Skip to content

Month: July 2023

Rejection dejection

All rejections are bad right? Maybe not…

The founders of Google wanted to sell the company for $1 million back in 1999. But they were rejected, and dejected. Today that company is worth some $1.5 trillion!

Netflix was to be sold to Blockbuster at $50m, but was rejected. Today it’s ~$200bn!

7 out of 7 investors rejected investing in Airbnb at an early stage. The company was worth not even a million. Today it’s some $100bn.

If these companies had not received their rejections, what would have happened?

Time to believe that rejections and suffering and pain are good, not bad, maybe even great. Because that is when the real growth happens.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Great work

This is what we all want people around us to say to us. “Great work!”

But how can we do great work if we don’t like our work much? That’s what Paul Graham writes about in a recent post of his. Great advice.

He says that it’s a bit of a hit or miss, finding your so-called passion in life. If you find it, then you are among the rarest of the rare.

But what if you don’t, or haven’t yet?

Mr. Graham’s advice? Keep trying. Keep increasing the surface area for luck to find you. Don’t just drift along and hope for a eureka moment. Take action! Success stories often involve serendipity: chance meetings or stumbling upon the right book. Luck is the secret ingredient. How do you attract luck? Be curious!

In his own words:

"Try lots of things, meet lots of people, read lots of books, ask lots of questions." 
Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

What is the karmic reason behind…

On a recent podcast (or videocast interview maybe?) with Smriti Irani, an exceptionally talented and empathetic Union Cabinet Minister of India, she was asked an interesting and important question.

“Do you believe in the role of destiny, luck, karma, circumstance etc. in bringing you to where you are in life today?”

“Yes, I do”, pat came the reply.

The follow up. “Why do you think God chose you for this role?”

This answer came even faster. “I have no idea. And anyone who tells you they do is lying!”

“Do you think about this?”

This to me was the clincher. “Not at all. I just say thank you. Because this opportunity that I have, is not an opportunity to question ‘why'”

How extraordinary a response is that! Absolutely love it.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Mind bound

Remember Mind Bind from just 3 years ago?

The Amritabindu Upanishad which my Guru keeps referencing (because it is so awesome!) says mana-eva kaaranam mokshaaya bandhaaya. The mind alone is the reason, for both liberation and bondage. Said simply, the mind is both the problem, and the solution.

He recently in a talk beautifully added a couple more rhyming words at the end.

mana-eva kaaranam mokshaaya bandhaaya

mana-eva kaaranam dukhaaya sukhhaaya

mana-eva kaaranam maanaaya apamaanaaya

mana-eva kaaranam sarva vishayaaya!

So simply profound!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

sf – part 4

When author Polina Pompliani interviewed Francis recently, she says she asked him, “Okay, but how did you bet on yourself, like your entire life?” And he replied, “The entire time that I was doing this, I kept asking myself, ‘What do I have to lose?’” And the answer was, “Nothing. I can just keep trying and betting on myself and gaining the skills and learning the lessons.”

What was her takeaway?

She says she discovered the utmost importance of believing in oneself, by embracing one’s passions and skills. It may be daunting, but taking that leap of faith is crucial. Despite the risks, Francis fearlessly pursued his dreams. Failure held no sway over him, as he possessed the resilience to adapt and persevere.

Francis added, “I know that if I fail, I can start over and over and over and over. I have that skill, and you can take everything from me, but you cannot take that.” And when Polina asked him if he identifies as ‘the heavyweight champion of the world’, Francis replied, “Absolutely not because there’ve been many before me and there’ll be many after me.”

What an outstanding story isn’t it? Thanks for reading!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

sf – part 3

After enduring countless setbacks, Francis refused to be deterred. On his fifth attempt, fate smiled upon him, and he successfully crossed the treacherous waters to reach Spain.

Though faced with a brief period of detention upon arrival, Francis remained steadfast, knowing that asylum was within his grasp.

From Spain, his journey led him to the vibrant streets of Paris. Homeless and destitute, he found refuge in the shelter of a humble parking garage. Despite its meagre surroundings, Francis saw it as a sanctuary — or rather a luxurious haven in comparison to the harrowing ordeals he had overcome and the home he had grown up in.

By a stroke of luck, Francis found a boxing gym nearby. A perceptive trainer recognized his potential. The gym closed soon after, but fate led him to the “MMA Factory.” Unfamiliar with MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), he embraced the challenge. With relentless training, he became the heavyweight champion. In just nine years, he transformed from novice to dominant force. He ventured to the US, making his mark in the UFC, leaving the world in awe.

What does he say today when he looks back? Concluded tomorrow!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

sf – part 2

Why “sf”? For San Francisco of course, because that was his dream. Maybe it helped that his name Francis was embedded in the name San Francisco as well, who knows!

At the age of 28 (just ten years ago, in 2013), he knew he wasn’t getting to America directly. So he set his sights on Europe first. Was that easy? Not at all.

From Cameroon to Niger, Nigeria to Algeria, and finally, Algeria to Morocco, he traversed over 3,000 miles through the unforgiving desert. The magnitude of this feat cannot be overstated—it was sheer madness. With unwavering determination, he set his sights on crossing from Morocco to Spain, boarding a raft to brave the treacherous waters of the Strait. But the path to freedom was riddled with obstacles. It took him a gruelling 14 months to complete this ridiculous journey, constantly facing the threat of being pulled from the water. The Moroccan authorities, known for their harsh treatment of refugees, would often cast them back into the merciless desert or confine them to indefinite periods in Moroccan jails.

This happened to him four times. Continued tomorrow!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

sf – part 1

Super story here, of one Francis Ngannou, who I never heard of until today.

In the MMA / UFC (fighting/boxing) world, he’s a world champion, but given I do not follow the sport, his story was a revelation in incredible perseverance to get to the top.

Francis was born in Cameroon. He was digging sand mines as a kid for $1.8 a day. ‘Abject poverty’ would barely begin to describe him.

His only dream? To become a professional boxer and that too in America. While working at the sand mines, he’d be daydreaming about the USA and his boxing success.

So much so that everyone around him called him “sf”, for San Francisco. Even till today, he signs his name as “sf”!

Continued tomorrow!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Selfimage pilgrimage

In the years of lore, what would people do during vacations? Travel the world? Chill on a hill? Rest in the west?

Maybe, but mostly no. They would often use the few weeks a year of downtime to head for their pilgrimages.

Today? Even the few pilgrimages are spent little on the Lord and mostly on taking selfies and reels of the way to the place. Hundreds of phone-cameras abound everywhere, with the focus being on the screen, rather than on the idol.

Swami Sivananda said the following about pilgrimages:

... If, after the pilgrimage, you prove that you have been purged of all sins... that you have been filled with spiritual vibrations of the sublime atmosphere you have sojourned in, and if you live a pure life of righteousness, devotion, truth, love... you have been liberated. The pilgrimage has served its purpose.

How do our own pilgrimages look like?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Get down

My Guru narrated an outstanding short story on Guru Purnima.

The head of Gita Press likened our lives and creation to that of a vast ocean on which a boat is floating.

We have each been various species of animals and maybe even plants one birth after another. Some 8 million times, maybe more.

Now we’ve finally got a human birth, and are as if on that boat which has come very close to the shore.

If we don’t get off the boat, we will drown, and possibly go back all the way, one specie to another, one birth after another.

All we need to do is to get off the boat. The land is Vaikuntha. We just need to get off. But are we able to?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

I me my who

My Guru asked a simple yet startling question recently in one of his talks.

It’s not a question we don’t know from before. But that doesn’t make it any less startling.

His question was, that if we see a dead body, we refer to it as, “his dead body” or “her dead body”.

So that body is lying there. Finished. Finito. No life in it.

And yet we say “his” or “her” body.

Who is that “his” or “her” then?

We may know the answer. But do we really truly understand it?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Rich walls

Came across a life story (his own) narrated by a stylish and talented Indian actor of yesteryear called Jackie Shroff.

He was describing his own poverty-stricken upbringing. Some 6-7 people slept huddled on the floor of his 1 room house.

When he or his siblings would cough as kids, his mother would just reach out and put her hand on their chest and and rub and calm them down.

And then, he says, they became rich and famous. Big cars and big houses.

No more sleeping huddled together on the floor. Everyone had their own rooms. And one day his mother suffered a heart attack in the adjacent room and passed away.

Jackie recounted how as the money came, the walls came too. His mother was in the other room, behind the walls, and so he couldn’t hear her cry out for help. Nobody heard her, else she might have been saved. He says that if he didn’t have the money, they may still have been sleeping on the floor together, and he would have immediately known his mother’s discomfort and saved her.

So thoughtful isn’t it?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Moodle maps

Came across a cute story where a man was having back to back office calls. His little daughter was insistent on playing with him at exactly that time.

So he hatched a quick plan. He saw a picture of a world map lying on table. He quickly tore it up into many pieces and gave it to his child to put it back together. A fun puzzle and one that would take a while to solve!

To his surprise, his daughter was back in a few minutes, having put the entire thing together. The man was shocked. How? Was she a geography-savant?

His baby girl told him that on the back side of the map was a picture of a person. All she had to do was to put the person together, and the map would come back on its own!

The lesson for me: When we find inner harmony, when we are put together properly, when our mood swings don’t destroy us, the world will be taken care of.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment


We’re supposed to give up all attachments on the path of spirituality. But what are these attachments like?

1. Our attachment to material things. This is purely one-sided. No matter how much you try, your favorite Rolls Royce will not love you back.

2. Our attachment to other human beings. This can be one-sided and two-sided, although not always at the same time. It’s sometimes a function of necessity. We’re attached more to those who we need more, for the present moment at least. When circumstances change, attachment levels change.

3. Our attachment to God and Guru. This can be two-sided, especially in times of trouble, when we desperately need divine help and blessings to extract ourselves out from a specific situation. But it is at least always one-sided, because God and the Guru are always thinking about us, ever compassionate, ever loving.

Perhaps the more #1 and #2 are given up, the more #3 increases!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Dumb choice

The story of legendary mountaineer Anker Conrad is incredible. He set out on a daring expedition with his best friends, fully prepared for the challenges they might face, as they climbed Mount Shma. However, fate had a different plan. An unforeseen avalanche struck, forcing Anker to make a split-second decision that would change everything.

What did he do?

He simply decided to dive left as the avalanche hit. His two colleagues dove right. Anker suffered a broken collarbone. Bad for sure, but at least he recovered. His two friends? Their bodies were only retrieved after many years.

His decision to go left was a simple ‘dumb-luck’ call as he himself admits. While not all such decisions may be life or death, many times in our lives, we too make sudden choices, with no knowledge of the future. It is the same for everyone.

When we look at successful people today, we assume they always did everything perfectly. Not true, because everyone has these dumb-choice moments. Best not to read too much into predicting the future by exactly following others paths. No one knows what is coming next. We each simply do our best, that’s it.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Creative juices and snacks – part 2

Creativity is not a fleeting muse however; it’s a muscle that grows stronger with practice, and that is my big takeaway. Achatz’s journey exemplifies this truth.

What’s the worst that could happen to a chef? Him losing his sense of taste right? Well poor chef Achatz was diagnosed with tongue cancer. A seemingly cruel blow, for one who’s creative expressions rests nay depends on the use of his tongue!

Despite battling tongue cancer and losing his ability to taste, the chef didn’t let it dampen his creativity. In fact, he let it fuel his innovation even more.

Achatz discovered that taste is just one aspect of the dining experience. By leveraging his other senses (smell, sight, sound) and incorporating visual illusions, he created even more mind-boggling culinary surprises than before.

Shows that creativity is not just about inspiration or talent; but also about consistent work, dedication and a never-say-never attitude to one’s craft.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Creative juices and snacks – part 1

We all would like to get our creative juices flowing. It’s always astounding to see professionals unleash their creativity and create some truly magnificent works of art, whether it be literary, or art, or even culinary!

A Chicago based chef I’d never heard of really intrigued me. Grant Achatz, considered a creative genius – is the chef behind Chicago’s cutting-edge restaurant Alinea.

How does chef Achatz get his ideas? He simply draws inspiration from various disciplines and infuses them into his culinary masterpieces. Achatz’s brain naturally forms connections between unrelated concepts, and he takes full advantage of this ability. Here are two lovely examples:

In a museum, a large-scale painting sparked Achatz’s imagination: “I want to eat off of that!” This inspiration transformed the tablecloth at Alinea into an edible work of art, adorned with sauces that resemble a masterpiece.

While listening to a song by Rage Against the Machine, Achatz envisioned an extraordinary dining experience with thrilling peaks and captivating valleys, just like the song. He transformed this musical flow into a culinary story that takes guests on a rollercoaster of flavors and emotions.

Concluded tomorrow!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Ego-less pursuit

We keep reading about and coming across this concept of “giving up the ego”. What does it really mean? How will we feel after the ego is gone? Does it mean we will not have any identity left?

Here is a take from Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati:

If you begin to carve a statue out of a stone, what self-identity is the stone losing? None; rather, it is developing a new identity that will be witnessed and appreciated by many people. Similarly, in spiritual life there is no loss of self-identity; rather the distorted perceptions are corrected, the aggressive ego expressions are redefined, the new wiser you, the new creative you, becomes the new identity.

Interesting, isn’t it? Now if I could just make my ego go!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Learning by immersion

One of the best ways to learn a language is supposed to be by immersion. What does this mean?

Instead of learning the vocabulary first, memorizing from flashcards and studying the grammar and so on, imagine you are uprooted and placed in a remote village in the country of the language you are trying to learn! Even to get water or go to the loo, you’ll need to begin speaking the lingo – and hence the immersion!

Another lovely story on immersion (not in verbal languages, but the universal language of spirituality!). A pot with 5 holes needed to be kept full of water. What is the solution for this?

Everyone will answer that we need to plug or cover the holes with various materials. All correct no doubt.

But Sant Gurunanak had the best answer. To immerse the pot itself in water, as that is the only permanent solution! The spiritual analogy of course is that our 5 senses, if they truly need to become selfless and have no attachment, then immersion in the Lord is the only way.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Mind placid

We all want a placid mind when we meditate.

But the mind is a creature of habit.

Is the mind placid when we go about our normal routine?

Like when we are in office, how much time do we really spend on the task at hand? How quickly is our mind diverted to the notifications piling in on our phone? Or to the thought of what happened at home as we were leaving for work?

Or even when we are at home. If a family member is speaking to us – the spouse, the kids, the parents, anyone – are we looking them in the eye and giving our complete attention? Or is the mind simply darting from one thought to another?

Throughout the day, if the mind is constantly flitting like a bee from one flower to the next, then how can we expect it to sit still only during a 15 minute meditation practise in the morning?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment