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Month: July 2020

Purple hues

“That purple streak you’ve got in your hair – it doesn’t suit you.”, said the man. You just let that drop by unnoticed. Why? Because you don’t have a purple streak in your hair. “What a random comment. Nonsense.”, you think to yourself.

“You have a funny nose – it is so pointy.”, said the man. Ooooh, this one stings! You know you have a pointy nose, and have been the butt of many jokes since your childhood. “I hate myself. I look so ugly. Me and my stupid nose.”

We are offered many free unsolicited opinions by all kinds of people. Most people do not care if what they are saying is hurtful, necessary or even factually correct.

Our problems arise not from listening to such people or even having them as friends or colleagues. Rather, our problems come from taking such people seriously and believing that what they say is indeed true. This makes us feel small at best, and devastated and depressed at worst.

The next time someone says something hurtful to us, whether partially true, fully true or fully false, we just need to remember one thing. That our hair is not purple.

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Living optimally

Ask any scientist about the universe(s). S/he will tell you it is all based on the space time continuum. This term has also been made famous by sci-fi Hollywood movies.

The space-time continuum simply describes how space and time are relative and how objects that move at higher speeds experience time more slowly. That level of detail doesn’t matter much to most of us, as we are rarely going to be travelling at anything remotely close to the speed of light.

What is nice though, is that our ancients had this all figured out. They realised that our lives are impacted by these two critical aspects, i.e. time and space. They figured, that if we could optimise both time and space, then we could live our lives to our fullest potential.

How did they do this?

To optimise time, they used Jyotish (i.e. Vedic Astrology) to answer what the good and bad periods in one’s life were, which specific areas of life would be most impacted, and how one could make crucial decision using all this information.

To optimise space, they used Vaastu, i.e. the science of space, light, flow, architecture etc. to design ideal living spaces / homes.

The level of detail (available to anyone who is interested, please google!) in these sciences is unfathomable. Most people today unfortunately use these for fear mongering, as superstition or to make money unlawfully. These traditional sciences need to be revived and their benefits shared with everyone.

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Why surrender?

We often hear about the need to surrender the ego. Spirituality covets it as the highest achievement. Because once that is done, there is no I or me or my, and nirvana has been attained.

While that is indeed a lofty goal, there is one immediate and practical utility.

All our problems stem from the perception that the universe revolves around us. “Oh, if I do not dish out an amazing blog post day after day, then my fans will be disappointed.” Nope – what fans? “Oh, if I do not make the perfect presentation, my employer will shut down”. Nope – no deal was ever clinched solely because of one presentation. “Oh, if I do not top the class, my career will be finished.” Nope – everyone cannot come first, and there is infinitely more to life than firsts and seconds. “Oh, if I do not sing the lead part of this song, my streak will be broken.” Nope – if you give a chance to others instead of hogging the limelight all the time, you will get their blessings. “Oh, if I do not lose 5 kilos, my fiance will leave me.” Nope – because if 5 kilos was all it took for your partner to leave you…

While we must continue to do our best work (in every aspect) day after day, we must also tell ourselves that we are not that important, and that most things really don’t matter. This will help get rid of the insane demands we make of ourselves.

Life is much more than just us. Let us be happy – status quo.

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When time saved != time earned

We procrastinate on several things. Especially good things.

We don’t find 5 minutes to plan our days. But astute planning can reduce much daily stress.
We don’t find 10 minutes for meditation. But meditating regularly can add great clarity to our thoughts.
We don’t find 20 minutes for exercise / yoga. But exercising regularly can add many years to our lives.
We don’t find 30 minutes for cooking. But making our own meals can keep all ailments away.
We don’t find 60 minutes to complete our sleep quota. But sleeping well adds many hours to our productivity.
We don’t find any time to spend with our loved ones. But our family is what will be there when no one else will.

Each of these activities takes time. But the benefits far outweigh the time spent on the activities themselves.

Let us invest our time wisely.

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Ha ha ha

You are lazing on the beach. Not any beach. Your own private beach. The beach covers most of the eastern part of island’s shoreline. Not any island. Your own private island. In the Carribbean.

You call for some fresh food. All organic, all grown on the island. Or caught fresh from the sea. A barbecue is setup immediately, by the pier. A few of your private yachts are moored there. Calling these luxurious, would be an understatement.

You bought all of this with the US$ 1 billion that you inherited last year, unexpectedly. There is plenty of cash to spare.

You and your partner are close to completing 1 year of this lifestyle. All is well. But you think suddenly, “How long can I sit on the beach, lazing around?” Words that you would have never thought would ever cross you mind, in this dream-like real situation.

You have everything that money can possibly buy, and then some. But still there is something amiss. You realise, that all of these external possessions, have not succeeded in calming your mind.

You look at the old fisherman on his boat. He seems so happy, so calm, and you wave to him. The fisherman waves back. Little do you know, that he is thinking the exact same thing about you. “Oh how calm he is, and how incredible it would be, if I could be rich and own an island.”

Somewhere out there, the Creator laughed to Himself.

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If you’re happy and you know it

We function at our best when we are happy and motivated. There is no need to quote any scientific research on this, because we have each experienced this first hand.

We love going to work when we are involved in a meaningful project with much acknowledgement. But we hate going to work when we are at the receiving end of office politics.

For those who have work, the work is usually boring or irritating or frustrating or stupid or anxiety-inducing or unfulfilling or exhausting and/ or many other things. For those who don’t have work – the ones who have to support their families, who just got laid off, their companies were shut down etc. – all they can think of, is how and when their next paycheck would come.

In India, for the job of a ‘messenger’ in a State police department, there were over 93,000 applicants. These included 3,700 PHDs, 50,000 graduates and 28,000 post-graduates. The requirements of the job? Having cleared grade 5 in school, and being able to ride a bicycle. The benefits? A 250 US$ salary and job security. How does this make you feel about your job, if you already have one? Gratitude is a wonderful thing.

This is not to say, that we must never have goals and never aim for a promotion or a better job. Rather, we can do all these much better, if we are happy and motivated with what we are already doing. This approach will make us maximally efficient, freeing up mental and physical resources to work on our ambitions.

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In all fairness

“I will give you 1$. In return, you give me 100,000$. It’s a fair deal.”

No doubt, you scoff and walk away. “How the heck is that fair?”

Later, you visit a temple. You pray, “Dear God, I’m heading for the most important job interview of my life. This is going to be a career defining moment. Please make sure that I get the job.” And then in the donation box, you put 1$ and leave.

Notice the disconnect?

We expect others to be fair to us, but when we ask for divine intervention, we are not ready to give up proportionately.

Life works on the principle of karma. Action = reaction. We need to give, if we expect to receive. And we are always expecting to receive something or the other isn’t it? This in addition to all that we have already received, since the day we were born.

This is not about putting 1$ or 100,000$ in a donation box. The money is only a substitute for the many resources we can give up or share, including energy, time, effort, likes, tears, intent, passion and compassion among other things. Let us be fair.

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Trick or treat

It is Friday night here. Today was a really tiring and hectic day for me at work. This past week has been the exact same. Every day has been so tight, this might easily be the fastest week this year.

At this very moment, although I have some pending work for today, I am at peace.
Yesterday and the day before, at the exact same time, I was already done with work. Yet I was on edge.

What explains this?

It is just my mind playing tricks on me. Surely the imminent weekend has much (or all) to do with it.
There are automatic labels that have got established.
Weekend = Fun.
Weekday = Not Fun.

This is all just an illusion. Even the weekend is not fun, once we start thinking about the week ahead. While any weekday that is part of a countdown to an upcoming vacation is fun.

The only fun to be had is right here right now. As I write this blog. As you read it. And as you and I both continue on with whatever else life throws at us. Everything is fun. Life is fun. Let us believe it, and our minds will fall for it. Guaranteed!

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Map of Life

“Vedic Astrology! You believe in that nonsense? I thought you were educated!”

Quite a common reaction, to say the least. But there are so many outstanding nuances to this science.

Here’s one I really like: We need not look at the planets as some far off celestial bodies. Rather we can view the planets as embedded deep within us. Each planet represents certain facets of our personalities.

  1. Saturn – a much maligned planet, represents our traditional side and capacity to work hard
  2. Rahu – a node from the Moon, has only a head (and eyes therefore), is linked to obsession, materialism
  3. Ketu – the other Moon node, has no head, but only tail – hence untouched by the senses, deeply spiritual
  4. Mars – shows our inner aggression, impatience, courage, willpower and passion
  5. Sun – represents authority and statesmanship
  6. Moon – our sweet, motherly, emotional side
  7. Jupiter – our inner wisdom, intuition, intellect and guidance
  8. Venus – the creativity engine, shows our excitement, pleasure and luxuries
  9. Mercury – the analytical abilities, learning, communication skills

We all have each of these planets within us, in various combinations, at various times.

Astrology provides insights into what periods of time are likely to be most conducive for which planets. As an example, if one’s Mars is very strong, then maybe s/he should keep themselves in check at work, rather than vent out to the boss in frustration – which could lead to unwanted outcomes.

This can help, very similar to how Google Maps helps us reach our destinations. The end point is known of course, but we can get there either through an hour of traffic or by avoiding it.

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In their thoughts

“Tina! Did you have your breakfast today?”, asked her father. “I’m not a baby dad, can you stop asking me this all the time?”.

“Sam, can you please get that document from my table?”, asked his boss during a client meeting. “I hate doing these menial tasks – why can’t he be more prepared?” thought an agitated Sam.

“Dolly, you need to change your diet. The extra pounds are not looking good”, said her friend, also a fitness coach. “Who is she to tell me about my body? Sure, she is in great shape, but why is she making me feel bad?”

All of the above can benefit from a shift in perspective.

Many people do not have anyone to tell them anything. Their lives tick by in solitude. Even the ones who are in the spotlight sometimes. No wonder then, that there is no dearth of depression and suicide cases.

The next time someone enquires about us (“Did you eat?”) or asks for our help (“Can you please bring that from there?”), let us be extra grateful to them. We are lucky that we are in the thoughts of others, whatever the reason may be.

That in itself is a reason to rejoice.

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The cyclist

The word ‘Peloton’ is probably familiar to exercise enthusiasts, as the company which provides high-tech in-home workout equipment. Late in 2019, the company went public after much hoopla over a pricey multi-billion dollar Initial Public Offering.

The word peloton is also used in professional cycling. It refers to the close-knit formation we see in cycling races. The cyclist in the lead ends up taking the brunt of the wind and air. This helps the cyclists behind him, because the leader cuts the wind drag to them by up to 40%, leading them to conserve significant energy.

Our lives are tough, peppered by all sorts of uncertainties and calamities. Even the spiritual path is fraught with enemies – like our minds – and largely of our own creation.

There is one person in the lead though. Unflinching, he has walked the path and the talk. He has experienced everything there is, and knows all the pitfalls. He is at the head of the peloton, helping us seek and reach the Truth, while conserving our sanity, and shielding us every step of the way.

He is the Guru. The scriptures say, that when the time is right, s/he will enter our lives.

All we need to do, is to follow her/him, with utmost faith.

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The fan

Captain America just gifted his Shield to a fan.
Iron Man and Spider-Man are fighting to outdo each other on sending even better gifts to this fan.
This tiny 6-year old fan, has bowled all of The Avengers over!
But how?

A gnarling German Shepherd chased after a 4-year old girl.
The fan, her brother, with not a trace of hesitation, bravely stepped in between.
All he wanted, was to save his sister.
He succeeded, but also got in harm’s way.

90 stitches later, he still has a smile on his tiny face.

Makes me think – would I at his age – have been able to act so selflessly?
Makes me think – would I at this age – be able to act so selflessly?

Values come from the inside. And the inside has no connection to the size of the outside.
This little fan has a new fan!

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No firsts among equals

How can we see the Universal Spark / Brahman / Supreme Soul / God / Super-consciousness in everyone?

A disciple was once singing a devotional song in front of my Guru. All the other members in the audience including his co-disciples, just couldn’t take the screeching any longer. Most of them left the room. But my Guru? He just continued enjoying the praises of the Lord. When the song was over, he asked the disciple to sing the song again. And then again. And then he praised him, saying that it was a heartfelt rendition, and that practising more would make him better.

The disciple knew that his singing was terrible, to say the least. When he asked my Guru, how he could enjoy what no one else could, my Guru said, “That is because I look at you as my own child. If your 2-year old son or daughter were to sing, even if totally out of tune, would you not enjoy and revel in the moment?”

Before we can reach the final states of consciousness that Vedanta speaks of, we must first attempt to see those around us as equals. Not from a material status point of view, but as those worthy of our empathy and compassion.

Only if we can see people as our own, can we then treat them as our own. Without this, the higher concepts will remain just that. Conceptual.

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La casa de la mente

This weekend, my wife and I started watching Netflix’s amazing and highly acclaimed Spanish language TV show titled La Casa de Papel (aka Money Heist, with subtitles). No spoilers here, don’t worry!

Like in any robbery / hostage drama, a negotiator is always a key character. And if there is one dependable weapon a negotiator needs, it is a calm mind.

We are all negotiators in some sense, in our day to day lives. Things often do not go according to plan. And while we can cry and bawl about all of life’s quandaries, we cannot change external circumstances. The victor is one who has brought her/his mind under control, irrespective of the outside world.

This is no doubt easier said than done. But it is also not acquired solely by divine endowment either. There are 3 specific steps which will help control the mind (i.e. mente).

  1. Practise meditating everyday. Intentionally, purposefully. Setting time aside for it.
  2. Right Living. Including moderation in food intake, exercise and sleeping.
  3. Staying alert. This is to ensure continuity of 1 and 2. It is easy to fall off the path. Doing a spiritual audit, or being in a self-help group or ‘satsanga’ helps.

The end result? Mente tranquila!

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The Suit

In a previous avatar, a colleague and I were leaving office for the day. It was the last day of the week – and also casual wear day. We entered the lift, and the doors were about to close. Just then, someone cried out “Hold the door please!”

I pressed the ‘< >’ button.

The always formally dressed Global Head of Sales walked in. “Thanks!”, he said. My colleague, who was looking at his phone, looked up and said “Hi Sam!”, only to realise a moment later that this wasn’t Sam. Sam was the CEO, also always formally dressed. My colleague apologised, “I’m sorry Neil, I only saw you from behind, and mistook you for Sam, who also always wears a suit”.

“No worries”, said Neil. “But I wish I was Sam. My annual take home pay would be higher by 2 million.” The lift door opened, and after weekend pleasantries were exchanged, Neil went on his way, and we ours.

The lesson to me was not new. But it proved yet again, that no matter how high up we go, or how much money we make, it is never enough.

The ancients teach us, that all sorrow and suffering in the world stem from overtly dwelling on sense objects. This leads to attachment, which in turn leads to desire (unfulfilled) which then leads to anger, delusion and ruin. Something to think about.

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Grace anatomy

‘Divine grace’ is often considered some kind of magical interference that will make problems go away. It is also viewed as something only a select group of people are bestowed with. But the reality is, that grace is there for everyone to tap into.

If we want to let the breeze in, we need to open the windows first.

Around 150,000 people died yesterday, and the day before, and each day before that, but not us. We are alive and well today. That is grace. Each step – one could be crushed by a falling object, swept away by a current, electrocuted by a live wire and what not. There are so many mishaps, so much uncertainty, and no idea if we will reach our destinations when we set off on our journeys. A few years ago, the local met department chief’s own daughter got stuck in the city’s rains-induced floods – so we can’t even predict the weather properly!

We only have an illusion of control of our lives – but in reality have no control at all.

Even so, we have managed to sidestep all of these disasters, for all these years. That is divine grace.

How do we open the windows? True grace, is not some materialistic miracle, but the dispelling of our ignorance. Ignorance that we are the body and the mind – which is the cause of all sorrow and suffering. The divine truth we seek is embedded deep inside each one of us. To seek it actively, to become aware of it, to be grateful to it, is a reflection of divine grace.

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On the other side of the world

I’m starving!“, screamed the 10-year old brat to his mom, when his dinner was served to him a few minutes late. On the other side of the world, an entire poverty-stricken family of four had not eaten for 3 days.

I’m shivering here, is there no temperature control?”, complained the first-class flyer to the stewardess, when his private room got a little cold. On the other side of the world, a homeless man couldn’t afford socks to keep his feet warm.

I wish I could be jobless for a while” said the executive, flopping onto his couch, after an unusually hectic week at work. On the other side of the world, a single mother with 2 kids just got laid off from her job as a waitress, thanks to the pandemic.

It’s boiling in here“, the high-maintenance girlfriend remarked to her lover, when the AC in the car took a couple of minutes to start cooling. On the other side of the world, a coal mine worker, subjected to extreme temperature and chemical hazards, could barely breathe.

I hate getting wet!“, shrieked the woman, when a light drizzle began. On the other side of the world, a frail-looking man, with cleaning equipment strung onto his back, prepared to descend into the manhole.

Oh the things we say, and wish for, in our inadvertent callousness!

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Problem Gone?

The plumber came home to fix the leak. “That’ll be $100”. We don’t understand what he does. But we pay him anyway.
Problem Gone.

The technician came home to fix the TV. “That’ll be $200”. We don’t understand what he does. But we pay him anyway.
Problem Gone.

The mechanic came home to fix the car. “That’ll be $500”. We don’t understand what he does. But we pay him anyway.
Problem Gone.

The doctor came home to fix the broken bone. “That’ll be $1000”. We don’t understand what he does. But we pay him anyway.
Problem Gone.

The Guru came home to fix us. “That’ll be free of charge”. We don’t understand what he does. But we doubt him anyway. “Will it work? How can he get rid of all my tensions and stress? Who is he to know my life and give me advice?”
Problem Not Gone.

No Faith = Problem Not Gone.
Faith = Problem Gone.

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In reverse

Enjoy your work, then you will love your job
Enjoy your workout, then you will love your body
Enjoy your food habits, then you will love your food
Enjoy your own company, then you will love your partner
Enjoy your moments, then you will love your day
Enjoy your connection, then you will love your family and friends
Enjoy your lifestyle, then you will love your life
Enjoy your happiness, then you will love your success

But we usually have all these backwards. We do! Check again. For instance, we let our jobs decide if we will enjoy our work. Or we look at our unshapely bodies and end up despising workouts. And so on.

Thus there is no happiness.

In reality, we already have everything we need. We just need to bring the enjoyment to the here and now. It is only a mindset shift.

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Statistics and Faith

Hundreds of thousands have given up trying to scale Everest. “Getting to the top is impossible.”
Hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. “The job market is dead.”
Hundreds of thousands are dying from the pandemic. “Our very survival is under question.”
Hundreds of thousands have seen salary cuts. “Promotions and bonuses this year – not happening!”
Hundreds of thousands have applied for the scholarship but not got it. “It is not for us mere mortals”.

Vague motherhood statements such as these apparent experiences of the “hundreds of thousands” only serve to demotivate and demoralise.

We are not hundreds of thousands. We each are just one. We just need one job, one chance, one paycheck, one summit.

We must leave no stone unturned in getting what we need.

Forget the stats. Instead, fuel the faith.

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Inner peace, or pieces?

A news item caught my eye. It was about one of my favourite Hollywood actors. He is known for some amazing gangster movies that achieved cult status. He has apparently sought to reduce alimony payments to his ex-wife from US$ 100k to US$ 50k. Per month! This is more than most earn in a year or three.

It seems the coronavirus pandemic has damaged some of his investments in the hospitality sector. His net worth is still estimated at around US$ 500m! Needless to say, there are counter-cases and allegations from the other party.

By all conventional metrics, he is super successful. But is he happy? Who knows! But would a 75 year old rather chill in peace? Or be fighting cases in court?

Spirituality teaches us that peace is happiness. There is no mention of bank balance. Only mental and emotional balance.

Seek peace. Or make it. Happiness will come running.

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Ask and know

A pilot can fly a plane, and understand its broad (aero)dynamics. But one cannot expect her/him to assemble a plane from scratch.

The operations head of a dairy company can manage supply chain and milk delivery to customers perfectly. But expecting her/him to understand the nitty-gritties of bovine health and feedstock is silly.

An expert fashion designer might have the best eye for haute couture. But putting her/him in charge of a fashion company – to deal with all the finances, HR, operations and technology – would be incongruous.

In life, mutual interdependence is inevitable. Not one single thing in this world happens independent of anything else. We wouldn’t even be able to breathe, if it weren’t for the trees around us.

Likewise, it is impossible for one person to know everything. But we are often still too scared to ask others for help. If we are perceived to have low IQ or poor calibre – but that is the perceiver’s problem! And this is rarely the case though – because everyone loves to give advice and most people love to blah blah blah as they love the sound of their own voice.

It is better to ask and find out, than stay silent and never know, or worse, get an inferiority complex, when there should be none.

