Skip to content

Month: August 2020

What exactly is dharma? – Part 2 of 2

So we continue from yesterday’s post on dharma.

The ancients have given us exceptional guidance. “Desha, Kaala, Paristhithi”, which translates to Place, Time and Situation. No law or diktat can be applicable to everybody, every time and in every circumstance. Hence trying to apply one standardised definition (one size fits all) may not work.

Dharma may also arise from the passion that one shows for one’s work. If we are able to find our true calling, and work as if it were play, then our duty would be implemented dharmically. Hardly anyone truly finds their passion though. Therefore, to start with, we would have to fool our minds into enjoying our work. Soon passion and enjoyment will come automatically.

There are also some universally accepted principles and values that come under dharma. Such as non-violence, truthfulness, cleanliness etc. No matter the caste, creed, race, or gender, these principles apply across the board. Here, we can follow the simple dharmic principle, “do not do unto others, what you don’t want them to do to you”, i.e. practising compassion and empathy.

Further, dharma is also in intent. Is the intent selfish? Is it driven by “what is in it for me?”. Instead of thinking about us, we should be thinking about others. Dharma therefore take shape when there is maximum benefit to maximum people.

As per Vedanta, the dharma of a human being is to attain moksha or liberation. This is somewhat a destination than a journey. However, the journey must be undertaken, with a life lived in accordance to all the above dharmic dictums. The destination will reveal itself automatically.

Finally, even the greatest of yogis and rishis have faltered in upholding dharma. Do we even stand a chance? We certainly do, but for that, we must take refuge in a Guru.

Like it? Please share it!

What exactly is dharma? – Part 1 of 2

This is probably one of the hardest questions to answer. Not because the answer is hard to find. But because there are so many answers and so many perspectives. We may have to assimilate all of them and apply to our lives if we truly wish to transform ourselves. Let us look at them.

The most common contemporary definition of dharma is ‘duty’. The question then becomes, what is my duty? If I hate my job, should I continue doing it, because that is my duty and that I have to provide for my family? Or is it my duty to then put all my efforts into finding myself a new job? How about my duty as a son, a father, a husband, a friend, an employee?

A more nuanced definition then is, whatever you are doing right now, that is your dharma. If I am driving, my dharma is to drive with full attention on the road, and not to listen to some meditative music that might put me into a trance. Ditto for any of the myriad roles we each assume everyday.

In Sanskrit, dharma is defined as dhaarayate iti dharma. Which means, “that which stabilises, is dharma”. We see this in the world around us – when one dictator becomes all too powerful and begins to oppress those around him, there is eventually a people’s revolt that brings him down. Or when the earth is too polluted, a cascading negative impact is felt on its citizens, leading to some cathartic upheaval (like Covid19 brought down pollution for a while).

Another way of looking at dharma, is from the viewpoint of decision making. While the Mahabharata was chock-a-block with the world’s greatest warriors, none of them were able to make the right decisions, as observed by Lord Krishna himself. He says, given the circumstances, grandpa Bheeshma should have broken his vow, while Pandava leader Dharmaraja should have never gambled with dice. So it is possible, the action itself (like killing the Kauravas) may not appear dharmic, but that the decision (to kill the Kauravas in order to uphold justice) behind them is dharmic.

More definitions, and how to apply these to our lives – coming up in part 2 tomorrow!

Like it? Please share it!

Why we do not achieve?

You may have ‘heard’ this story before.

A group of frogs lived in a very tiny enclosure. The only way to escape, was to jump really high. One brave frog, was sick of his cramped environment. He tried a high jump, but slipped and broke his leg. This became ‘hot news’. “Don’t try to jump out, or else you too will break your leg”, the younger frogs were advised by the elders. Soon this morphed into a mantra and a diktat, “No one should ever try to jump out – it is impossible.”

The mantra was passed on from frog generation to frog generation, and many many years later, there were more frogs, no jumpers and hardly any room. Such was the level of fear. Except when one day, one fellow jumped up and over to the outside. Smooth and clean, like a high jump gold at the Olympics.

All the frogs were shocked. “How did he do it? Did he not hear about the brave one who had valiantly attempted many generations ago and failed?”

The successful frog’s mother spoke from the silence. “My son did not hear, because he was born deaf.”

You may have ‘heard’ this story before.
We have all heard many things before.
But that is precisely the problem.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment


Is there anything more beautiful than a smile? Of course there is. A smile with a dimple.

Jokes aside, apparently the dimple is not an epitome of perfection. Rather, it is a flaw, a genetic deformity that causes the irregular growth of a certain facial muscle as the embryo develops.

Wow, so that means we do know to admire imperfections in life! Or are we the type that believes our brother or sister or spouse or parent must go under the knife to ‘get’ a dimple? Apparently this is a big thing – cosmetic surgery and all – go figure!

