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Month: January 2023


The divine is IN us. Here’s a short story from Osho that reiterates this point.

A man approached a Zen master with the desire to become a Buddha. The master, no less than 90 years old, in response, struck the man hard, leaving him confused and hurt.

The man went to an old disciple for an explanation of the master’s actions. The disciple explained that the master’s actions were rooted in compassion, and that the man should consider the master’s age and physical limitations before judging him as cruel and violent. At 90, the master’s hand would have pained more than this fellow’s cheek!

Despite this explanation, the man still sought the deeper meaning behind the master’s actions. The old disciple simply replied, “The message is simple. If you are seeking to become a Buddha, you must understand that you are already one. The master’s strike was a reminder of this truth.”

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HNY HHP – part 2 of 2

Today we look at Happiness and Health.

  1. Health. Physical and mental. Everyone is facing issues of one type or the other.
    1. Sense control or Dama is key. Right food yes, but not just what goes into the mouth but all other inputs as well for the eyes, ears etc. Moderation is critical. 6.16 6.17 of the Gita has Krishna speaking about moderation in everything. Mind you, He doesn’t talk about giving up everything, but about practising moderation. How can we practise this? Maybe have a “1-day off” ritual every month. On that one day alone, we give up something, like social media or TV or certain foods etc. This will only serve to strengthen our mental, emotional and spiritual muscles.
    2. Positive thinking – for mental health, which is a huge contributor to mental health. How? By cultivating positive noble qualities. These are enlisted in the Gita 16.3, called Daivi sampath, or Divine qualities. Examples are no anger, compassion, altruistic, non-critical, forgiving.
  2. Happiness. Where is it? Not outside, but inside each one of us. Spiritual happiness comes “in spite of” vyakti vastu paristhithi, not “because of”, and that is a key distinction.
    1. One practise point is to try and enjoy all work. How? By converting work to worship, and Krishna explains in Chp 18. Do all work with dhriti and utsaaha, perseverance and excitement.
    2. The ultimate spiritual truth, unlimited Ananda is within us, our own true nature. Sat chit Ananda. Like the UPS, it is an Uninterrupted Power Supply.

2023, nay every year henceforth, if we practise these, will be amazing.

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HNY HHP – part 1 of 2

It’s a little late now to be exchanging new year greetings, but bear with me. We had a super satsang session recently, where the speaker laid out a simple road map that anyone can (and everyone should!) follow.

What do we usually greet with? Happy New Year (HNY), and I wish you a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous (HHP) 2023! So the speaker took each of H, H and P, and gave us a quick but structured road map. We’ll cover P today, and look at the 2 Hs tomorrow.

1. Prosperity. Which is doing well, both materially and spiritually. 2 things to do for this.

One is to have focus (hence goals are important). And make them action oriented rather than linked to end results. Instead of saying my goal is to lose 5 kilos, say that my goal is to eat 1 bowl of cut fruits every day and spend 15 minutes exercising. Spiritual goals would include how much time to devote to spiritual practises, how much to devote in the service of others, and how much to donate to the needy. Being focused, as Krishna says in 2.41 of the Gita, vyayvasaayaatmika buddhi, is critical for achieving one’s goal.

Second is to ensure self-effort, with self-confidence. The famous Uddharetaatamnaatmaanam shloka from chapter 6 verse 5 is on point. Be optimistic, be fearless and ensure to have a spiritual diary / audit process to take stock.

Concluded tomorrow with the 2 Hs!

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Negative stripes

Was watching a podcast on YouTube where the guest was a tantric practitioner.

He spoke of the existence of a lot of extra-worldly things. All sorts of beings, many of which are mentioned in our mythological texts and which we take just to be stories or figments of someone’s fantastical imagination.

But this practitioner was convinced that all these are for real, and that he had had personal experiences with such beings as well.

It’s hard to know whether something like this is true or not, whether all these astral planes and 5th and 6th dimensions and such exist or not. But one of the things he said was intriguing. He was talking about a few very “negative energy” beings. The podcast host asked him if these beings were “bad”.

To which this gentleman said that it’s not about bad or good, but just about samskaras or tendencies. A tiger will bite, if you out your hand in its mouth. Does that make the tiger bad?

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We all know that old example, where when we point out index fingers at someone else accusingly, three fingers are pointing back at us.

We know this, we understand it, and yet we find it hard to accept any sort of blame. If someone at home or at work says something to us, we instantly curl into a defensive ball like a porcupine.

We behave like Gods with those who are beneath us on the so-called social ladder. But one word of disagreement from anyone above, and poof, we get hurt, crying in our heads like a punctured social bladder.

If we crib and complain about the external world, all we are doing is to make that external world even more real. This is exactly the opposite of what spirituality teaches us about existence.

If we can take ownership of our problems, and look within, and make ourselves perfect, without looking for perfection outside, then all the problems will automatically get resolved.

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Being Human means what?

We’ve all come across spiritual texts and saints who say “just be”.

They say that’s all spirituality is. Just be. No need to do anything. Just be. Whatever is needed, is already within you. Just be.

What does this even mean? Can’t say I’m 100% sure to be honest, but here’s one excerpt from a book on Kundalini Yoga called KY Exposed. A pretty good read I must say, although it seems to be extremely advanced (so waaaaay out of reach for me, but interesting stuff nevertheless):

Being isn't opposed to living life. It doesn't imply that you sit and don't do anything all day long. It does mean that you simply aren't hoping for something to happen. You embrace life as it is, for life is not separated from you! Your body-mind will act and do what it has to do, but inside, you are peacefully reposing in your blissful Self- Awareness.
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FormulaOne FailureNone

Merc-AMG won 8 F1 races in a row. And then they lost.

Toto Wolff, the team Principal at Merc spoke about what it takes to build a “winning culture”.

Paradoxically, the winning culture comes from losing, or rather the learning from the losing.

The statement of his that I liked the most?

The days we lose, are the days our competitors will regret the most. Because those are the days that we learn. 

How will we look at failure the next time we face it?

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Meditation PS

PS here refers to Problem Solving.

Meditation PS? Yes, because most people, me first on the list, struggle with some important stuff.

Like how to keep the mind calm and focused? Answer: it’s not possible, because that is the nature of the mind. Advanced yogis can, but not without deliberate practice, which is what made them advanced yogis in the first place. For most others, even after brief meditative spells, they will crash right back into the plane of desires and attachments.

What to do? Catch hold of your Guru or Ishta Devata. Not physically, but mentally. And try to meditate on topics related to them, if not on them only. This gives some freedom to the monkey mind, while still keeping it on a leash. It helps if we truly recognize and believe that everything we are today, and everything we will be tomorrow, is entirely because of the Guru and/or the Ishta Devata. They are both the same at their core, so choosing one over the other doesn’t matter. If we feel deep down that everything is because of them, then where is the question of our ego, and hence our desires and attachments?

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Chandra Shakha Nyaya. This is an ancient technique and analogy in Sanskrit which teaches one to locate the moon in the sky.

How would you teach it, if the crescent moon was just a sliver, and practically not discernible? The sky is vast and has no other reference points. In the early evening, the sun’s light might be quite bright as well, further reducing the chances of spotting the baby crescent.

The answer is, via CSN, or “moon-branch technique”. The teacher would point to a nearby tree, and then to a trunk on the tree, then to a branch on the tree, then the tip of the branch, and finally the eye would spot the moon, as if just off the tip of the branch.

The moon is completely separate from the tree, trunk and branch. Very similar to how the soul or Atman within us is completely separate from the body, mind and intellect. Yet we must use these very faculties (whether through meditation, reading the scriptures or living a dharmic life) and go beyond.

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PPP model

We hear all the time of the PPP or Public Private Partnership model in infrastructure development. And how this is the most efficient way of building for the future.

Another PPP model came to mind for our own development as I set out for a walk recently.

This PPP is Prayaas Prarabdha and Praarthana.

Prayaas is our own self effort, without which we cannot even wake up from the bed.

Prarabdha is whatever destiny we are born with. It can be changed at least to some extent through the first P, but still needs to be endured in good measure.

And finally Praarthana or prayer. We can put all our effort and more, but without the grace of God and the Guru, it all remains meaningless.

This is the PPP model for our own development. What do you think of it?

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Sad happiness

My neighbour’s 8 month old baby becomes incredibly happy when she sees me. Her smile is a mile-wide, each and every time!

My Guru’s smile is also a mile-wide, each time he sees me. It’s as if he was waiting all day eagerly to see me, even though I am a nobody. He does this for every single person, no matter who they are.

There is so much happiness in this that all sadness and all irritants in life are forgotten. These are cases of happiness instantly infusing happiness into others. But do we practise this ourselves?

Typically when we see happiness around us, we become sad. Really? We do? Think of a peer getting an early promotion and a solid bonus. Could have been ours, but wasn’t, and then jealousy kicks in. We may smile on the outside, but deep down the emotions are different.

As long as our happiness is linked to a material pursuit, this will always be the case. We will either want to immediately possess the same material item or else become upset.

But happiness is neither a thing nor linked to one. It is an infinite resource, and comes from celebrating eveything life has to offer. Today’s failure is a seed for tomorrow’s success, and today’s success is a seed for tomorrow’s failure. If we can accept this, we can each be forever-happy-now!

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Sometimes it feels like there’s so much to write and say. And yet, when I pick my fingers up to type, I draw a blank. This has gone on for many many days, so much so, that today’s post is #1000! Pretty cool no? Can only thank you for it, for patiently reading day after day.

But the blanks still come. What to do about it I wonder sometimes? One answer came today in the form of a nice Simon Sinek podcast.

He spoke of one time when he was giving a speech – probably the most important one of his career at the time – and in front of a massive audience of thousands of people. Halfway through his speech, he completely lost his train of thought, and went dead silent, as did the room, expectantly looking at him, waiting for him to complete his thought. But nothing came. 5 seconds passed, and Simon narrates how afraid he was initially and what might happen thereafter.

But then he changed it up. He put himself in a position of vulnerability, and explained honestly to his audience that he was in one of those situations where one just blanks out, how it happens to everyone, and that he was not regretting it, but instead enjoying it and “feeling absolutely alive!”

Then he requested the audience to help remind him of what the last thing he said was. And someone did, and boom, he was back on track again. Simon says that the audience applauded so much at that point, that it was much more than the applause at the end of his speech. Why? According to him, it’s because instead of thinking about himself, he was thinking about the audience, how they would feel being left in the lurch, and to think of what the best way would be to make them feel comfortable again. Not thinking about himself or how foolish he would look, but entirely about how audience would feel. As Simon concludes on the podcast, selfless service is always the right answer.

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Happy new who?

An old article by Chinmaya Mission founder Swami Chinmayananda wishing everyone a new year, never gets old (pun intended!).

It’s not just the usual Happy New Year wish that we all practise at the turn of each year. Rather, he turns the question on its head, and asks if really anything is new.

Aren’t we still the same morose, dejected, anxious, desperate, demanding, greedy, selfish (I can add many more such words to describe my own mind!) people that we were just the eve of the new year? What changed then just as the clock struck twelve?

Swami C asks this very question. If one day to the next is exactly the same, then what are we celebrating? The quality of time is not moving or changing. It is us humans who have divided time into minutes and hours and days and years, and we keep track of it, and rejoice as it apparently whizzes past us.

But the true happy new year as Swami C concludes, is only when we change and transform ourselves, and become better, more evolved, spiritual beings. The moment that happens, it is indeed the dawn of a very happy new year!

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Better-est path

Everyone wants to find the best-est path to liberation. They may not want liberation, but it’s sure fun to know what the right, nay, easiest path is.

So people have intense discussions and arguments over whether karma yoga is better or Jnana yoga is better. Or if bhakti yoga is better-est than the others. A few vouch for raja yoga while others say there is nothing better than kriya yoga. Which is truly the best-est path?

In chapter 12 of my Guru’s outstanding Amazing Simple Gita, he writes profoundly thus:

In all paths, our mind needs to be free of thoughts from the world. If our interest is in the world and it's activities, then no path is easy for us.

Clear as a blue sky!

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Risky business

Many people look at risk from a financial perspective. If I make 100$ investment in a stock for example, then will my capital grow through time? Or would it get obliterated?

One could also look at risk from the perspective of losing something other than money, such as a job or a relationship. It’s always a worry for many employees. Should they open their mouths and speak up? Or is it too risky, potentially leading to a demotion or worse, a sacking?

While the risk of doing something, anything, is always large, there exists another very big risk. This is the risk of not doing anything at all. Optimists will gravitate towards doing something, while pessimists will prefer to watch from the sidelines.

Even in spirituality, risk exists. We are often saddled with the weight of the questions, “Am I good enough?” and “What will people think if I…?”

Coming out of this stage requires a lot of courage and self-compassion. The greatest risk is this: not letting go of what people think, and not standing up for how we feel, what we believe in and who we are.

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Desire? Or no desire?

There’s always this confusion while living in the material world. Should we achieve more? Or not?

If we should achieve more, we need to have lofty goals. If we have to have lofty goals, then we’d also need to desire those things.

But spirituality tells us to give up all desires and attachments. On the other side, self-help and motivational coaches talk about the importance of daily affirmations and creatively visualizing your goals, as if they already happened. Is there a way to bridge this disconnect?

There may be. If the desires are truly and solely for the benefit of others and to the exclusion of oneself, then there is perhaps no disconnect. And desires for one’s own kin so that it indirectly benefits us does not count!

The other plausible line of desires could be to improve one’s own good qualities – to affirm that we would be kinder, nobler, more generous, more compassionate human beings. These again ultimately help to serve creation, rather than leech from it.

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G Force

There’s always a lingering question about “experiences” that one might have on the spiritual path.

Some people say they have visions of various deities. Others get some siddhis? Some receive messages in their dreams. Others discern changes in their mental state – more angry, more heated.

Are such experiences good or bad? Is it even possible to classify them as such?

Came across a very nice analogy to think about this. It’s similar to being on a fighter jet for the very first time. As anyone who’s watched Top Gun will know, the force is so much, that one can quickly feel disoriented.

But is this force of gravity bad? Or is it good? There’s no clear answer, because this is not something that can be classified into good or bad. It just is what it is.

But if you have an experienced instructor pilot with you, they will teach you and prepare you for that moment. Ditto with a Guru for spiritual processes.

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Knock knock knocking on…

…heaven’s doo..oo..oooorr, was how the iconic Guns n Roses band crooned their super hit single many decades ago.

It would seem like getting into heaven is truly a difficult task. Just keep knocking and knocking, but when and whether the door would open, quite literally, “God only knows!”.

A quote from poet Rumi struck me as interesting hence:

I have lived on the tip of insanity wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens! I have been knocking from the inside!

Think about it. This is pretty much what each one of us on the spiritual path is doing. We are knocking on God’s door, but this God is already inside, so we too are knocking from the inside!

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Good and Bad

Here are some outstanding lines from the Ashtavakra Gita:

He who has known that adversity and prosperity come through the effects of past actions is ever contented. 

Notice how it says both adversity and prosperity. Not only prosperity. It’s not only the good experiences and things we have which lead to contentment. Instead, it is the knowledge that both adversity and prosperity come from past karma – that’s what leads to true satisfaction. If something bad happens, it probably resulted from something much more than just what we did an hour ago. If something great happens, it too probably resulted from something more than just last hour’s effort. We must think not just about the outcome, but of the million billion incidents that had to all happen since we were born, in order to bring that specific event to fruition.

He who knows that happiness and misery, birth and death are also due to the effects of past actions becomes free from care and is not attached even though engaged in action.
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Black Pearl

Anyone who even mildly follows football (aka soccer) would immediately know that Black Pearl refers to the one and only Pele. He brought a level of class and charisma to the sport that the world had never witnessed till he came on the scene.

While his football successes are well documented, what is interesting is a song he wrote and performed in a talk show hosted by another football great – Diego Maradona.

The song Pele sang was a self-composition about wanting “a normal life”.

“You want to be me, and I want to be you”, he sang, as if to an ardent fan.

Arguably the greatest footballer in the world at one point in time, wanted nothing more than to be “normal”.

Eveything has its pluses and minuses. If we want to import the positives in someone else’s life, we must be ready to import the negatives as well. It’ll always be a package. That is only normal.

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