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The prayer was answered

Someone prayed for a beautiful wife. The prayer was answered. The wife was so beautiful that all eyes were on her. Soon the affairs started.

Someone prayed for a million dollars. The prayer was answered. The friends got jealous. Many relationships were lost.

Someone prayed for having kids. The prayer was answered. A baby boy was born. But the mother died in labour.

Someone prayed for their dream job. The prayer was answered. It was unearthed that the company had committed massive fraud. A career was lost.

Someone prayed for that vacation to Hawaii. The prayer was answered. A shark attack and a surfing accident later, a limb was amputated.

We have no clue whatsoever about what the future holds. Therefore let us not pray for things that we believe will make us happy. Let us pray instead, that we always remain happy – no matter the circumstance.

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Meld and forget

Take all the gold mined in the entire world. Including gold bars, gold coins, gold nuggets, gold jewellery etc. Now melt and meld all of it into a cube. That cube would measure just 20 meters each side.

Take all our life’s worst problems. Including loved one passed away, job lost, got divorced, promotion denied, pet died, real-estate investment gone bust etc. etc. etc. All of these will fit into less than one calendar month of 20 days.

But in a life of 100 years or 36,500 days, we replay these 20 problem days over and over and over – so much so that all 36,500 days become problem days.

The problem is not with the problem days. The problem is in our minds. We must forget the past, and the future, and instead learn to embrace the now.

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Oh what a sacrifice!

So many things in this world are misunderstood and mistreated, simply because we do not take the pains to delve deep enough. Many (pseudo) intellectuals today criticise palmistry, astrology, vastu, ayurveda and various other sciences, and conveniently twist certain extracts to suit their arguments.

“How dare you even call these sciences?!”

Nothing wrong with criticism, as long as the critic has studied the subject in sufficient detail. Chances are, and my personal experience attests to it, that by the time the period of study is complete, even the staunchest disbelievers become converts.

An example of such misunderstanding? The ancient Hindu tradition of animal sacrifices in temples during fire offerings.

In his book on Purusha Suktam, Swami Tejomayananda beautifully clarifies. Animals were never killed at temples. Rather, they would be tied to a pole at the start, and as an offering, they would be set free, i.e. the owner of the animal would ‘sacrifice their ownership‘.

This is key. It is not about the object. Rather it is about relinquishing ownership of the object. The animal would then be free to roam around the village, and would be fed by all villagers with equal reverence. Such a beautiful concept, but misunderstood!

The ultimate goal is to sacrifice our egos. This is considered the pinnacle of self-realisation.

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How I wish I had the time to read books. And the time to learn a foreign language. And the time to learn to play an instrument. But I just don’t get any time at all. This is person X.

Person X looks back at the last 1 week – he did not do any of the above. However he could have done 70 minutes worth of these at the very least. How? By simply taking out 10 minutes a day.

Surely he can take that much time out? Even if not in one shot, 5 minutes in the morning and 5 in the evening are possible? So 70 minutes is easily possible!

It all depends on how desperate we are. We must ask ourselves honestly. Do I really want to read a book, or learn a foreign language or learn to play an instrument?

Note that the focus here is on reading / learning, i.e the process, and not the outcomes, i.e. actually discussing a book after reading it, or speaking in a foreign tongue, or playing Fur Elise. The outcome is what we all love, but the process everyone despises.

Instead, let us love the process. Intensely. We will be surprised how time makes itself magically available. Even 700 minutes will be possible.

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The writing on the wall

True story. A 16 year old spoilt brat behaves in the worst manner possible. Being the only child, his mother had spared no opportunity to pamper him. She turns a blind eye to all his antics and tantrums. That he is egoistic and puerile, is instantly obvious to everyone around him.

True story. A 40 year old woman, with no independent income source, 2 young kids, and a husband in a low-paying job, is crazy about shopping for designers bags and shoes. Where they can barely make ends meet, the lady is focused on adding to her collection, much to the ire of her husband. The whole neighbourhood knows of her frivolous excesses.

True story. A 55-year old senior executive at a private technology firm, regularly mistreats his employees and team members. Many have quit. New replacements join despite the culture, but only for desperation of employment. The team morale is low, and productivity has dropped off a cliff.

True story. A 70 year old man, always treated by his wife as her living God, continues to treat his wife like his slave. No matter what she does to please him, he continues to express his disgust. Neighbours, well-wishers and visitors can quickly identify the problems with the thankless curmudgeon.

It is better to live a life where we discharge our duties smartly and effectively, rather than being deluded by our attachment. The primary duty of a mother is to discipline her children (for their own betterment), while a homemaker’s is to efficiently allocate resources to run the home. That of a leader is to enable his team to grow and a husband must support his family, beyond just money. These are but a few examples.

More often that not, the writing is on the wall. The signs are there for everyone to see. But many choose to close their eyes, and ignore the inevitable.

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Effective Prayer

How can prayer be made more effective?

  1. It is the emotion that counts. Not the amount of time spent praying.
  2. The words/mantras/chants may mean nothing to us, but the One who needs to understand, will.
  3. Having a 1-1 conversation with the higher power helps. In the language you are most comfortable in.
  4. Practise, leading to a habit, improves effectiveness – especially when it is most essential.
  5. Pray with family. As is said, “the family that prays together stays together”.
  6. Offer something in return. This is particularly useful for out-sized material wants (money, job, health of a loved one etc.). Promise in advance, that once fulfilled, you will do something meaningful – like feeding a number of homeless children, giving up your favourite food, donating a sizeable amount to a chosen charity etc. Remember, give big, get big (usually bigger!).
  7. Pray for others, significantly more than for yourself. You will find good things happen to others, and great things happen to you.

This is not about religion. We can even just pray in gratitude to the power that sustains life in this universe, and the spark within each of us. This is selfless, and perhaps the best kind of prayer.

We’ve all been in tough spots before, and life being what it is, we may find ourselves in similar positions again. Prayers do work. The proof is in the trying. Prepare to be amazed!

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Got lucky

I hate going to work. But I’m lucky I have a job.
I hate having to do the chores. But I’m lucky I have a home to live in.
I hate not having pizza for dinner. But I’m lucky I sleep on a full stomach.
I hate going to the gym. But I’m lucky I have a healthy body.
I hate having to listen to my boring sibling/parent/friend. But I’m lucky I have an amazing family.
I hate when the trains are late. But I’m lucky I have someplace to be.
I hate when my kids disturb me during work. But I’m lucky I became a parent.
I hate the slow WiFi in my local coffee shop. But I’m lucky I have a laptop and internet. And coffee.
I hate having to pick from a wardrobe full of clothes. But I’m lucky I have something to wear.
I hate that my online delivery got delayed. But I’m lucky I’m not the delivery person struggling to make ends meet.
I hate that I couldn’t spend more than 3 hours watching Netflix today. But I’m lucky I have good eyesight.

I hate most things. But honestly, I’m the luckiest person alive.

Aren’t we all?

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Our emotional extremes rarely come out into the open.

We may go so far out of the way to nonchalantly help someone that it warmed their hearts forever. At an other time, we may have felt so disgusted at something that we wish secretly and momentarily that a perpetrator be banished from the face of this earth.

Each of us is a mix of good and evil. We know what society at large considers right and wrong. A simple check before any decisive action is “would I like it, if someone does the exact same thing to me?”

Sometimes things may get out of hand. But it is alright. The ancient Chinese had a system. They would never brand a person a liar. They would only point out that this person said a lie, on this date at that time.

Our mind must be strong and balanced. If something bad has happened, we cannot let it affect us forever. If a fly falls in milk, we throw the milk away. But if a fly falls in butter, we only scoop out a small section of it.

It is our choice, whether we let ourselves be polluted fully, or periodically purge out the muck. Butter up!

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Moving on

Did your child criticise you today?
Did your boss reprimand you today?
Did your partner lose his/her temper at you today?
Did your parent disapprove of what you did today?
Did your colleague just put you down in front of your team?
Did your good friend just stand you up?
Did your neighbour just insult you in front of others from your locality?

It’s OK. Anyone can be wrong. Such is life. Everything is not perfect.

We can leave behind what was told today, here and now. Let us not take it with us to tomorrow. Because the person speaking to us surely is not!

Too often, our wonderful brand new sunny days start weighed down by the dark burdens of past words. But we are infinitely more than just a collection of other people’s judgements.

We must move on, mentally and emotionally. This can happen by focusing on things we love to do. Playing an instrument, learning a language, reading a book. Anything.

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