The world is full of imperfections. But that is what gives each one of us a chance to survive. If everyone was amazingly and equally good at math and finance, I wouldn’t have my job. If everyone was equally talented and looked like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt or Scarlett Johannson, or directed like Steven Spielberg or Chris Nolan, we would be drowning in monotony.

We all know the adage beauty is only skin deep. But we are still attracted only by the beautiful. Everyone wants a beautiful wife, but not one scarred by an acid attack. Everyone wants a healthy and cute husky puppy – not one that can’t walk or see. What if we were on the receiving end of this partiality?

I remember an interesting company called Hungry Harvest that pitched on Shark Tank. Their premise was nifty. When we go to supermarkets to buy our veggies and fruits, we only pick the good looking ones. The deformed and ‘ugly’ produce never even see the daylight. But companies like these help make use of them. For instance, we drink carrot juice, but never care how the carrot looked. I don’t know anything about their business side of things. But if we all could see beauty in imperfections, the world could be a better place!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Now, never, later

A mother was extremely worried about her child. She prayed to God for him. “Oh my poor baby, he’s been having it so hard these days. He deserves so much more. And he’s so good at heart too!”, she thought to herself. The lady had just celebrated her 90th birthday, and her ‘child’, at the age of 68, was on the verge of retirement.

Granted, that parents are perennially worried about their children, and mothers more so. But to what extent is this warranted, one would ask? Especially because on the spiritual path, we are told to keep curbs on our desires and attachments. When should one start enforcing some control?

The right answer will always be ‘now’. Why now? Simple. Because ‘later’ never comes!

We were perfectly happy with our own toy cars and dolls. Until one day the neighbour’s kid showed off her bigger toy. And then we wanted that bigger toy. Then we went to school and found others with so many things we didn’t have. We lived through all that, and then wanted a good education – “top college”, we thought. Getting in wasn’t enough – we had to live up to the competition. Including getting a top job from campus placement, with the best salary. But even that wasn’t adequate, because there were others who were better. And then we started working, and a few peers started getting married and then their kids came about. “How about my own marriage? Will it ever happen?” And you kept hearing all those talks about all the kids in all the parties. Oh isn’t that a different tangent altogether? Kids kindergarten, kids nanny, kids playtime, kids this kids that. Now one would have to desire for them too! All too soon, you’re 65 and about to retire. “I’ll give my desires up soon. I’m almost at the end only. Just one last major one – once I get to see my grandson start going to school, that’ll be it. And my grand daughter too!” The 90 year old lady was going to give up her desires soon as well.

This is an endless loop. Remember, the answer is ‘now’, not later.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Why faith needn’t be about God

When someone is going through a tough time, we tell them “Have faith. All will be well.”

An atheist will consider this to be nonsensical. “There is no God, and therefore I have no faith in Him/Her.”

However, can we re-purpose this faith?

Deep inside us, there is a life force, a spark of consciousness. A spark that differentiates us, from the mere amalgamation of flesh, blood and bone that corpses are. This spark, according to the ancients, is the very essence of life and creation itself. To those who concur, it is also known as God.

If this spark aka Brahman, is the source of all creation, then surely this spark can also create any of the mundane things we run after – wealth, a promotion, a job, a family, a better life? This is also the crux of ‘creative visualisation’ programs.

Our mind currently thinks that everything we want can only be achieved by the body. But this is far from the truth. If this spark is within us, then all we need is to have faith in is in ourselves – the true us, not limited by our bodies.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

How to build your network?

Where is the center of the universe? Has the center been discovered? Is it possible to see the center through the Hubble telescope?

No, no, wrong center! The real center of the universe is we ourselves. Or rather, I, me, myself. We all live and function as though the universe and the whole world revolves around us. But we know this, right? What can we do about it, so that it benefits us?

The author of the book How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie (DC), has this to say. “People don’t care about me or you, but they care only about themselves.”

We are all looking to make friends, relationships, business partners, acquaintances, long lasting connections – you name it. But we struggle to build our networks. Why? Because we begin our efforts by focusing on ourselves. We want to let the world know who we are, what we like, what we dislike, what our talents are, what our hobbies are and in the process, we hope that the other person will recognise us for the great individuals we are, and allow us an entry into their league of awesome buddies.

All good, except that this is an effort that is being applied in reverse! As DC says, “You can make more friends in 2 months by becoming genuinely interested in other people, than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

If we want to make friends, we must do things for others – giving our energy, our time, our selflessness and our thoughtfulness. Here are a few things that can help!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

How to remain calm no matter what?

Here is a lovely story I heard recently from my very good childhood friend.

A factory owner once gave a surprise payout to all his employees. Each one of them came up to him, thanked him, praised him and left him with a big smile. Each one, except one. Just one employee, neither thanked him nor praised him. And this got onto the factory owner’s nerves. He just couldn’t understand why this person would not come to thank him.

This kept playing on the owner’s mind over and over. A few months down the line, he announced a cut in salary for this employee. A few days passed, and he was shocked that the employee still never came to him – crying, arguing, or at the very least, demanding an explanation.

