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Forever Happy Now! Posts

Ironic living

Today, I came across a lovely shloka that beautifully encapsulates the human condition:

Jananam Sukhadam Maranam Karunam
Milanam Madhuram Smaranam Karunam
Kalavashadiha Sakalam Karunam
Samyadhipateh Akhilam Karunam

Birth is joy, witnessed in the radiant smiles of newborns, and death, curiously enough, brings compassion—freeing us from the eternal burden of existence. Imagine being penalized for not “living well enough”!

This chant poignantly sketches our journey: a collage of sweet encounters and fleeting moments, all under the relentless tick of time. It’s a humorous nudge that while we meticulously plan and worry, we edge ever closer to the finale. If we could all truly grasp our ephemeral nature, wouldn’t our choices paint a world vibrant with only what truly matters?

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Aghori stuff

Was watching an interview recently where someone was questioning the beliefs of aghoris.

Like why do they do all the stuff that is generally prohibited in normal life?

Some of the unconventional rituals include dwelling in cremation grounds, smearing ashes on their bodies, using human skulls as utensils, and eating flesh from human corpses. Surely not for the faint of heart.

And there’s many that criticize such true aghoris. And “true” aghoris because there are many frauds too, apparently.

In any case, the interviewee provided an endearing point of view. He said true aghoris are full of karuna, or compassion.

That’s quite a lovely thought, isn’t it? Unless they are overcome by said karuna / compassion for creation as a whole, and are devoid of judgements like “this is good, and that is bad”, how else can they practise such rituals?

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Poser

Who doesn’t love a good pose?! Yes fine, the ones that go onto Instagram and Facebook.

But not just those poses for photography. But poses for improving life’s graph itself!

Which pose would that be? A yoga pose of course!

But even with yoga, if one can’t contort oneself to the extent a master can, does that become less impactiful?

And what is a pose, or an asana in yoga?

By definition, it would be Sthira sukha asana, which means sthira = steady, sukha = happiness, so an asana would need to not just be held steady (sthira), but also require that the yogi will need to maintain a happy composure (sukha).

The flip side is the clincher though. Because it implies that every steady and happy pose is automatically an asana, so body contortion may not be necessary!

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Imposter again

Some interesting points from another post on the much discussed imposter syndrome.

Apparently McKinsey’s “Dealing with Impostor Syndrome” live learning module is offered quarterly and always has a long waitlist. It turns out that even some of the most brilliant minds, who have faced incredible challenges and succeeded in highly competitive academic and professional spheres, still doubt their own abilities.

So, what’s the solution to this persistent issue?

LeBron James revealed on a podcast, that he watches highlights of his best performances to regain his confidence whenever he experiences a slump.

If someone as accomplished as LeBron James can feel inadequate, despite reaching the summit of professional basketball, then I must certainly manage my own doubts!

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Others don’t, so why should I?

Most people don’t know a thing about dharma. Even if they do, they don’t understand it. Even if they do, they don’t live it.

So a natural question that occurs is that if others don’t follow dharma, then why should I?

Three key reasons:

1. It’s incorrect to conclude that others don’t follow dharma. We honestly have no clue what motivates others to do what they do.

2. There’s plenty of research now that shows that nice guys finish first, and not last. When we do good things, then people remember us for our generosity, empathy, integrity and righteousness – all great for long term success.

3. We must follow dharma for our own spiritual progress and spiritual peace.

Any others? Please share in the comments!

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Endless boundless

In chapter 16 of the Gita, Krishna mentions “chintam pralayantam” to describe an asuric mindset.

Seems like he’s describing my mindset though!

What does it mean?

Nothing but endless worries. That the mind is constantly worried, leading to stress and anxiety.

We say that life being unpredictable is what leads to stress.

But it’s not unpredictability itself, but the fact that we allow the lack of certainty to impact our happiness.

As my Guru often says, living in uncertainty alone is spirituality.

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Nocebo

The nocebo effect. I swear it’s a thing. You think I’ve got it wrong? It should be placebo? Well yes, placebo effect, but did you know there’s a nocebo effect too? I’m not kidding, and even I found out just now!

What is it? Nothing much… Just the placebo effect, but in reverse.

If someone takes a pill that is a dummy, and is cured, that’s the power of positive thinking?

Likewise, if someone takes a dummy pill, but is scared of the side effects (having read about them somewhere), then and then ends up suffering the side effects… That’s nocebo!

Imagine then, the power of negative thoughts on us!

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Persimmonious

Persimmons are super sweet on the inside. But the skin isn’t that easy to peel off.

In possibly the newest and most popular K-drama show of all time, Queen of Tears, one discussion on persimmons is food for thought.

Specifically, the fellow who just plucks some of the fruits, and then explains to another man, how this batch of fruit isn’t sweet at all.

But what is to be done?

Simple, just soak the fruit in bitter soju, which is an alcoholic beverage made from rice, and wrap it tightly in a cloth. Leave it overnight, and the fruit turns sweet!

Much like life itself, as the man notes. Life gives many bitter experiences, but if we soak ourselves in them and endure them, it’ll lead to success and sweetness eventually.

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Medal for Renaissance – part 2

We discussed the hedge fund genius Jim Simmons here yesterday.

You know how his fund became so profitable?

Because he was able to predict human nature.

He knew that whenever crises would strike, the same basic human instances would come to the fore – fear, greed and desire.

Is this rocket science? Does it sound predictable? Of course!

Jim was able to create sophisticated quant models and systems to extract alpha from such situations.

Interestingly, if we want to extract alpha from life, we can predict the same things too, in ourselves, and in others. And everything’s already predicted in our scriptures. We just need to read them!

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Medal for Renaissance

Jim Simmons, one of the greatest hedge fund investors of all time, passed away yesterday, at the age of 86.

He compounded returns for clients in his Renaissance Medalion fund at a ridiculous 66% per annum for over 30 years.

To compare, Mr Warren Buffet’s own returns compounded at somewhere between 20 and 25%.

What did Mr. Simmons say about his own life story?

"I did a lot of math. I made a lot of money, and I gave almost all of it away. That's the story of my life".

Isn’t that just an outstanding way to live? Work, earn and pass it on.

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Smiley smiley

Here’s a thought for today that I came across:

Life is not about having or achieving. It is about being and becoming!

Isn’t that just awesome?

Now how to live such an awesome life?

The first step would be to simply smile or laugh, and just enjoy the current moment.

We’ll realize that is actually not so simple to do! Because there’s so much other stuff that needs to get done, right?

Well, as a great man once said, smiling and laughter are not situations. They are decisions.

You know what we must decide to do now…

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Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping refers to maintaining one’s books of accounts.

But recently on social media, there’s a bunch of motivators and self(proclaimed)-help Gurus that does another type of bookkeeping. Which is keeping their books front and center for everyone to see and advocating reading books like there’s no tomorrow.

“I read a book a week”, says one. And a peer comments instantly, “I read two!”

“I’ve read 120 books this year!”, says another, while yet another claims to have read 2500 books in his lifetime. Phew.

It might seem like there’s no place for success in our lives unless we read 1000s of books.

If someone’s really read a 1000+ books, then they should have read about humility somewhere you’d think?

As my Guru always says, it doesn’t matter how many books you read, if you don’t implement anything from them to bring a positive change to the lives of those around us.

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Religiosity Animigion

Funny things happen around us all the time.

People love God, but they hate one another.

In the name of religion, people hate followers of other religions, but what about loving everyone? What about peace?

What really is holiness and piousness?

Are they linked to religion?

Absolutely not!

Being holy and pious is part of our innate nature. But the deluded think otherwise, and ruin their lives, and the lives of others around them.

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Axe or sword?

There’s a debate among spiritual seekers, especially on the tantric path, as to whether certain rituals, excessive as they may seem, are truly necessary.

The relatively straightforward ritual path, called dakshinachar is itself not easy to follow.

But the left hand, or vamachar, is ridiculously difficult (and also what catches most people’s imaginations).

One tantric expert explained it nicely.

The left hand is like taking an expressway. Tantric deities hence have swords in their hands, because they can cut off all attachment at once.

Whereas the right hand path is slower, but perhaps more suited to most. These deities may wield axes, symbolizing that the tree of attachment needs to be cut, but maybe one blow at a time.

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It’s all about the money funny

Here’s some super stuff from the legendary Osho, on money:

  • Money is equated with power and is a common focus for most people.
  • Even those considering spiritual or otherworldly pursuits view their virtues as a form of currency that can “purchase” a better status in the afterlife.
  • Both worldly wealth and spiritual “wealth” are motivated by similar desires for security and a better position, either on earth or in heaven.
  • Money serves as a future security; people accumulate it to feel secure about their future.
  • The preoccupation with money only diminishes when one begins to live fully in the present, stepping away from concerns about the future.
  • Ultimately, money, whether in literal or metaphorical terms, symbolizes power, and this underlying quest for power is pervasive across different realms of thought.
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Enjoy meant

What is enjoyment really about?

Happiness?

Does enjoyment truly lead to happiness? Maybe temporarily, but permanently?

As Swami Chinmayananda says, wrong understanding of freedom leads to licentiousness. Which means that one has no self-control whatsoever.

Very soon, the diminishing marginal utility principle starts working, and the 5th scoop of ice cream and the 10th scoop have the same limited value to someone with a massive sweet tooth (like me!).

True freedom isn’t simply letting the mind and body do whatever they want. Rather true freedom, is keeping the mind and body under “our” control.

But who are we, if not the mind and body? Hmm…

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Dumbest ever AI

AI or Artificial Intelligence is just extraordinary.

Anyone who’s used chatGPT for only a few minutes even, will agree.

Whatever it does, and in the micro/nanoseconds it does it, is simply unfathomable to the human mind.

Just how can it understand anything and everything we prompt, and then create an answer or even an image (video too soon, it seems), and then format it, and send it back, in just the blink of an eye?

Almost impossible we’d have thought 2 years ago, before it was publicly revealed.

But chatGPT creator Sam Altman went on record yesterday to say that “chatGPT will soon be remembered as the dumbest AI ever used by man.”

Holy moly to whatever is coming up next. But importantly, there’s no place for ego in life. Even the best of yesterday is not good enough today. Not in human life, not in AI life.

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Waiting prayer

Prayers are a vital link to the divine, at the heart of spiritual devotion across religions, each with its own rituals. We often wait eagerly for answers after praying, but the Divine communicates in unpredictable ways, unlike showing His/Her immediate physical presence in movies like “Oh My God” and “Bruce Almighty.”

  • We seek strength, and instead, maybe rewarded with challenges that make us stronger.
  • We hope for prosperity, and are reminded to use our skills and effort.
  • We ask for courage, and encounter situations that reveal our deepest fears, that can only be overcome by inner strength.
  • We wish for divine love, and find opportunities to help those in distress, serving the divine through our actions.

Patience and awareness are essential. The divine doesn’t make grand gestures like in movies but subtly shows us paths to answer our prayers. We must recognize and seize these opportunities, maintaining our faith.

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4 muktis

So apparently there are 4 types of muktis or liberations (never a dull day in spirituality, always something new to learn!).

  1. Salokya Mukti – Residing in the same realm as the deity, contingent on the merits earned through spiritual practices like chanting. This state is temporary, with individuals returning to life’s cycle once merits are exhausted.
  2. Samipya Mukti – Achieving closeness to the deity, akin to a servant-master relationship, leading to enlightenment through divine service.
  3. Swarupya Mukti – Adopting a form similar to the divine, specifically reflecting aspects of the Divine Feminine such as Lalita Tripusundari or Bagalamukhi from the ten Mahavidya pantheon.
  4. Sayujjya Mukti – The ultimate union, merging entirely with Ishwar (God), transcending all distinctions between worshipper and worshipped. This profound state can be achieved in higher states of consciousness accessible through advanced spiritual practices.

These muktis represent stages on the path to spiritual fulfillment and the eventual dissolution into divine oneness.

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Root fruit

There’s a nice video doing the rounds on social media. It’s called the Root vs Fruit system.

The essence is a comparison of the two systems that work inside of a tree.

One is called Gravitropic, where the roots of the tree grow towards gravity. It’s dark and damp, and it takes plenty of effort to grow into the ground.

But it is 100% required. Because without the roots, the trunk and branches and leaves and fruits wouldn’t even exist.

Speaking of fruits, the other part is called Phototropic, which is the part of the tree that grows towards sunlight. And eventually leads to the blossoming of flowers and their fruits.

Life is like that, isn’t it? One needs to hunker down and do the hard work in the darkness and dampness. And only then would one really be able to shine in the light.

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Barless prison

A movie that was playing recently had the dialogue “this is a prison without bars”.

And it immediately reminded me of Hotel California, where “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave…”!

But such prisons are not uncommon.

Maybe our daily workplaces are one such example. We might despise the boss and the colleagues and can easily walk out, except for the monthly salary which acts like a drug.

Social media platforms can also feel like a prison without bars. We scroll endlessly, craving connection and validation, yet often feel more isolated and trapped in the cycle of comparison and competition.

Our own minds can become a similar prison too, especially for those battling anxiety or depression. Thoughts become a maze we can’t escape, despite the absence of physical restraints.

The real escape? Satsang and scriptures, with the guidance of a Guru.

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Sticky efforts

Sri Sri Ravishankar defines attachment in a very nice way.

He says that anything that requires efforts, is attachment.

Like if you are asked to smile. Then the smile is forced. Compared to if you are happy within and smiling naturally.

Or if you don’t know how to cook and are asked to prepare a meal. It’ll be a lot of effort. And that is attachment.

But he says that anything that comes naturally, peacefully, easily, that is nirasakti, or detachment.

Worth pondering over!

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Way back home

Imagine Buddha, in his later years, deciding it’s time to share a key piece of insight with his followers. This is what he did. He gently introduced a simple, yet profound concept: finding your way back to your true self.

Here’s the core of his message: Being at ease with who you are involves a subtle inner alignment. The first step is to guide your wandering thoughts back to the present. Avoid getting lost in past memories or future worries, as they can mire you like quicksand.

Instead, engage in mindful breathing. This practice helps synchronize our mind and body, fostering a peaceful state right in the current moment.

Think of it as drawing the curtains to shield yourself from life’s chaos. Close off your senses—sight, hearing, smell—and focus inward. Relax with your breathing, and you’ll discover a peaceful retreat within yourself.

Whenever life feels overwhelming, remember this advice from Buddha: center yourself, breathe deeply, and find your calm. This is the essence of tranquility.

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Valuenation

The whole world is going crazy over startups and their insane valuations.

From the 100s of millions to the many billions.

Wowza. Many founding teams are raking in moolah, and becoming wildly rich, seemingly overnight.

Valuation is great. But what about value creation?

Would we take only the cherry and not the cake?

