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Forever Happy Now! Posts

Garbage

You know those garbage bags, the black ones that are used to collect trash, and then handed off for disposal the next day when the garbage truck comes around?

Yes, yes, what about it? A blog post on that? Really?

Well imagine carrying a similar looking garbage bag, but slung around your shoulder.

No there won’t be garbage in it (hopefully, because many handbags do look like garbage inside!), but this is no ordinary garbage bag.

It is a designer handbag, costing nothing less than 10,000 dollars, but for some inexplicable reason, designed to look exactly like a garbage bag.

And you know what? It’s apparently selling like hot cakes! Phew, if it’s not enough that such designs even get approved in the first place, there are hundreds or thousands of people queueing up to throw their hard earned money at these things. No wonder it’s so difficult to give up attachments and desires.

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Scandi happy

The northern part of Europe, specifically the Nordic countries aka Scandinavia, are supposed to be one of the happiest parts of the world, if not the happiest.

We must have all come across this information at some point. Know why this is the case? No, it’s not because they are the wealthiest. Or the climate – nope, they have some of the harshest weather to be found anywhere on the planet.

What else could it be then? Apparently it is income equality. A friend of mine (white collar worker) living there used to say that his weekend outings would often be with friends comprising both white and blue collar workers. Surprising? Indeed, but that’s because everyone in these countries has dignity of labour (and decent paycheck), no matter what the work.

Why is this important? Because no income inequality, means no comparison to thy neighbour, and hence better happiness. Interesting isn’t it? Now we can’t all move to the Nordics, but can we do something here itself, wherever we may be? Yes we can, and that involves preferring to spend our money in areas that are uncommon (like choosing experiences over objects) which reduce the chances for comparison. Let’s try!

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Fool who?

In chapter 9 of the Gita, Lord Krishna says that fools think he is just a normal human being (having assumed such a form), whereas he is the all-pervading Supreme Being.

My Guru has an amazing purport that immediately follows this.

“Reading the meaning of this verse, we start looking for fools, Ravana etc. among our relatives or friends. No, He is talking about you and me, because it we who have:
1. Vain hopes (that name, fame, wealth will make us happy, finally!)
2. Futile actions, actions without viveka
3. Futile knowledge – any content that takes us away from the Lord”

What clarity!

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Bye-byes

Goodbyes are always hard. Unless you are leaving a toxic workplace or a terrible boss.

Even then, there’ll always be some people in the organization that were nice to you, and bidding them adieu isn’t easy.

But the beauty of change, is that when one door closes, another opens up, bringing with it several new relationships and possibilities.

Life on a spiritual level is similar too perhaps. Even at the most difficult time of death, which the Gita speaks about in great detail, the give up of these wordly attachments and cling-ons means that one gets to truly know and meet their Creator. Unless one wants to come back to this cycle of births and deaths of course.

As the poet Rumi noted on his deathbed to his weeping disciple, “Don’t weep, I’m parting ways with this world and getting ready to embrace my greater beloved.”

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Why prepping in advance is key – part 2 of 2

We know already why prepping in advance is key. We covered it yesterday. But here’s a nice example. It’s very similar to piloting a hot air balloon ride.

Really? Yes, even though most of us will rarely get the chance to pilot one, apparently these folks need proper training and a pilot’s license – very cool!

And that’s a good thing, which means all their passengers (about 20 of them in a ride) are all safe and happy.

But the way hot air balloons work, is that you have to adjust the hot air (helium etc) that is blown into the balloon in order for the balloon to either ascend or descend.

But the catch? It doesn’t happen instantaneously, unlike much of the digital world we are used to today. Click a button, and boom all done!

Nope, hot air balloons are analog machines, and so if you see a mountain coming up, you have to manage the air in the balloon well before that mountain comes close if you want to scale the peak safely. Whos doing all this? The pilot of course, thinking 10 steps ahead. That’s the importance of prepping in advance!

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Why prepping in advance is key – part 1 of 2

We are often told to read our scriptures, heed the advice of the wise, and attend satsangs regularly. After a while, we come to realize that most of the content is the same – seemingly repetitive and boring.

But you know what? In the repetition is where the magic happens!

Consider the stock markets for example. Everyone knows you need to buy low and sell high. It’s the easiest thing to do, right? Wrong. It’s the hardest thing to do, as any experienced investor will tell you, because when the market falls, your portfolio falls with it, and it paralyses one from taking action, even if that is the best time to buy more! Have a look at this often quoted statement in the market:

During these moments, confidence and clarity evaporates and is replaced by pessimism and doubt.

This exactly summarizes why we need to prepare in advance, read the scriptures in advance, practise in advance, attend satsangs in advance, build our key relationships – you guessed it – in advance. Because mental and physical strength is built during practise, not on the battlefield.

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Yes means No

You know how we struggle sometimes to say “No”?

Especially when we know deep down, that “No” is indeed the right answer.

It might be to a friend or relative asking for your money, or a boss asking you to work every weekend, or a colleague expecting you to always fill in for their gaps.