Perplexed, the factory owner decided to confront the employee about his unsettling behaviour. The employee said, “Sir, on the day you announced the bonus, my wife gave birth to our son, and I took the bonus as a stroke of luck brought by my child. On the day when you cut my pay, my mother passed away, and I took the pay cut as if she took away what belonged to her. Therefore, I am unaffected by the pay rise or the pay reduction.”

It is said that one of the hardest feats a true yogi can achieve, is to remain equanimous in the face of duality. Especially in the face of life’s opposites – joy versus sorrow, pain versus pleasure etc. Life is full of such extremes – with today’s pain leading to tomorrow’s pleasure which then leads to further pain and the cycle continues forever.

Once we accept and realise that life is cyclical, we will be able to objectively evaluate each situation life places us in – and respond appropriately. Moderation is the key – and if the good doesn’t matter much, the bad won’t either.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Can we stop accruing karma?

The law of karma is all encompassing. But since it is often difficult to come to terms with, we overthink, and this can be somewhat deleterious to us.

For instance, when we let extra water run while showering / brushing, couldn’t that water have been used by someone who has limited / no access to water, like maybe in a desert? Or when we devour an animal for food, wouldn’t we accrue bad karma for killing it? Same story for plants, as some non-vegetarians argue? How about when we land a job, get a degree, or secure an admission, sometimes through connections – aren’t these ‘victories’ of ours, depriving many others of what could have been theirs? And the times spent in a car for leisure travel so that one may de-stress, or a flight for a business meeting. Aren’t we polluting Mother Earth? And all those instances when we’ve competed with friends, relatives and others for who drives who where, who wins which sport, who plays what board game, who gets to keep what things, and all the slandering that happens thereafter? How about where we have an array of choices for what to eat, what to wear, what to speak etc. while so many people do not even have their basic rights and freedoms?

Does karma not accrue from all these things?

You can bet it does! The karma logbook is constantly updating itself – never to miss a thing.

The only way we can justify our actions then, is by devoting our actions for the greater good. Whatever we benefited from, it is our duty to give back to society, and this must always be our endeavour. And it always begins with gratitude.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Is money important?

We are all scrambling mindlessly to make money. Or to make more money. Money is such an interesting invention.

For all the bad things in the world, the more the money, the worse it gets. If you are loaded, how does one say “No”, to all the friends that come to borrow and never repay. How does one keep away all the ‘eyes’ on your money. And the potential family feuds, and the rivalries, and even one’s own ego?

For all the good things however, there is quite nothing like money. It can buy time – a good amount of money means one doesn’t need to work as many hours in a typical job. It can also buy health to some extent, quality of life, maybe even a good life-partner! If one is inclined, it also helps in the service of others. Said differently, we cannot donate any money if we do not have any money in the first place.

There is nothing inherently wrong with money. But only as long as we treat it as the means, and not the end. Therefore money has to be a very personalised and calibrated metric. An exercise each one of us must embark on is to figure out for ourselves – how much is enough. This must be personalised, because it will depend on our own personal needs and expenses, without comparative inputs on the size of the neighbour’s car/house/yacht (because that will feature in their own calculation!). We can, however, consider those who live on 1/100th of what we have, but still lead happy lives. Our own ancestors for instance – would have had much lower take-homes, but they managed to raise significantly larger families!

Here is what we must always bear in mind. Money is very very very important. But it is not the most important thing.

Like it? Please share it!
1 Comment

How can we handle criticism?

I recall a scene from when I was much younger, when our apartment was being renovated. Several labourers were involved in the painting, cementing, chipping, tiling, piping and other related activities. One chap in particular, would come late every single day. The supervisor who was overseeing this renovation project, took him to task once and asked him to be on time, as the rest of the work was being held up unnecessarily. I remember as the labourer merely smiled and listened patiently. Later the supervisor told me, all these workers are similar and smart – they just smile and stay silent. No frustration. No anger. No excuses.

Keep in mind, this worker was probably illiterate, and must have had all kinds of problems going on his personal life. Not that his professional life was much to speak of – as the daily wages in India can barely sustain hand to mouth existence. Even so, he had somehow learned to handle criticism beautifully. I’m thinking of the number of times I’ve been pulled up by my teachers or employers or even family members over the years – and can’t think of an instance when I managed to smile and listen patiently through criticism.

For most people, taking feedback or handling criticism is a very difficult process. This is especially true for the ones that are materially more successful, and that too early on in life. A daily wage earner is likely getting a verbal bashing every few hours (if not minutes) of each day – mostly from those barking orders at him. Those who have gone through tough childhoods and tough upbringings, are likely to be tough in their adulthood as well. They understand that life often does not work the way they want it to.

For those of us that have still not forgotten our boss’ or teachers’ or friends’ reprimands or criticisms, often from many years ago, we must toughen up, and let go. Surely those people have forgotten what they said. But these incidents remain imprinted in our memories, as if forever.

