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Month: September 2022

Yes before what?

A cool bit of advice I came across.

"If you are below 40 years of age, say Yes to everything. After 40, start saying No."

This is so interesting. Why?

Because most youngsters are still figuring out what they want to do, what they like, what their passions are, what they truly enjoy, where they find “flow” and so on.

The more we say Yes, the more opportunities we may get to experience and explore what we may end up liking.

Not to take this to the extreme of course – that we just keep saying Yes even to stupid things.

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Angry turd

No one likes angry people. Except the angry ones themselves, who feel great, in the heat of the moment. And these angry people aren’t other people, but rather each one of us, and specifically me. Guilty as charged folks!

It’s not necessary that angry people only show their anger outwardly. Sometimes the rage can be simmering on the inside for a very long time. One day that volcano might erupt.

What’s the opposite of being angry? One would say it is being peaceful. Maybe, but while being angry is seen as being active and assertive, being peaceful is seen as being passive and suppressed.

That can’t be further than the truth. Being peaceful is a positive and active state of consciousness. True strength is when our inner peace is completely unruffled, no matter what the external stimulus is.

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Good loses to bad

Good people finish last right? Except in Hollywood at least. There’s no heroes with capes in real life it may well seem.

But here’s one perspective I came across recently that was pivotal.

It’s not just good versus bad, but also active versus passive.

As Krishna always says in the Gita, there is no room for inaction. This is not different from saying there is no room for being passive.

Doesn’t mean that one must always give up common sense and keep on doing something wasteful just in order to be seen as active.

But when good people are passive, little gets achieved. Contrast that with bad people being active. And therefore the importance of good people being active!

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Pass the ion

The entirety of the Gita can be divided into just 3 words, if we go by what is in verses 10 and 11 of the 10th chapter.

What are these 3 words?

  1. Passion – which is how we should be working, with passion, aka karma yoga
  2. Compassion – the way the Lord looks at us, the way our Guru looks at us
  3. Dispassion – which is vairagya, or living unattached. Not uninterested, but disinterested.

What a brilliant triad isn’t it?!

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Remembrance when?

Sant Kabir has this amazing couplet:

Dukh me sumiran sab kare, Sukh me kare na koi
Jo sukh sumiran kare, Dukh kahe ko hoye kabi

When do people look to the heavens? Only when things are going wrong of course.

Sant Kabir says, that if we remember God when we are happy instead, then there will be no sorrow in the first place!

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Real career advice

Most people are looking for this. And are yet hardly finding anything relevant to them.

And so I chanced upon an article that explained this really well. Here are the main points from there:

  1. Your career is not your life.
  2. Explore, then exploit.
  3. Don’t do the job you want to tell other people you do. Do the job you want to do.
  4. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself about what you value—and how much professional success matters to you.
  5. Flow comes from voluntary, difficult, and worthwhile work.

The full article can be read here at this link. Enjoy!

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How to be an awesome learner?

The world is changing fast. Progressing at an amazing pace. And with that, elders, seniors, those with more experience, whatever you may call it, are getting disrupted. Not just technology but people itself. Pretty much everything I studied in college or university many years ago, is all obsolete. Poof. Gone.

How to survive then? Only by learning constantly. There is no other way. And the best way to learn is to look at Arjuna for tips. Learn from the best learner himself.

What are his attributes?

  1. Being a very patient listener, having sat through 18 Gita chapters with Krishna
  2. Ensuring he understands everything correctly, by asking relevant questions, and
  3. Implementing everything he listens to and understands

Simple, but not easy…

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Working for who?

Was sitting through a CSR-activities presentation recently. You know, Corporate Social Responsibility, that most companies try to do.

Apparently in many cases, they just donate money to funds, and then hope that their donation takes care of bad things in society. It’s not a bad approach, but this presentation I was sitting in was unique.

They were not bothered about overall money donated. Rather, they were focused solely on true impact, even if it meant improving the life of just 1 person.

And what was even better was how they were going about it. While they were donating a large sum, the actual projects to which the money would go were being crowd-sourced or maybe villager-sourced. Why? Because only the villagers knew what their real problems were, and so this was a lovely case of paying attention to the details and listening to the problems faced by those in need. Such a nice way to think about this!

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Big boy

Heard this in an amazing speech recently. A man was struggling with his child’s habit of scribbling on the walls in his home.

When the man caught his son doing it the first time, he shouted and said, “Are you stupid or what? Don’t you ever do that again!”

Sure enough, two days later, the boy was back to scribbling on the walls.

Why? Because his pride didn’t let him give it up. Nobody likes to be intimidated, not even a little boy.

The next day, the father tried a different tactic. When he caught the kid drawing on the wall again, he called him near and said, “Sweetie, come here, don’t do that, you are big boy now.”

And the boy never did it again.

What we say matters. But how we say it matters more.

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Follow your passion?

Does this really work? We’ve all heard it a million times. How to be successful? “oh, just follow your passion”

Most of us don’t have the liberty of following our passions. Loan repayments and other financial considerations seem to always get in the way.

What to do then?

No need to fret, because Mark Cuban, the billionaire investor on Shark Tank had a cool thing to say on a recent podcast.

“Don’t follow your passion, instead follow your effort.”

Isn’t that just radical? We all put in great efforts in our own fields of work. We spend hours and hours. Why not make that count, rather than fretting about passions?

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3 factor model

Was speaking with a friend who volunteers with anti-cybercrime elements. “How cool!”, I’d told him the first time I found out. He said he himself had been the victim of cyber fraud and lost money. And hence he decided to help others who might be in a similar predicament.

The coolest part of whatever he told me was his understanding of why people fall prey to such cyber attacks. 3 things he said, in Hindi:

  • Darr (fear)
  • Laalach (greed)
  • Aalas (laziness)

They didn’t all make sense to me, so I asked him for an explanation. He said the fear was not fear of the fraudster, but the fear of missing out! The scam looks so juicy that you don’t want to be left behind. The greed angle is obvious. The laziness aspect is that we may be too bored to report some wrong doing.

The 3 factors are also what in many ways keeps me complacent in my wordly life, not pushing through as much in the spiritual path as one should.

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There’s 3 Gs we need to catch hold of very tightly for spiritual progress.

1. God

2. Guru

3. Gita, aka our scriptures

These in isolation won’t help much unless they are bound by our own self-effort. We will have to ourselves go through the Grind, which can be the fourth G in this package.


That’s about as clear as it gets!

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Kohinoor is who’s?

After the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth, there are a number of people who have begun questioning the true ownership of the Kohinoor diamond, housed in the Tower of London.

Does it belong to Britain?

Does it belong to India?

Should it be returned?

There are 100s of views and articles and debates and opinion pieces.

The real question should be, “What is the real Kohinoor?”, because the true Kohinoor is inside each one of us.

And to identify and excavate this real Kohinoor, we need the help of another Kohinoor, our Guru.

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There’s this guy I met the other day.

He was sitting at his desk – the front desk.

He seemed really bored, and was watching some video on his phone.

“How irresponsible”, I thought to myself. “Sitting at the front desk of an office and watching videos”.

I casually asked him how he was and what he was upto. He said he had been at the job for a year. He needed the money desperately to make ends meet. I enquired about his work timings. 8 am to 8 pm he said.

“5 days a week right?”

“No sir, I have to come on Saturdays and Sundays as well.”

Imagine that, no weekends off, no breaks, just an insane 7 day work week, and that too for a pittance. I couldn’t see him complaining though. He was doing what needed to be done, and with a smile. A good lesson for the serial-cribber in me.

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Here’s some feedback for you

How many of us like to take feedback? Especially if it’s not good feedback?

We may have spent hours and days and weeks working on something, only for someone else to come and peepee all over it with their comments.

Obviously handling such a situation can be very hard.

But this is where successful basketball and NBA coach has the following to say:

Average Players want to be left alone. Good players want to be coached. Great players want to be told the truth.

This is surely applicable off the court as well. Do we want to be left alone? Or be told the truth, so that we have every opportunity available to improve?

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Missed alive

What is more important, work or family life?

That’s a trick question, because both are important, as we well know.

Balancing both is very difficult, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

I came across the story of a celebrated author who was writing his best ever book yet. He was so engrossed in the book, that he forgot everything around him, family included.

He unfortunately passed away while writing the last chapter. His wife said this after his death:

"I do miss Larry, but it's not like he was here even when he was alive"

Is that how we want to be known?

As one of my mentors always says, it’s never work-life balance, but always work-life choice.

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The root cause of all problems

One of the most iconic and revered money managers of all time is Charlie Munger. He is better known as the Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, which is the conglomerate run by another billionaire investor Warren Buffet.

Warren is 92 years old, while Charlie is 98, and so both these men have seen pretty much everything there is to see, from a life point of view.

In a recent speech, Charlie noted something very profound. He said that humanity’s problems do not stem from greed. Rather, they stem from envy.

We just need to think a little about this to understand it’s significance. In absolute terms, all of the world’s human beings are better off today than say a 100 years ago. Many essentials of today like gadgets and appliances and healthcare and peace so on were luxuries even just a century ago. But why are we still not happy, despite being better off?

The answer is because everyone else is also better off. We are not better off than others. The mind always wants to compare and see if we have won, if we are ahead, if we own more. Envy is the name of the game. Envy is also the thief of happiness.

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What to renounce? – part 3

So what is sattvika renunciation? That is doing one’s prescribed duty but giving up attachment and fruits.

So I do the work as though my life depended on it, but then do not worry about the results as if I know I’m going to live peacefully anyway.

Can this be confusing? Yes very, and so my Guru has provided various examples in his Amazing Simple Gita in chapter 18 verse 9’s purport:

  1. Manager forgiving the subordinate when the latter is not doing his work is foolishness and has nothing to do with the former’s Sattvik renunciation or prescribed duty
  2. It is foolishness to say it is alright that I did not get my bonus. What you need to do is to ask for and get your due share and then do charity out of it
  3. Doing self improvement workshops for students is the right thing and our prescribed duty
  4. We are duty bound. Duty has bound us, no escape, and so do duty the sattvika way
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What to renounce? – part 2

Here are some examples provided by my Guru in the chapter 18 verse 8 purports related to incorrect renunciation, and I’ve paraphrased them, so any inconsistency is purely my error in understanding:

  1. For an agnihotra or fire worshipper, it doesn’t matter how they light the fire – whether by rubbing sticks or by lighting a match. Using an easier way (the matchbox) doesn’t make this wrong. What matters is the worship and mental state during worship.
  2. Wearing skimpy clothes or wearing 9 yards sari – neither is the former a sign of spiritual delinquency nor the latter a sign of spiritual progress. Outer paraphernalia have nothing to do with purity of the mind. “These vast changes in the world are only on account of the Lord’s wish to remove miseries of the oppressed class called women”.
  3. Bringing food for puja, ordering from outside on account of strain cannot entirely be construed as rajasik. If lethargy or wealthy comforts are involved, yes it is rajasik.

Eye opening aren’t these? What then is sattvika renunciation? More tomorrow…

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What to renounce? – part 1

Some people are very practical renunciates. What did they renounce? Karela, or bitter gourd ?

Most people don’t like it anyway, so it’s amongst the easiest things to renounce. Like a shortcut on the spiritual path almost. But is it so?


My Guru in chapter 18 verse 7 of the Gita clearly states that renouncing in ignorance is tamasik.

He follows up with verse 8, where he says that renouncing for fear of physical strain is rajasik. Like if I hate going to work, and have Monday morning blues, and decide to just sit and home and not work at all, that is rajasik renunciation.

The only correct way to renounce, is the sattvik way. More tomorrow.

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Education is what?

Is having a degree the same as education or being educated? I was reading a book by Steve Schwarzman, the CEO, co-founder and Chairman of Blackstone Private Equity, and here’s what he has to say:

I believe that education is a discipline. The object of this discipline is to learn how to think. Once we have mastered this we can use it to learn a vocation, appreciate art, or read a book. Education simply enables us to appreciate the ever-changing drama fashioned of God’s own hand, life itself. Education continues when we leave the classroom. Our associations with friends, our participation in clubs all increase our store of knowledge. In fact, we never stop learning until we die. My fellow ocers and I just hope that you will become aware of the purpose of education and follow its basic tenets, questioning and thinking, for the rest of your life.

The author has a bunch of credentials and degrees under his belt, but so do many others. Not everyone is as successful or has given back as much to society. True progress is perhaps in constantly learning and applying.

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Hide it!

In a recent podcast on analyzing the traits of successful people, there was a radical point of view.

Everyone says successful people and especially leaders, need to be humble.

The common question is, if someone is humble and soft spoken and down to earth and approachable and all that, that’s great, but does such a person have what it takes to really be aggressive and win in life? Effectively, this can be rephrased as, “Ego isn’t good for relationships, but ego is critical to success”. Because ego is what pushes people to succeed, so they feel like they achieved something, or that they achieved more than others and such.

Our scriptures say we should lose the ego altogether, which is important of course, but from a spiritual point of view. Would this work in the cut throat world we live in? Maybe not, especially if not used properly, because we can’t expect everyone in our work-environment also to have read the scriptures and abide by it. Hence the interesting view in the podcast, that successful people have egos. However, they keep their egos hidden. So it super charges them on the inside, while still keeping them approachable and down to earth!

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Educated guess

When someone says they are educated, what is it that comes to mind?

School, college, university, 12th grade, board exams, coding, chemistry, MBA, Harvard, Stanford, MIT, IIT, IIM, doctor, lawyer, engineer, CAT, UPSC, JEE. These could be a few of the top ones.

All good.

This is indeed what education means today.

What about character building? What about spirituality? Self discipline? Values of love, truthfulness, goodness and nobility?

But is this all?

Today’s education is mostly about living off of others, one-upmanship – always gaining something at someone else’s expense, always wanting more. More and more. The wants never stop.

True education is in our scriptures. They teach us that we should live not for ourselves, but for others.

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Inner voice

There are many spiritual people I’ve come across who have said their meditation takes them to different higher planes. Ones where they get messages from their own Gurus, or where they get answers to questions, learn about karmic exchanges for others, see the future and so on.

I’ve myself seen none of these. I find it difficult to even sit in one place, let alone meditate and keep my mind fixed.

So I asked one of said spiritual people recently about why I have no such divine talent. His answer was relevant and encouraging.

He said to me, “I’m a spiritual healer. So whatever I experience during my meditations or thoughts helps me in my work. In your case too, you would be getting messages to help you, in your own line of work. Maybe you are creative at work, or while making a presentation or in the speed at which you find solutions to problems and so on. All of this is your intuitive power, which is nothing but divinity. If you see it this way, it will only continue to increase.”

We all have this inner voice, but we probably do not pay much attention to it.

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Instant K

2 cases of instant karma last week. One at the airport, and the other on the flight after that.

At the security check line, one fellow was creating a ruckus. Some folks no matter how educated, just don’t know how to stand in line. He was called out by those in line, but he just shouted at them and cut through to the front towards the security person (the ones that check were carrying no metallic objects). The authorities saw his behaviour, realized he had forgotten to put his waist belt into the machine, despite there being no need to remove the belt there, yet they sent him back, and this time he had to go right to the start of the line!

Inside the flight, another gentleman (not so gentle actually!), fairly old, was shouting at an air hostess because he wanted to keep his oversized bags in the cabin storage above his seat, while there was no space to store those. He could have been polite, but no. He sat down, shouted some more and then suddenly got up, only to bang his head on the low ceiling.

Instant karma served as deserved? Who knows how these things work ??‍♀️

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Caste away

There’s a lot of confusion about the caste system today as presented in the Gita.

My Guru’s purports, found in Chapter 18 verse 7, are very clear.

  • Traditionally prescribed duty is fixed by caste of birth.
  • Firstly, caste by birth has no validity today. Also changed times require changed interpretation.
  • Earlier, prescribed duty for women was cooking and household work.
  • Today both man and woman work and earn.

Isn’t this super clear? We are in a merit based society. We’ve to work and earn our successes.

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Gunas and roses

A lot of the Gita happens in threes. The most common threes are the gunas. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.

In some of the chapters, the Gita goes into the most excruciating detail on these 3.

Like how to work, divided into three gunas. How to eat, divided into 3 gunas. How to give – you guessed it – also divided into 3 gunas.

Why is this happening?

Because Lord Krishna states clearly that purification of the mind happens only when we are in Sattvik mode.

And how would we know what is Sattvik, until everything is cleanly categorized into one of the 3 guna variants? That’s the reason for this excruciating detail, and seen in this light, it’s not excruciating at all.

Now that we know this from Krishna himself, its up to us to act accordingly. Roses await.

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Mandatory rituals

There’s a lot of people who will tell you when and how to do what. Like don’t pray facing this direction. Don’t prostrate in that direction. Don’t chant without taking bath. Don’t eat with that hand. And on and on.

Are these rituals or rules important? Yes, very much, but…

But, standalone, these rules are meaningless. As my Guru states very clearly in chapter 18 verse 3 of the Amazing Simple Gita, all these external rituals are only important to overlap a clean mind. If the mind is not clean and purified, then all these external rituals have no meaning.

Here is His outstanding example in the purport:

Again this purification is superficial, if the Knowledge of Reality is lacking. Each time the mind is purified, it is like dusting our veranda. The next day, the veranda has new dust. Only when the windows and doors are shut tight will new dust not accumulate. 
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Inner Strength gives what?

If you believe in what our scriptures tell us, then we are not just an accumulation of body-mind-intellect, but rather are divine beings at the core. Not just this, but said divine beings are no different from God Himself/Herself.

If God is within us, then are we tapping into this infinite energy resource whenever things seem to be going south?

Like if we get angry, we might just shout and yell and become red and huffy puffy. Or maybe we can dip into our inner divinity, take a moment, think about our true purpose. What would that divine being inside us do? Is that divine being even concerned about whether someone else thinks less of you?

If we feel nervous about a new beginning, do we just sweat and worry? Or can we tap into that infinite reservoir inside, and calm ourselves down. Because what could possibly go wrong that a divine soul itself cannot see or fix?

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CWG – part 3

Blood, sweat and tears is often used loosely by white collared folks when they’ve achieved something after a lot of struggle. The sweat and the tears may well be true. But the blood part? Not so much.

Not that it has to be. Imagine getting a small cut on the finger or a hair pull on the scalp or a mouth ulcer. That pain is felt throughout the day.

But imagine having a dislocated shoulder, or intense cramps, or stitches on the knee. And then imagine going on to win a medal on the world stage. Quite exceptional isn’t it? All that and more happened this time in these games.

The question I asked myself is, should I find ways to complain, or solutions to problems?

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