We may think that by saying “Yes” to such requests, we are actually doing something good, doing something divinely karmic.

However, it is good to remember that every coin has a flip side. By saying “Yes” to everything, we are actually saying implicit “No”s to ourselves and to our loved ones. How?

Because every extra hour or dollar wasted on someone unnecessary, is an equivalent hour or dollar unavailable for us to spend with ourselves or our loved ones. Not that we should not help others, but thinking this way helps us discriminate between who really needs our help, and who is being parasitic.

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Medi-what?

In a recent podcast, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev was asked about meditation.

He clarified, that meditation is not an activity. It is not about sitting in a place and trying to do something specific. Really? It’s not?

He said that meditation is not something that can be done. But rather that it is a quality. How?

Because, he explained, that one of the qualities of a person, is to be meditative. That is the way to truly live one’s life. This is exactly what my Guru also says, and we have covered this extensively here on FHN.

How to build this quality? By reducing attachments and desires. Which we know, don’t we? šŸ˜€

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Forrest

There’s an Aamir Khan movie coming up (Aug 2022) which is a remake of the classic Tom Hanks Hollywood movie called Forrest Gump.

That original one is on IMDB’s top 10 movies of all time, having got an incredible score of 8.8 on 10.

While most movies extol heroes with IQs of 150 and bulging biceps, here was one that highlighted a “half-wit”, as the protagonist himself would admit.

There is beauty in simplicity, and probably something we would all love to embrace. Check out this brilliant dialogue from the movie:

Jenny (Forrest’s love interest): Do you ever dream Forrest, about who you’re gonna be?

Forrest: Who I’m gonna be?

Jenny: Yeah.

Forrest: Aren’t I gonna be me?

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Turning the tables

In many parts of the Gita, Lord Krishna mentions that he is only the Watcher, not the Doer. He has only created the Nature around us to function based on certain laws (of nature), and whatever happens thereafter is upon creation, not Him.

Some people question this. How?

By asking why the Lord would not step in where required. Seems very easy to just say, “Okay, I’ve created, and so my part here is done.”. Why not interfere when things are going wrong? If crime is being committed, why would the Lord not come in and take charge? Why does he have to say that he has nothing to do with this?

The answer lies in karmic theory of course. That we each are responsible for what we do, and this karmic record spans multiple lifetimes. But there is another way to think of this as well.

What if the Lord questions us thus, “Hey I created this universe and world and have given each of you the most beautiful planet to live on. I’ve ensured everything is perfect, beautiful nature, bountiful resources and every reason for you to be happy forever. And yet, what have you people done? Are you really happy? Are the resources you’ve been given used properly? Sustainably? Are you all living together in love and harmony?”

The tables have been turned.

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One or the other

Having a traveling job is awesome. You get to see so many places, live in nice hotels, and enjoy diverse cuisines. Except, this is the outsider view. Ask anyone working like this, living half their lives on a flight or hotel and they would tell you how much they would rather be in a non-traveling job coming home to family each night. Ask anyone doing a desk job, and they’d be yearning to travel to various countries, always jet setting and globe trotting.

Working in a startup is really amazing. Freedom to choose your own work, style of work, location of work – you name it. But ask someone in a startup and they’d probably like the stability offered by a role in an established company. Ask someone in an established company though, and they’d be yearning for working at a startup.

Ask someone living in a city, and they’d hate it and want to “go live peacefully in the outdoors”. But ask the rural folk, and they’d love to be in the city to “earn more and live better”.

You can see where these comparisons are going. No place is perfect, except if our mind thinks it is.

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Kadanaaynu pannaadhey!

This was the example a very senior satsangi gave recently in a satsang. And it was very funny!

This is a Tamil phrase which means “don’t do your work as though you are paying back some loans/dues”.

It’s a common saying down South, and is often expressed by irate parents who see their kids going about their work or studies in a completely uninterested fashion.

This phrase was mentioned yesterday when the speaker was asked about how we should be going about our work.

“With full dhriti and utsaaha, or perseverance or excitement, no matter how boring the work.”

Doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look out for better opportunities, but whatever we are doing currently, that needs to be done with the best intentions and mindset, not as though we were forcefully and woefully repaying a debt (even if in reality, some EMIs are to be paid each month šŸ˜„).

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Everyday

While on a road trip recently, the group of us was commenting as to how nice the roads were. Very well maintained, and no potholes and rough surfaces, which meant the ride was super smooth.

As we rode on, a large sign on the highway caught my eye. It said, “Every day is Safety Day. This one gets no special day, or any holidays!”

Not only was it a critical message for drivers, but replace the word Safety with Spirituality, and it’d quickly be immediately relevant to each one of us as spiritual aspirants.

Spirituality isn’t about going to satsang on one given day, or attending a sermon one-off, or thinking about the Lord when we want something or meditating just because we want to reduce our stress levels. Rather, spirituality is a way of life. It has no special days, or any holidays!

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Thanks Please

These are two words of great politeness and courtesy. We are always taught to say thank you and please right from childhood. This is good manners, nay, great manners.