One way to let go, is to diversify. Have many activities, many friends, many mentors, many skills, many hobbies. It would be very difficult to annoy/destroy all of these at once. When the mind has many things to keep it busy, it will automatically stop dwelling on select instances from the past, and be less self-focused.

Like it? Please share it!
1 Comment

How can I face life?

One of funniest and most heart warming TV shows in recent times is the 15-Emmy nominated Schitt’s Creek. If you haven’t heard of this show, then yes you read the name of the show right. The first time I heard it, I thought – what?! And it certainly wasn’t something I wanted to watch. But watch we did. And the lessons learned were pretty amazing.

The premise is simple yet unique. An opulent family of 4 – father, mother and two adult kids – loses all its wealth overnight. Everything, except the title to a tiny nondescript town in the middle of nowhere. They must move there at once and begin a new life. No maids, no butlers, no hors d’oeuvres in bed, no cars and certainly no money.

Suffice it to say, that the underlying messages packed through each of the episodes are pretty amazing. The family quickly finds that ‘friendship’ is redefined now that their bank balance is zero. The entitled and brattish nature of the young adults is quickly questioned, as all entitlements come with a price, to pay which, one needs money. There are also other beautiful lessons around family values, communication, love, compassion and many others.

Probably the most important one for me, was that everyone has their quirks, and the sooner we accept it, the better it is, for us. We can each be the family in Schitts Creek. Nobody knows what life will hit us with and when. This is not about being pessimistic, but being realistic. If you know today that there is a non-zero probability that disaster can strike in the future, what would you do differently today, with the benefit of hindsight?

One answer, according to me, is to live a life ‘mentally’ as though we’ve lost everything, without practically giving anything away. In this approach, we will find that we value even the smallest of things, make the most out of every opportunity, build robust relationships that go well beyond money, and never take anything for granted. Then success and happiness are guaranteed, irrespective of the actual circumstances – losing everything or not!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

What is the proof?

It has become a big deal to proclaim and trumpet the number of hours one spends on spiritual practises including attending satsangs, doing yoga asanas, meditating or reading scriptures. These activities quickly find their way into facebook, instagram and other social media. Nothing wrong in that.

One person spends her time attending seven Skype satsang sessions every day. Yet she herself admits to having all sorts of issues – desires, attachments, problems at home, problems at work – you name it.

Why this disconnect? Why do the hours in satsang or spirituality not translate into real life positive changes?

The answer is simple. Because there is no application. The change we seek must come from within. Reading a book or attending a discourse have little meaning if the learnings are not applied, consistently, day after day. To quote an oft-quoted example, we can all read 100s of books on the technique of swimming, but will never learn unless pushed into the water.

This does not mean we must reduce the hours one is spending on these good activities. But an hour spent less, instead of resulting in regret, should ideally culminate in real world implementation. Came across some lessons on anger management? Super, now see if you can control your tongue – no lashing out – especially in the company of your irritating but well-intentioned friend. Read something about the importance of being charitable? Great, now go out and see if you can donate 10% of your income this month to a charity of your choice.

In this case, the proof of the pudding, is in the doing.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Do desires beget more desires?

Picture your favourite dessert. Thanks to the lockdowns everywhere, you have not been able to visit the restaurant that serves it. This is playing on your mind for a few weeks. Finally the restaurant opens up one day, and you order it on Uber Eats / Zomato / Swiggy / GrubHub. You polish off the delicacy in no time. Wow, wasn’t that long wait just so worth it?!

Given the relatively small serving size, you immediately feel like having another one. “Not today, but tomorrow surely”, you tell yourself. And then you proceed to keep thinking about the sweet dish sporadically during the rest of the day.

This is normal. We all have cravings, and the cravings may be satisfied – temporarily – but they certainly come back in the future. So desires do beget desires. But these desires only lead to unhappiness eventually (remember The Happiness Equation?). What can we do about this?

Ask anyone who’s had some Biryani to explain the dish to a vegetarian friend. “Biryani and vegetarian? Wait, does that combo even exist? How can you have biryani without chicken or meat balls?” But you ask the same thing to a pure vegetarian and they will tell you that there is nothing tastier than Paneer Biryani. And chicken biryani? “I’m a pure vegetarian, I’ve never eaten meat or fowl, and I can never think of harming another living being.”, pat comes the reply! What vegetarians lack in choice, enables their control on desire, at least for chicken biryani. But dessert may well be a weakness.

Out of sight, out of mind is a good way to keep a check. For instance, Domino’s Pizza stopped delivering to our place a year ago – as they can’t logistically honour their promise of ’30 minutes or free’. The family hasn’t had Domino’s since!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

In which language must we pray?

Sanskrit is one of the most beautiful languages in the world. There are some brilliant compositions, unlikely to be possible in any other language. For instance, in a poem called RamaKrishna Viloma Kavyam from the 14th century, when read from beginning to end, is about the Ramayana, while when read from back to front, is about the Mahabharata!

Sadly, Sanskrit is also a dead language. Hardly anyone speaks it today. And although there are some enthusiasts and some scholars, these are few and far between.

However, the language is also one of prayer. Most chants, mantras, shlokas etc. have all been composed in Sanskrit. Many people memorise these verses and chant them regularly. But given that the language itself is not understood, what then is the point of praying in such a language? Should one pray in their mother tongue instead? Is this a sensible argument? Surely translation from our language to His, is no challenge for a God?

Imagine we come across a beggar. He wears tattered clothes, his face and hands are dirty, he is frail and gaunt, and there is no doubt he has had little to eat in the last few days. Clutching at his stomach, he wails and cries and begs you repeatedly to give him some money. Now imagine another beggar, one dressed well, has a bit of a tummy, comes to you and says “Sir, give me some money.” Chances are, that you would help the first beggar, while doubting the intent, lack of emotion, and authenticity of the second.

Herein lies the key to prayer. Emotion is most essential. If we can figure out whether a person is faking it or not, wouldn’t God know if we are praying with sincerity or not? Without emotion, the most beautiful language cannot make a difference to the prayer. With emotion, even the absence of a language is no barrier.

The most beautiful combination however, would be both emotion and language. And that will take hard work, and intent.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Factory reset

“Sir, please install anti-virus, restart your phone / laptop, and then your problem will be resolved.”, said the customer care executive to a worried customer caller. Not anywhere near the first time she said this, and certainly nowhere near the last.

This is not ground breaking advice. We’ve ourselves been at the receiving end of this many times haven’t we? If there’s a tech problem, please restart your device.

Post the restart or the factory reset, things indeed do function smoothly. All of the new apps, software, bloatware, ransomware, malware and whatnotwares that were clogging the device are now taken care of.

But where is the reset button for us human beings? How can we rid ourselves of all the anxiety, stress, burdens, toxic relationships and other problems?

The reset button is called Empathy. If we turn our focus outwards, if we work for others, work for the world, work for nature, then we will focus less on ourselves and our own little problems, and more on others. Unlike with phones and computers though, a reset will not erase both the good and the bad. Instead, our reset buttons retain the good, and eliminate the bad. What more could we want?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Where is my happiness?

Here is the Happiness Equation from Swami Chinmayananda:

Happiness = Desires Fulfilled / Desires Entertained

It’s beauty lies in its alarming simplicity.

We are conditioned from childhood to think that the more our desires are fulfilled (i.e. bigger numerator), the closer we get to happiness. Our entire life is spent in pursuit of desire fulfilment – more money, more name, more fame and more everything else.

But this equation teaches us an infinitely simpler and sustainable way of being and staying happy. By reducing the denominator, happiness will come quickly, and the endless chain of desires begetting more desires will be broken. This is not to say we must immediately give everything up and start living like hermits. However, we can train our mind to be reasonable with its requests. This will come when we objectively evaluate for ourselves the validity of our desires. Such as – do I really need a 10 bedroom house? I can only sleep in one room at a time! Likewise for a garage of 10 antique cars.

The point must not be misunderstood. There is nothing wrong with lofty ambitions. However, the human mind is a complex beast, and it will soon compare with neighbours with 12 bedrooms and 12 cars, center the aim on loftier ambitions and eventually spiral out of control. This is the reason why seemingly rich people with everything that money can buy, can still be discontented, unhappy and depressed.

The ideal way then, is to be happy with what we already have (numerator increase), and begin to reduce our new desires (i.e. the denominator), and over time, we will ooze happiness, irrespective of the outside world.

Like it? Please share it!

Overcoming indecisiveness

Should I choose this job or that? Should I work or study? Should I learn to play the violin or the guitar? Should I take 2 weeks off this quarter or next? Should I read this book or that? Should I buy a car or a bike, and if so which brand, make, color and model? Should I buy this dress for the wedding or that? Should I buy a house or rent one? Should I get married now or wait? Should I or shouldn’t I? Should I or shouldn’t I? Should I or shouldn’t I? and on and on and on it goes.

Indecisiveness is everywhere. And we waste enormous amounts of time being indecisive.

However, indecisiveness is not a problem. Indecisiveness is a luxury. This luxury stems from the fact that we even have a choice! Many downtrodden poverty stricken individuals have no choices whatsoever in life. Their next meal would depend on them continuing in their current job, not studying, not having the opportunity to holiday, no time to read, and definitely not buy any personal vehicles.

But luxury aside, we are also indecisive because we are wary of the results of our decisions. And not making a decision is definitely not an answer, because that too is a type of decision.

Each of our actions will have its own consequences. The best part is, that the actions themselves do not matter, much.

