire

In an enlightening podcast by Dr. Vineet Aggarwal, an expert on spirituality, he shares a profound explanation of life’s beginnings and the purpose of existence. It’s a journey into the heart of our ancient scriptures, the Puranas, which speak of a ‘Primal Desire’. This desire is not about possession or control, but a divine yearning to multiply, to expand.

Consider this – why is companionship sought? Or after finding companionship, why do couples decide to have children? The presence of another enriches life, allows the experience of love in its purest form. The scriptures say that God is the essence of love, not a stern taskmaster as often portrayed, but the embodiment of pure, unconditional love.

To experience this love, to truly revel in its depth and beauty, there needs to be ‘another’. Love is a salsa that requires a partner. It’s in this divine dance of love that individual beings come into existence.

God, in His/Her infinite love, manifests as multiple beings, each a unique expression of this divine love. This Primal Desire to experience love is at the heart of creation.

So, when pondering the purpose of existence, we might do well to remember this – born out of love, living to experience love, and in love, finding purpose. Not merely creations of the divine, but expressions of divine love.

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Tabling the conversation

Once upon a time, in the magical world of Pixar, there was a long, skinny table. This table, the silent observer of countless meetings, had a secret power. It shaped the dynamics of the discussions that took place around it.

The folks at Pixar, led by the visionary Ed Catmull, believed in the power of unhindered communication. But they soon realized that their table was playing tricks on them. Those sitting at the ends felt like their voices didn’t matter, while the ones in the middle seats seemed to have an unfair advantage. The table was creating a hierarchy that was contrary to Pixar’s core belief.

Ed decided to challenge the status quo. He replaced the long, skinny table with a more intimate square version, where everyone could interact equally. And just like that, the table lost its secret power, which was a great thing. The conversations became more inclusive, and the ideas flowed freely.

But old habits die hard. The place cards, symbols of the old hierarchy, still adorned the new table. It took the audacious act of Andrew Stanton, one of Pixar’s directors, to finally break this tradition. He shuffled the place cards, declaring, “We don’t need these anymore!” And with that, the last vestiges of the old hierarchy vanished.

This tale from Pixar’s early days is telling of how our environment subtly shapes our interactions. It also teaches us that solving a problem isn’t just about addressing the main issue. It’s about uprooting all the smaller problems that sprout from it.

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Oh my G

We watched the Bollywood movie Oh My God or OMG again today, just like that. The movie is a profound exploration of our relationship with divinity. It challenges us to rethink our understanding of religion and spirituality, using the protagonist, Kanji, as our guide.

One of the most powerful dialogues in the movie is when Kanji says, “I don’t reject God, I reject the God that you have created.”

This is a stark reminder that God is not a commodity to be bought and sold, but a divine presence to be felt and experienced, and available to all.

Kanji’s journey is a testament to the power of faith, not in rituals or idols, but in the goodness of our hearts. As he says, “God is everywhere, but people say he is only in the temple.” This dialogue underscores the message that God is not confined to places of worship, but resides in every act of kindness and love.

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Does experience count?

Yes and no.

Not a good enough answer? I couldn’t agree more!

Someone asked this question on an Adam Grant podcast recently, and I thought the answer was brilliant.

Does experience matter? Of course it does. Someone with a few years of experience in pretty much anything will probably at least be less worse than if they were starting a job completely afresh.

But can this be extrapolated to mean that someone with say 20 years of experience is necessarily better than someone with only 5?

Here’s where the answer was outstanding. And the answer is “no”. How? Because as Adam concluded, it is not about the experience itself that matters, but reflecting on the experience which brings about the transformation. And that is all that counts.

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The Universe’s Blueprint

James Maxwell, renowned for his groundbreaking work in formulating the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation, was not just a scientist but also a man of deep faith. He once crafted a model of the solar system, setting it in motion in his study room. A close friend and fellow scientist, who happened to be an atheist, was intrigued by the model. “This is amazing! Who made it?” he asked. Maxwell, with a twinkle in his eye, replied, “Nobody made it. I was working on my table when I heard an explosion. I turned around and saw this had been created.”

His friend scoffed, “How ridiculous! How can this be created by an explosion? Someone must have definitely made it.”

Maxwell, seizing the moment, retorted, “My friend, you are not willing to believe that a little model of the solar system could be created by itself. And you want me to believe that the real universe, consisting of many such solar systems, has come into existence without a Creator. If it is logical to believe that someone has created this model, it is also common-sensical to conclude that the real world must have a Creator too.”

This story serves as a reminder of the intricate design and order of the universe, pointing towards the existence of a Creator. It’s a tale that invites us to ponder on the grandeur of the cosmos and the divine intelligence that might be at play behind its creation. If even those who have deeply studied the laws of the universe, like Maxwell, can hold a space for faith and the divine, why shouldn’t we?

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Selfish and awful

In the amazing new Christopher Nolan movie Oppenheimer, there are several outstanding scenes and dialogues. No spoilers here, but one particular dialogue was super.

In a moment of personal tragedy and difficulty, the protagonist approaches his friend for help. He knows his life is in a shambles, and he remarks, “We are selfish and awful people, but please help us.”

To which his friend counters, “Truly selfish and awful people never admit that they are selfish and awful.”

The power of words!

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The power of ‘I’

In the realm of communication, the power of ‘I’ is often underestimated. In his insightful book “Magic Words”, Jonah Berger explores how the use of ‘I’ can shape our interactions and perceptions, turning it into a tool for ownership and authenticity.

Berger suggests that using ‘I’ can make communication more personal and authentic. When we say “I found that…”, it makes it clear who did the work. It’s a way of taking ownership of our actions and thoughts. It’s a way of saying, ‘This is my perspective. This is my contribution.’

However, Berger also notes that using ‘I’ can make the findings seem more subjective. It raises questions about the universality of our findings. Would anyone else have found the same thing, or are our findings based on the choices we made while conducting the project?

So, the use of ‘I’ is a double-edged sword. It can enhance the authenticity of our communication, but it can also introduce a level of subjectivity. The key is to use it judiciously, depending on the context and the message we want to convey.

Now, you might be thinking, ‘Isn’t the use of ‘I’ a sign of egotism?’ It’s a common perception, but Berger offers a different perspective. He suggests that the use of ‘I’ is not about promoting oneself but about taking responsibility. It’s about saying, ‘I am accountable for this.’

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Chill to thrill

Feeling swamped under a pile of tasks? Experiencing stress from information overload? In such times, Cal Newport’s “Deep Work” suggests an inviting solution – let’s disconnect to reconnect. We can step aside, immerse ourselves in gardening, yoga, or cooking.

Such calming pursuits provide a necessary interlude, allowing our minds to recharge and reboot. When we return to the task at hand, it’s not unusual to find fresh perspectives dawning.

Remember Newton’s epiphany under the apple tree? A moment of leisure birthed a profound scientific insight.

Thus, we should not hesitate to step out of our routine grind. By opening ourselves to the unexpected (or even just setting aside time for the mundane walks and baths), we pave the way for creativity to flourish.

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The art of praising

Is praise always good? Yes it is, because it is better than criticising someone or complaining about someone.

But is there a good way and a bad way to praise someone? Yes there is apparently.

An example is while praising kids. Singling out one kid and praising that kid alone for a correct answer is a bad way. Why? Because the kid feels rewarded for his knowledge of that one answer. This is good, but no one knows everything. At the same time, the other kids who may not have have known that one answer will feel left out.

A better way of praising is to acknowledge and call out the behaviour and the effort. Such as commending them for participating in the class. Or praising the effort required to read up before the class. By focusing on the behaviours and efforts, the praise is far more sustainable too. Because it reinforces the need to continue such good behaviour, not just in that one person, but in everyone around them. And while one answer everyone may not know, a behaviour everyone can cultivate and effort – everyone can put in!

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Dancy dancy

Many toddlers love the idea of dancy dancy. Just dancing or prancing around or bum-shaking to some beats or music as though no one is watching. Ah, the bliss, even just for a watching passerby.

On the flip side, I can’t shake a leg even if held at gunpoint. The ear-limb coordination just does not exist. But my mind in this respect is as though of a different breed. It can dance all day and all night, and sway to pretty much any tune. Gossip somewhere? Okay let’s dance in that direction. Breaking news somewhere else? Okay let’s shimmy toward there now.

Indeed my mind might be the greatest dancer of all, never once sitting still. Which might sound like a contender for the Guinness Book of World Records, but on the path of meditation, it might score the lowest.

What is the solution? I have no idea. But maybe Osho’s thoughts below leave a clue?

Meditation is not anything of the mind, it is something beyond the mind. The first step is to be playful about it. It is a song to be sung, a dance to be danced. Take it as fun and you will be surprised: if you can be playful about meditation, meditation will grow in leaps and bounds... 
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Came across this interesting term called “ataraxia” by Greek philosopher Epicures. It means “not being troubled”.

Not being troubled by what? By anything. Not taking the whole world’s problems and putting it on our heads. Not constantly living in anxiety.

All we need is some food, water and shelter. That’s how we relax too, isn’t it. Nothing much else is required.

The mind is at peace only when it isn’t desperately looking to acquire something else.

As Nathaniel Hawthorne says, “Happiness is like a butterfly, which when pursued is always beyond our grasp, but if you sit still down quietly, may alight upon you.”

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Scientific spirituality

The world today only believes in what can be proven and replicated.

Several scientists and R&D experts perform countless experiments and these result in new discoveries and inventions and gadgets that ultimately end up in our homes and pockets.

The tech revolution is incredible, and it has helped humanity in unbelievable ways. What was meant only for the kings of yesteryear is now available to everyone.

All thanks to science. And scientists. No one scientist is responsible for everything, but collectively over the years, massive progress has been made.

But yet, there are many things science hasn’t fully understood, including the nature of life itself.

Spirituality has the answer, and maybe is itself the answer. But science appears to always be at loggerheads with spirituality.

This is not the case. The only difference is that technology can be outsourced to scientists. But in spirituality, we are each individually the scientist. The answer needs to be discovered by each one of us.

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Forcefully yours

Here’s an interesting thought I came across.

How do we steady the mind? How do we prevent it from having thoughts? By sleeping of course!

In sleep, all the thoughts of the awakened state, at least whatever we were thinking about just before sleeping, is all gone.

But can we force ourselves to sleep? Impossible. The more we force ourselves to sleep by thinking that we should sleep, the more active and stressed out our mind becomes!

The 4 states of the mind – active, sleeping, dreaming and dhyan (meditative and ‘awakened’) are all natural states. If we “try” to reach these states, then we effectively only prevent these states from happening.

What can we do then? Simply prepare conditions for these favorable states to come about (like ensure a fit body for instance!).

PS: Dhyan, according to Shri Durga Charan Mishra is when one is doing something and becomes one with that process, then it is a state of dhyan, meditation.

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Winning the lottery

In a book called Attitude is Everything by Jeff Keller, there is an interesting (and familiar!) story.

There was a woman named Sally. She was just like any of us, living her life, going through her daily routine. One day, she found herself feeling extremely tired. When asked how she was, she responded honestly, “I’m tired.” This simple statement reinforced her belief that she was tired, making her feel even more fatigued. Her day at work was unproductive, and she brought herself and her co-worker down with her negativity.

Later that day, Sally discovered she had won the lottery. In an instant, her fatigue vanished, replaced by an overwhelming sense of excitement and energy. She was no longer the tired woman from earlier in the day. She was now a bundle of energy, celebrating her win and planning what to do with her newfound wealth.

Was this transformation due to some physical change in Sally’s body? Absolutely not. In just a few seconds, her mindset shifted from exhaustion to exhilaration. As Jeff concludes, we each hold a winning lottery ticket. This ticket is called our attitude!

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Rejection dejection

All rejections are bad right? Maybe not…

The founders of Google wanted to sell the company for $1 million back in 1999. But they were rejected, and dejected. Today that company is worth some $1.5 trillion!

Netflix was to be sold to Blockbuster at $50m, but was rejected. Today it’s ~$200bn!

7 out of 7 investors rejected investing in Airbnb at an early stage. The company was worth not even a million. Today it’s some $100bn.

If these companies had not received their rejections, what would have happened?

Time to believe that rejections and suffering and pain are good, not bad, maybe even great. Because that is when the real growth happens.

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Great work

This is what we all want people around us to say to us. “Great work!”

But how can we do great work if we don’t like our work much? That’s what Paul Graham writes about in a recent post of his. Great advice.

He says that it’s a bit of a hit or miss, finding your so-called passion in life. If you find it, then you are among the rarest of the rare.

But what if you don’t, or haven’t yet?

Mr. Graham’s advice? Keep trying. Keep increasing the surface area for luck to find you. Don’t just drift along and hope for a eureka moment. Take action! Success stories often involve serendipity: chance meetings or stumbling upon the right book. Luck is the secret ingredient. How do you attract luck? Be curious!

In his own words:

"Try lots of things, meet lots of people, read lots of books, ask lots of questions." 
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What is the karmic reason behind…

On a recent podcast (or videocast interview maybe?) with Smriti Irani, an exceptionally talented and empathetic Union Cabinet Minister of India, she was asked an interesting and important question.

“Do you believe in the role of destiny, luck, karma, circumstance etc. in bringing you to where you are in life today?”

“Yes, I do”, pat came the reply.

The follow up. “Why do you think God chose you for this role?”

This answer came even faster. “I have no idea. And anyone who tells you they do is lying!”

“Do you think about this?”

This to me was the clincher. “Not at all. I just say thank you. Because this opportunity that I have, is not an opportunity to question ‘why'”

How extraordinary a response is that! Absolutely love it.

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Mind bound

Remember Mind Bind from just 3 years ago?

The Amritabindu Upanishad which my Guru keeps referencing (because it is so awesome!) says mana-eva kaaranam mokshaaya bandhaaya. The mind alone is the reason, for both liberation and bondage. Said simply, the mind is both the problem, and the solution.

He recently in a talk beautifully added a couple more rhyming words at the end.

mana-eva kaaranam mokshaaya bandhaaya

mana-eva kaaranam dukhaaya sukhhaaya

mana-eva kaaranam maanaaya apamaanaaya

mana-eva kaaranam sarva vishayaaya!

So simply profound!

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sf – part 4

When author Polina Pompliani interviewed Francis recently, she says she asked him, “Okay, but how did you bet on yourself, like your entire life?” And he replied, “The entire time that I was doing this, I kept asking myself, ‘What do I have to lose?’” And the answer was, “Nothing. I can just keep trying and betting on myself and gaining the skills and learning the lessons.”

What was her takeaway?

She says she discovered the utmost importance of believing in oneself, by embracing one’s passions and skills. It may be daunting, but taking that leap of faith is crucial. Despite the risks, Francis fearlessly pursued his dreams. Failure held no sway over him, as he possessed the resilience to adapt and persevere.

Francis added, “I know that if I fail, I can start over and over and over and over. I have that skill, and you can take everything from me, but you cannot take that.” And when Polina asked him if he identifies as ‘the heavyweight champion of the world’, Francis replied, “Absolutely not because there’ve been many before me and there’ll be many after me.”

What an outstanding story isn’t it? Thanks for reading!

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sf – part 3

After enduring countless setbacks, Francis refused to be deterred. On his fifth attempt, fate smiled upon him, and he successfully crossed the treacherous waters to reach Spain.

Though faced with a brief period of detention upon arrival, Francis remained steadfast, knowing that asylum was within his grasp.

From Spain, his journey led him to the vibrant streets of Paris. Homeless and destitute, he found refuge in the shelter of a humble parking garage. Despite its meagre surroundings, Francis saw it as a sanctuary — or rather a luxurious haven in comparison to the harrowing ordeals he had overcome and the home he had grown up in.

By a stroke of luck, Francis found a boxing gym nearby. A perceptive trainer recognized his potential. The gym closed soon after, but fate led him to the “MMA Factory.” Unfamiliar with MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), he embraced the challenge. With relentless training, he became the heavyweight champion. In just nine years, he transformed from novice to dominant force. He ventured to the US, making his mark in the UFC, leaving the world in awe.

What does he say today when he looks back? Concluded tomorrow!

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sf – part 2

Why “sf”? For San Francisco of course, because that was his dream. Maybe it helped that his name Francis was embedded in the name San Francisco as well, who knows!

At the age of 28 (just ten years ago, in 2013), he knew he wasn’t getting to America directly. So he set his sights on Europe first. Was that easy? Not at all.

From Cameroon to Niger, Nigeria to Algeria, and finally, Algeria to Morocco, he traversed over 3,000 miles through the unforgiving desert. The magnitude of this feat cannot be overstated—it was sheer madness. With unwavering determination, he set his sights on crossing from Morocco to Spain, boarding a raft to brave the treacherous waters of the Strait. But the path to freedom was riddled with obstacles. It took him a gruelling 14 months to complete this ridiculous journey, constantly facing the threat of being pulled from the water. The Moroccan authorities, known for their harsh treatment of refugees, would often cast them back into the merciless desert or confine them to indefinite periods in Moroccan jails.

This happened to him four times. Continued tomorrow!

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sf – part 1

Super story here, of one Francis Ngannou, who I never heard of until today.

In the MMA / UFC (fighting/boxing) world, he’s a world champion, but given I do not follow the sport, his story was a revelation in incredible perseverance to get to the top.

Francis was born in Cameroon. He was digging sand mines as a kid for $1.8 a day. ‘Abject poverty’ would barely begin to describe him.

His only dream? To become a professional boxer and that too in America. While working at the sand mines, he’d be daydreaming about the USA and his boxing success.

So much so that everyone around him called him “sf”, for San Francisco. Even till today, he signs his name as “sf”!

Continued tomorrow!

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Selfimage pilgrimage

In the years of lore, what would people do during vacations? Travel the world? Chill on a hill? Rest in the west?

Maybe, but mostly no. They would often use the few weeks a year of downtime to head for their pilgrimages.

Today? Even the few pilgrimages are spent little on the Lord and mostly on taking selfies and reels of the way to the place. Hundreds of phone-cameras abound everywhere, with the focus being on the screen, rather than on the idol.

Swami Sivananda said the following about pilgrimages:

... If, after the pilgrimage, you prove that you have been purged of all sins... that you have been filled with spiritual vibrations of the sublime atmosphere you have sojourned in, and if you live a pure life of righteousness, devotion, truth, love... you have been liberated. The pilgrimage has served its purpose.

How do our own pilgrimages look like?

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Get down

My Guru narrated an outstanding short story on Guru Purnima.

The head of Gita Press likened our lives and creation to that of a vast ocean on which a boat is floating.

We have each been various species of animals and maybe even plants one birth after another. Some 8 million times, maybe more.

Now we’ve finally got a human birth, and are as if on that boat which has come very close to the shore.

If we don’t get off the boat, we will drown, and possibly go back all the way, one specie to another, one birth after another.

All we need to do is to get off the boat. The land is Vaikuntha. We just need to get off. But are we able to?

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I me my who

My Guru asked a simple yet startling question recently in one of his talks.

It’s not a question we don’t know from before. But that doesn’t make it any less startling.

His question was, that if we see a dead body, we refer to it as, “his dead body” or “her dead body”.

So that body is lying there. Finished. Finito. No life in it.

And yet we say “his” or “her” body.

Who is that “his” or “her” then?

We may know the answer. But do we really truly understand it?

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Rich walls

Came across a life story (his own) narrated by a stylish and talented Indian actor of yesteryear called Jackie Shroff.

He was describing his own poverty-stricken upbringing. Some 6-7 people slept huddled on the floor of his 1 room house.

When he or his siblings would cough as kids, his mother would just reach out and put her hand on their chest and and rub and calm them down.

And then, he says, they became rich and famous. Big cars and big houses.

No more sleeping huddled together on the floor. Everyone had their own rooms. And one day his mother suffered a heart attack in the adjacent room and passed away.

Jackie recounted how as the money came, the walls came too. His mother was in the other room, behind the walls, and so he couldn’t hear her cry out for help. Nobody heard her, else she might have been saved. He says that if he didn’t have the money, they may still have been sleeping on the floor together, and he would have immediately known his mother’s discomfort and saved her.

So thoughtful isn’t it?

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Moodle maps

Came across a cute story where a man was having back to back office calls. His little daughter was insistent on playing with him at exactly that time.

So he hatched a quick plan. He saw a picture of a world map lying on table. He quickly tore it up into many pieces and gave it to his child to put it back together. A fun puzzle and one that would take a while to solve!

To his surprise, his daughter was back in a few minutes, having put the entire thing together. The man was shocked. How? Was she a geography-savant?

His baby girl told him that on the back side of the map was a picture of a person. All she had to do was to put the person together, and the map would come back on its own!

The lesson for me: When we find inner harmony, when we are put together properly, when our mood swings don’t destroy us, the world will be taken care of.

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We’re supposed to give up all attachments on the path of spirituality. But what are these attachments like?

1. Our attachment to material things. This is purely one-sided. No matter how much you try, your favorite Rolls Royce will not love you back.

2. Our attachment to other human beings. This can be one-sided and two-sided, although not always at the same time. It’s sometimes a function of necessity. We’re attached more to those who we need more, for the present moment at least. When circumstances change, attachment levels change.

3. Our attachment to God and Guru. This can be two-sided, especially in times of trouble, when we desperately need divine help and blessings to extract ourselves out from a specific situation. But it is at least always one-sided, because God and the Guru are always thinking about us, ever compassionate, ever loving.

Perhaps the more #1 and #2 are given up, the more #3 increases!

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Dumb choice

The story of legendary mountaineer Anker Conrad is incredible. He set out on a daring expedition with his best friends, fully prepared for the challenges they might face, as they climbed Mount Shma. However, fate had a different plan. An unforeseen avalanche struck, forcing Anker to make a split-second decision that would change everything.

What did he do?

He simply decided to dive left as the avalanche hit. His two colleagues dove right. Anker suffered a broken collarbone. Bad for sure, but at least he recovered. His two friends? Their bodies were only retrieved after many years.

His decision to go left was a simple ‘dumb-luck’ call as he himself admits. While not all such decisions may be life or death, many times in our lives, we too make sudden choices, with no knowledge of the future. It is the same for everyone.

When we look at successful people today, we assume they always did everything perfectly. Not true, because everyone has these dumb-choice moments. Best not to read too much into predicting the future by exactly following others paths. No one knows what is coming next. We each simply do our best, that’s it.

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Creative juices and snacks – part 2

Creativity is not a fleeting muse however; it’s a muscle that grows stronger with practice, and that is my big takeaway. Achatz’s journey exemplifies this truth.

What’s the worst that could happen to a chef? Him losing his sense of taste right? Well poor chef Achatz was diagnosed with tongue cancer. A seemingly cruel blow, for one who’s creative expressions rests nay depends on the use of his tongue!

Despite battling tongue cancer and losing his ability to taste, the chef didn’t let it dampen his creativity. In fact, he let it fuel his innovation even more.

Achatz discovered that taste is just one aspect of the dining experience. By leveraging his other senses (smell, sight, sound) and incorporating visual illusions, he created even more mind-boggling culinary surprises than before.

Shows that creativity is not just about inspiration or talent; but also about consistent work, dedication and a never-say-never attitude to one’s craft.

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Creative juices and snacks – part 1

We all would like to get our creative juices flowing. It’s always astounding to see professionals unleash their creativity and create some truly magnificent works of art, whether it be literary, or art, or even culinary!

A Chicago based chef I’d never heard of really intrigued me. Grant Achatz, considered a creative genius – is the chef behind Chicago’s cutting-edge restaurant Alinea.

How does chef Achatz get his ideas? He simply draws inspiration from various disciplines and infuses them into his culinary masterpieces. Achatz’s brain naturally forms connections between unrelated concepts, and he takes full advantage of this ability. Here are two lovely examples:

In a museum, a large-scale painting sparked Achatz’s imagination: “I want to eat off of that!” This inspiration transformed the tablecloth at Alinea into an edible work of art, adorned with sauces that resemble a masterpiece.

While listening to a song by Rage Against the Machine, Achatz envisioned an extraordinary dining experience with thrilling peaks and captivating valleys, just like the song. He transformed this musical flow into a culinary story that takes guests on a rollercoaster of flavors and emotions.

Concluded tomorrow!

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Ego-less pursuit

We keep reading about and coming across this concept of “giving up the ego”. What does it really mean? How will we feel after the ego is gone? Does it mean we will not have any identity left?

Here is a take from Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati:

If you begin to carve a statue out of a stone, what self-identity is the stone losing? None; rather, it is developing a new identity that will be witnessed and appreciated by many people. Similarly, in spiritual life there is no loss of self-identity; rather the distorted perceptions are corrected, the aggressive ego expressions are redefined, the new wiser you, the new creative you, becomes the new identity.

Interesting, isn’t it? Now if I could just make my ego go!

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Learning by immersion

One of the best ways to learn a language is supposed to be by immersion. What does this mean?

Instead of learning the vocabulary first, memorizing from flashcards and studying the grammar and so on, imagine you are uprooted and placed in a remote village in the country of the language you are trying to learn! Even to get water or go to the loo, you’ll need to begin speaking the lingo – and hence the immersion!

Another lovely story on immersion (not in verbal languages, but the universal language of spirituality!). A pot with 5 holes needed to be kept full of water. What is the solution for this?

Everyone will answer that we need to plug or cover the holes with various materials. All correct no doubt.

But Sant Gurunanak had the best answer. To immerse the pot itself in water, as that is the only permanent solution! The spiritual analogy of course is that our 5 senses, if they truly need to become selfless and have no attachment, then immersion in the Lord is the only way.

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Mind placid

We all want a placid mind when we meditate.

But the mind is a creature of habit.

Is the mind placid when we go about our normal routine?

Like when we are in office, how much time do we really spend on the task at hand? How quickly is our mind diverted to the notifications piling in on our phone? Or to the thought of what happened at home as we were leaving for work?

Or even when we are at home. If a family member is speaking to us – the spouse, the kids, the parents, anyone – are we looking them in the eye and giving our complete attention? Or is the mind simply darting from one thought to another?

Throughout the day, if the mind is constantly flitting like a bee from one flower to the next, then how can we expect it to sit still only during a 15 minute meditation practise in the morning?

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Presi for a day

It’s very cute, these little childhood essays we used to get. “What would you do if you were PM or President for a day?”

And everyone would write all sorts of things – trying to resolve every problem one ever encountered in their lives.

“Ah, if only I had the power to change the world…”

The reality isn’t that the answer is difficult, but perhaps that the question itself is wrong. In today’s world of hyperinstant gratification, even the PM’s role has been reduced to results demanded in 24 hours!

As many greats have said, nothing worth having in life comes easy (aka quickly). It would be best to focus on becoming better versions of ourselves each and every day, leading to an unimaginably profound longer term impact.

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Kind is the new smart

A recent graduation speech at Northwestern University by Gov. Pritzker caught my eye.

And it wasn’t because he was using funny lines from the hit TV sitcom “The Office”, blissfully unaware that the lead actor from the show was in the audience for his own daughter’s graduation (ya, true story!).

He made some lovely points, but the takeaway for me was on the importance of kindness.

Over my many years in politics and business, I have found one thing to be universally true: the kindest person in the room is often the smartest.
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In a recent interview that I was reading, Carmine Di Sibio, the global chairman and CEO of the Big 4 Consulting firm EY, shared three valuable lessons from his own journey that I found quite useful:

1. Embrace Change:
Di Sibio emphasizes the importance of not being afraid to change paths, even if it means deviating from your original plan. Drawing from his personal experience, he reveals that he initially pursued a degree in chemistry with the intention of becoming a doctor. However, through an internship at a hospital, he discovered that medicine wasn’t the right fit for him. This realization led him to change course and embark on a career in business. Di Sibio advises us to remain flexible, acquire new skills, and keep an open mind as the evolving landscape of technology reshapes the future of work.

2. Foster Collaboration:
While competition often takes center stage in the business world, Di Sibio highlights the value of collaboration. He shares his own journey of studying business as a liberal arts graduate and how he learned the most from his classmates. Despite working for competing organizations during the day, they came together in the evening to study and collaborate on projects. Di Sibio believes that successful collaboration enhances one’s ability to handle challenges and seize opportunities. He illustrates this through EY’s collaborations with various organizations, including competitors, to create custom solutions and address pressing societal issues. Embracing collaboration can lead to personal and professional growth.

3. Challenge the Status Quo:
Questioning the status quo is a fundamental aspect of creating a better future, according to Di Sibio, who stresses the importance of asking bold questions throughout one’s career. He encourages graduates to challenge established norms, both within their organizations and in society at large. Di Sibio shared the story of EY’s ambitious initiative, Project Everest, which aimed to redefine the industry by splitting the organization into two separate entities. Although the project was eventually put on hold, valuable insights were gained, and the process sparked innovation and opened new conversations. Di Sibio believes that real change often requires persistence and a willingness to learn from setbacks.

Simple, but great points no?

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In a super duper book called Outlive by Dr Peter Attia, he explores ways in which we can not just live longer but live longer healthily.

That’s key, isn’t it? Who wants to live to 120 but spend the last 40 years in a hospital?!

Apart from several eye openers for me, one finding in particular I found very interesting. The doc references and reviews all available and ongoing research on supercentenerians, i.e. those living above 100.

His aim? To find a gene or two that is common across all these people which leads to such ultra longevity. The result? There is no such gene. Why? Because the author says nature and evolution simply doesn’t want anyone to live forever, rather just enough to reproduce and pass genes on to the next generation! That’s why after a certain age, hair greys out or falls off, and wrinkles develop and what not. Nature realizes that by that time, finding a mate and procreation has likely already happened and there’s no need for the “parent” to continue.

It’s a sobering but realistic take on anyone who believes they have all the money and power in the world and expect to live forever. Nature has spoken. For the spiritual aspirants, it’s simply the quality of life one has lived and how much they have done for others that matters, nothing else!

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Was watching a short clip of ex US president Barack Obama. Without bothering about political leanings (as always!) in this blog, here are two excellent suggestions he had for the youth of today.

  1. Don’t go to your boss with problems. Instead go to him/her and say “I’ll take care of it”.
  2. In life, focus on what you want to do, not what you want to be.

That’s all folks, how thought provoking!

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Just like FiFo or First in First out, there’s also GiGo or Garbage in Garbage out.

Like for computers. If we feed even a supercomputer with trash inputs, we will likely get trash outputs only from it.

What about ourselves? We are no different.

We may consume high quality food for the body. But what about high quality food for the mind?

With everything that is written, spoken, shown on TV, all sorts of propaganda, all unverifiable news nuggets, and not to mention, the perils of social media – are we really feeding our minds high quality food?

Forget what comes out, but if we feed our minds garbage, maybe we will become garbage. And if we feed love and harmony, we too will becoming loving, lovable and harmonious.

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Rolex flex

Everyone knows the value of a Rolex. Sometimes the price is so high that it’s shocking. But why is this the case? And do we have some lessons for how value is created? For me, for sure! Here’s what was in a recent half page Rolex ad in the paper:

It's not the wheels and cogs. It's not the steel we shape nor the gold we forge. It's not the sum of every single part that we design, craft, polish and assemble with countless skills and constant care. It's the time it takes. The numerous days and months that are necessary until we can print this single word on each individual dial leaving our workshops: "Superlative." It's the mark of our autonomy, responsibility and integrity. This is all we make, but we make it all. So that, in time, you can make it your own. 

As we well know, all good things, take time. So no need to worry if success isn’t imminent, as long as the effort is going in!

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Butterfly effect

In ancient China, there was a philosopher-mystic named Chuang Tzu. He once woke up in the middle of the night very alarmed. His disciples rushed to his bedside and asked him what happened.

Chuang Tzu said he dreamt he was a butterfly, blissfully fluttering in nature’s embrace, flitting from one flower to the next.

Upon awakening, he was now pondering: Was he a man who dreamed of being a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming of being a man? Was he in a dream then? Or was he in a dream now?

Do we know for sure? Perhaps we will never know.

That’s why our Gurus, our ancients and our scriptures ask us to focus on the one true changeless Consciousness. Chuang Tzu’s tale also reminds us to appreciate the beauty of change and find harmony amidst uncertainty.

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The name’s Bond

No, not James Bond. But Ruskin Bond, the well known author.

Was reading an interview of his recently. And I loved two of his answers.

1) What is your relationship with technology?

I am technology-illiterate. I have no mobile or laptop. I use that wonderful invention called the ballpoint pen to write. I am not against technology, but I'm not a slave to it.

2) What are your vanities and vulnerabilities?

Well, I'm proud of my work, but I don't brag about it. I know writers have big egos, so I try to control mine. I tell myself, there are other writers in the world, too! Vulnerabilities? I am sensitive and get hurt easily if someone says something overly critical of me. You have to know me to understand my vanities and vulnerabilities!

Such down to earth responses!

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The Truth

Came across some lovely lines related to the Consciousness within, in an article recently on Integral Health.

The secret truth behind everything lies in its divinity, this is what makes all evolution possible. To access one's Truth is the key to well-being. It governs every process unwinding in the universe. It has a dynamic power and we must unite with it.
The key to healing, is to allow the Truth's influence to percolate everywhere in our being. Once the inner Agni and aspiration is lit, the fusion begins. However, the fire must be tended to at all times because we are nothing without aspiration.
Every single particle of terrestrial existence contains the Truth at its core. Evolution is the gradual manifestation of this Truth. 
Together with Love, it is the source of our wellness. The Truth has a way of unifying and harmonising the discordant parts of our nature. Illness and disease cannot ultimately persist where Truth resides. Its effect on mind, life and body is instantaneous: it spontaneously harmonises and aligns. Establishing it in our nature is critical to our psychological and physical well-being.
With persistence and patience, the answer will come. The means to this healing is through sustained practice. The process of connecting the body to the Truth brings peace, harmony and equilibrium to our entire being. We are raised to a sublime vibration, which radiates to the world the Truth that shines from within. 
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Sound medical advice

A recent article written by a medical professional was unique I thought.

Instead of talking about which medicines to take, the doctor was suggesting that the best form of defence against diseases, is a good attitude!

“Amiability” was the word used. Plain old good-naturedness. That’s what seems to have a protective effect on health.

Know what the cure mentioned for “chronic hostility” was?

Simple. “Try to be more forgiving!”

Pollution from wildfires and vehicle emissions is outside no doubt. But we are also deeply polluted in our minds. No wonder then that diseases abound. But the right attitude and living the virtues are quick fixes.

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Shadow monster

A man once achieved success. But he soon felt his sense of achievement dwindling away. And felt that he had to achieve more.

So he ran and ran, faster and faster. But he didn’t like that his shadow was catching up to him all the time.

So what did he do? He ran faster of course! No matter what he did, he couldn’t shake it off.

Of course, he could have just stepped into the shade.

But the man dropped dead soon enough, having tired himself out in the constant search for external perfection.

Life isn’t about that. Life is about finding internal perfection.

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The ultimate spiritual teaching seems to focus on Nothingness. That nothing we see around us is real. Nothing is truly relevant, because in the long run, we are all reduced to nothing. The 3 gunas sattva rajas and tamas are great, but if you want to attain God you have to go beyond, to nothing. Ego is the root cause of all problems, so give up ego, and become one with nothing.

But is this practical? Not for me at least, nope. The flip side to nothing is everything. Instead of constantly being focused only on ourselves, we can focus on others around us, which will automatically drive down the ego. The Lord might be in nothing, but He sure is in everything as well. Gratitude for everything we have in life is much easier than gratitude in nothing. While creation might seem unreal in a spirituality textbook, everything is real enough to us inside this body.

So its perhaps not Nothingness, but Everythingness that is an easier answer.

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35 and above

Is 35 a good number? If it’s age, then not so much, because 25 is better.

But if it’s marks on an exam? In a world where even high-scoring 99s aren’t enough, what is a mere 35?

So I was pleasantly surprised to see a newspaper article about a family celebrating the graduation of the son from grade 10.

What did he score? Yes you guessed it, 35! Not just in one subject, but in all the subjects!

35 is pass mark. 35 and your good. 34 you’ve to repeat the year.

For a family that was surving hand to mouth, with limited education facilties, this boy cleared his exams, even if just barely, and it was enough for a whole lot rejoicing.

Surely the little things in life count (upto 35 at least)!

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Questioning the basics

In pretty much every field that we begin to learn, we do not question the end.

Take biology. Even today, we don’t understand it fully. And yet, we have biologists and zoologists and all types of medical professionals, who never questioned whether biology exists, but simply began working towards their goal, studying and researching day after day.

Ditto for physics and chemistry and every other field out there.

When changes occur in the understanding, then the learning process is quickly re-adapted.

But in spirituality alone, most non-believers first want to establish the presence of God (ie the end point) and understand Him in entirety. Just as any saint or realized soul would tell us, God is unknowable and unfathomable to the human mind and intellect.

So what’s the way out? Simply going back to the basics, and living a spiritual life, in service of others, not day by day, but second by second.

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Titaning the noose

Some people love to live on the precipice of danger. The thrill of adrenaline. I’ve never understood it.

Why would one stuff oneself into a small tube and go down the depths of the ocean to see a sunken ship? There must be some good reason that my tiny brain is unable to process.

And it’s not like the ride was free. It was a cool quarter of a million dollars per head. Phew! It’s like a 1000x magnified version of paying crazy ticket prices to go see a horror movie – as if the horrors of daily life aren’t enough!

Many people routinely do this – climbing mountain peaks that are overly crowded, or parkour on top of skyscrapers with no safety harnesses, or surf in shark infested waters. Why voluntarily increase the probability of throwing away one’s life?

As our scriptures tell us, this human birth is incredibly rare. Why do we want to throw it away? But as my Guru points out, if we are not on the spiritual path and constantly focused on the Lord, then we are anyway throwing our lives away!

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Here’s a lovely take from Osho on what it means to be sinful and sinless:

Anything that stops your evolution in consciousness is evil. It is a sin. 
And anything that helps you to move toward more consciousness is a virtue. 
That's the only definition that I can give to you. 
Be more aesthetic, be more sensitive, be more respectful of life, because you are part of it. 
Whoever you are killing, you are killing yourself. Your destructiveness is suicidal.
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Came across an interesting speech today. The gentleman was speaking about “How to be a good subordinate”.

I said, what?

The whole world is running after how to be a CEO and a leader and a master and a winner. And here this fellow is giving a talk on how to be a good subordinate?

Yep, because he has a good point. As he notes, one cannot attain the corner office at the age of 25 or 30. Good things, like the wisdom of experience, take time.

So how to be a good subordinate? Follow the 4As.

A for Accomplishment, as one needs to deliver. A for Affability, as one needs to be able to get along with one’s boss. A for Advocacy, of ourselves, because we are all salesmen, even if we aren’t in sales. A for Authenticity, because that’s we always need to be.

If I had to add one more A, it would be A for the Almighty, because without Him, nothing is possible!

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Inferior knowledge

It’s always good to know more about everything. Being a voracious reader and consumer of information is great. It can certainly help one make a mark in relationships. If the group you’re with is talking about sports or art or literature or finance or movies or science – doesn’t matter – because you’re still going to be able to contribute to the conversation and sound intelligent!

This is fantastic. But what if you don’t read much. Maybe you don’t have the time. Or maybe you aren’t interested, just aren’t able to read a book cover to cover, or watch educational videos much. Or maybe you do some or all of these, but still are blessed with a terrible memory (like yours truly!) that nothing sticks. Does it mean such people will never be able to build relationships?

Not quite. It’s a fallacy to think that the smartest and most talkative guy in the room is the winner. Sure such persons will have the spotlight on them. But more than anything, what people like, is to talk. And if you give them that opportunity, and listen to them really well, you can build far better relationships than you ever would simply by consuming a lot of knowledge.

This is fabulous, because it is easy. Doesn’t require preparation or complexes of inferiority. All it needs is to be aware and present in the moment. And as long as you get the other person speaking, and you are listening, you will be fine.

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Dealing with change

In a recent satsang, there was a query on how one should deal with change. The 3-step answer given by the speaker was brilliant.

  1. Accept that change will happen. We cannot slow ageing for instance. Or that many circumstances are beyond our control, and will naturally look different and evolve in different ways tomorrow. Not resisting change will solve half the problem.
  2. Dealing with change positively requires a purpose in life. While a professional and personal purpose is good, a spiritual purpose is a game changer and life changer.
  3. Eventually, we will realise, that the true purpose is not to run away from change, but to seek the truly changeless, that is there deep inside each one of us, who we may call God or Consciousness or Brahman etc.

So nice, isn’t it?

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The perils of numero uno

In a world consumed by the race for being the best,

We frequently forget the perils of this relentless quest.

Seeking validation, we sacrifice our peace of mind,

Leaving the true joy life holds far behind.

But the race to number one is an elusive game,

A mirage that flickers like a flame.

Happiness lies not in the laurels we achieve,

But in embracing nature and the lessons we receive.

So give up the pressure to always be at the peak,

Solace is in the journey, the joy that’s truly unique.

In being true to ourselves, we find our inner peace,

And be foreverhappynow, as our own masterpiece.

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Angry fellwoo

There’s a lovely heartwarming Korean TV series called Extraordinary Attorney Woo.

It focuses on autism and how anyone with such a disorder needs to be encouraged as they too can contribute to society. What we call normal, is perhaps just our own condescending and deluded version of how we see the world and expect it to function.

One scene I loved was when Attorney Woo-Young-Woo is shouted at by her superior at work.

If it was me in her place, it would have shaken me to the core. And I’d have been thinking about the incident for months thereafter.

But Attorney Woo? Being autistic, she doesn’t grasp emotions like anger instinctively. Instead she says, “Oh, your cheeks are getting red, your voice is rising, your ears are flexing, your nostrils are enlarging, your eyebrows are pointing upwards, oh – that means you must be getting angry!”

Deconstructed this way, that’s all anger really is, isn’t it? Why should we take the actions of someone else to our hearts?

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4 legged furore

There is a furore around practically everything nowadays, whether mundane or regal. When the PM of India inaugurated the new parliament building, there were all sorts of comments that were passed.

But as we well know, FHN is never political, and so we’ll steer clear of those things. But what I found intriguing is the staff / sceptre called sengol that was used in the ceremony.

It has a golden bull on the top, Nandi, the divine vehicle of Lord Shiva.

And what does it signify?

The 4 legs of the bull are symbolic of satyam (truth), shaucham (purity or cleanliness), daya (compassion) and tapas (austerity).

What it means, is that any king holding the sengol must abide by these 4 virtues. These are not virtues to be forced upon people, rather this is what the king himself must imbibe.

Any leader in the workplace today too can benefit by following these.

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On a recent long flight for work, I was happy to just head back home after all the insane travel and hectic schedule. After the bags were checked-in, and my immigration cleared, it was time to just unwind and sleep on the plane.

We sat on the plane, and the plane sat on the tarmac, for the entirety of 6 hours. And then we were de-planed – back to square one as it were.

With no substitute flight in sight, the only option was to book another carrier. So take my luggage, and re-check-in and repeat the entire process. But the luggage didn’t come. The first plane’s cargo hold wouldn’t be opened because of a lack of manpower (impossible to fathom for those hailing from a country of 1.4 billion!).

Filing a complaint with the airport baggage services team resulted in an arrangement where the bags could / should be delivered directly to my home… within 22 days, or monetary compensation if undelivered!

Money cannot compensate for some of the things in the bag – gifts purchased for those back home for instance. Nor can it compensate for the lost time and energy. But such is life, providing first-hand practical lessons on the importance of de-materialism and its mental acceptance.

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Automatic waste

Came across an interesting thought today. Evolution has made it such that we have been constantly discarding things from time to time. Adapting to the cycle of change, as if it were.

The human appendix was important to digest tough food. Ear muscles would help point one’s ears to listen for predators. Sinuses once helped us with a keen sense of smell. The tailbone was once a tail.

All these body parts were useful at some point. But are no more so.

The same is true of our material possessions. But often times people continue to hoard more than ever necessary. Sometimes even unnecessary things are hoarded. We should perhaps take a cue from our bodies.

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Dear intern

In one of the largest tech companies in the world, a recently-joined intern messed up. The intern sent out a blank test email to thousands of the company’s customers.

A major faux-pas, if there was one.

The company immediately tried to fix the situation, apologizing on social media that it was a fat finger type error by an intern.

“Yes by an intern, so don’t blame the company.”

What I loved was seeing how the internet reacted to that. Truckloads of messages poured in of examples of people’s own mistakes, and more importantly, how they have still managed to survive and thrive till today!

Mistakes are a part and parcel of life, as long as learning from them is how we use them.

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Don’t believe everything you think – part 4

A final few excerpts from the brilliant book:

It’s not possible to just entirely stop thinking, but what we can do is reduce the time we spend thinking so that it gets smaller and smaller each day that passes. Eventually we can get to the point where we spend most of our day not caught up in our thinking and live in a blissful state most of the time. When we say that we want to stop thinking, many people assume that we are trying to stop all thoughts in general. This isn’t what we’re trying to do. Now that you know the difference between thoughts and thinking, we are working on allowing thoughts to come and flow through us while we minimize the thinking about those thoughts that emerge.
The most interesting and almost paradoxical thing about stopping our thinking is that we don’t have to do anything to minimize it other than to be aware of it. By us becoming aware that we are thinking and that it is the root cause of all our suffering, it automatically makes us conscious to that fact and we become detached to it, allowing it to settle and pass. This takes almost no effort and is done through pure presence in the moment.

Highly recommend reading the entire book!

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Don’t believe everything you think – part 3

A few more superb excerpts from the book:

What’s crazy is that most people didn’t have any thoughts going through their mind when they felt the happiest and the most amount of love in their lives. For those that had the thought that they were grateful, they felt that way before having that thought. If they had that thought, it happened after they felt the feelings, so the thought could not have produced the feeling. This brings us to another truth: you do not have to have thoughts or think to feel positive emotions.
It is not the content of our thinking that causes us stress, but that we are thinking, period. The amount of thinking we have going on is directly correlated to the magnitude of stress and negative emotions we are experiencing at any given moment. When you’re experiencing a lot of frustration, stress, anxiety, or any negative emotions, just know that it is because you’re thinking, and the intensity of those emotions is directly correlated to how much thinking is going on. Therefore, it’s not WHAT we’re thinking about that is causing us suffering, but THAT we are thinking. To summarize, we do not have to try to “think positive” to experience love, joy, bliss, and any positive emotions we want because it is our natural state to feel those emotions.
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Don’t believe everything you think – part 2

Continued today again, a few excerpts from the lovely book…

Our minds do an incredible job to keep us alive, but it does not help us thrive. It is concerned solely with our safety and survival, but not our fulfillment or joy. The mind’s job is to alert us of potential dangers in our environment that may threaten our lives. It does its job so well that not only will it scan our immediate surroundings for threats, but it will even reference our backlog of past experiences to create hypothetical scenarios and predict what it thinks could be future potential dangers based on our memories.
Thoughts are the energetic, mental raw materials which we use to create everything in the world. We can’t experience anything without thought. It’s important to know that thoughts are a noun and aren’t something that we do, but something we have. A thought takes no effort or force on our end, and it is something that just happens. We also cannot control what thoughts pop into our minds. The source of thoughts comes from something that is beyond our minds —the Universe, if you will. Thinking, on the other hand, is the act of thinking about our thoughts. This takes a significant amount of energy, effort, and willpower (which is a finite resource). Thinking is actively engaging with the thoughts in your mind. You don’t have to engage with each thought in your mind, but when you do, that is thinking. Thinking is the root cause of all our psychological suffering.
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Don’t believe everything you think – part 1

Just finished reading a very nice book called “Don’t believe everything you think”, by Joseph Nguyen. Some very interesting snippets:

It’s not about the events that happen in our lives, but our interpretation of them, which causes us to feel good or bad about something. This is how people in third world countries can be happier than people in first world countries and people in first world countries can be more miserable than people in third world countries. Our feelings do not come from external events, but from our own thinking about the events. Therefore, we can only ever feel what we are thinking.
The root cause of our suffering is our own thinking. Now before you throw this book across the room and light it on fire, I’m not saying that this is all in our heads and that it isn’t real. Our perception of reality is very real. We will feel what we think, and our feelings are real. That is completely undeniable . However, our thinking will look like an inevitable, unchangeable reality to us until we begin seeing how our reality is created. If we know that we can only ever feel what we are thinking, then we know that we can change our feelings by changing our thinking.

Superb no? More tomorrow…

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You know that feeling when you’ve had way too many chocolates? And then you have just one more. And it then gets too darn sweet. An excessive level of sweetness that suddenly becomes unbearable? The big English word for this is cloying.

It’s an interesting word, and is reflective of society in some ways today. Folks can be sugary and sweet on the outside, but deep inside, almost everyone is boiling with anger or fear or jealousy. Sweetness that’s so sweet that it’s repulsive.

Often times, like the first many chocolates, all the problems of the world remain bottled up. Until one fine day, the proverbial last straw breaks the camel’s back.

How to tackle this? Perhaps by being more reflective. Not waiting to eat the last chocolate. And realizing that life will have its ups and downs. And in the midst of this all, if we can truly be sweet to others, that’s a winning proposition.

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Great deaths

A man was once seen lamenting the death of a close relative.

A friend approached him to offer condolences and to console him.

The man said he was crying not because his uncle died, but because he had left him an inheritance of a million dollars.

His friend was aghast. “You just got a million dollars, and you are crying?”

The man continued to cry. “Just yesterday, another uncle of mine died, and he too left me a million dollars.”

“And the day before that? One more uncle died, and he too left me a million dollars.”

The friend just couldn’t take it anymore, “You just inherited 3 million dollars out of thin air, and you are crying?”

“Yes”, said the man, “now I don’t have any more uncles who can die!”

What do we focus on in our lives? The money or the uncles?

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Fallow fellow

We all know what a fallow field is. It’s one where the farmer has let the field be as is for a year. No ploughing, no harvesting, nothing.

Why? Because after years and years of doing nothing but cultivation, the soil needs rest. And the one year of lying fallow provides exactly that, because all the nutrients in the soil get replenished.

This is no different from each one of us giving our bodies and minds some rest. Every second of every waking hour need not be maximized or productive. Too much of anything – either productivity or even leisure – isn’t great, as the Gita itself tells us.

Equanimity and moderation are key. Fallow is not shallow.

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Investments in life – part 2

A few more gems from the 2023 Berkshire Hathway event – applicable to investing, but more so for life and success and happiness itself!

  • Keep learning all your life.
  • Delay gratification
  • Avoid toxic people – get them out of your lives and do it fast
  • Know how people manipulate others and avoid doing that to other people
  • Praise by person, critize by category.
  • Anyone who had been kind has not died without friends… Can’t say the same about money.
  • The best part about investing is that there is uncertainty. If you play golf and score a hole in one then people won’t enjoy it… The fact that you hit in the woods and in the sand makes it more fun.

As my Guru says, living in uncertainty alone is spirituality!

Lovely no?

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Investments in life – part 1

The annual investment conference by Berkshire Hathway is a much loved event, with great fanfare for the Oracle of Omaha none other than 93 year old Warren Buffet himself. While it’s a very technical finance and investment oriented spectacle, there are some amazing takeaways for life as well. Here’s a few that I loved from 2023:

Road to human happiness is to keep your expectations low.
New things don't give you opportunities... What gives you opportunities is other people doing dumb things.
Most people today are competing in arenas where you don't need to fight. Your edge has to be thinking differently in terms of time horizons.
Most of the inheritance issues are specific to the families, dynamics and relationships. It's important to have this right... If you want to give them values, act and talk the values.
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Paradise city

The song Paradise City by Guns’n’roses is something everyone with even a little white hair today would remember and love. But where is paradise city? Where is paradise?

Here’s what Osho once wrote, about a Tibetan mystic named Marpa:

It was asked of a great Tibetan mystic, Marpa, "Where will you go when you die - heaven or hell?" Marpa said, "Surely I will be in lotus paradise". The man said, "But how can you be so certain? You have not died, and you don't know what God has in His mind."
Marpa said, "I'm not worried about God's mind, that is His business. I am certain of being in lotus paradise because of my mind. Wherever I am, I will be happy and it will be heaven, so it makes no difference whether I am thrown into hell or heaven, it is irrelevant. I carry my own lotus paradise with me, wherever I go."

Does our own paradise city have a lotus in it?

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Untold misery

There are untold miseries that many millions of people go through each day. We may even consider ourselves to be in that boat sometimes. Some people, all the time.

But what can help us get out of such a mental rut?

Faith only.

Faith in the Creator. Faith in the preceptor. Faith in oneself.

If the faith in any one of the three above is high, that should be enough.

As the Greek author Dinos Christianopoulos once said while addressing the literary community that once trashed his works,

'What didn't you do to bury me? But you forgot that I was a seed."
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Ever got the feeling that you are just faking it in life? As though most people around us are great, always acing their work, while we are struggling to fill our shoes?

We know that this is the imposter syndrome at play.

Is it normal? Absolutely. There’ll always be some level of self-doubt in us, which leads to this. A few famous personalities, nay Gods or superhumans, themselves had imposter syndrome!

1) Lord Rama when he was enlisted by Rishis Vishwamitra and Vashishta to fight some demons that were troubling them.

2) Lord Hanuman when he was asked to cross the ocean and go to Lanka in search of Sita.

3) Arjuna the greatest warrior of all, when he went to the Kurukshetra battlefield, was terrified of fighting.

4) Post the war, King Yudhishtira, Dharma raja himself went into depression and had to be reminded of his kingly duties!

If these maestros struggled with imposter syndrome, then why should we worry? Of course, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prep well before a test or performance or interview and so on. It might also be okay for us to cultivate comfort in expressing our lack of confidence, which in turn displays true confidence and provides reassurance even in professional settings. This approach can help us stay humble and grounded.

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Great Alex, Smart Alec

Everyone knows Alexander the Great for his Amazing and brutal conquests.

But maybe there’s another reason he is Great. Because he realized that all this materials greatness is of no value.

As he neared his death, he gave a set of 3 instructions to his aides.

1) That the best doctors in the country should walk beside his dead body. Why? To show that even the best medical help cannot prevent death.

2) That his all wealth be laid down from his kingdom to his grave. Why? To show that no amount of wealth earned in this life can be carried into the afterlife.

3) That his hands be left hanging outside his coffin, during the long procession to his grave. Why? Because even he, Alexander the Great, would go back from this world empty handed.

What a brilliant takeaway isn’t it? But here many are, constantly running after more and more wealth. Smart Alec in sight only…

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Captain cool

There’s only 1 Captain Cool in India, or at least only one who is nicknamed this and well known for it. No further suspense, and everyone knows anyway, none other than cricket legend MS Dhoni.

In a recent interview, he was asked how he always manages to remain so cool, calm and composed, even in times when games are so tense and spectators have chewed off all their nails!

His answer?

“Never think about the result.”

“Because it’s the result that brings in fear and leads to being the opposite of calm and cool and composed.”

“We control the controllables. Focus on what we can do. If we have put in all the effort, then the desired result has to come. And even if the desired result doesn’t come, then at least we would have grown in process.”

Such an outstanding lesson in stress management, from one who should arguably be amongst the most stressed out people in the country!

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Missing link

We all know that hard work is essential for success.

We also know that divine grace is equally essential, because there are so many things outside our control.

Is there a link between the two, ie, hard work and divine grace?

Is there a way to ensure divine grace can be added like a cherry on top of our hard work cake?

Yes indeed, the cream in the cake is nothing but devotion. The cherry gets auto-added, and that’s when the magic happens!

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We all know what unconditional love is. Such as the love we have for our parents and spouses and children. There is no condition that is attached. They do not have to do anything for us for our love to exist. This love is not transactional.

Similarly, there is unconditional creation. When creation becomes conditional, we call it “work”, or after a lovely Sunday, we call it “Monday morning blues”.

If we want to make money, that’s good. But our goal of making money is never the end, only a means to an end. Because the money itself is useless. It is a means for us to buy what we want or earn status in society. Thus whatever we create in order to get money becomes conditional. We are creating something to get something else, and hence we can never enjoy the process.

In unconditional creation, we work because we want to. No conditions attached. No T&Cs. Just unconditional chill.

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Faster and faster

That’s the world we live in. Going faster and faster, every minute, such that no amount of speed is enough.

But what about quality? Does concentration suffer? Is it even feasible to get work done when we are constantly running? Even if we aren’t running physically, our minds are running non-stop! Here’s a super representation of the same thing… Enjoy!

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What will you make?

Saw this short but brilliant clip of a boy maybe 5-6 years old being interviewed on a TV channel.

The news reporter asks him, “What do you wanna be when you grow up?”

He replies, “I wanna be a doctor.”

The reporter follows up with, “What will you make?”, clearly trying to see what amount of money would make the kid happy.

The child replies beautifully, “I will make… everyone feel good again.”

Isn’t that truly what doctors are supposed “to make”? And likewise every profession is supposed “to make”? Money is necessary, but is also polluting at times…

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What are we asking for?

Imagine Lord Krishna manifests momentarily in front of us. What are we asking him?

A bonus, a promotion, leading to plenty of wealth. But wait, what if we can get this wealth without even having to work. That’s a better ask. And then solid health. Not just for us, but all our family members as well. And a good lifestyle. The various modern comforts. And then just enough social interaction that would be enough for us to maintain such a lifestyle. A few (or many) nice foreign vacations too. Perhaps also a resolution to various relationship issues that might be ongoing with friends and relatives.

It’s already a decently long list, and we can only hope that Krishna has the time and patience to listen to us.

But He is God, and has all the time and patience in the world (universe, all of creation)!

Another option is that we could consider not asking Him for anything at all. Simply being happy that we already have everything, and thanking Him in gratitude.

What might He prefer?

And His manifestation isn’t just a hypothetical question. He is truly around us and with us all time, even if we do not realize it. What are we thinking about asking Him all the time then?

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Thinking about what

The last few days when I’ve sat for my morning meditation, I’ve meditated on only one thing. My office work.

No gods, no deities, no spiritual stuff, no religious stuff, nothing else. Only work.

It’s almost frustrating! I close my eyes, and instead of silence, I see various tasks I need to complete, various potential outcomes of several different assignments, projections into the future of what may be or may not be, bonuses or the lack thereof, promotions or the lack thereof, various nasty things that colleagues and bosses may say, and on and on it goes.

My mind is so noisy that any outside sound is completely drowned out. It shows me how consumed I am by my office work, that I’m unable to set aside 15 minutes a day to think of anything but that!

On the flip side, I console myself that at least I can concentrate on “something”, even if it’s not the right thing to concentrate on for now. Slow and steady….hopefully!

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Spiritual maturity

For one who is spiritually immature, everything that happens in life is classified into either good or bad. Going through tough circumstances, not achieving what was expected, getting an earful from a senior, falling ill, having relationship issues… the list is endless, and all these would immediately go into the bad bucket.

Is life any different for one who is spiritually mature? No, they go through the same trials and tribulations. Or at least so it would seem to a neutral external observer.

But for a spiritually mature person, there is no good or bad to begin with. The two buckets do not even exist. All happenings are seen as is, as they are, with no human filter of good or bad. What seems bad today, might turn out to be a blessing in disguise, in the future. What seems amazing today might be a hidden devil.

Even for the seemingly very bad things which happen to them, the spiritually evolved souls realize that this is all a play of past karma and maya only. And hence they do not categorize those as good or bad either – simply as things that happen and nature taking its course. That’s what is meant by “witness consciousness”.

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It’s become fashionable in today’s day and age to state that one is indeed spiritual but certainly not religious. Because religion is supposedly full of superstition.

Many religious practices involve the use of candles, lamps, bells, and other ritual objects. To some people, these practices might seem superstitious or unnecessary. But from a daily life perspective, these objects can actually have a calming and positive effect on us.

For example, lighting a candle or a lamp can create a warm and peaceful atmosphere in our homes. The soft glow of the flame can help us relax and unwind after a long day. Similarly, the sound of bells or chimes can be soothing and calming, helping us to focus and center ourselves.

Chants and bhajans, too, can have a positive effect on our mental and emotional well-being. The repetition of a mantra or sacred phrase can quiet our minds and bring us a sense of inner peace. These practices have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and even boost the immune system.

If we find ourselves drawn to a religious practice, we may not need to dismiss it as superstitious or unnecessary. Instead, we can embrace it as a way to bring more peace and positivity into our lives.

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Logic of the greatest scientist

Einstein, the greatest scientist of all, had this to say about God:

Your question is the most difficult in the world. It is not a question I can answer simply with yes or no. I am not an Atheist. I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. May I not reply with a parable? The human mind, no matter how highly trained, cannot grasp the universe. We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the human mind, even the greatest and most cultured, toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that sways the constellations.

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Thoughtful fears

Fear doesn’t spring from ciscumstances. Rather it comes from our thoughts.

When we are in deep sleep and a tiger is nearby, we may still continue to sleep blissfully.

But if we have heard rumors of a tiger lurking in the area, then we may not be able to sleep peacefully, even when we know that we are within four walls.

When our thoughts move, trying to piece together a future where uncertainty seems apparent, our fear levels begin to rise. In reality, none of these may come to pass, but the only tangible feeling we are left behind with in the here and now is fear.

It is good to know what we are really afraid of. Is it a situation itself? Or the uncertainty surrounding it?

99.99% of the times, we do not know how to tackle uncertainty. And our lifestyles of today, always wanting more and more, and sooner and sooner, only makes things worse. As my Guru often reminds us, living / thriving in uncertainty alone is spirituality.

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PERMAnently happy

Created by the king of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, the PERMA model is a framework for achieving happiness and well-being. PERMA stands for:

P – Positive Emotions
E – Engagement
R – Relationships
M – Meaning
A – Accomplishments

So, how do these five elements contribute to happiness?

Positive Emotions: This one is pretty straightforward. Feeling happy, joyful, content, and other positive emotions contribute to our overall well-being.

Engagement: When we’re fully absorbed in an activity, we experience a state of flow, which leads to a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

Relationships: Strong social connections and a sense of belonging to a community are essential for our happiness.

Meaning: Finding meaning and purpose in our lives gives us a sense of direction and motivation.

Accomplishments: Setting and achieving goals, no matter how big or small, gives us a sense of accomplishment and boosts our confidence.

In a recent podcast, Prof Seligman however changed up his M for Meaning to M for Matter. Do we matter when we are gone? How to ensure that we matter? By helping others. That’s what to strive for. That will in turn bring the M for Meaning according to him. Pretty cool!

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Building the pipeline

What do we fear? Failure. And death of course. But the latter we have no control over. So let’s stick with failure.

Is there a practical way to reduce the probability of failure?

One way could be to have multiple options. If you need to achieve your targets, then it’s best to have multiple avenues of getting there. A simple horce racing analogy would be, instead of betting on one horse, bet on a few. Yes the gains may not be as large as correctly picking only the winning horse each time, but at least the chances of winning increase materially!

Same for while at work. Having multiple projects helps. If one or two of them do not work out, at least the year end bonus discussions won’t collapse, because one or more of the other projects may have delivered, even if only partially.

The important thing is to keep building a pipeline. And while building it, to dedicate the construction work to the Lord. And once built, if some water flows through the pipe, then go dedicate the water to the Lord as well. This way, we will forever be at peace.

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The quickest fix for depression!

On a recent podcast of the Happiness Lab by Laurie Santos, she quizzed none other than the so-called founder of happiness studies – Prof. Martin Seligman himself.

The question was simple.

“If someone is suffering from depression, then what is an immediate fix?”

Seems impossible at first. Can there really be a fix that works in such a short span of time? Can there be a fix that works at all?

But the professor’s answer came like lightning, and with zero hesitation.

“Just get up and go and help someone in need”

There you have it. The immediate quick fix solution for depression. What do you think?

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Our scriptures tell us to live “in the moment”.

But from personal experience, I can say that most of these “in the moments” are fleeting, momentary!

How to make these moments more permanent?

Two words, as per a lovely article I came across. 1) gratefulness and 2) wonder

These are the secrets to living in the moment. Living in gratitude means that we pay attention to everything around us, and wholeheartedly agree on the impeccable design of creation, bringing strong feelings of satisfaction.

Living in wonder on the other hand means a state of heightened awareness, observing the world around us with fresh eyes of curiosity, delight and contemplative attention.

“A sense of wonder is connected to our desire to feel a part of something larger than our everyday reality and we take time to be immersed in this, and yes, to be grateful for this.”

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Lights, camera, action

Have you ever been told that your idea is impossible? Remember the Chinese proverb: “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.” In other words, don’t let the doubters hold you back from taking action.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says (Chapter 2, Verse 47): “You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work.” So, our focus must be on putting in our best effort without getting hung up on the outcome.

But let’s be real – sometimes, despite our best efforts, things just don’t go as planned. In those moments: Karma Yoga to the rescue! This is the philosophy that teaches us to perform our duties with dedication and detachment, without getting too attached to the outcome.

So, next time someone tells us our idea is impossible, remember the Chinese proverb, channel your inner Karma Yogi, and go for it anyway. And if it doesn’t work out, well… at least we can say we tried!

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Monetary policy

Here’s a simple question.

If you go from having 1$ to $1 million, would you be happy? Ecstatic, I’m guessing.

If you go from having $10 million to $1 million, would you be happy? Devastated, in guessing.

But the end result in both are the same. Still a cool million dollars!

Then why are we letting our minds trick us?

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Kar dashed

A young woman in her early 30s passed away recently.

How so?

Because she was emulating a celebrity. Not emulating just in terms of speaking and mannerisms, but in looks too.

Plastic surgery upon plastic surgery meant all sorts of changes to her physicality.

This all led her to have a huge number of Instagram followers. That’s what the tabloids reported at least. But putting this number of followers into perspective, is less than 0.01% of the world’s population.

Anyway, the most recent surgery she undertook resulted in some unexpected medical complications. And then she was gone, just like that.

This beautiful body and mind that we have been given, what should one do with it? Use it? Or abuse it? And all to please the 0.01%?

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Fantastic 4

As a child, I loved reading Marvel Comics, especially the adventures of the Fantastic 4. But now, as an adult, I have a new set of Fantastic 4 heroes: the four elements of healthy living.

Just like the original Fantastic 4, these four elements have unique powers that can supercharge our health and well-being. And I came across these on a recent amazing podcast. Here’s the new fantastic 4:

What we put into our bodies: Think of this as the power of elasticity, like Mr. Fantastic. We need to stretch and flex our diets by incorporating whole, nutritious foods into our meals. This means avoiding junk and processed foods and opting for natural, nutrient-rich options instead.

What we put on our bodies: This is like the power of invisibility and force fields, like the Invisible Woman. We need to shield our skin from harmful chemicals and pollutants by using natural and organic skincare products.

Sleep more: This is like the power of pyrokinesis, like the Human Torch. We need to rest and recharge our bodies with enough sleep each night. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night is essential for our physical and mental health.

Stress less: This is like the power of superhuman strength and durability, like the Thing. We need to learn to endure and manage stress to come out stronger and healthier on the other side. This can be achieved through exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones.

By harnessing the power of these Fantastic 4 elements, we can become our own superheroes and lead healthier, happier lives.

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Happier than who?

When can we truly be happy? When we are content.

When can we truly be content? When we think we are better off than those around us. Not just around us physically, but even within our eyesight, whether in-person or online.

We might be super happy. But that friend on Instagram holidaying in Paris looks way more happier. “If only I could be in Paris…”

Our happiness seems to be inextricably linked to the happiness levels of others around us.

But do we really know if they are happy?

As Montesquieu said, “If you only wished to be happy, this could be easily accomplished; but we wish to be happier than other people, and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are.”

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Success comes from where? – part 2 of 2

Yesterday was one take on success and with a couple of examples. All good.

But my Guru provided the real secret behind success recently in a short note he had penned. Pasted verbatim below:

There is only one thing that will catapult you to the skies, and that is MAKE OTHER PERSON WIN. Not once or twice, but all the time, even in a dream! But this is very difficult - Why?  Because we are immersed in ourselves. NO HABIT of praising others. We want praise only for ourselves. We need to praise others every moment. 

That’s the true secret!

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Success comes from where? – part 1 of 2

In his book “Give and Take,” Adam Grant makes a powerful argument for the impact of generosity in achieving success. According to Grant, our success often hinges on our interactions with others, and those who are willing to be generous and giving are more likely to achieve their goals.

One example that Grant provides is the story of David Hornik, a venture capitalist who goes above and beyond to assist entrepreneurs even when there’s no direct financial gain for him. Hornik’s willingness to help others has resulted in a network of successful entrepreneurs who are happy to work with him again in the future.

Another example is the case of Adam Rifkin, a thriving entrepreneur who spends a significant amount of time mentoring and advising others. Rifkin believes that by helping others succeed, he’s also helping himself succeed. His generosity has rewarded him with a strong network and numerous prosperous business ventures.

These examples demonstrate the power of giving and helping others in achieving success. By being generous and offering help without expecting anything in return, we can cultivate meaningful relationships, gain valuable experience, and ultimately accomplish our goals.

The road to success isn’t always linear the way we often expect it to be. Sometimes, the key to attaining our objectives lies in helping others achieve theirs. We could hence strive to be giving and generous in our interactions with others, and see where it takes us.

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Above and below

Saw this superb video today where legendary Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan tells a lovely silly funny profound story in an episode of Kaun Banega Crorepati, or the Who Wants to be a Millionaire Indian adaptation.

So one day, number 9 gets up and slaps number 8. Why? Because number 9 says he’s greater than number 8. Number 8 is furious, but can’t do a thing to number 9. So he gets up and gives one tight slap to number 7 instead. Number 7 is stunned, but cannot do anything. Why? Because number 8 says he’s greater than number 7. So then 7 gets up and slaps 6, 6 slaps 5, 5 slaps 4, 4 slaps 3, 3 slaps 2 and 2 slaps 1. Phew!

1 gets up now, and menacingly walks towards 0. And poor 0 is cowering in fear. But 1 doesn’t slap 0, instead he goes and sits next to 0, and says don’t worry, we are together now, and you might be 0 and I might be 1, but together we are 10, and bigger than everyone else here!

Success doesn’t come from putting people down, but from propping people up. What a super message, isn’t it?

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Failing to succeed

In an NBA post-match press conference recently, star baller Giannis Antetokounmpo was quizzed by a journalist, on failure. The usual, “would you consider this a failure now that you’ve lost this important game?”

The NBA star countered beautifully.

He asks the journalist if he gets promoted every year at work. Of course not!

And so if you do not get promoted at work one year, then are you considered a failure? Is that year considered a failure? Of course not!

It’s just one stepping stone after another on the path to success.

Nay, traversing the path itself is success!

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Rejected and dejected

Rejections happen all the time. Just ask any salesperson! Keeping oneself in silence and peace when faced with negative words is a sign of great wisdom. It’s tempting to seek praise and approval from others, but becoming dependent on it can be detrimental. In fact, relying on the applause of others to feel secure can lead to further insecurity.

It might even be worthwhile to be comfortable with being ignored or forgotten. This allows us the freedom to move about without any expectations from others. Rather than feeling the need for attention, we can remind ourselves of the wisdom of the mystics who know that the divine within us is all we need to feel fulfilled.

Even those who are sensitive to praise and appreciation can learn to be secure within themselves, so that rejection becomes a word that doesn’t exist in their vocabulary. Ultimately, it’s the divine within that will never reject us, and that’s enough to make up for any rejection we may experience from others.

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Giving up As and Ds

We know this all too well by now. Giving up attachments and desires are the keys to spiritual success.

Which comes first? Perhaps desire is borne of attachment. We see an object (or person) and keep thinking of it, and how it might bring us happiness. This repeated mental attachment leads to us desiring the object or person. If someone else succeeds first, then it leads to envy and potentially anger. If we succeed, then it leads to pride and greed (because we want more!).

So is it the fault of the desired object or person? Absolutely not! Even things that aren’t good can ambush the mind. Alcohol doesn’t taste good, cigarette smoke is suffocating and sugary sweets are the causes for all sorts of maladies, and so it’s not as though it’s the great qualities of these items that causes us to get attached. Rather, it is simply our minds tricking us into thinking that these objects offer us lasting happiness.

Couldn’t be further from the truth of course.

So what is the solution? To desire attachment to the Lord. That’s the only desire and attachment that is “allowed”. Why? Because instead of pandering to the mind, it purifies it!

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Vincenzo Casanova!

There’s a very cool Korean Netflix series called Vincenzo. It’s definitely an odd name for K-drama, but when you realize it’s about an Italian-Korean mafia consigliere who returns to Seoul for some work, then it begins to make some sense. It’s super funny, and has a very good feel good factor to it. This isn’t a show review though!

The protagonist at one point realizes that there is too much anger still locked up inside him. He consults a monk for advice, and asks him, “Sir, I’m going to move back to Italy, or maybe even to an island in the middle of nowhere. Do you think my anger will go away?”

To which the monk replies profoundly, “Son, your anger is not on an island, but in your mind. If you can fight your anger, then you can be peaceful anywhere. If you can’t, then no place will help you!”

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I’m the king of the…

Who doesn’t like a little gossip? Or a little back biting. Pretty natural human tendencies these are.

If someone causes something to happen to us, we immediately transform into telltale narrators. “You know what he did to me?”, or “It’s because of her only that I had to do this…”.

But when Lord Rama was exiled by his own father Dasharatha and asked to go to the forest for many years, how did he break the news to his mother?

Not by cribbing about how his old man had lost it in his senility. Instead, he only said this:

Mother, my father has asked me to be the King of the forest, and I seek your blessings.

Can we imbibe such a pristine quality into our own daily lives, despite having nowhere near as miserable misfortunes?

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Forgive and forg…

Is this practical? Isn’t spirituality supposed to be practical? Can we forgive and forget everything? Wouldn’t that tantamount to foolishness?

My Guru has a simple solution. He says we must forgive, but not forget.

Why forgive? So that the incident doesn’t consume us anymore, neither mentally nor emotionally. We’ve made peace with what happened.

Why not to forget? So that the same thing doesn’t repeat! If we gave money to a relative and they never returned it, and we “just forget about it”, we will end up giving more money to the same person and find ourselves in the same cycle again.

Hence forgive, but do not forget. That’s spirituality in practice!

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Best of the best

Everyone wants to be the best. That’s what success is supposed to be, isn’t it?

That’s why it’s amazing when we watch parents revel in the joy of their child’s success. They are not directly responsible, but still are present in every moment of that revelry.

But success according to spirituality isn’t about being the best. It’s simply about trying your best.

The achievement is secondary. What matters is that we tried. And with full enthusiasm and vigor.

If success is redefined this way, and linked only to trying our best, imagine what failure would be redefined as! No more linked to the achievement of a goal, but simply a reference of whether we are doing our best within the given circumstances or not.

Even then, if we work with prasaddha-buddhi (results received as a blessing and gift from a higher power) and ishvara-arpana-buddhi (results surrendered to a higher power), success and failure become one and the same.

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The English word ‘restless’ always has a profound impact on me. It’s like I begin to feel restless just by reading the word. But it became even worse when I found out that the word ‘restive’, although sounding much more peaceful and rested, also means restless only! What a curious language!

Anyway, I came across a very nice set of lines by Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh on restlessness.

From time to time you may become restless, and the restlessness will not go away. At such times, just sit quietly follow your breathing, smile a half-smile, and shine your awareness on the restlessness. Don't judge it or try to destroy it, because this restlessness is you yourself. It is born, has some period of existence, and dies away quite naturally. Don't try too hard to make it disappear. Just illuminate it. You will see that little by little it will change, merging, becoming connected, with you, the observer: Any psychological state which you subject to this illumination will eventually soften and acquire the same nature as the observing mind.
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Meditating rats

Which God to pray to? What position to meditate in? What shlokas to chant? How many maalas to recite? What time to pray? How many and which all temples to visit? Should one follow a specific spiritual path or explore multiple paths? Can one be spiritual without a traditional concept of God? What happens to consciousness after physical death? Is it better to focus on personal spiritual growth or on serving others? How can one find meaning and purpose in life? Is there a definitive path to enlightenment? What is the role of faith and doubt in spiritual practice? How can one balance material success with spiritual values? Can one transcend the limitations of the physical body and mind? What is the relationship between individual spirituality and organized religion?”

Phew, so many questions, and so few answers.

No wonder then, that a recent comic was so funny, as it read, “I quit the rat race for spiritual well-being and learnt to be content with material wealth.”

Contentment is key ????

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Pride and Pride juice

Everyone knows pride and ego are bad. And yet there’s no dearth of these around us. It’s like everyone’s had a dose of pride juice for breakfast.

Some argue that they’ve “earned it”, “done all the hard work”, so what’s the problem with showing off their wealth and status and attitude?

Well, a few things. For one, pride is addictive. Like kids who are constantly only praised, do not know how to react to tough times in the future. And oh, tough times do come, to everybody!

Pride also clouds judgment. A know-it-all isn’t one who knows everything. He’s just someone who thinks he knows everything. Nobody knows eveything. Even Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge herself is said to know less than 1% of all Creation!

Pride also brings jealousy, and the constant need to look over one’s shoulder, afraid that someone else might do better.

Is there an antidote to pride? Yes indeed. And it’s very simple. All that is required is for us to remind ourselves, that we own nothing. Not the money, not the status, not the relationship, not even our own bodies! We are simply custodians, spending a few decades in this world. We go, the world stays, and not the other way around, like pride might have some believe.

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There are 1000s of videos today on just about any subject. Spirituality included.

So much so that it’s become a money making business for many.

There are 1000s of paths and suggestions and methods and variations and even Gurus.

What is right?

And more importantly, what is right for you and me?

Because one size never fits all.

A live Guru is ideal, and if you found one, you are blessed. That’s the best way to be able to implement what is given in our time-tested scriptures. Without implementation, no amount of reading or watching videos helps.

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Kshetra and kshetrajna

In chapter 13 of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna brings up two terms to define Creation.

He says there’s the Kshetra, the material world. And the Kshetrajna, us.

This seems easy enough. We know this distinction already. The material world around us is insentient, and so indeed that must be Kshetra. And we are alive and kicking, so we must be Kshetrajna. So what’s the big deal here?

The big deal is, that Kshetra includes not just the material world according to Krishna, but also our body and mind! So the physical and mental aspects of ourselves is also part of this relative insentience – even though maya makes us feel otherwise.

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Short span

Was watching a short clip by a physicist known as Brian Cox. He was answering a question about people wanting more.

What did he say?

That we are all formed from dead stars. These disintegrated stars and planetary bodies, somehow came together and created the earth and all the life on it as we know it today.

And all this over billions and billions of years. So much so that it’s just been such a short span of time that we humans have been able to come about and observe such awesomeness. In the future,, we too and everything around us will become those dead stars again.

So we have this amazing short span of a 100 years or so where we each are able to get a peek into Creation itself.

So what more could/should we ever want?!

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So much money

Came across a gentleman recently who owns a 6 bedroom apartment in Manhattan.

Who lives in it? Not him. Because he lives in another country, as an employee, still running the rat race.

So is it empty? No no, his wife lives in it. Away from her husband. And also a 1 hour commute away from her workplace!

And their 3 kids?

All spread out, in different parts of the country.

So much money, they’ve got as much as their generation and the next could ever use.

And yet, there are sacrifices to be made. That’s just a common theme of life. Best to be happy with what we have than be envious of what thy neighbor does!

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