Forget the startup, and look at our lives.

Are we creating value for others?

Or simply running after the glitter and gold?

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Hornida – part 2 of 2

Do the horns matter at all?

It’s perhaps the thorns inside that are more relevant, than the horns outside.

As Krishna explains in chapter 16 of the Gita, an asura would be a person who does not live by dharma. And that an asura’s sole aim in life is to enjoy sense pleasures. That’s it, as simple as that!

We each perhaps intuitively feel and believe that we live by dharma. But do we really? Are there never any transgressions?

The reality is that we each have a mix of daivic and asuric qualities, a bit of good and a bit of bad. The effort has to be, constantly, to introspect, and force out the bad, while growing the good.

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Hornida – part 1 of 2

There used to be an ad for a brand called Onida TV back in the day. It would feature a friendly looking devil, with his 2 horns and 2 fangs sticking out prominently.

“Neighbor’s envy, owner’s pride”, went the tagline, causing sales to absolutely go through the roof.

While TV ads are generally positive messages, here was a case when words like ‘envy’ and ‘pride’ actually resulted in success extraordinaire.

This is not about the devil being in the details, but a thought towards the devilish details itself.

The devil would be no different than what out texts calls asuras perhaps. People with horns, right? More tomorrow!

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Believers

Here’s the great Jiddu Krishnamurthy on “beliefs”, because his thought process was truly unique:

Belief is corruption because behind belief and morality lurks the mind, the self growing big, powerful and strong. We consider belief in God, the belief in some thing, as religion. We consider that to believe is to be religious. You understand? If you do not believe, you will be considered an atheist, you will be condemned by society. One society will condemn those who believe in God, and another society will condemn those who do not. They are the same.
So, religion becomes a matter of belief-and belief acts and has a corresponding influence on the mind that then can never be free. But it is only in freedom that you can find out what is true, what is God, not through any belief, because your very belief projects what you think ought to be God, what you think ought to be true.
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Real imposter

Imposter syndrome is truly a real thing. Even the most successful suffer from it.

Could be because of educational background, or comparisons with others and more recently, the fear of obsolescence (like by AI).

Youngsters that can’t cope sometimes end up doing the unthinkable, like a 25 year old super smart kid that launched himself to his end from a 9th floor balcony.

Why do we struggle like this?

Perhaps because we believe that we are only as good as the work we do. That we are only as good as the job titles we carry.

Is that all there is to life? In this material world where we are taught to self-aggrandize above all, maybe that is the sad reality.

But such life has no purpose. Spiritual purpose is the only way out of this nasty cycle.

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3 gateways

What are the 3 gateways to ruin?

According to the Gita, these are kaama (desire), lobha (greed) and krodha (anger).

Why these?

Because when we are full of desires, then our ego (aham) becomes prominent.

When one does anything to fulfil one’s desires, then it’s never enough, and lobha or greed dominates.

No one can have everything they desire, no matter how rich, because there are many things that money cannot buy. And unfulfilled desires when excessive can lead one to cross the line of dharma, and stem from or result in krodha.

How to stay away from this? Just lead a simple life. Earn more, own less, and be ever helpful.

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Targeted hiring

What is important for a hiring manager, especially over the longer term? Is it good grades? Or the stamp of the Ivy Leagues?

Or maybe something harder to measure, like soft skills?

From a very interesting write-up (link) by the amazing Collab Fund, here’s an excerpt:

The analysts from the “non-target” schools ranked something like #1, #2, #4, #5, and #7, while the analysts from the traditional “target” schools claimed the #3, #6, and #’s 8-11 spots.
The results were so stark that the firm’s CEO approached Rick to see what drove them. Rick’s response was direct and clear — The analysts from “non-target” schools simply wanted it more. They were humble and wanted to learn. They were willing to go above and beyond what had been asked of them. Much like how I felt just talking to this guy, these kids wanted to run through a brick wall for him.

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Shun shun shun

Okay not shun, but tion.

But that won’t make sense unless it’s merged with a word. That’s English!

Read this nice life tip today.

Vocation. Location. Relation. Don’t change more than one at a time.

Vocation as in job.

Location as in maybe moving from one city to another, or maybe even across countries.

Relation as in getting married, or expanding the family and such.

Only one at a time. Nice to know for sure. But as we well know also, life has its own plans…

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Jai Shri Ram?

Saw an ad in the newspaper for a play on Lord Ram’s life, aka Ramayana (but it wasn’t called that!).

What was odd and disconcerting, was how big the photo of Ravana was in the ad.

As though Ram was somehow relegated to being his sidekick, with a tiny image in comparison to the villain.

The ad also proudly announced, “XYZ person playing Ravan”.

But no mention of who was playing Ram.

Reminded me of this wooden doll story we discussed 4 years ago!

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Camera shy entities

In an interesting podcast with a tantric practitioner, the interviewer posed an interesting question which got an interesting answer (which is what made the podcast interesting, you see!).

He asked, “So many people claim siddhis and powers and stuff, but why are they not being captured on video then for proof? Is it that once cameras became mainstream, then such ethereal beings and divine powers stopped being shown?”

The tantric practitioner laughed and acknowledged that this was a very nice question. And then said that it’s not because cameras had come onto the scene, but simply that very few people actually possess any powers or even the intent and discipline required nowadays. Distractions abound, and siddhis don’t come by without extreme penance and effort.

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Cursery glance

What is life, if not just a cursory glance of the Divine. A few moments of His time line, and we are created, preserved and destroyed.

And yet we have egos that are larger than time itself!

Funny it was then, that I came across a silly situation.

A group of priests had gathered to perform some rituals. They were to collect some money (about 3$ each) from the participants as part of the ritual. Everyone paid up, or so they thought, because the money wouldn’t add up. Someone didn’t pay. Or the money was pocketed. Or something else. Does such a small amount even matter?!

But a huge fight ensued. Almost for an hour. And one of the priests in his anger, even cursed the whole group, and included all their 7 generations-to-come as well. And then another priest gave his curses too.

What is this, a movie script?

When anger and ego take over, everything perishes.

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Quaker notes

In a recent Zoom meeting l attended, eveything was going well.

One side was presenting their product, which was fantastic.

The other side, the client, was listening with rapt attention, and also keeping relevant questions coming from time to time.

About 45 minutes in, the folks on the client side suddenly began to look around.

What happened? Apparently an earthquake struck, not a deadly one, but still enough to feel their building quake.

The presenter, despite being fully incentivized to continue his sales pitch, very empathetically said, “My suggestion is that we reschedule and continue this call in the future. Follow-on tremors of earthquakes often come in gaps of 3 to 5 minutes. So please find yourselves a safe place.”

Lovely presence of mind and empathy, don’t you think?

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Mister Queen? Part 2 of 2

In an episode of the Netflix series Mr. Queen, a significant moral dilemma is presented, demonstrating the timeless struggle between the greater good and individual welfare.

The king is faced with a decision that challenges the very essence of his reign: whether to sacrifice a young child for the supposed benefit of the many.

This situation illuminates the depth of his character and the principles upon which his rule stands.

Contrary to the expectations of a hierarchical society that often prioritized the collective over the individual, the king’s response is both profound and telling. He asserts that his power and position hold no value if he cannot protect even the weakest among his subjects.

This moment in Mr. Queen not only highlights the inherent value of each life but also serves as a reminder that leadership, at its core, is about safeguarding the vulnerable.

Through this narrative, Mr. Queen subtly critiques historical and contemporary notions of power, suggesting that true strength lies in compassion and moral integrity, rather than the cold calculus of sacrifice for the greater good.

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Mister Queen? Part 1 of 2

Oh, to be royalty!

Lounging in palaces, donning the fanciest robes, and feasting on… well, whatever was considered a delicacy back then (pigeon pie, anyone?).

But let’s face it, even the regal life of yesteryears pales in comparison to the simple pleasures of today.

Take, for instance, the hit Netflix TV show Mr. Queen.

Imagine the hilarity of a modern soul trapped in the body of a queen from the Joseon Dynasty.

Sure, you’ve got the whole kingdom at your beck and call, but what good is that when you’re craving some late-night ramen or dying to binge-watch your favorite show?

Suddenly, being able to order pizza at 2 AM or streaming endless hours of TV feels like a luxury fit for a king… or queen!

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Words matter! – part 2 of 2

When the researchers used the word “because”, the outcome changed materially! Like, “Hey, can I jump the queue and get 5 copies please, because I’m in a rush?”.

The number of people who would now agree to let the researchers skip the queue increased by 50 percent!

But was it because of the reason? Or was it because of the word “because”?

So then the researchers added some frivolous reason. Like, “Hey, can I jump the queue and get 5 copies please, because I have to make copies?”.

And lo and behold, despite the reason itself being silly and adding no new information, about the same increase in queue-skipping permission was seen.

Incredible no? It shows how important it is, that we use the right words!

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Words matter! – part 1 of 2

There used to be this silly English sentence when I was young, that the kids would discuss in school. About how it’s not possible to have 3 “because”s in a sentence. And then some other kid would say nope, it is possible, such as: “Because cannot be used to begin a sentence because because is a preposition.”

In a book called Magic Words (by Jonah Berger) that I just began reading, the author speaks of an interesting New York Copy experiment. Everyone knows that New Yorkers are always busy, have little time to speak, and are keen to finish their wok quickly and move to the next thing.

So the researchers went to a photocopy shop where a long queue was outside. They’d go up to the front of the queue and ask “Hey, can I jump the queue and get 5 copies please?”. Obviously no one wants to give in especially when they’re all waiting for the same thing.

But when the researchers used the word “because”?

Super insight…tomorrow!

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Experiential experiences

Swami Sukhabodananda speaks about “experiencing an experience”.

He says that this is the only real way to “true” happiness.

What does he mean by this? He himself gives an example:

"Experience an experience?" a student asked the master, "What was your experience before and after enlightenment?" The master replied, "Before enlightenment, I used to wake up, bathe, eat, chop wood, and sleep at night. After enlightenment, I did the same," he continued. "The only difference being, previously when I was doing similar chores, my mind used to be in the past or future. After enlightenment, when I eat—I eat, when I bathe—I bathe, and hence I live in the present. To experience an experience is to be present in that experience."
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Best for worst swap

Would you trade your best day for someone else’s worst? Seems like such a stupid question isn’t it. Of course you wouldn’t. And it would be senseless to expect anyone else too either, right?

Picture this.

Here are your worst days. Followed by someone else’s best days. [But they will trade their best days for your worst!]

  1. When you made a bonus of only 100 in a year. The other person added 1 to bring their net worth to 10.
  2. When you didn’t get the promotion you thought you deserved. The other person got a clerk job 3 years after being laid off with no work.
  3. When you couldn’t travel to the country of your dreams for vacation. The other person got a chance to visit her family back home after 3 consecutive years of work as a maid in a foreign land.

When someone is willing to take our worst days and give us their best, what does that say about one’s attitude to life?!

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Happiest day of my life

Sometimes I wonder if there aren’t already too many self help and self development books in the world. Hundreds if not thousands. And so many are bestsellers. Amazon is full of them. Many 5-star rated ones too.

All of these push and propel the readers towards hitherto unprecedented economic success.

“Happiest day of my life. I finally bought a Toyota Innova Crysta.”

This was what popped up on my Twitter feed, with the picture of a middle-aged man and his wife, standing next to a brown Toyota, holding on to an enlarged key, beaten in length only by the smile on his face.

Surely he cannot think that his happiness is linked to the car? We know this to be spirituality 101. But our man has probably not read any of the self development books. So he is forgiven.

But what about me? While I’m just a lurker in Twitter shadowland, in my mind, I’m getting super excited and super depressed, alternately, all day long. Some good news – wow super happy, some bad news, wow super sad.

As the wise ancients say, it is important to control one’s reactions in happiness, so that one can control one’s reaction in pain.

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The Adult Play Paradox – part 4 of 4

Whether it’s exploring new hobbies, engaging in spontaneous adventures, or simply embracing moments of silliness, there are countless ways to infuse play into our daily lives.

Consider the story of Jack (again from NatGeo), a middle-aged accountant who rediscovered the joy of play through improv comedy. Despite initial apprehension, Jack found liberation in letting go of his inhibitions and embracing the spontaneity of the moment.

By prioritizing play in our lives, we not only nurture our own well-being but also contribute to a more vibrant and connected community. Whether it’s organizing a neighborhood game night or volunteering with local youth programs, finding opportunities to play and connect with others fosters a sense of belonging and purpose.

Ultimately, embracing playfulness in adulthood is a choice—a choice to approach life with curiosity, creativity, and an open heart. By infusing our daily routines with moments of joy and laughter, we can unlock the full potential of our inner child and lead lives filled with meaning and fulfillment.

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The Adult Play Paradox – part 3 of 4

From the earliest stages of life, play served as a crucial tool for learning, socialization, and adaptation. Across species, playful behaviors are observed in both young and adult animals, highlighting its evolutionary significance in survival and development.

Take, for instance, the playful antics of dolphins, who engage in elaborate games of chase and tag. While these activities may seem lighthearted, they play a vital role in honing essential skills such as hunting, communication, and social bonding.

Similarly, scientists observed tadpoles hitching rides on bubbles from aquarium aeration stones, demonstrating playful behavior even in the earliest stages of development. This playful exploration likely serves to enhance their understanding of their environment and develop essential skills for survival.

Even in humans, play has been integral to our evolution, driving innovation, creativity, and problem-solving. Consider the story of Albert Einstein, who famously remarked, “Play is the highest form of research.” By embracing his playful curiosity, Einstein revolutionized our understanding of the universe.

Concluded tomorrow!

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The Adult Play Paradox – part 2 of 4

In the midst of adulthood’s responsibilities, play often takes a backseat. However, play serves as more than just a pastime; it’s a vital component of adult life that promotes creativity, problem-solving, and social connection.

Consider the story of Sarah as per the NatGeo article, a busy professional who rediscovered the joy of play through painting. Initially hesitant to indulge in such a seemingly frivolous activity, Sarah found solace and fulfillment in expressing herself creatively.

Engaging in playful activities not only reduces stress but also fosters deeper connections with others. Whether it’s a game night with friends or a spontaneous dance party, these moments of shared joy strengthen bonds and create lasting memories.

Moreover, play encourages us to approach challenges with a fresh perspective and a sense of curiosity. By embracing a playful mindset, we can navigate life’s complexities with resilience, adaptability, and a healthy dose of humor.

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The Adult Play Paradox – part 1 of 4

In the midst of a rare snowstorm in Washington, D.C., the cityscape became a playground for the imagination.
A group of adults was attempting to build a snowman. Despite initial awkwardness, laughter soon filled the air as they embraced their inner child, demonstrating the joy and camaraderie that play can foster.