But the two words could not be further apart in their import!

Please is for what is to come.

Thanks is for what came already.

We always want more and more, and hence we probably use please far far far more than we do thanks.

However this usage probably only keeps us unhappy, even if politely so. Because no matter how much we get, the – please I want more – will only grow.

But imagine starting each day, each hour, each minute, each second – with deep rooted thanks. A genuine gratitude for everything that we have already got. Not only is it polite, but it also keeps us mentally happy. Instead of looking for more, we realize we already have more and more.

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The real shark

On a recent episode of Shark Tank, a lady who was pitching spoke about how her father never believed she could/would ever be successful. The man wanted a son, but got her instead, and she broke down about how this would always scare her.

But she never gave up, always chasing her dreams, and that brought her to the sharky stage that day.

Robert, one of the sharks, who was already “out”, came back “in” at that point, and spoke of his own learnings. How he was always told throughout his childhood by everyone around him that he would never ever be successful.

Maybe this is quite a common experience. But what he said after that was key.

He said that after many years, he realized that the problem was not all those naysayers at all, but he himself. All his success came as soon as he yanked himself and his own negative thoughts that were standing in the path of his future.

Good lesson for any one of us that might have some negative thoughts from time to time!

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Temple duties – part 2 of 2

In several of the larger more famous temples in India, there are long serpentine queues, often requiring many hours of waiting and jostling to reach the sanctum sanctorum. But almost paradoxically, the time allowed to be spent at the feet of the deity is usually between 3 and 5 seconds. Hardly worth the effort, one would think.

And yet, people do it year after year, religiously, maybe even mindlessly? Surely this must be more than just blind faith. If things do not work out the way you wished for, would you come back the following year?

Much of this has become commercial and business driven. Playing on people’s faiths is easy. Nobody wants to anger a God. But the question is this.

While it is good to go to the large temples, are we regularly visiting the temple down our home street or town? If the Lord is everywhere, are we seeing Him in our parents? Do we treat those around us (who are also His Creation) with respect and love? If we are doing these things, then visiting large temples once a year or whenever is probably not needed? And if we are not doing these basic things also, then what is the point of visiting such large shrines of love and devotion?

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Temple duties – part 1 of 2

On a recent temple-hopping trip, there were some interesting experiences.

1. The priest at the inner sanctum sactorum of a large renknowned temple spoke very sweetly as we approached the deity. He gave us a 2 minute “extra” darshan, asked me to stand on the side, and then said in no uncertain words “take out your wallet and give me the big notes”. Despite literally being at the feet of the Lord, how much time did I get to really think about Him, versus trying to assess the situation after recovering from initial shock?

2. The priest at a small relatively unknown temple, explained the full history-geography of that deity – all without asking, gave extra blessings, and took no money.

3. After we paid for a special darshan queue at a famous temple, we were asked to pay the same amount again at the end, off-the-record, just in order to receive a few flowers and one coconut.

How to think about these things? Does money come in the way of spirituality? Is God really asking for cash from his devotees? Should we stop going to temples altogether?

Thoughts tomorrow!

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This is how you conquer fear

Fear is a struggle for most people. As one quote says, you don’t need to put a gun to a person’s head to make him afraid. You just need to ask him to go on stage to speak in public.

Of course, fear has more facets than just to do with public speaking. Even in day to day work, when faced with something unfamiliar, new, uncomfortable and uncertain, there is often a feeling of dread. The mouth dries up, the stomach ties up, and the brain fries up. This leads to anxiety, and eventual (or immediate) underperformance. What to do?

A common solution would be to “stay calm” or “try to calm yourself down” or “take a few deep breaths buddy”. This is good advice in general, except that when fear has already struck and when your adrenaline is pumping and heart rate is already high, trying to calm yourself down hardly works.

According to some research, we need to transform our mindset at the time into that of excitement. Trying to calm down a body engulfed by fear is like yanking the hand brake when the car is hurtling forward at 100 kmph. But excitement? “Yes I’m unsure of how this will work out but boy am I so excited to try out this new job!”

This is really just a shift in mindset, but do try it out the next time you face any sort of fear. Try telling your mind that you are so excited by this opportunity, and watch in amazement as the fear melts away, replaced by enthusiasm and eagerness!

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Gamechanged

When I was a child, there used to be many Gita chanting competitions. These still happen today as well, but I’m an uncle now šŸ˜‚.

These contests were a struggle, given my memory power and recitation prowess has been weak at best. Other kids would memorize 18 chapters and 700 shlokas and produce them at will, and I used to watch on, stunned.

Years later when I heard my Guru speak, I realized he changed the game completely. He never once asked his satsangis to memorize shlokas or be able to chant them. Never mind the fact that he himself knew the Gita backwards and forwards, with (even today) the ability to pluck any shloka out of thin air, recite it and proceed to give a 2 hour talk on it.

But to his spiritual seekers? His sole focus has been on application of the messages of these shlokas in daily life. It might seem like this is easier than memorizing and chanting, but do try it out and see if that is the case!

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