Whether I drank lemon tea for breakfast or chamomile is irrelevant. The relevant question to ask is, after gulping down my tea, what did I do the rest of my day? After making the choice of employer, car, college, violin, or marriage, what did I do thereafter? Did I step up and change the world? Did I improve my relationship with my spouse? Did I use my education and career to add value to the lives of those around me?

We are here to make a positive impact to those around us, and we must decide to keep that up. That is the only decision that matters.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

How to see?

The rains are so beautiful. Ah the petrichor. I love it.
Everything is so yucky and mucky. Eeks, so many insects. And the traffic jams.

My job is amazing. I’m contributing to nation building. The products I help build are improving lives.
My pay sucks, my working hours suck, my boss is terrible, my team is terrible.

This studio apartment is amazing. So compact, cosy and homely. And of course – easy to maintain.
What a hole-in-the-wall this is! No place to move around, host my parties or even make one addition to my wardrobe.

The 2 part-time jobs I’m lucky to have, helps me offset my student loan. This degree will enhance my credentials.
Tossing burgers, packing food, filling up fuel tanks. I hate this. Why can’t I be out partying instead?

Circumstance. Everything is awesome.
Same circumstance. Everything sucks.

The world is coloured by the lens through which we see it. We can choose the lens of despair and sorrow. Or we can choose the lens of sparkles and wonder.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Last or First?

What was the difference between you on your last day in grade 5 and your first day in grade 6?
What was the difference between you on your last day of university and first day of employment?
What was the difference between you on your last day as a bachelor and your first day of marriage?
What was the difference between you on your last day at your employer and first day of your own company?
What was the difference between you on your last day as Manager and first day as CEO?
What was the difference between you on your last day moving out of one country and the first day in another?

Did ‘you‘ really change in that one instant between last and first?

We always believe that big landmark life-altering events change us. We think that we aren’t we anymore. That these external events have transformed us into someone else, someone better. Think about it. We will realise that it has been us only, all along – but growing steadily, step by step, experience by experience.

We are each capable of many things, without needing to be defined by specific external events. The leader, the achiever, the winner and the visionary within each one of us is already present here and now. We must just allow that person to be set free from the mental barricades we set for ourselves – including our title, wealth, past achievements, résumé etc. The potential thereafter is limitless.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Green and brown

Since time immemorial, man has searched high and low, for the promised land, also known as heaven, paradise, swarga or elysium.

This search is no different from that suggested by the proverb “the grass seems greener elsewhere”. We are all looking for a heaven to go to, where our problems will be magically transformed into soft fragrant rose petals. But what if the grass were not green, but actually brown and dying weeds.

What if we were born in a country with no freedom, no rights and no voice? Or born in a concentration camp or a prison? What if we were age 1 and the only survivor in a plane crash that decimates an extended family of 12, all returning from an overseas vacation? What if we were age 4 and told that a rare medial condition would give us just 1 year to live? There are millions of kids with such conditions! What if we had no limbs, or had no eyesight? What if we were not born a human, but as an animal? No, not the pampered pets on Instagram – but those that have to be culled after suspected exposure to a virus?

We could have easily been any of the above, but by some quirk of fate, we are not. Is that not something to rejoice over and over? Even living beings put through the hardest and harshest of conditions, find a way to be happy. So why are we sad? Why are we constantly looking for a mythical land of magic and perfection?

We are already in heaven. We have the power to make our own heaven. Right here right now. We must open our minds and embrace it.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Commonly uncommon

At first, all this spiritual talk about everyone being the same, the Brahman, will seem like nonsense. This stage of denial is safe.

Close to the finish line – it will dawn – through the reality of experience. This exposure is safe too.

In between though, is the most dangerous. This is the stage of the half-truth. A seeker will under delusion apparently see himself in everything and everything in himself. And then calmly present his head between a crocodile’s jaws, or his entire body to a pack of hunting lions. Or side with murderers, or worse. “But they are all Brahman, aren’t they?” This is where common sense becomes so essential. Spirituality is only relevant when the aspirant is alive.

All of this talk of the soul deep down being the same, is certainly correct, but often incomplete in application. One must use the mind, and then go beyond it. Easier said than done, and largely just a play of words. In practical application, there are two things to focus on, to make the highest goal attainable:
1. Reduce, and eventually give up desires.
2. Reduce, and eventually give up attachments.

The rest will happen automatically, say those who have experienced.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Why bad is good

The goal of human life is to achieve liberation or moksha. This is not some special state where one can toggle the world on or off. Rather it is described as a state where one is ‘always on’ to the Oneness of creation.

If we go to a supermarket after a heavy lunch, we typically only buy what we went in to buy. But if we enter the supermarket ravenous, we will likely fill our trolleys with everything even remotely related to food.

Put a group of seekers into a room, and ask “How many people want moksha this very instant?”, and you will be lucky to see even one hand go up. Such is the power of maya, and such is the strength of our attachment to this world.

The spiritual hunger before entering the satsang, or before meditation or before reading a book on spirituality should mirror the hunger pangs before entering the supermarket. This hunger, this burning desire, will bring about results in a fraction of the time it has taken even many advanced seekers.