Yet, amidst the enchanting scenery, the notion of adult play faced skepticism, echoing societal norms that often dismiss playfulness as childish. But beneath the surface, play holds profound significance beyond mere amusement, as explored in the January 2024 edition of National Geographic.


Renowned psychiatrist Stuart Brown coined the term “adult-play deficit” to describe the alarming decline in adult playfulness, as discussed in said NatGeo article. He warns that this deficit may contribute to rising rates of depression and other mental health issues, highlighting the serious consequences of overlooking the importance of play in adulthood.

Recent scientific findings support the evolutionary roots of play, suggesting it’s as essential as sleep for mammals, including humans. From enhancing cognitive function to strengthening social bonds, play enriches our lives in multifaceted ways, challenging the notion that it’s solely reserved for children. More findings tomorrow!

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Winners and workers

Although “Everyone loves Raymond” (that hit TV show from yesteryear), everyone loves winning, even more!

Everyone also knows the ingredients needed to win.

Most people have the ingredients too.

But are they used properly?

Nope.

Here’s a lovely quote that sums this up:

It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters

Paul “Bear” Bryant
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Power laws

We know the power of words. Say something appreciative, and you might capture the recipient for life. Say something nasty, and you might lose a relationship forever.

Likewise, the power of our thoughts. Would we just think bad stuff, if we knew that our thoughts come to fruition? If we are constantly fed the negative, now can we expect the outcome to be positive?

Ditto for our presence. We can’t be omnipresent, thankfully! And yet, we mentally try to be everywhere at once. If that doesn’t give us anxiety, then what were we expecting?

Our words, thoughts and presence matter. More than we can imagine.

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Clowny day

Step into the emotional landscape of ‘Vesti la Giubba,’ an aria from Ruggero Leoncavallo’s 1892 opera ‘Pagliacci.’ Here, a grieving clown, informed of his beloved’s demise, must bravely don his costume, take the stage, and uplift the audience.

This powerful scene encapsulates the resilience to confront life’s trials without succumbing to self-pity.

Delving into Hinduism and spirituality, the perspective on death transcends conventional understanding. Unlike a mere transition, it posits that there is no true end.

Life, according to this philosophy, perpetuates through various forms, urging us to embrace the cyclicality of existence. This spiritual viewpoint challenges the fear of mortality, offering solace in the belief that life transcends boundaries, echoing the powerful resilience symbolized by ‘Vesti la Giubba.’

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Failed but what?

We discussed the amazingly motivational move “12th fail” here recently.

One of the best takeaways from the movie is the word “Restart”. It’s also the mantra of the movie, that’s is applicable to each one of us maybe, and even more, to me.

When the protagonist fails repeatedly, his coach too repeatedly tells him the same thing. To restart. Because failure only crystallizes when we don’t restart.

And as any user of a Windows laptop knows, the solution to every problem is nothing but a restart!

So here I was, restarting my PC for some simple issue that of course I failed to troubleshoot. And I loved what the message said:

You’re 28% there. But you need to keep the computer on. Nothing good can happen if we switch off at the very point that we need to be switched on!

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Truly healthy

The word swasthya in Sanskrit refers to health.

I came across a very interesting interpretation by Sage Ashtavakra of Ashtavakra Gita fame. He was ashta-vakra because of his 8 physical deformities.

Could such a person be perfectly healthy or swasthya?

Seems impossible, but he was!

How?

Because his physicality was irrelevant to him. All he cared about, was being forever established in the Self.

Which is swa-stitha, or self-established. How cool is that?

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Shragaal Gita

So here’s a Gita that I never heard of before, until I chanced upon a thread on X. Encountering this Gita, also known as the Jackal Gita, nestled within the Mahabharata’s Vana Parva, unveils a lesser-known yet profound dialogue between a wise jackal and sage Kashyapa, offering solace and guidance. The wisdom shared includes:

  • Humans are blessed with hands, which jackals and animals don’t have.
  • Even so, animals never contemplate suicide, and do their best with what they have.
  • The jackal explains how running after money won’t help him, a brahmin, become a king. And even a king cannot become a Devata. And a Devata cannot become Indra. And even Indra is dissatisfied!
  • Hence Kashyap muni should embrace being born as a human + brahmin, and do his dharma.
  • The sage then realizes that the jackal is none other than Indra himself in disguise!

This interesting and relatively less known Gita is a gem and enriches one’s understanding of ancient scriptures, offering valuable insights for navigating life’s complexities.

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Bigger better tougher

A recent ad enroute to the airport caught my eye.

It was an aptly placed photo of a really premium and really rugged luggage.

Very strong and very durable.

And it had been put through some endurance tests, presumably.

Because the tagine it went with was, “The bigger the test, the bigger the person becomes.”

A good reminder for me, when I feel like curling up into a ball and shutting out the world at the slightest hint of something not going my way…

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Food spirit

Many people find it cool to shun spirituality. And religion.

In its truest form, religion only helps make spirituality more accessible.

Why is spirituality needed?

We are all a combination of matter and spirit.

We know this, because just physically assembling a human body together will not make it “alive”, as it will still lack the spirit of life.

But we tend to spend all our time feeding the matter in us. Which might make us rich in material terms.

But what food are we giving to our spirit? Especially when it is the only thing can truly resolve our inner malaise?

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Divine ask

In the grand theater of existence, we often play the role of demanding divas, seeking divine intervention for our every whim. It’s like ordering takeout from the universe, expecting it to arrive in thirty minutes or less, with a side of enlightenment.

But the Divine isn’t a wish-granting genie; it’s more like a wise old friend gently nudging us towards self-discovery, all while chuckling at our attempts to control the cosmos with a vision board and a prayer.

So, next time we bargain with the Divine like flea market shoppers, remember: it’s not about what we get, but who we become in the process.

We must ask ourselves, do we want the Divine? Or only what the Divine can give us?

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Chakras and mantras

In the realm of Kundalinī-yoga, there’s a captivating concept known as “nerve-centers.”

These points, often called chakras, aren’t just physiological plexuses; they represent deeper psychological levels that modern science hasn’t fully explored.

When diving into Kundalinī-yoga, it’s supposed to be like embarking on a journey through consciousness. Each step involves ascending from one level of awareness to the next, encountering spiritual obstacles known as granthi along the way. This path is supposed to require intense concentration and perseverance until the aspirant reaches the pinnacle of universal consciousness.

Other schools of thought involve chanting and focusing various mantras on various energy centers to make spiritual progress.

The roads are myriad, but the destination one.

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Yugased it right!

In an interesting podcast featuring one Nilesh Oak, a historian by profession, he describes the concept of yugas, as mentioned in a part of the Aitreya Brahmana.

Now typically yugas are considered to be large time periods, and some of the dating doesn’t even make sense.

For instance, the common number one sees is that some 432,000 years makes up one yuga. And some will compound this number as well. And then they say the Mahabharata happened one yuga ago, so 432,000 years ago. Really? Was there even any human life back then?

And thus this different explanation of yugas was symbolic and interesting, as are most things in Hinduism! What did it say?

That when we sleep, that is Kali Yuga. When we wake up and sit, it is Treta Yuga. When we stand, it is Dwapara Yuga, and when we take action, it is Satya Yuga!

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Vana go?

In Sanatana Dharma, there are 4 stages of life progression.

Brahmachari, or student life.

Grihastashram, or family life (as a householder).

Vanaprastha, or going to the forest, relinquishing material life.

And lastly Sanyasa, which is completely giving up everything.

This is a beautiful progression no doubt.

But a billboard ad caught my eye today enroute to work. They were selling apartments in a lovely looking skyrise building.

The name of the building? Vana, of course, from Vanaprastha, but minus the prastha!

What are they offering? That for an insane price, one can buy a princely apartment in that building, with a nice forest-ish appearance (i.e., lots of trees!) and hence leaving no need to go to the forest for vanvaas at all!

Are  we running away from materialism, or towards it?!

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Forgetful prayer – part 4 of 4

Is there another lesson for us from what Swami Vivekananda did?

Do we completely give up our prayers, and wish for nothing?

And if we stop asking, will the Gods not make those things happen?

Do things happen only because we ask? Well surely this we know is not true. Our efforts matter, but most things are outside our control.

Then why pray? For our mental peace, at the very least. Because that is truly the only thing that matters. If we are lucky, specific chants might provide specific material results too.

Therefore it makes sense to pray for us to have the right mindset for every situation. That will us to samatvam, or equipoise in the face of everything.

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Forgetful prayer – part 3 of 4

So, what can we glean from Vivekananda’s experience? It prompts us to contemplate our own approach to prayer and spirituality. Are we too focused on asking for specific outcomes, rather than seeking a deeper connection with the divine?

The notion of living without constantly seeking fulfillment through external means poses a significant challenge. It requires a level of spiritual maturity and selflessness that few attain. Yet, it’s a worthy aspiration, inviting us to transcend our material desires and embrace a more profound understanding of existence.

In essence, Vivekananda’s journey urges us to reflect on the interconnectedness of prayer, enlightenment, and liberation. Perhaps it’s not about achieving one before the other, but rather recognizing that they are intrinsically linked – different facets of the same spiritual evolution. It’s a journey of self-discovery and growth, where each step brings us closer to realizing our true nature and purpose.

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Forgetful prayer – part 2 of 4

In Vivekananda’s repeated attempts to ask for help within the shrine, we witness a struggle familiar to many: the tension between faith and doubt, action and inaction.

Despite his genuine need, Vivekananda’s forgetfulness highlights the complexity of human nature, where even sincere intentions can be overshadowed by distractions or uncertainties. But was he really distracted or uncertain? Perhaps not.

It might be we who are truly distracted. Distracted away from God and into materialism. Vivekananda was exactly the opposite, because he forgot everything in the presence of the Lord. That’s not distraction, is it?

Ultimately, Ramakrishna’s gentle rebuke – that asking for material gains without understanding life’s deeper truths is folly – challenges us to reflect on our own motivations and expectations in prayer and in life. It’s a lesson in aligning our desires with a deeper understanding of the universe and our place within it.

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Forgetful prayer – part 1 of 4

There’s a remarkable incident from Vivekananda’s life that offers profound insight. Picture this: his mother lay gravely ill, nearing the end of her life, and Vivekananda found himself without the means to provide her essential medication or sustenance. The frustration and helplessness he felt must have been overwhelming.

In his distress, he turned to Sri Ramakrishna, seeking solace and guidance. Venting his emotions, he questioned the value of spirituality in the face of his mother’s suffering. Ramakrishna, a devout worshiper of Kali, suggested an unconventional approach: to seek assistance directly from the divine.

Despite initial doubts, Vivekananda entered the shrine. But, remarkably, he forgot to make his plea. This happened not once, but twice, demonstrating the fallibility of even the most earnest intentions in moments of crisis. Ramakrishna’s patient insistence on trying again underscored the importance of perseverance in spiritual practice.

What happened next? Continued tomorrow…

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Divine address

Ever pondered how to address the divine? The Bhagavad Gītā offers a hint: “Howsoever men approach me, even so do I accept them,” says the Avatar. Thus, whether one prefers a paternal or maternal demeanor, divinity accommodates all.

Within the realm of the divine, gender and personality dissolve, akin to fitting an elephant into a teacup—utterly futile, yet oddly amusing.

Here’s the twist: from the impersonal Brahman, cosmic entity extraordinaire, emerges the personalized Iśvara, donning a human-like garb for a more relatable vibe.

And when chaos beckons and evil looms large, God sheds the celestial garb, donning the guise of an Avatar—a divine intervention akin to a cosmic superhero, ready to save the day in style. Whether as Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, or the next box-office hit Avatar, divinity reigns supreme in all its multifaceted glory.

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Ego trippin’

Can (pseudo) spirituality manifest in untoward ways?

  1. Social Media Showcase: Some individuals attend meditation retreats primarily to flaunt their spirituality on social media, seeking validation instead of inner growth. By posting photos of themselves meditating, they prioritize external validation over genuine spiritual connection. Their focus shifts from personal development to impressing others, turning their spiritual practice into a disguised ego trip.
  2. Intellectual Ego Boost: Others use spiritual quotes and discussions to appear wise or enlightened in conversations. Rather than embodying humility, they seek admiration and elevate themselves intellectually. Their motivation isn’t genuine spiritual growth but rather to assert superiority over others, feeding their ego through the guise of spirituality.
  3. Manipulative Justification: Some manipulate spiritual teachings to justify selfish actions, distorting spirituality for personal gain. By claiming alignment with spiritual principles while harming others, they prioritize their own interests over compassion and understanding. In doing so, they not only deceive others but also corrupt the essence of genuine spiritual practice.
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Sam equanimity

The Sanskrit word samata refers to equanimity. Neither getting too happy when something good happens, nor getting too sad when something bad happens.

Samata is possibly the first step in karma yoga.

Can we directly give up all attachments and desires? Very difficult.

But can we slowly and surely train ourselves to be lesser and lesser volatile (of mind) to outside events? Absolutely.

And this will naturally cultivate a sense of detachment. Such an internal shift leads to a separation between the active surface personality, engrossed in various engagements, and the inner peace and detachment.

The individual begins to perceive that it is not they who are solely responsible for their actions, but rather that the actions are being carried out through them.

This perspective eliminates feelings of possessiveness or attachment to the outcome of their endeavors, regardless of their perceived significance or success in conventional consciousness.

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Cosmic liking

We fawn over ourselves like the world’s most stunning Instagram filter.

Yet, one snarky comment and our self-worth crumbles faster than a gluten-free cookie. What gives?

Vedic spirituality calls it “Maya”.

We see ourselves reflected in other people’s opinions, forgetting the eternal, flawless Self within.

Ditch the external validation and grab your meditation cushion.

Uncover your inner diamond, and those fleeting opinions will lose their sparkle.

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Just forget it

Forgetfulness comes in various forms. Sometimes, we misplace items or overlook appointments – minor slip-ups. But there’s a deeper, more profound kind of forgetfulness: absent mindfulness, where we lose touch with ourselves.

I stumbled upon the thoughts of the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard in an article in the paper. In his 1843 work, “either/or,” Kierkegaard reflected, “The unhappy person is one who has…the content of his life, the fullness of his consciousness, the essence of his being…outside of himself.” This detachment from oneself, Kierkegaard argued, leads to perpetual absence from the present moment.

He identified existential boredom as the root cause of our frantic pursuit of distractions, long before the digital age. Kierkegaard viewed this busyness as absurd – a futile attempt to fill the void of meaninglessness.

So, what’s Kierkegaard’s answer? He challenges us to find truth within ourselves. It’s about discovering ourselves in the here and now, where past and future fade away, leaving only the perfect present tense.

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TTSP, again

We’ve already seen TTSP once before.

But this was echoed several centuries ago by the wise Birbal.

King Akbar once asked him, “What is it that will make an unhappy man happy, and a happy man unhappy?”.

Birbal thought for a moment and replied, “This too shall pass!”, indicating that everything is transitory only.

If a moment seems too good, and a happy man is revelling in that moment, that moment will soon pass. And likewise for the unhappy man, who is extrapolating his life to constantly get worser and worser. But as we well know, TTSP!

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Praising the Box

In a TV series called Curbing Your Enthusiasm, one of the protagonists throws himself a “live” funeral. He’s absolutely convinced that it will catch on too!

What is this, according to the funny guy? A pretty nice concept, if you think about it.

His premise is that when everyone’s going to come to his funeral after he dies, they will invariably have very nice things to say. But, they will be saying all those nice things to “the body in the box”.

So, why not have the same situation, but receive the praise when alive instead?

The concept is cool. And it’s amazing really how no one praises anyone during the normal course of life. At least not when they aren’t expecting anything in return!

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Pleasurable pleasures

Why give up the thrill of pleasure, huh? Imagine soaking in a breathtaking sunset, admiring a majestic tree, or following the graceful flow of a river—sheer bliss!

But here’s the twist: when we cling to those moments like they’re going out of style, they become addictive. Suddenly, that beautiful face or serene landscape becomes an obsession.

We’ve all been there. We revel in a moment—be it artistic, intellectual, or simply awe-inspiring—and we’re hooked. Yet, this pursuit often clouds our minds, breeding false ideals and endless illusions.

Let’s be realistic though. Trying to kick pleasure to the curb is a futile endeavor. Instead, we could dissect it, and understand its quirks and cravings. Because when life becomes a relentless pursuit of pleasure, it’s like opening Pandora’s box of chaos, confusion, and blurred lines. Pleasure can be painful.

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Reclamation

Just came across a nice Jay Shetty video where a young lady all of 26, asks him for advice. She was hit by brain cancer 4 years prior, and she’s obviously seen all of her friends and colleagues move forward in life, whereas time had stood still for her.

How could she possibly reclaim her life?

Jay’s answer was sensible and sensitive. After calling out how inspiring this young lady was, he told her that what she and many others go through at such a point in time, is perhaps grief.

Why grief?

Because, he explained, that grief doesn’t just come because of losing someone or something, it could also come because of not having the life one would have wanted or thought they should have.

Pretty interesting way to define grief, no?

And he also said that the lady should continue to share her story with others and inspire those around her. Because as she helps others bring down their grief, her own grief would reduce!

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The wanderer – part 2 of 2

Our minds have a habit of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. And let’s face it, they can cling to the negative like Velcro. But here’s the important bit: we’re all born with innocence, just waiting to be rediscovered.

Remember those carefree days of childhood, when every moment was an adventure? That innocence is still within us, ready to bring a little magic back into our lives.

So, if we loosen up and embrace simplicity, life could become a whole lot sweeter. It’s not just about gaining knowledge; it’s about reconnecting with our inner selves. By welcoming our innocence, we can open ourselves up to a world of joy, spontaneity, and endless possibilities.

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The wanderer – part 1 of 2

Ever catch your mind in a daydream? It’s like a puppy, always chasing after the next thing. But here’s the deal: being aware of what’s going on up there is like having a superpower. It’s our ticket to taming stress and anxiety.

Sometimes our thoughts feel like a flock of birds, darting from one idea to the next without a care in the world. But when we start paying attention, we realize we can guide those thoughts like a skilled shepherd herding sheep.

The next time our minds take off on their own adventure, let’s grab the reins and steer them back to the present moment. Who knows? We might just discover a newfound sense of peace and clarity amidst the chaos of everyday life.

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Deathly dollhouse

In the recently released Hollywood movie called Barbie, there’s some interesting dialogues.

Of course Barbies always have fun and every day is perfect.

Just like the perfect world imagined by the minds of so many little girls who love their dolls.

However, one day, Barbie faces an existential question.

She begins to think about death, and that too, while shaking a leg at a party.

“Have you other dolls ever thought about dying?”

And suddenly there’s pin drop silence. Clearly this is a no-no on Barbie-land.

So Barbie quickly covers up, “I meant, I’m just dying to dance…”, and the party resumes like it never even stopped!

Funny stuff, but in the real world, we know all too well, that it is the thought of mortality that truly awakens one’s spirituality.

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King of the Whirled

An octogenarian leader made it clear that relinquishing power is not on the agenda. Despite advancing age and mounting health concerns, he remains steadfast in his position, defying expectations of retirement.

This stance prompts reflection on the universal struggle of letting go of power and privilege, even in later life. It highlights how deeply ingrained desires and attachments can overshadow considerations of what may be best for succession planning.

This narrative serves as a reminder of the complexities of human nature, where the allure of power often outweighs rational judgment or recognition of one’s limitations. It underscores the wisdom found in spiritual teachings, advocating for detachment from worldly desires and the pursuit of inner peace.

For the elderly leader, the throne is his whirlwind, a realm he’s reluctant to depart. Do we have such thrones as well?

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Desirelessness

Can we truly give up all desires?

Perhaps not.

But can we give up one desire for another?

I feel like buying that cool looking $1200 new iPhone, but then seeing the $3500 Vision Pro makes my heart skip a beat (insane price and awesomeness both!).

So the interim solution is probably in trading desires upwards. Go for something better, and replace the lower.

Keep doing this, and we’ll realize that the only desire that truly and comprehensively fills the heart is the desire for God and the Self.

That’s also when we’ll accept that we already have everything that truly matters. What good is a desire for the one who has it all?

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Spirituality at work

It’s difficult bringing spirituality to work, isn’t it? Most people don’t get it, or don’t care. And we ourselves may not fully understand how to implement what Krishna has said. So here are three simple pointers:

  • Give Your Best: No shortcuts, just your A-game!
  • Keep Your Cool: Inner peace amidst the chaos is key.
  • Share the Success: We didn’t get here alone, and there are many people who will benefit from us, in myriad ways!

Being spiritual doesn’t mean being naive. But we can surely tackle the corporate jungle with a dash of mindfulness.

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The good old…

People always reminisce about the “good old days,” but maybe, the good old days are happening right now!

Remember when we had to rely on paper train timetables or stop random strangers for directions? Now, with just a tap on our smartphones, we can navigate through the chaotic streets of Mumbai or the bustling markets of Delhi without breaking a sweat.

The struggle of waiting for a bus in the scorching heat or pouring rain, praying it would arrive on time? Nowadays, with ride-hailing apps, we can summon a ride with a few taps and avoid the dreaded wait.

Back then, if you missed your favorite Bollywood movie at the cinema, you might have to wait ages for it to come out on DVD. But now? Streaming platforms bring the latest releases pronto.

So, let’s raise a chai to the present chaos because someday, we’ll look back and say, “Remember when we thought these were the good old days?”

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Magic garland

Here’s a super “miracle” that I had the good fortune to witness recently.

I was with a staunch devotee of a particular deity. This deity was the Ishta Devata of said person, and the person would chant copious malas of this deity’s mantras daily.

I watched the person put small flower garlands across the photos of all the various deities at their altar. All garlands from the same strip, and all similar flowers.

And yet, the next morning, while all the other garlands had wilted, only the garland around the Ishta Devata was incredibly fresh!

The difference was absolutely remarkable, almost as though that specific deity’s photo had specially charged energy… Divine and miraculous indeed!

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Practical virtues

In chapter 16 of the Amazing Simple Gita, my Guru has added an important element for many virtues in the first 3 verses. One of pragmatism and practicality.

Some people try to conflate the virtues given with perpetual application. In every single situation.

The virtue list asks to tell the truth? Well tell the truth all the time then, even if it hurts someone, especially a dharmic person.

Here’s one:

Kshama: An automatic, effortless (non-reactive) forgiveness. No stupidity, Great Prithviraj Chawhan, forgave his enemy 7 times and got killed in the 8th battle. Never forgive durjanas.

Adhroha: Bearing no enmity, dislike to none. Yet applied depending on your duty. For instance border protector, soldier and police. Don’t wait to get killed by other’s tricks.

See the stuff in bold? How practical is that!

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Extra of the ordinary

How about we cherish the beauty of the everyday? In the simplicity of routine, we uncover moments of wonder and joy, whether it’s the melody of birdsong, the comfort of a familiar embrace, or the aroma of freshly baked bread.

Amidst the hustle of life, we could pause to appreciate the magic in ordinary moments, like the gentle rustle of leaves in the wind or the soft glow of a candle’s flame.

We can embrace the notion that true miracles lie in the everyday, reminding ourselves to seek awe in the seemingly mundane, like the way sunlight dances through the trees or the laughter of children playing in the park.

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Journey or destination? Neither?

We’re always told to value the journey over the destination, right?

Because focusing on the destination aka result is what brings us stress and anxiety. Focusing on the journey hence will allow us to “enjoy the moment”.

Here’s another nice take I came across recently.

Shift your focus from the ‘how’ to the ‘who‘ – because the people you surround yourself with shape your journey.

In life’s adventure, the beauty lies in the company you keep. Prioritize the ‘who’ over the ‘how.’

There is magic in embracing inspiring souls; they transform ordinary journeys into extraordinary adventures.

The right people could make every journey and destination brilliant.

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Cat outta the bag

In Rajarshi Nandi’s book called Adhyatmikta, the author presents an interesting view on sects or lineages of saints, called sampradayas.

Many people simply become egoistic today, saying that they are linked to so and so lineage. Does it really matter?

Here’s a funny excerpt from the book…

Each sampradaya is susceptible to a single weak link in the chain of transmission. Nobody can fix this; that is how matters transpire. The classic example given is that of one great pundit who had a cat and would tie that cat near his puja room when he sat for puja so that the animal did not disturb him. Few generations down the line nobody really remembered why he used to tie the cat, but the thought process, and that action transformed into a dogma and a new rule was made that whoever did that puja ought to first buy one cat for himself and then tie it near the room!
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Simple reality

  • Life’s pursuit? Seek limitlessness.
  • Problem: How we seek.
  • Why? Because desires drive us, and actions limit us.
  • Upanishad say: Seeker and sought unite.
  • Knowledge, not action, leads.
  • Then why act? As work purifies mind, detached.
  • Pure mind grasps reality fast.
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Nature’s call

In Sanskrit philosophy, there’s this concept called “prakriti,” which refers to nature’s role in shaping our consciousness and giving it boundaries. Pra+kriti, first+action.

It’s like nature’s way of guiding us to act in certain ways, almost instinctively. Picture it as our default mode of action, the way we naturally respond when faced with a situation that demands action.

This innate nature, deeply embedded within us, influences how we perceive and interact with the world around us. Until we learn to master it, we’re bound by its constraints.

There’s this saying in Sanskrit that I came across, “svabhavo vijayati iti shauryam,” which translates to “the true heroism is to conquer our own nature.” It’s about overcoming those instinctual impulses and limitations to truly assert control over our actions and decisions.

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Mauna

A relative was recently discussing an experience of a silent spiritual retreat.

I’ve heard of these before, but never had the courage to attempt one. Still won’t, I think.

But it’s interesting when you realize that verbal silence is only one aspect of it. The real mauna is in the ability to make the mind go quiet. Silencing the mouth is just a means to that end.

Apparently there are a few types of maunas.

Karna mauna: control of speech;

Kastha mauna: maintaining a neutral expression in every way;

Susupti mauna: clearing the mind of doubts, recognizing life’s transient nature and the role of the three Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas;

Maha mauna: achieving a complete cessation of thoughts

Clearly, shutting my mouth is far easier than the others!

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No fear seer

Guruji’s Wisdom: “I am the body” breeds fear—of hurt, death, loss.

Cosmic Play: Recognize life as Lord’s Prakriti, embracing desire’s exhaustion for innate fearlessness.

Death’s Truth: Realize death befalls the body, not the everlasting soul—fear wanes.

Relinquish Labels: Strip away “I and mine,” embracing everything as the Lord’s—fear fades.

Devotion Triumphs Fear: Total faith in the Lord dispels fear; Prahalad’s unwavering trust exemplifies.

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Hard or soft?

In the realm of leadership today, there’s a lot of buzz around soft skills, and empathy often gets thrown into that mix. But Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sees it differently. He believes understanding others goes far beyond what we typically consider soft skills. To him, labeling empathy as “soft” undermines its true importance—it’s actually one of the toughest skills to master.

Nadella emphasized this point in an interview with Axel Springer’s CEO Mathias Döpfner, stating, “Empathy is not a soft skill. It’s the hardest one to master—to truly connect with the world and the people who matter most to us.”

Moreover, Nadella highlights that empathy isn’t just about bettering relationships within a company—it’s also integral for understanding customers. According to him, genuine innovation stems from empathetically addressing unspoken needs.

Nadella has long championed the significance of empathy in leadership. His personal experiences, including being a father to his late son Zain, who had special needs, profoundly shaped his perspective. He acknowledges his wife’s empathy as a driving force behind his own commitment to infusing compassion into both his personal and professional endeavors.

In essence, Nadella’s stance underscores that empathy isn’t merely a trendy concept—it’s a fundamental pillar of effective leadership.

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Big, bigger…

Steve Schwarzman is global Private Equity behemoth Blackstone’s Founder and Chairman.

He’s 77 years old, and is worth some ~38bn dollars. So one can say he’s successful.

Here’s what he said in an interview recently, which offers some exceptional motivation:

Schwarzman, who will likely never retire, insists his global ambitions have nothing to do with money. "I look at anything and say, 'What's the maximum we can make this?"" he says of his life's work. "If you see some amazing opportunity, I just get so excited about that. Why shouldn't we own that? Let's go."
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Cool, calm, confident

Ever found yourself pondering how to tackle an unusual challenge? Imagine facing a judge’s puzzling verdict: a prisoner must be hanged on a surprise day from Monday to Friday.

Instead of succumbing to fear, the prisoner remains calm, employing a brilliant strategy. If he stays alive until Thursday, the judge’s Friday execution loses its element of surprise.

Extending this logical approach, if he survives until Wednesday, Thursday’s execution is ruled out. This method continues for each day, ultimately making a surprise punishment impossible.

This tale unfolds a powerful lesson in navigating tough situations with a composed mind and innovative thinking. When faced with adversity, the ability to think beyond the obvious can work wonders. The prisoner’s clever reasoning not only spared his life but left the judge in awe, leading to a compassionate decision.

In life’s challenges, perhaps remarkable solutions emerge when one stays calm and embraces creativity.

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Choosing choice

In our journey as humans, we’re endowed with the incredible gift of the human form, giving us the unique ability to choose our thoughts, feelings, and actions. This power shapes our destiny and happiness.

Life is often turbulent, filled with trials. Yet, amid the storm, our choices remain in our control. We can choose our attitude, our response – to be positive, proactive, and resilient.

Cultivating the art of choice is vital. Each decision carries consequences. Discovering our purpose guides us towards meaningful choices, aligning us with fulfillment and freedom.

But beware of ego-driven choices, which lead to bondage and suffering. The study of Vedanta offers wisdom, clarifying our path towards a meaningful and joyful existence.

In the end, the power of choice is divine – a force that shapes our lives and the world around us. Embrace it, for it resides within each of us.

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Meditative mantra

In the chaos of our daily lives, meditation has become a lifeline for many chasing success and inner peace. But what’s the real key to making meditation work? Well, it’s simpler than you might think: just repeat to yourself, “I am nothing, I know nothing, I do nothing.

Now, that might sound counterintuitive in a world obsessed with achievement, but here’s the trick – it’s all about letting go. Embrace the mantra, embrace the nothingness.

By acknowledging our smallness, we actually find a deeper connection within ourselves. It’s like shedding layers of stress, anxiety and ego.

This mantra isn’t about achieving something monumental. It’s about finding peace in the now, letting go of the need to know everything, and realizing that sometimes doing nothing is the most productive thing you can do.

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Really real problems

We’ve discussed previously the very nice and funny TV series called Our Man in… where the host is none other than James May of Top Gear fame.

Guess where he’s traveled to after visiting Japan and Italy? Well, India of course!

India is a country that’s just too vast to do full justice on a 3-episode show. And so while May has tried, he’s barely scratched the surface. At least it leaves room for him to come back for more!

What struck me as poignant, was how he a Britisher, and therefore ex-“colonizer” (as one of his guests in an episode funnily put it), summed up India at the end.

He acknowledged that foreign people always talk about the problems in India. And then he added, “The problems of India are no different than the problems we have back home. The only thing is, India is much bigger, and hence its problems look that much bigger.”

Nicely on point. The problems everywhere are the same. And interestingly, the solutions are the same as well. All dealing with the mind, and cleanly provided in our scriptures!

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Candle lit

Remember Elton John’s touching but outstanding song, “Candle in the Wind”? It got me thinking about life in another way.

Imagine life as a flame, akin to the candle in Elton’s song, but with an uplifting twist.

Each of us is like a candle, glowing brightly for a time before we’re gone.

Yet, the flame – our spirit or essence – doesn’t end with us. It moves on, lighting another candle, another life.

This is an analogical perspective to rebirth, isn’t it?

Our physical form may flicker out, but our essence continues in the endless cycle of life, much like the enduring melody of a beautiful song…

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Thanks but yes thanks

Daana or charity has a special place in spirituality. Lord Krishna considers it amongst the key rungs on the spiritual ladder.

Why would this be?

Because the root cause of all our troubles is said to be the ego. The more the ego has, the more it wants.

Au contraire, the more it gives away, the weaker it becomes.

This nicely sums up daana. Because when we part with something, we’re actually not losers, but gainers in the most crucial sense.

So charity, assuming it’s done right, with no expectations, and given to the right people / organizations, means that it’s really not the receivers who should be telling thanks to the givers. Rather it should be the givers telling them thanks, for giving them the opportunity to perform daana!

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Listen up

There was a funny incident recently. A session on improving presentation skills was being conducted.

The speaker said that there were three key things to watch out for.

  1. Listening
  2. Questioning
  3. Messaging

The speaker then said that he wanted the audience to pick any one of the three key focus areas that they believed were their strong point.

Everyone picked one of the three and put that into the chat box (most sessions happen online nowadays you see!).

Everyone except one chap. He picked Listening and Questioning.

The speaker said you’ve to pick only one. So he picked Listening.

But it’s funny no? The guy who picked Listening as his strong suit couldn’t listen to the requirement, which was to pick only one! Sums me up well many times, when I’m just physically present but mentally far far away someplace…

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Mental subtraction

Here’s a nice mental model that I came across recently.

What “mental subtraction” calls for, is to imagine that certain situations have not happened in our lives.

Many times we feel low and depressed. But how to get out of this rut? Mental subtraction of course!

So just think of the most important and the happiest events and situations that happened in your life.

Could be when you got married, or when you graduated, or got a promotion, or got your first child, or any of 100s of other such situations.

Now mental subtraction requires us to slowly remove each of these incidents from our lives. The positive triggers that pushed our trajectory forward? Yes, remove them.

How would we have felt? Where would we be? Surely not in a better position than we are in today?

And thus the need for gratitude and faith. Nothing is truly in our hands, but still, we are in good hands.

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Worship mentality

A lot of people would be doing homas (fire worship) for a variety of reasons.

While I was reading an excellent manual on performing a Chandi Homam (Mother Chandi is the divine primordial energy of life), I was struck by the message provided by the author on the mindset one needs to adopt while doing this homam. Pasting it below, verbatim, for your reading pleasure!

However, it is not necessary that She should take away one's material success and prosperity in order to give spiritual upliftment. In fact, many people who perform Chandi homam everyday or every week using this document may experience continued or even increased material success (and yet be able to remain detached from it and progress spiritually). However, in some cases, She may decide to give a shock or two in worldly matters if something is badly blocking one's spiritual progress and a setback is needed. The path towards self-realization is different for each person. She knows the best for each person. Unless one is willing to surrender to Her completely and accept whatever comes one's way good or bad as Her blessings and unless one does not expect any specific material benefit from this homam, one should not use this document to perform Chandi homam.

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Hamster Manster

Seem a hamster wheel before? No doubt you have!

It seems silly that the hamster keeps running on it, despite getting nowhere.

Well here’s the story of someone I know.

He was perched on a ladder, and was doing great.

Then he looked down, and felt super, because he saw many below him on lower rungs of the ladder.

Then he looked up, and felt sick, because there were so many above him on higher rungs.

And he felt those above him were getting away, farther and farther, while those below, seemed to be catching up!

But the Divine Being who was standing outside and observing, could clearly make out that the ladder was nothing more than a circle, exactly like a hamster’s wheel.

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Speak down

Most people today are crazy about speaking up. They just do anything to get the first word in, and more importantly, their word in.

It’s as though the world is run by people who talk, talk and talk more.

Speaking up is important, no doubt, at specific times.

But only speaking, and not letting anyone else in on the conversation? That’s plain bad manners!

And yet, most people just love the sound of their own voice a bit too much!

But you know what’s even more beautiful than sound and perhaps more important?

Silence!

Silence is crucial if one wants to listen to and understand the words and perspectives of others. Wisdom calls upon us only when we are silent. We can feel the Self within, only in silence. Indeed, silence is the true language of Creation.

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Extreme devotion?

Came across the interesting concept of Virodha Bhakti, or reverse devotion. The practitioners harbor such intense hatred towards God that they undergo self-destruction, only to be rescued by the very divine force that annihilated them.

This philosophy suggests that the immense power and transformative nature of the Divine makes any interaction, even adversarial, ultimately beneficial for the Seeker.

Liberation is attained when an asura, slain by Vishnu or Durga (for example) in battle, experiences this paradoxical union of destruction and salvation.

The gods of Hinduism, capable of formidable deeds, execute their actions with perfect detachment – destroying without hatred and loving without attachment.

This paradoxical nature underscores the profound dynamics of spirituality.

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10k marathon

Everyone who runs a marathon knows that the 10k or 10 kilometers run is not even close to the actual 42km.

Neither is it close to the half marathon at 21k.

But 10k is important in itself, as the stepping stone to the larger numbers. 10k is also the over-publicized and over-quoted number from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers where he coaxes people to get in 10k hours of practice on anything if they seek mastery.

We’ve discussed this before as well, and so we’ll get to the point. 10k hours works in everything, including spirituality. We spend 10k hours on many things, but how about on prayer?

Many people question faith. They say our scriptures and vedic chants do not work. But these statements come from quarters that have never tried these out. Try calling out to a deity with shraddha and bhakti 10k-hours-worth times and the view will change!

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Poverty-stricken who

For the Ayodhya Ram Mandir consecration, the who’s who across various fields were been invited to attend.

But there’s also one poor ragpicker who was invited.

Really? Why?

Because she had donated a meagre 20 rupees in total, 10 from her side, and 10 for her unwell son.

20 rupees is nothing. The middle class will argue that with inflation, even 2 million rupees is nothing.

But what this lady lacked in money, she made up for in faith and devotion.

In terms of money, everyone reading this would never considering themselves to be in poverty.

But I can’t help but wonder if I’m not spiritually impoverished. And whether the Guru has been trying forever to lift me above the poverty line.

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Tester kit

Life is a test. Or maybe a series of tests.

Like in school and college, we can’t always score a 10 on 10.

Some will be really tough tests, and others not so much.

But the tests are what cause us to grow.

They push us to become better.

When people hurt us by doing exactly the opposite of what self-help and leadership and “success-secrets” books tell us, that’s fine. Because those crazily aggravating scenarios too are just tests.

Can we keep our wits about us? Or do we give up?

Every moment spent here on earth is a test not for our bodies and minds, but for our souls. Are we able to overcome our basic instincts, and pass the test to become a higher power?

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Professionally permanent

Many of us may be attending a lot of satsangs, or at least one of them.

How does it make us feel? Great, right?

That one hour spent in satsang could be absolute bliss.

The key messages to empower ourselves, to bring us success, and to elevate our spiritual lives – all in those lovely 60 minutes. And add some socializing and some prasad, and that would seem like spiritual bliss.

But outside of that one hour of satsang?

Does the bliss continue?

Maybe the word professional satsangi is relevant then. We are (I certainly am) beneficiaries and maybe even contributors within that 1 hour period. But outside of that, life (aka strife) takes over.

Only if we consistently and mindfully implement each of the messages of our scriptures, can we hope to move from professional satsangi, to a permanent one!

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Vote for…

Apparently some 4 billion people across 60+ countries are eligible to vote this year (2024).

That’s just insane, and incredible.

A quick look at poll promises overall though?

Many leaders in the decades gone by, would offer development and things. Yes, things like schoolbags and bicycles and computers and what not.

Instead today, there’s hardly much positive left. It’s mostly all about promises of shutting down other communities, wiping out other religions and inviting hate wherever love and peace should exist.

The game seems to be all about self-gratification, ensuring continued rulership (via appeasement votes) with little care for those around.

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Level 43

Rohan Bopanna recently won his first tennis Grand Slam title. Now this statement may not be a big deal standalone, but Bopanna achieved this at the age of 43 years and 329 days!

Easy on the body? Nope. Easy on the mind? Absolutely not!

Imagine having played 100s and 100s of matches during all the so-called “prime” years of youth and not winning a grand slam at all. And yet, he persisted.

He couldn’t do intense weight lifting and similar exercises, so he switched to yoga, to give him the core workout he needed.

And of course, he switched his mindset to being super positive.

As he quipped, “I’m not 43, I’m at level 43!”

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Higher highs yet low

The markets across the world are going higher and higher.

Wealth effect is kicking in.

People are getting richer.

And yet, they aren’t happier.

Why?

Because those who are invested, are wondering what to do. Do they pull out their money, crystallize their gains? Or will the market go even higher after they pull out, only to leave them as helpless bystanders?

Then of course there’s the bunch that aren’t invested at all. They’ve just been watching and waiting, hoping to enter, but never able to truly make up their minds.

The market might be high, but the moods of the hoi polloi?

That’s a trick question, as you know by now, where happiness truly resides!!

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Gaumata

Cows have a unique significance in Indian / Hindu tradition.

Foreigners often find it funny that Indian roads (even highways!) are used by these bovine creatures to chill out, for lack of a better phrase.

And because of the respect for cows, people will leave them be.

In Vedic tradition and astrology too, feeding cows and taking care of them is said to bring benefit, including erasing or neutralising bad karma.

Now who’s going to go find a cow and take care of one? Thus when I was scrolling through my twitter feed today, I chanced upon https://dakshinvrindavan.org/, which is a retirement home for cows, and where anyone can donate whatever they feel like.

I haven’t particularly verified this organization, and maybe there are many others like them, but this one came recommended by some respected individuals, so just thought to share, in case someone is looking for helping spread some moo-sic to cows ears!

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Scary Antonym

What is the opposite of fear?

Bravery?

Courage?

Confidence?

Fearlessness?

Well, none of these are wrong. But they aren’t a 100% correct either, because to eradicate fear, we need something strong and permanent.

So what is such a thing?

Devotion.

With adequate devotion, even the deepest of fears melt away. Why fear when the Lord is here?

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Defective plan

When you’re gunning for the top post, and someone thinks you’re not worth it, how does that make you feel?

Not good, right?

A recent interview by US Republican ex-candidate Vivek Ramaswamy was outstanding.

A lady in the audience asked him whether he would accept being a VP to Trump (her implicit assumption being that Trump would win and be President).

Vivek said that he would always put his country first, and do what was needed. But also that he felt he was the right choice to run America.

The lady then said that his answer sounded like “a maybe”.

To which Vivek said, “I gotta tell you about a defect I’ve got. You need to know because you gotta know your President has a defect. And that defect is, that I never have a Plan B!”

A masterclass in handling hecklers if there was one! But more than that, it shows extraordinary confidence in one’s abilities. Could he lose? Yeah, anything can happen, and I don’t remotely understand politics, so that’s not even the point. But if we could all work as though we had no plan B’s, how cool would that be?!

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Proof of investment

It’s funny how human nature rarely changes.

And this is exactly why all our scriptures, although written thousands of years ago, are still as relevant today as they were back then!

In the investing world, maybe a few decades ago, people would make basic mistakes like buying high and then getting wiped out in a market crash. Why’d they do that? Because they didn’t have enough information. About companies, about markets, about stocks. No internet, no information.

Hence, buy, because it seems like a get rich quick scheme, and hey the neighbor is in on it too!

Fast forward to today, and what has changed? Lack of information has changed to an overdose of information. But has this translated into wisdom? Hardly. Greed and fear still rule the roost, and hence the basal human nature is absolutely unchanged.

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Flying wheel

In business, concepts like the ‘flywheel effect’ and ‘virtuous cycle’ signify momentum from strategic actions. Surprisingly, these ideas also illuminate the spiritual path, particularly when exploring the synergy of humility and gratitude.

Humility sets this spiritual flywheel in motion. It’s a grounding force, reminding us of our small yet significant role in the universe. This humble perspective naturally ushers in gratitude – a deep appreciation for life’s often overlooked blessings.

Gratitude, in return, fuels humility. The more we express thanks, the more we recognize our interconnectedness and limitations. This understanding fosters deeper humility.

Together, humility and gratitude create a self-reinforcing cycle, each strengthening the other. This dynamic duo not only propels personal growth but also brings us closer to the core of spirituality, turning every humble acknowledgment and thankful moment into a step towards inner peace.

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Balanced sequence

Where does work-life balance start?

Obviously it starts with work, because it’s the first word, right?

Nyop.

Thinking about work-life balance as first balancing work and then attempting to balance life, is probably why we always feel imbalanced all the time.

So what to do then?

Invert it perhaps.

Start with life balance first. And within that, begin with the self.

Once we keep enough time for our own reading, prayers, meditation, chanting etc., our soul will feel nourished.

Then we can automatically be better and more humane with our families.

Which in turn will make us better at work. Balance achieved!

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Trusted, but how?

Everyone wants to be trusted. But how does one build this trust? How can one assume the role of a trusted advisor to someone else?

Here’s a super formula I came across in a training slide from one Simitri Group.

Trusted Advisor = (Trust + Liking) / Self-interest

How does one build trust? Trust comes from consistency, transparency, competence, reliability, and empathy.

And Liking? Liking comes from common interests, positive interactions, similar values, empathy, and active listening.

Self-interest, or rather not putting Self-interest first, is key.

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Mindful Marathon

Embarking on a marathon transcends testing physical stamina; the true challenge lies in cultivating muscle strength. This serves to ensure cramp prevention.

How does one do this? From nothing less than dedicated strength training.

Is there any dedicated strength training for the mind? Yes there is, and it is called satsang!

How?

By engaging in prayer, scriptures, chanting, and meditation.

In life’s marathon, achieving harmony between mental resilience and enduring muscles is the ultimate victory.

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Destination to where?

If you wanted to go to a particular city, and were standing at the station to get a ticket, what would be the most important info you’d need to give at the ticket counter?

The number of buffaloes in the destination?

The kind of cars that people drive there?

The type of cheese folks prefer to eat?

The types of buildings that city has?

Or…

Would it simply be the name of the place?

Surely the name, isn’t it?

As Saint Gondavalekar Maharaj says, such is the importance of nama. If we take the name of place to go to a destination, we must take the name of the Lord if we want to reach him.

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Blind faith or blind fate

It’s funny how many people hide behind the garb of “blind faith”. This is especially so when it comes to putting one’s religious or spiritual beliefs up.

While it is not possible to generalize, the younger generations are perhaps lesser connected to their roots compared to a few generations prior.

“It’s impossible for me to have blind faith in God. I’ll first need evidence.”

Where’s the evidence for gravity? It still exists though doesn’t it.

But the solution is really not about faith but about action. Spirituality and religion impact human beings at their core. Spirituality is experiential. If a certain process is followed as mentioned in the scriptures, the outcome will follow, no doubt about that. But how many people even give the process a try?

It’s easier to hide behind the veil of “blind faith” than to lift a finger. Such laziness will lead only to blind fate. Can’t be criticising the system then!

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Trimantra

Came across a book on mantras that presented an interesting distinction.

It said that there are 3 types of mantras. Sattvik, rajasik and tamasik. Yes you probably guessed that already the moment you read “3 types of”. Pretty much anything on Vedic spirituality can be categorized under these 3 buckets it seems.

What I found interesting, was that while the letters and words making up the mantras themselves may not be Sattvik, rajasik or tamasik, the intent of the one chanting perhaps makes it more so.

The book said that a tamasik mantra is one that is aimed at controlling and harming others. A rajasik mantra on the other hand is useful for our wants – a bigger house, a bigger car, more money, more fame etc.

And what’s a Sattvik mantra for? For all the good stuff, like progress in spirituality, for collective achievements such as the furtherance of dharma etc. Interestingly, even things like food, money and house etc. can be clubbed under Sattvik mantras, but only as long as these are basic needs. Once the focus graduates to greed, it’s not Sattvik anymore!

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Our man in dolce vita

There’s a super fun travel TV show called Our Man in Italy and the protagonist / anchor is a familiar one. James May, as we might know preciously as one of the 3 hosts of the superb automotive TV show called Top Gear, takes the helm here.

It’s great fun, because he travels from one country to another, and covers all the important cities and landmarks, giving us a vicarious look of what could be.

In Italy in particular, James is told to search for “la dolce vita”, or “the sweet life”.

What does this mean? Well usually it would be a lot of money, fame, wine, good cheese and pizza, a good house, and generally chilling. Seems sweet for sure.

But during the episode, James notices his own Italian guide simply staring at an old Vespa – one of the famous Italian manufactured 2-wheelers. The man is so in love with the Vespa that he continues to stare, unaware of the world whizzing past him.

Later on, he confides in James. “Buddy, who cares about money and wine and cheese. That Vespa moment was my dolce vita because I was completely at peace!”

What is your dolce vita?

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AIyo

Are we close to being overtaken by AIliens? Yes not the aliens from other planets, but the AI that we humans have created? Not that I have made any contributions whatsoever in the creation of AI, but it does collectively seem like quite an advancement in technology.

It may seem like AI and robots are taking over, but as a Tamilian would exclaim, the “aiyo” moment is probably not here yet. Here’s a piece I was reading from one FEI FEI Li, a computer scientist and a pioneer of the artificial intelligence boom.

"There's just so much complexity in human brain science that is still a mystery. We don't know how we do that in under 30 watts, the energy the brain uses. How come we're so terrible at math while we are so fast at seeing and navigating and manipulating the physical world? The brain is the infinite source of inspiration for what artificial intelligence should be and should do. I feel human intelligence should be the benchmark to judge Al and not the other way round."

There we have it. The One who has created us is far far ahead in this race for creation. In any case, anything we create is also a part of His creation only.

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Improved decision making

How does one make good decisions?

Well, it’s not easy for sure. And some would say that the decision itself doesn’t matter, much, and that it’s the follow through that’s truly critical.

But many people and organizations get stuck at the time of making a decision itself. Analysis paralysis. What to do in such cases?

Jeff Bezos the founder of Amazon provided a stellar method, in one of his letters to shareholders back in 2015.

He said that the focus should simply be on whether the decision is reversible or not. If it is, then go ahead, make a decision, and don’t waste further time on discussing whether the decision itself is the right one or not. Explore and exploit. If things don’t work out, the decision can anyway be reversed.

Of course, if the decision is irreversible, then take adequate care, planning and strategizing, before making the final call.

A great focus point I think, in order to keep moving ahead in life!

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Open center

There’s a lot of people who claim that their chakras or energy centers are open. Or have been opened.

This may or may not be true, and I for one certainly am no one to judge.

Some say their ajna chakra has been opened and that they can plunge into deep meditation instantaneously. Others focus on the mooladhara chakra and can go into deeper states.

Of course such things can and do happen. Even if words like kundalini might be thrown around recklessly and find much media attention, that does not imply it is apocryphal.

More critical, as my Guru often reminds us, is what such folks (and everyone in general) do after they snap out of their trances. Are they truly seeking the Self, or simply self-centered?

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Scientist’s religion

Here’s a cool anecdote I came across in a book (don’t remember the name unfortunately).

“I met a man a few days ago in Washington, D.C. who, while a student in Delhi, had met Dr. Radhakrishnan, the second President of India. He had asked Dr. Radhakrishnan “Sir, since you are also a great philosopher, can you explain the difference between science and religion, as there seems to be a contradiction between the two? Religion speaks of something that is not seen and people have faith in that. But in science one accepts only what one sees, so it appears that scientists are anti-religion and faithless.”

Dr. Radhakrishnan gave a very nice answer. He said, “A little science takes you away from religion but more of it brings you nearer religion.”

This suggests that scientific exploration can ultimately lead to profound spiritual understanding. It’s a reminder that the pursuit of knowledge, whether through science or spirituality, can lead to unexpected revelations about the world and ourselves.

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Smart work hard work

There’s this endless debate about smart work versus hard work. You know it. And I don’t have an answer for it unfortunately (else I’d already be atop the ladder of the billionaire lists you see!).

Lords Ganesha and Karthikeya also had a tiff on the same topic with the elephant headed one simply circumambulating his parents thrice instead of traveling the whole world.

But can one be more right than the other?

We are told to work hard, right from childhood. And it’s necessary. Then why pray? So many mantras and deities exist in India who are supposed to help deliver outstanding results. Just pray and all will be well no? No need to work hard only.

But there’s a catch! A mantras book I was reading gave a specific mantra for Goddess Lakshmi, which if recited, would bring extraordinary wealth. But the specifics? The mantra had to be chanted 100-thousand times, 5 times a day. That sounds like hard work to me too! No free lunches…

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Putting in the hours

Does praying a lot make one automatically divine?

Does sitting in a meditative pose for hours mean one will automatically reach Brahman?

Unlike investing, where time spent matters, in spirituality, time spent matters, but perhaps much less.

We know of asuras who spent insane numbers of hours in penance. But are they prayed to or well respected?

If time doesn’t matter, then what does?

Perhaps the intention of the prayer matters the most. As that would cleanly differentiate prayers of the bad versus the good, wouldn’t it?

A sadhana that is practiced for the enhancement of one’s own ego becomes asuric. As simple as that perhaps. And we know what ego means – not the pride that we associate the English word with, but rather the incorrect attachment to the body.

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Dutifully full

One must be fully focused on ones own duty. Ones swadharma. Lord Krishna calls this out in the 35th verse of the 3rd chapter of the Gita. Here’s an excellent take by Shri Vinoba Bhave in his book called “Talks on the Gita”. He gave these talks when he was jailed for being a part of India’s freedom fight movement!

It is not good for me to adopt another's dharma, however superior it may appear to be. I like sunlight. It helps my growth. I worship the sun. But my rightful place is here on this earth. If I leave the earth and try to get close to the sun, I would be burnt to ashes. Compared to the sun, the earth may appear worthless; it may not be self-luminous, still I should strive for self-development by staying on the earth, which is my rightful place, so long as I lack the capacity to stand the sun's powerful blaze. If someone were to say to a fish, "Milk is more luxurious than water. Come and swim in the milk", will it accept? It can survive in water only; in milk it will die.

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Big bang practice

Everyone knows the amazing TV show called The Big Bang Theory – a sitcom where socially awkward but extraordinarily brilliant scientists navigate life, love, and comic books, often proving that even geniuses don’t know everything about the real world!

In a prequel adaptation called Young Sheldon (the smartest scientist of the lot), his mother Mary posts a question.

Mary: Sheldon, faith means believing in something you can’t know for sure is real. And right now, I am struggling with that.
Sheldon: So you don’t believe in God anymore?
Mary: That isn’t something for you to worry about. I need to figure this out myself.
Sheldon: Can I help? Maybe I could provide a fresh perspective.
Mary: I don’t think so, baby.
Sheldon: Did you know that if gravity were slightly more powerful, the universe would collapse into a ball?
Mary: I did not.
Sheldon: Also, if gravity were slightly less powerful, the universe would fly apart and there would be no stars or planets.
Mary: Where you going with this, Sheldon?
Sheldon: It’s just that gravity is precisely as strong as it needs to be. And if the ratio of the electromagnetic force to the strong force wasn’t one percent, life wouldn’t exist. What are the odds that would happen all by itself?
Mary: Why are you trying to convince me to believe in God? You don’t believe in God.
Sheldon: I don’t, but the precision of the universe at least makes it logical to conclude there’s a creator.

Food for thought?

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G-force multiplier

Many people say that God will take care of everything. Or if they are in a rut, then no worries because their Guru will take care of everything. “All is well. All is always well.” But what does this really mean? Is this possible? Can a Guru sitting somewhere actually take care of everything?

Yes it is, and only experience can build such faith. There is no difference between Guru and God. As we know, poet Kabir das once said that if he had to fall at the feet of either of God or his Guru, and both were at his doorstep the same instant, he would choose his Guru. Why? Because the Guru is the one who taught him about God in the first place!

We can only perform our karma, our actions. Over 99.99% of what’s happening around us is not in our control. Who’s taking care of those, if not the divine?

In essence, embracing this belief is not about surrendering responsibility but recognizing a greater cosmic harmony. Our actions, infused with sincerity and purpose, become part of a grander scheme, orchestrated by the divine. The Guru, as a guide, reveals this interconnectedness, teaching us to see beyond the immediate. To trust in a larger plan.

So, while we navigate life’s complexities, we do so with a heart full of faith, understanding that, in the grand tapestry of existence, every thread is held and woven by a force much greater than ourselves. In this realization, we find not just solace, but a profound sense of being part of something infinitely vast, yet intimately connected to our every step. That’s the G-force.

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Historical anxiety

We think we are struggling with stress and anxiety today, despite seemingly having the best of the best that technology can offer.

Was this always the case?

Our existence is a tapestry rich with ancestral threads, spanning not just the last 400 years but reaching far deeper into the annals of human civilization.

Within just say the last 400 years alone, our lineage would include an astonishing 4,094 ancestors over 12 generations.

It begins with a vast network of 2,048 ninth great-grandparents and intricately narrows down through the generations, converging at our 2 parents. However, this is just a glimpse of our heritage, as human history extends much further back.

Every generation, from those 400 years ago to the dawn of civilization, faced its own set of trials, triumphs, and life stories.

These countless generations, their struggles, joys, and hopes, have interwoven to create our present.

So what are we anxious about really?

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Happyness funnyness

Here’s some timepass happiness jokes I came across…

Why don’t we ever give happiness a remote control? Because it’s always found within, and you can’t lose it between the couch cushions!

Why did the smartphone go to therapy? Because it thought happiness was an app, but then realized it’s always in ‘plane’ mode within us!

Why don’t emotions use GPS? Because happiness is not an external destination, but an internal journey!

Why did happiness refuse to play cards? Because it’s not about the hand you’re dealt, but how you feel inside!

Why don’t fish worry about being happy? Because they know the best joy is found in the current moment, not upstream or downstream!

Some were not that funny? Don’t worry, be happy!

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Mind it

What does the mind do?

We think that the mind thinks. But what is this thinking about?

Mostly the mind thinks about the past. Or else about the future.

If something has gone right, then the mind tries to find some flaw or fault in it.

If something has gone wrong, then the mind tries to extrapolate that into Armageddon.

The mind struggles to remain in the now, in the present.

Interestingly, all our scriptures say that the here and the now is where the mind should be. That is what leads to spiritual evolution. In the now, the mind doesn’t even have to think. It simply needs to witness.

Mind it, it’s easier said than done.

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12th fail…

…is the name of an exceptional movie that is now streaming on Disney Hotstar in India.

No spoilers, but it’s about the difficulties involved in cracking India’s toughest exam, the UPSC, and how it gets even tougher for those born not with a silver or golden spoon, but perhaps no spoon or plate at all.

It’s an incredible movie that everyone should watch. The level of motivation a viewer will get is just indescribable.

And you know the best part? The movie is entirely based on facts. Yes, a true story.

Learning about such stories only makes me think one thing. That if I’m not giving every ounce of my energy to do my best at whatever I’m doing, then I’m not just wasting my time, but also indirectly denying opportunities to hundreds or thousands or millions who could have done infinitely better should they have been in my position right now. And this is perhaps applicable to each one of us.

Here’s the link to the movie, if you’d like to know more! https://www.imdb.com/title/tt23849204/?ref_=ext_shr

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Froggy vision

In the vast expanse of what we believe we understand, there lies an unseen realm. Take the frog, for instance. Its eye, a marvel of nature, deciphers only essential cues for survival. It can spot stark contrasts, sudden light shifts, moving outlines, and dark shapes. But it cannot admire beauty like a sunset or recognize faces.

Our human eyes, intricate as they are, fall short too. We boast of comprehending everything until we ponder about bees detecting ultraviolet patterns on flowers or how owls navigate the dark. Each species possesses a tailored perception system vital for its existence. Dogs catch sounds we can’t, insects pick up scents from miles away and more.

Vedic spirituality echoes this idea—there’s a depth beyond our grasp. It humbles us, reminding us that our intellectual understanding has its limits. Just as the frog’s vision serves its survival, our perception, albeit broader, is still confined. The universe holds mysteries far beyond our discernment, urging us to embrace the boundless unknown.

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Old is sold

So a 1952 Ferrari 250 GTO sold for a staggering 51 million dollars a few weeks ago in New York.

Absolutely incredible.

I would have thought that cars are to go from point a to point b. And the latest cars have extraordinary gadgets in them, almost making them more computers than cars.

But a 70-something year old car going for 30x more than a brand new one? Bonkers indeed!

But someone still sees value in them. Why? I do not know. Maybe it’ll be part of some billionaire’s rare collection. Or else it’ll get sold for even higher some 30 years down the line, when the antique becomes antiqu-er!

But if old is sold, then old is also gold, which is what our scriptures are. If 70-year old things have this much value, imagine what value books that date back to 7000 years have! Truly the secrets to life. If only one (i.e., me) would read them, imbibe them and practise them…

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Pomo juice

There was an incredible item in the newspapers about a couple of decades ago. It read “RR creates petrol from pomegranate juice!”

RR was the initials of the chap, a supposed scientist, that achieved this incredible feat. Fuel from juice. Wow, talk about renewable energy, and that too some twenty years ago!

Well you know what say. If it’s too good to be true…

So a few weeks later, an errata was issued, which read, “RR creates petrol from pomegranate juice and petrol!”

Howzzat!

While this is funny no doubt, from a spiritual point of view, we are all RRs only.

Whatever we think we are creating, we are simply using what already ever existed aka God. No different from “RR creates creation from creation”!

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Simplified answer

In many schools of spirituality, there are discussions about mantras and lineages.

It is said that a mantra must be given by a Guru to specific disciple in a specific manner. Absolutely true I’m sure.

It is also said to vary from Guru to Guru, from lineage to lineage.

And the ways of chanting each mantra and the various things to focus on, and of course accompanying visuals and dreams and what not.

My Guru is very clear. “Let the lineage be anything, what will you do with it?”

“Have you given up your desires and attachments?”

It’s that simple, without which he says nothing else matters.

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Anchoring bias

Came across a lovely story today.

A guy goes for an interview. There are 3 interviewers on the panel.

The first interviewer tells the candidate that he’s in the middle of the ocean on a boat and that there’s a crazy storm outside. The boat could capsize. What would he do?

Our man answers, “I’ll throw in a large anchor and steady the ship sir”.

The second and third interviewers ask similar questions, each time simply increasing the intensity of the storm. Our hero consequently simply increases the size of his anchors!

The panel ask him, “Buddy, all that’s fine, but where are you going to get such large anchors from, on such a small boat and that too in the middle of the ocean?”

The reply is swift. “I get the big anchors from the same place you get your big storms. Where you source fear, I source hope!”

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Teammateship – part 4 of 4

We finish the insightful podcast journey with Shane Battier by exploring a surprising concept: embracing chaos.

Shane argues that injecting a controlled dose of chaos into a team or system can be a powerful tool for innovation and growth. By introducing new players with diverse perspectives and experiences, we can disrupt the status quo and spark creativity.

Think about it like adding a new ingredient to a recipe. It might shake things up a bit, but it can also lead to a delicious new dish. The same goes for teams and systems. By welcoming controlled chaos, we can break through old patterns and discover new ways of thinking about and doing things.

Of course, it’s important to find the right balance. Too much chaos can be destructive, but too little can stifle progress. The key is to be open to change and embrace new ideas, even if they seem unorthodox.

So, next time we’re feeling stuck in a rut, remember Shane’s words. Embrace the chaos, shake things up, and see where it takes us. We might be surprised by what we discover!

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Teammateship – part 3 of 4

As Shane explains during his conversation with Simon, achieving anything truly remarkable requires a deep desire and unrelenting pursuit of success. He shares his experience with the Spurs, where their hunger to win ultimately surpassed that of their opponents, leading them to several championships.

But Shane also warns that this hunger can fade after victory. He emphasizes the importance of maintaining a constant drive for improvement and a relentless desire to win more. He credits the Spurs’ continued success to their unwavering focus on getting better, even after reaching the top.

So, it’s not enough to just have the talent or the skills. We need that fire in our bellies, that burning desire to push ourselves and achieve something extraordinary.

Concluding post tomorrow, on how embracing controlled chaos can lead to unexpected breakthroughs!

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Teammateship – part 2 of 4

Back again today with another insightful tip from Shane Battier. This time, he’s sharing the key to staying focused and achieving peak performance, aka, the power of the “next play.”

We’ve all been there, right? Dwelling on past mistakes or getting too caught up in celebrating successes. But Shane says the key to staying on top of your game is to focus on the next play.

Think about it like this: every moment is a new opportunity to start afresh and give our best effort. Shane days, “Don’t let the past hold us back or let the future distract us. Just be present, focus on the task at hand, and give it our all.”

Shane even says this applies beyond sports, to everything in life. Whether you’re working on a project, studying for an exam, or just facing a personal challenge, it’s all about the power of the next play. It’s about taking things one step at a time and giving our best in each moment.

Tomorrow we explore the fuel that drives success: a burning hunger for greatness.

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Teammateship – part 1 of 4

Did you catch that awesome podcast with Simon Sinek and NBA champ Shane Battier? Never heard of Shane? Ya me too. But that’s the point! You know who all he played with? All the famous guys – LeBron, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan etc. And yet hardly anyone’s heard of him.

He might not have been the top scorer, but guess what? He was always on teams that won the championship. And according to Shane, the secret sauce isn’t just about having a superstar leader. He believes that “teammateship” might be even more important.

Let’s think about it. Championship teams are more than just a collection of talented individuals. They’re a well-oiled machine where everyone trusts each other, helps each other out, and pushes each other to be better. They’re all working towards the same goal with a deep commitment to the team.

Shane used the San Antonio Spurs as a great example. They were known for taking players who weren’t quite there yet and turning them into valuable contributors. They created a culture where everyone felt valued and empowered, and guess what? They won a lot of championships!

So, the next time we’re working towards a goal, we can remember Shane’s words. It’s not all about having the best leader. It’s about building a strong team and supporting each other every step of the way.

Tomorrow: we’ll unlock Shane’s secret to staying focused and achieving peak performance!

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Aspirational heights

In ancient lore, mountains were realms of the divine, unreachable and mystical. Today, they stand as majestic challenges, echoing George Mallory’s sentiment on Everest: a mountain is to be climbed simply because it exists!

Our lives are dotted with such peaks, personal Everests that beckon us. They are not just physical heights but symbols of our highest aspirations and achievements. Victorian poet Robert Browning once mused that our reach should exceed our grasp, a reminder that true fulfillment lies in striving for the seemingly unattainable.

Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s triumph over Everest serves as a metaphor for overcoming life’s steepest challenges. It teaches us resilience, urging us to persist despite setbacks. For every mountain we face, whether in the physical or metaphorical sense, is a reflection of our potential to ascend beyond our limits, turning daunting challenges into triumphs of the human spirit.

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Gratityou’d

You’d be best served if you practice gratitude. That’s what every spiritual guru says. It’s also what our shastras / scriptures teach us.

The idea is simple. To identify basic things from our lives and be thankful for them. Got food on the table for all the 3 meals of the day? We’re already better off than maybe half the planet. Wow, what a start!

The moment we begin to look at the world this way, finding the positives in everything, the chances of our material success multiplies manifold. Why? Because negativity and self-doubt get booted out the door, one thought at a time, as we are thankful about more and more things going our way.

Life is all about how everything that happens is part of a long story of lessons. We may just need to appreciate the flow and learn from them teachings. This then automatically converts from material success to spiritual success. Because once we are grateful for everything, then we want nothing more, and eternal peace follows.

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Non-violent violence

The sanskrit word ahimsa is a misunderstood one.

It is commonly defined as non-violence, and the treatment suggested is to show the right cheek when the left one has just been smacked.

Does this make sense in today’s world of wars and mobs and rapes and riots?

Absolutely not.

Ahimsa doesn’t mean complete non-violence. Instead, it aims to minimize collective harm and maximize collective harmony.

In many contexts, ahimsa will require engaging in war in order to establish and protect or restore collective harmony.

Why else did Lord Krishna ask Arjuna to fight?

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4 letter word

One of the Presidential candidates in the US recently put out his daily schedule video.

It was insane.

He did some 7-8 townhalls in a single day, across multiple regions – starting way before sunrise and going non-stop (travel, speeches, Q&As, meets-n-greets etc.) all the way till well past midnight.

Only for it to all begin again the very next day.

He summarized it beautifully.

“LUCK is a 4-letter word that is spelt as W-O-R-K”

So powerful isn’t it? Time for me to get back to work now!

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Easy come easy go

Here’s a story about “no free lunches” that I really love.

A wandering saint and his disciple stumbled upon a town where everything, from diamonds to daggers, cost a mere penny. The disciple, lured by the easy life, refused to leave. The saint, knowing that true happiness wouldn’t bloom amidst such absurdity, continued on his journey alone.

The disciple reveled in his newfound fortune, oblivious of the looming storm. One day, a man injured by a falling brick wall sought justice. The king of the land, in a ludicrous series of senseless accusations, blamed a girl for singing distractingly, leading to the wall’s collapse.

As the noose was slack around the girl’s slender neck, the king, unable to hang her, demanded someone whose neck fit the noose. The once-thin disciple, now plump from his easy life, was thrust forward by the king’s guards.

In that moment, the saint reappeared and convinced the king, blinded by his foolishness, to hang himself instead, promising him a glorious rebirth. The disciple, finally understanding his folly, thanked the saint as they left the town, and lived forever changed.

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Kety Perry

If you had a net worth of a million dollars, would you be happy? Depends on your position and privilege of course. But statistics from 2022 show that just 0.7% of the entire ~8 billion population in the world are millionaires. That’s it. So there’s 99.3% of 7.94 billion people who would be incredibly ecstatic if they got a million dollars.

Matthew Perry, was an outstanding actor, known for his role as Chandler Bing in the hit sitcom Friends. Personally, I loved Friends, and loved the Chandler character. Matthew Perry brought incredible wit to the character.

He passed a few weeks ago. Apparently from overdosing on ketamine, which is used to treat addictions and mental health problems. Surely he was a wonderful human being. He was also a millionaire, or a hundred-millionaire, with a net worth of over $120 million.

If there’s one takeaway, then it is that money and fame and success are not guarantees of happiness. Maybe flipping this around might help. True happiness could guarantee some or all of these things. Who knows?

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Latent tendencies

There’s a concept called vasanas in Indian spirituality, or latent tendencies. It refers to deep-rooted karmic imprints that tend to dictate our lives. Assuming one believes in reincarnation, then the soul or consciousness or Atman or Brahman pervades everything. But the mind goes from body to body, from one life to another.

Which is why maybe someone who died of drowning many lifetimes ago is still instinctively scared of drowning, even if they’ve never really been in the water much.

In a video I was watching where the speaker was a very accomplished tantric upasaka, he spoke of various practices and rituals he performs. He also spoke of the various deities he has personally experienced.

All in all, a very spiritual person, clearly on a very advanced plane. Pun intended, because while all his sadhanas have made him absolutely fearless in facing demons and what not, he still sheepishly confessed that he is very scared of traveling by plane!

That’s vasanas at play, and it doesn’t leave even those who are far ahead on the spiritual journey!

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Back to the suture

What is our life, but a tapestry of experiences, all stitched together by time?

Most people would give an arm and a leg (many sutures notwithstanding) to go back in time and relive their childhood.

But not everyone. There are some that would happily live in the today. But is that because they are mindful and spiritual? Or it is because they hate their childhood and are far better off today?

Then there are some that constantly live in the times to come. Neither happy with their childhood, nor happy with the way things are unfolding today. Ever writing in their minds, a chapter that has yet to be written.

As Vedanta teaches us, eveything around us is maya only. Yes we see life as a tapestry of experiences, but in reality, these are a string of lifetimes, of which we remember only a tiny part.

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Stressbuster

Within life’s intricate dance, Dada J P Vaswani crafts a transformative roadmap to conquer stress, encapsulated in a powerful acronym:

  • S: Smile
  • T: Tolerance
  • R: Relax
  • E: Easy
  • S: Service
  • S: Silence

Each element unfolds as a key to serenity and spiritual growth. Cultivate a perpetual smile, foster tolerance, embrace relaxation, adopt an easy-going stance, engage in selfless service, and practice silence for divine connection.

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Parking problem

With a small car in an insanely congested city, I thought car owners face a daily nightmare. Not just while driving, but perhaps worse, while parking.

I thought money would solve the problem, because with a lot of money, you buy some parking space, and poof, problem gone.

But apparently with more money, people buy more cars and bigger cars, and that only makes the parking problem worse.

But I read an article yesterday on Mr. Bezos’ mega-yacht, which apparently also suffers from the same parking problem! One of the richest men in the world has a parking problem?!

His yacht costs a cool 500 million dollars, is 400 feet long, and effectively cannot be parked with other yachts. Why? Because it’s too big! They had to dismantle a bridge to let it pass and that was met with fierce opposition that the yacht is now parked with larger ships out in the deeper sea.

Does money truly solve all problems? Or bring up new ones that one could have never even imagined!?

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Heavenly pitch

Every time I watch some cricket, I can’t help but feel the pull towards being more devoted to God.

What’s the connection, you might ask?

Well whenever a batsman scores a 100 runs, or if a bowler takes an important wicket, they implicitly look up to the heavens, thanking the Gods up there for their mercy.

This might seem like a simple gesture. It might even seem reflexive, almost part of a ritual ever since the first times the players of today saw their own idols doing the same on the pitch many decades prior to them.

But the thought of dedicating a small victory to the Infinite Divine is still outstanding.

I wonder about myself then. If and when a small victory does come my way in my own line of work, do I quickly look up in gratitude? Or do I first pat myself on the back for a job well done?

Mostly the latter I think, hopefully someday it’ll be the former.

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Pricing power

Imagine you could buy a dress for 100$. Do you think it’s worth it? It might be. Depends on so many factors – quality of the material, the brand on the tag, the end-use, like for a wedding or for a party, or just for home use?

Prices tell us a lot. But is there a price tag for after buying the item?

There is, but it is usually invisible. Like the cost of maintaining the item. A little lesser for a dress, a little more for a car, and perhaps substantially more for a home!

So there’s one price tag we see, and one we don’t.

It’s no different when we look at those around us who seem to have what we so desperately want. Their success, their wealth, their happiness, their fame. We sometimes don’t even see any price tags. As though we should have their success by default.

But even if we do see their visible price tags, what about the invisible ones? All the anxiety and jealousy and constant looking-over-the-shoulder that such success brings?

There’s an invisible price tag for sure. We just need to be cognizant of it!

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Time machinations

In the lovely Netflix series called Better Call Saul which is a prequel to the super hit Breaking Bad, there’s a tense yet funny moment.

Saul asks a bunch of people what they’d do if they could build a time machine and go into the past. What would they change?

Everyone thinks up some moment and goes on to say that they would go back in time and do this or change that.

When Saul poses the same question to a scientist known as Walter White (fans know he’s no ordinary scientist!), the response is incredible!

Walter first reprimands Saul for asking about scienfitic impossibilities. “Time machine? Of course there’s no way such a thing can ever exist.”

He then proceeds to tell Saul what he’s actually looking for. That he simply wants to recount times where he regretted what he did in the past. And that he just wants to get his regret off his chest. So what he’s searching for is not a time machine, but a regret machine.

Regrettably true, isn’t it?

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Happy crappy

Do we feel happy most of the time? Or crappy? Perhaps the latter, isn’t it?

Maybe it’s because we are constantly focused on the past. Thinking of things we could have done differently, aiming to jettison all regrets.

Or maybe it’s because we are constantly focused on the future. Thinking of the infinite permutations and combinations of a life that is yet to unfold. Can we control all of it? Most of it? Any of it?

We can instead give the highest priority to God right now, and become more and more aware of His presence in our lives. This will prove to us by self-experience that we are an integral part of a divine plan. We don’t need to demand for anything then, because by surrendering to the Lord, everything is automatically being take care of.

Instead of a fast mind and slow actions, these will invert, and peace will follow.

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Bridge of wisdom

Once, a massive elephant traversed a rickety bridge over a roaring river. Amidst the creaks of the old bridge, a small ant perched on the elephant’s trunk claimed that their combined weight almost shattered the bridge. Unfazed by the ant’s misconception, the elephant chose peace over proving a point, and simply agreed that yes the ant’s contribution to the total weight on the bridge was indeed massive.

The elephant’s tranquil response echoed a timeless wisdom: the futility of ego-driven conflicts. Yet, blindly mirroring the elephant’s response might not fit every scenario. Life demands a nuanced approach, where humility intertwines with assertiveness.

Striving for inner calm amidst ego clashes remains pivotal. However, discernment plays a role, determining when to stand firm and when to maintain serenity.

The tale of the elephant and the ant on the bridge whispers a lesson beyond ego battles—a subtle reminder to balance peace with assertiveness in the symphony of life.

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Full body glory

Had gone for my full body annual check-up this week.

They took a fair amount of blood to run various tests.

It’s astonishing how the body survives without that kuch blood. But it’s equally astonishing how so much blood manages to stay within the body, unless poked and collected like red wine in a glass!

Various instruments to test various things, but all only to see if things are running as they should be. No clue of why or how they came to exist in such a state. Who created this wonder?

Oh and the 2D Echo scan to check the heart. The doctor switched on his speakers to listen to my beating heart. Wow what a sound it was. Thumping away at breakneck-yet-measured speed and ensuring that the rest of the body has every drop of it blood it needs. Not just today, but incessantly since the day of our births.

And this maniacal rush of activity can’t be heard by anyone. Not by you. Not by your friends and family. Not even by your own ears. Glory to the Creator for this full body Creation!

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Tech transfer

Tech is awesome, but it can detrimental as well. We know this intuitively already, because we each experience the good and bad sides of tech on a daily basis.

One of the bad things that people speak of is addiction to TV series and the associated binge watching (guilty even without being charged!).

But incredibly, there are some outstanding devotional TV channels and programs as well. Just ask the older generation. It’s a life savior for those who are spiritually inclined.

What’s amazing is how tech is actually helping. Some of my family members were discussing how they’ve never had the chance to be at some spiritual sites during specific times. Like on a mountain top where just a handful of people are allowed to witness a particular ritual. And now? There are drones capturing the same thing live and beaming it to every home and mind that is open to it. Are we?

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Victoriously defeated

We often look at all things in dualities.

If we haven’t won something, then we’ve lost it.

If we haven’t succeeded at something, then we’ve failed.

But are we sure of this?

Many things in spirituality are inverted. If we win something, what really wins and gets boosted? Only our egos!

And everyone knows what happens to a big ego.

Lord Rama was neither happy when he was told he will be the next King of Ayodhya, nor was he sad when he was asked to go to the forest in exile.

True victory is the victory of the self over one’s mind and senses, no matter the external circumstance. Everything else is defeat only!

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Octodegenarian

Came across a live anecdote yesterday.

There’s some 50 odd octogenarians in a particular place.

They’ve all been there for ages. All living comfortably. Their kids are working in various cities, within the country or abroad, all well settled. Heck, even their grand kids are well settled!

No reason for these folks to be unhappy at all. A life well lived, if there was such a thing.

But old isn’t always gold. Said grandpas and grandmas are in the hunt for nothing less, than gold, in the form of real estate.

There’s some plots of land that these 80 year olds collectively own, and which are now set of go for re-development. Not everyone gets the same value though, for various reasons, and the same happy bunch has now been plunged into anxiety and anger and jealousy. All over some property that will add no real value to these people. When will humanity learn?

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Mischief maker

Some YouTube videos are just incredibly cute.

Especially the ones where there are guilty dogs. Who’ll chew up the whole sofa, and then go and hide. Or even point at some other innocent dog, as though they had no part in the mischief whatsoever!

This sleight of hand (or paw) by the guilty dogs is no different than what we do perhaps.

Who’s the real mischief maker? The other guy of course. Or the other entity. Or the other situation. Or to generalize, it’s the world at large.

Asked again, who’s the real mischief maker?

It’s always our own minds.

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Hunger pangs

In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Lord Rama encounters Kabandha, a demon cursed with insatiable hunger. In fact he has no head, and a mouth directly in his stomach. Kabandha symbolizes the relentless greed seen in many professionals today. Despite consuming everything, the hunger persists, mirroring a desire for endless accumulation. Similarly, some so-called leaders prioritize personal gain, exploiting workers and the environment without ethical considerations.

Contrastingly, Lord Rama embodies selflessness, compassion, and humility. His focus is on service, not amassing wealth or power. Everyone can learn from Rama’s values—prioritizing others, embracing honesty, transparency, and environmental responsibility. Contentment, rather than ceaseless ambition for personal gain, should guide them.

Emulating Lord Rama, one can break the Kabandha-like cycle, fostering a more just and sustainable world.

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Mousika vaahana

Here’s an unbelievable story.

I was out for an errand.

As I was walking back, I saw a dog just in front of me. I was thinking about how I’d heard on a recent podcast that those who pray to Bhairav baba often find themselves in the vicinity (and affinity) of dogs.

But this dog? Nope, he couldn’t care less about me, and it’s not like I’ve been praying devotedly to Bhairav ji either.

But my mind quickly wandered to my Ishta Devata, Shri Siddhivinayaka as guided by my Guru to many satsangis. This elephant-headed deity’s vaahana is mooshika, or the mouse. I wondered to myself, “damn, having dogs around me would be cool, but having mice around me? Scary! Unless them mice would be friendly or something.”

Almost momentarily, a fat little rat bounced along the center of the road, crossing, then going back, and trying to cross again, then zig-zagging. A car came by really quickly, but the driver thankfully saw the rat and he slowed down. Not enough to stop however, and he zoomed off. Only I could see how close a shave it was for the rat. The lucky escapee quickly crossed and went off to the other side.

Incredible. And all coincidence only of course. Isn’t it?

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Where do you go, my lovely?

There’s a song from my childhood called “where do you go, my lovely”. My childhood not because it was from my era, but my father used to hum that tune when it would come on the radio.

While watching some videos on ancient Indian temples today on youtube, this song came to mind.

Whats the connection? Perhaps nothing much.

But I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed looking at the insane number of devotees thronging these temples. It’s no different when I’m at a temple myself. There’s always hordes of people often in various groups, all dressed in similar clothes. One glance will tell us they are rich. Not at all rich by money, but very rich by devotion.

They will often travel ridiculous distances by foot, simply to catch a nanosecond glimpse of their favorite deity. What incredible faith they have. And so many of them!

Where do they come from? What do they come for? Where do they go, my lovely?

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Devi calling devi – part 2 of 2

We were lucky that the 2-mins-away Devi temple was open when we reached. We parked and climbed up the 200-or-so stairs leading to the shrine.

One lady in our group was the one who was really keen on visiting this temple. Actually she was drawn to the other devi temple that I’d mentioned yesterday. But that one was way off-route, and we just couldn’t travel that far. This seemed like some sort of consolation prize.

As we reached the top flight of stairs, there was a notice-board explaining the history of the temple. The Devi idol was a swayambhu, ie, it manifested itself rather than be created by any human. A great king living in the area many hundreds of years ago used to travel to the other far-away Devi temple in his youth. But as age got to him, he was unable to travel. The Devi appeared in his dream, and told him about this 2-min-away temple and that he can pray here instead.

Needless to say, the lady in our group was absolutely ecstatic, what with her unable to travel far enough either, only to come across this very similar story of the king. A case of Devi calling devi.

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Devi calling devi – part 1 of 2

A lot of spirituality happens only when we truly open our eyes and minds and look. Here’s a recent incident to someone I know and was on a trip with. The incident could be passed off as coincidence. Or maybe not.

We were considering going to a specific Devi temple on a trip, but couldn’t, because it was quite far off from our route.

While a bit disappointed, we did continue the rest of our journey. Enroute a few days later, someone who didn’t know about our plans to see a Devi temple pointed out that our route had another devi temple and that we could go there.

It so happened that this new Devi temple was exactly 2 minutes away from another place we were supposed to visit!

And so we quickly made our way there, thanking the Devi mentally for arranging this unexpected darshan.

Continued tomorrow!

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Will free

Does free will exist? Yes of course it does. That’s why you get to choose whether to drink tea or coffee while reading this post. Or maybe you choose not to drink either.

One might say though that hey, tea or coffee isn’t significant enough for a heavy topic like free will. Yes, unless coffee messes up one’s system and leads to a few missed days at work?

Anyway, that’s all conjecture.

More importantly, although Lord Krishna himself hints in various places about free will (such as “Arjuna get up and fight!”), does it really truly exist?

Perhaps it does. But we are also victims of our own pasts, and by extension, victims of ourselves. Everything lies squarely on us. If we’ve built up many lives of conditioning towards certain responses, experiences and situations, then can we really use our free will to change? Will we?

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Computer literacy

Here’s a very commonly used but absolutely spot-on analogy between computers and spirituality.

A Computer / laptop is like the physical body.

A USB drive is like the mind.

Electricity is like the soul.

Between lives, the mind moves from one body to another, taking with its past experiences and emotions.

No different from a USB being plugged in from one laptop to another.

And electricity is always present to power any laptop or computer with any usb drive.

Just like the eternal soul aka atman aka Brahman is omnipresent, constantly powering, animating and enlivening everything.

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Penny pinchers

Came across one social media post today by some influencer.

The person apparently stopped at a tire shop after one tire went flat.

This shop was in a very rural area, and the old man who was apparently very poor soon helped fix the tire, and asked for some 20 rupees (25 cents).

Our influencer said he didn’t have change, and handed over a 500 rupee ($6) note, to which the old man asked him to come by next time and pay him, whenever that would be, if at all.

Mr. Influencer is touched, and goes hunting for change, and comes back with 20 rupees and is delighted enough to not just pay the man some pennies, but also write a long post about it, which is further liked and shared by thousands.

Surely said influencer made a decent amount just from the views of his one post. But he still couldn’t part with his 500 rupees to help that poor old man. Reality is quite divorced from reality these days!

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Locational devotional

Was listening to a tantric expert on a podcast recently. Many of the things he said were mesmerising. And he knew it.

Like what? Like him sitting in a cremation ground and doing his sadhana (spiritual practices and rituals). Or him entering other dimensions and interacting with ethereal beings. And so on.

Fascinating for sure.

But he also made one thing very clear.

That the location is not important, at least not at first. He said that many people get carried away (or carried towards!) simply by hearing about things like cremation ground sadhana. But he repeated twice. If one cannot do their sadhana with devotion in their own puja rooms at home, then there is no chance of achieving anything anywhere else.

Charity, and seemingly spirituality, begin at home!

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Munger Hunger

How tenacious can humans be? How much will power do they have? How likely are they to stand back up when life has pushed them to the ground and glued them there? How hungry can one be, to not just survive, but also thrive?

The world lost investing guru Charlie Munger today, who died peacefully in his sleep at the graceful age of 99. While people would know him as a billionaire and a great investor who worked closely with Warren Buffet, not everyone knows about his tough early life.

At 29, Charlie was divorced from his wife of 8 years. The lady took everything, including his family home. He was almost plunged into poverty. Apparently he had a dirty old car he’d drive around. His daughter Molly Munger once asked him, “Daddy, this car is just awful, a mess. Why do you drive it?” The broke Munger replied: “To discourage gold diggers.”

Post the divorce, Charlie learned his 9 years old son had leukemia, and eventually lost him to it. He didn’t even have the money to pay for his treatment.

Later in life, a botched operation left him blind in one eye, and in so much pain he had to have the eye removed.

But despite all this, Charlie by age 69 became one of the richest people in the world, was married to his second wife for over 30 years, had 8 kids, many grandkids and was respected across borders by one and all.

Tenacity at its best!

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Scholastic

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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Animanly

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.

Why?

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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Kidults

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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Sharky

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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Lightenment

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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Bra’war’y

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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Adjudicater

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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Mumukyearning

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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Unidirectional

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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Triple-gated

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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Coinucopia

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?

Hardly.

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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Playground

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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Timepass

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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WhyWork

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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Incorruptible

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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Sourcefulness

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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