When our lives are filled with material successes and goodness (health, wealth, name, fame), we become complacent. The hunger dies down. We become errant, and the human goal stands forgotten. When bad times strike, the pillar of support that spirituality can be, has not been developed enough.

But developed, it still can be. Because the same bad time leads us to search for answers. And in such times, the vigour of the search is far superior. Thus bad becomes good. So let us look at bad times as an opportunity. To learn and to grow.

Like it? Please share it!

Don’t Open This Email

Emails. Hate them or love them, but you can’t ignore them! Here are some commonly recognisable corporate email styles, and parallels / takeaways for me.

  1. Urgent: Please send presentation to ABC
    Most recipients dread the email with subject line ”urgent’ that comes with a red exclamation mark. Some senders are notorious for originating these. When over used, the urgency is lost. Not unlike the boy who cried wolf.

    Takeaway: It is better to plan in advance, than have to send urgent requests – which can be equally problematic for all parties. There is only so much we can expect from others.

  2. Hi
    This subject line suggests an email on generally nothing worthy. But being the twentieth email in the chain, the topic has now long shifted from ABC to PQR and now XYZ.

    Takeaway: Focus in emailing and in living is underrated. Just ‘doing something’ is overrated.

  3. Hi everyone, request you to please share your comments on ABC
    When a specific actionable is requested of a larger group, and the email is addressed to everyone, you can bet your last dollar that no one will respond.

    Takeaway: Most of the world is in inertia. There is little incentive for anyone to change – whether action or behaviour. If there is something we expect of someone. we must first accept that our expectations may never be met.

There are plenty more, like Replying All – despite no one caring (much like in life, where nobody wants to listen to our nonsense), or ‘not replying at all’ – silence is golden yes, but can be most irritating when one someone is looking for our help. Keeping these in mind could improve our quality of life.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

The 2 most important words

The Bhagavad Gita has two amazing words in Sanskrit, to describe the world.

One is ashaashvatam – which means impermanent.

The other is dukhaalayam – which means sorrowful.

If we think back to most (or all) of our possessions and experiences, these two words sum them all up. What we think brings great joy to us today, eventually results in great unhappiness. Because those things either make us want more of the same. Or they are things that we realise we cannot cling on to forever.

The reason the world is summarised this way, is not at all to dash our hopes, or to make us morose and depressed.

Instead it ably reminds us of the inevitable, and aims to shift our focus to how we must live.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

MJ can change your life!

No MJ is not Michael Jackson, or Michael Jordan, or even Mary Jane.

MJ stands for Miracle Journal. And MJ can indeed change your life – because it certainly did mine!

The concept is simple, but the magic is in the doing.

Pull out a notebook, either a physical one, or an online note-taking app, like Evernote.

Start listing down all the miracles that have happened in your life. Just one line each.

Irrespective of how tough our lives may have been, we have each had those magical moments. Like the time a friend saved you when you were in trouble. The time when you went on your first date with your partner. The time when ate your most favourite food. Or when the delivery guy came just in time as you were leaving on vacation. The vacation itself. The visa for the journey, that came through despite you not meeting all the criteria. Or the job you got when you needed one so badly. Or the promotion. When a stranger helped you with directions in an unfamiliar city. That one teacher in kindergarten who was extra kind to you. Getting a taxi just when you need it.

Yes, these are tiny almost unnoticeable events in our lives. But taken together, they are a gargantuan force that has shaped who we are today. On any day when things aren’t going that well for us, all we need to do, is to open up MJ, and relive what life has given us, and how gracious it has been.

Trust me, we will feel lucky instantly, and the rest of the day will be fantastic. Try it – MJ will not disappoint!

Like it? Please share it!

No one’s crush

When I opened up my Instagram account today, a video (it was called a ‘reel’) played automatically. It was only a few seconds long. There was a large but stationary truck on a narrow road. Behind that truck, 4-5 cars (sedans and hatchbacks) slowly lined up and stopped. A few seconds later, another truck came up from behind in full speed. Maybe the brakes failed, I don’t know. The truck was moving so fast that it literally *crushed* all the cars in front of it, and finally hit the stalled truck in front. A huge cloud of dust emerged thereafter. And then the video ended.

Ghastly, to say the least.

I don’t know when the video was shot, or where it was taken, or why it showed up on my feed. But suffice it to say, that none of the people in those cars, woke up that morning, thinking it would be their last day, and that they would meet their Creator, after being sandwiched by two trucks. All their dreams and ambitions and hopes and fears – crushed mercilessly.

Scary? Yes certainly. But we must not become defeatists or fatalists. Life is indeed fleeting. In this short period however, are we living our lives – sitting on our backsides and twiddling our thumbs? Or are we constantly working for the betterment of the world? Yes, bad things may happen. But good things may happen too. Let us call the glass half full.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment


Having spent some time in investment banking, IIWII (pronounced ee-wee) became all too commonplace. Especially in the wee hours of the night, and up against yet another all-nighter. When the eyes get blurry, with sleep fighting against one cuppa coffee too many, certain things will just stop making sense. Why does the MD want this presentation to be ready by tomorrow morning itself? Why do these numbers not add up? Where is the excel backup for this chart? Why are the footnotes for this company’s financials so opaque? Why am I even working here?

IIWII is the answer to all these questions and more. “It is what it is”. Every senior i-banker who has gone through the same grind will attest to it, nod as if cognisant of your deepest pain, and allow you to continue slogging away. It is what it is, and there is no changing it.

Life is also IIWII.

Where you were born, the work you are doing today, the people you live with it, the circumstances you are in today etc. etc. are all IIWII, at least to some extent, in the short term. These cannot be changed overnight. There are other bigger grander IIWIIs too. Like existential questions – Why was I born? Why should I die? Why do good people go through such tough times? Why do bad people go scot-free? Why is the world like this?

Nobody has the answers. The only way out then, is to get rid of the questions themselves. This can happen either automatically, over many many years. Or, one can focus on helping others and dedicating their lives in service of others. The latter is a fast track and sure shot way, of not just letting go of the questions, but also letting go of all our life’s troubles – as we would be too busy focusing on others to think about our silly problems.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment


In the sport called cricket, a ‘century’ is when a batsman scores 100 runs. This post today brings ForeverHappyNow (FHN) to its century. A big thank you to all the readers and well wishers!

A question I often get is: “Who are you writing all these posts for? Is it for those who are going through a rough patch? Or for a person in need of motivation? Or is it for someone in depression? Or someone looking to explore spirituality?”

My answer is very simple. These posts are for me. The writing helps me introspect. It is a way for me to identify my flaws and work on them. The essence of spirituality is that it is available freely to all – no matter the race, colour, gender, wealth or qualification. The only challenge is that the path cannot be outsourced. The journey is to be undertaken on one’s own. So FHN is for my own transformation. If in the process, all of us are benefited, with each able to score our own centuries in our own pursuits, that would be a wonderful outcome!

A toast to end this post: Here’s to a double-century!

Like it? Please share it!


One of the highest rated zombie TV shows on IMDB is The Walking Dead. A lot of my friends rave on and on about it.

I haven’t watched it yet. Perhaps I do not need to. Because I see so many zombies around me every day. Sometimes I’m a zombie too.

There is no dearth of people with dark circles, worry lines on their foreheads and frowns hidden by make-up. They exhibit a solemn sense of hurry and anxiety – with nowhere to go in particular or nothing to do.

Life beckons to them to achieve more and more and more, or so they tell themselves, shifting some of the blame onto their employers. “You don’t understand. It’s like this only. The rules cannot be changed.”, said one person after giving 10 years of his life to one company.

These affluent zombies amass money, name, fame, status and what not. But almost entirely on other people’s terms, justifying their actions based on social comparisons, and rarely finding the time to truly feel alive. “How I wish I could simplify my life”, is a common regret, as if it were a fading dream.

Here’s the truth though. We do not need 2 cars. We do not need 3 houses. We do not need to show off our wealth. We do not need to show off our abilities and fan following. The more we have and show publicly, the more we are pushed to preserve. Given we will all be gone in the next 100 years, does mindless preservation even make sense?

Simplification is simple. But only we can choose to simplify. Let the zombies remain on TV.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Day One

Amazon has a concept called Day One. Jeff Bezos has written about Day One in detail in his letters to shareholders. His idea is that Amazon employees should always consider themselves as though working for the very first day of Amazon’s existence. This way no one takes Amazon’s success for granted, and everyone continues to work as doggedly as possible. No past successes will form a ceiling for future achievements.

This is a great philosophy for a company no doubt. But I can’t help but wonder if this is healthy when applied to our personal lives.

The person who couldn’t understand what “Adios amigos” meant in Spanish one year ago, is now able to converse well in the language after taking classes. But her thought? “I’m still so far away from attaining native fluency, I feel so stupid, and my progress is so slow.” The person who months ago only knew ABCDEFG as alphabets can now play “River Flows in You” on the piano. But his thought? “Damn those YouTube child prodigies – here I am at 45 struggling with sight reading, while my eyes can barely keep up with the speeds of their hands!” The person who couldn’t see his feet because his tummy got in the way, has now lost 30 kilos. But his thought? “My abs still are not visible – I hate my body, especially that stubborn lower belly fat.”

If any of the above seem familiar, that is because all too often, we are critical of ourselves beyond reason. We can then re-purpose Day One this way. Think of that first day when we did not even know anything about the skill / ability we wanted. From zero understanding of vocabulary, or music or dance or coding etc. we have now become significantly better.

Being happy with this fantastic progress from day one, let us continue to take small steps every day, to reach grand heights one day.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment