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Month: November 2023

Locational devotional

Was listening to a tantric expert on a podcast recently. Many of the things he said were mesmerising. And he knew it.

Like what? Like him sitting in a cremation ground and doing his sadhana (spiritual practices and rituals). Or him entering other dimensions and interacting with ethereal beings. And so on.

Fascinating for sure.

But he also made one thing very clear.

That the location is not important, at least not at first. He said that many people get carried away (or carried towards!) simply by hearing about things like cremation ground sadhana. But he repeated twice. If one cannot do their sadhana with devotion in their own puja rooms at home, then there is no chance of achieving anything anywhere else.

Charity, and seemingly spirituality, begin at home!

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Munger Hunger

How tenacious can humans be? How much will power do they have? How likely are they to stand back up when life has pushed them to the ground and glued them there? How hungry can one be, to not just survive, but also thrive?

The world lost investing guru Charlie Munger today, who died peacefully in his sleep at the graceful age of 99. While people would know him as a billionaire and a great investor who worked closely with Warren Buffet, not everyone knows about his tough early life.

At 29, Charlie was divorced from his wife of 8 years. The lady took everything, including his family home. He was almost plunged into poverty. Apparently he had a dirty old car he’d drive around. His daughter Molly Munger once asked him, “Daddy, this car is just awful, a mess. Why do you drive it?” The broke Munger replied: “To discourage gold diggers.”

Post the divorce, Charlie learned his 9 years old son had leukemia, and eventually lost him to it. He didn’t even have the money to pay for his treatment.

Later in life, a botched operation left him blind in one eye, and in so much pain he had to have the eye removed.

But despite all this, Charlie by age 69 became one of the richest people in the world, was married to his second wife for over 30 years, had 8 kids, many grandkids and was respected across borders by one and all.

Tenacity at its best!

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Most parents of young kids today discuss only one thing when they meet up – about the schools that their kids attend.

Whether it is this curriculum or that, whether it has 2 playgrounds or 3, whether it has an Olympic sized swimming pool or not, whether the music room has western instruments or only eastern, whether the labs are equipped with the latest equipment or aren’t. And of course no discussion would be complete without talking about the ridiculously high school fees required to support such lavishness.

While all this education is phenomenal in imparting an ability to create wealth, is it enough to provide lasting happiness? Is there any guidance towards achieving man’s true objective here in human form?

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Unfamous 5

The famous 5 of Enid Blyton fame, are, well, famous! But there’s another 5 that aren’t. Not people, but qualities. And funnily enough, these 5 are accessible within each one of us!

Thích Nhất Hạnh, the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, emphasized five strengths for cultivating and harnessing inner powers in dharma practice:

  • Faith
  • Diligence
  • Mindfulness
  • Concentration
  • Insight

These strengths are inherent in us but may remain unrecognized until consciously cultivated. They serve to empower and enrich our spiritual journey.

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Paws and praise

For anyone who has a dog at home, homecoming transforms into a celebration. The doorbell unleashes fervent barks.

Before you know it, a blur of fur—your dog—outpaces any human, offering a welcome fit for royalty, conveyed in wags and jumps.

This daily ritual, far from ordinary, is an unwavering expression of pure joy.

Your four-legged companion’s greeting erases fatigue, replacing it with a heartwarming spectacle of affection.

Their boundless enthusiasm is a masterclass in mindfulness, reminding us to cherish the present moment with unguarded delight.

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Life is a journey meant for more than mere indulgence in pleasures. While savoring life’s joys is essential, it’s not the sole purpose. What sets humans apart is the gift of intellect, the ability to comprehend and ponder. This faculty leads us to seek the truth beneath surface perceptions.

In Sanskrit, the distinction between humans and animals is strikingly clear. ‘Pašu’, the word for animal, implies one who merely ‘sees’, perceiving things at face value, without delving deeper for truth. For them, utility lies in edibility or survival value.

Likewise, the English term ‘man’ finds its roots in Sanskrit’s ‘manusya’, denoting a human being. Derived from ‘mann’, meaning ‘to think’, it emphasizes that a human’s role transcends mere physical observation; it demands contemplation of the deeper truth. Thus, the essence of human existence lies in the pursuit of Truth, beyond mere enjoyment.

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Educated ignoramuses

This is the term my Guru uses to label all pseudo-intellectuals.

What is the meaning of this?

There are so many people who are far more conventionally educated than most Gurus.

Some of the most advanced Gurus may not have ever even gone to school or had a formal education.

So what does education mean? Is it just fancy MBAs or PhDs?

For pseudo-intellectuals, yes it might be!

But what is true education then? That depends on what we want to, nay, should learn. What should we learn then?

About our purpose on this earth. About our human birth, and what we are expected to do with it. About how to live up to our true potential.

Is this what formal education teaches us?

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Ruin booin

Everyone wants money. How much? More than too much. Having money is easy? Here’s a perspective:

The great investor Charlie Munger was once asked by one of his rich friends if leaving his kids a bunch of money would ruin their drive and ambition.

“Of course it will,” Charlie said. “But you still have to do it.”

“Why?” the friend asked.

“Because if you don’t give them the money they’ll hate you,” Charlie said.

Isn’t he just so much on point?

Imagine this. You have all the money possible. And then your kids either lose ambition or hate you. A smart cookie might say the best combo would be to have a lot of money and no kids. But everyone who has kids say that it’s the best feeling ever. And they’d gladly exchange their money to keep their kids. So want more money, honey?

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F for fear F for faith

We each fear death the most. If that fear goes, then every other fear can be managed.

How can we not fear death? Well everyone must go one day, but the antidote to the fear of death is the faith in God.


Because we are implicitly playing God, when we fear death. Wondering when that death will come and how. That’s why we are constantly worried about whether we will live or not. Isn’t that playing God? What if we would surrender that duty to God by having full faith in Him?

Ironically, we do have faith even if we think we don’t. Because we go to bed each night with the faith that we will wake up the next morning.

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Re Inc.

Would you want to live your whole life again, from scratch, including all the bad parts?

What if that life would be only the bad parts!?

Imagine going through grades 1 to 12 of school, all over again. Damn, I don’t even know how I managed to clear them once!

And then college and university.

And then all the bad interactions with so many people and all the other traumatic experiences.

It of course could have been a lot worse. But it’s not.

So ideally one should use this opportunity to improve our position, and work towards never having to come back, and re-do all this. The choice is ours. But most choose to stay permanent employees of Re Inc(arnated)!

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The idea of a thing vs the thing itself

It’s easy to mistake the mental image of an object or experience for the real thing. For instance, the idea of money is often associated with success and security. However, money itself is just paper or numbers in a bank account. The value we attribute to it comes from societal constructs. Similarly, happiness is frequently visualized as a life filled with laughter, vacations, and luxuries. Yet, true happiness is an internal state of contentment that can exist even in simplicity.

This distinction is important because when we chase the idea of something, we may miss out on the genuine essence of that thing. A person might accumulate wealth but still feel insecure, or chase moments of joy but never find lasting happiness. The map is not the territory; understanding this difference can lead us to more authentic and fulfilling experiences.

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Right turn

In the Ramayan, post-war, Hanuman rushes to inform Sita of their victory. Arriving, he’s tempted to avenge the rakshasis for tormenting Sita, but she halts him, narrating a stirring tale instead.

A man, fleeing a tiger, scales a tree, disturbing a resting bear. The tiger urges the bear to push the man down for a meal, but the bear, valuing hospitality, refuses. When the tiger coaxes the man to shove the bear, he tries but fails. The bear, resilient in righteousness, denies the tiger’s renewed plea to harm the man, imparting a timeless lesson: no evil should deter the righteous from their virtuous path.

Righteousness, demanding yet dignifying, holds an immortal essence celebrated across cultures and festivals.

Righteousness is not the easy choice, but it’s the revered one, crafting legacies of honor echoing through ages.

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I’m really not making this up. Imagine adults coloring intricate books, building forts with blankets, or having themed dress-up parties. It’s adults immersing themselves in children’s activities, seeking a slice of nostalgia and pure joy.

Real-world stores now cater to this, offering adult-sized ball pits, wall doodling sessions, and even crafting workshops reminiscent of our school days.

But here’s a thought: why did we ever distance ourselves from such simple pleasures?

Life’s demands shouldn’t push the child within us into obscurity.

Embracing a childlike demeanor – filled with wonder, non-judgment, and forgiveness – is not about immaturity, but about cherishing life’s moments.

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Deathly wish

The Gita in the 8th chapter says (Antakaaleti…) that whatever one thinks of at the time of death is what they will attain in their next birth.

Is this a loophole? Can one live a life callous about values and morals, and yet achieve salvation simply by thinking of the Lord at the last moment?

“Not so fast buddy”, is what Krishna seems to suggest.

Firstly, a life devoid of spirituality is highly unlikely to result in remembrance of the Lord at the time of death.

Secondly, in chapter 14, verse 14, Krishna makes it amply clear that it is the dominant guna that makes its appearance at death. This is not difficult to understand either. If the life lived has had only tamasik and rajasic gunas, then how can one expect sattva guna to dominate only at the time of death?

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You know all these NatGeo and Discovery ocean documentaries? They show some outstanding footage of what happens in the depths of the deep blue.

But I realized one thing. Even though many creatures hunt for a living, they don’t necessarily have a high success rate. A shark might try to capture its prey many times, but it too fails often.

So a quote I came across today (for humans, not sharks!) was on point:

“Self-reflection is how one loses their edge. A shark keeps swimming.”

It probably makes sense to introspect once in a while. But only introspecting and never taking action? Not a good idea.

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Gunateetha…is what? – part 2 of 2

We say yesterday how when one is free of the body-mind complex, one becomes a gunateetha. But how does one practically achieve this?

Krishna answers in the 14th Chapter of the Gita: “Through single-pointed, unswerving devotion!”

A doubt might arise. “But we see so many devotees around us, thronging temples and prayer halls. But they all also don’t seem that happy in their own lives – definitely not like what gunateethas are supposed to be…”

Great catch!

The focus word here therefore is “single-pointed” and/or “unswerving” aka unwavering.

As devotees, do we focus exclusively on the Lord? Or do we give him a small slice of time – like a few minutes a day or week? Is He the first thought we wake up with and the last thought we sleep with? And what of the millions of thoughts in between?

There is much introspection to be done for me!

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Gunateetha…is what? – part 1 of 2

So there are some terms in the Bhagavad Gita that are a bit difficult to practically imagine.

Like Gunateetha. A person who is beyond the Gunas. It’s hard enough for most people to come out of Tamasik guna (indolence) or Rajasik guna (high energy) and move towards Sattva guna (harmony). But then the best state according the Lord Krishna is one where the individual has transcended all the 3 gunas altogether!

How does such a gunateetha even function then? How is such a person to be recognized?

In the 14th Chapter, the Lord spills the beans.

He clarifies that the gunas are only associated with prakriti or the world around us, including our bodies and minds. As long as we associate with the body and mind, we will always be under the influence of the gunas.

And therefore by extension, when one is free of the body-mind complex, one becomes a gunateetha!

And how to do this? Concluded tomorrow!

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It’s Deepavali again. This beautiful festival comes year after year, with just one aim. Which is?

Well in the essence of tradition, Deepavali celebrates the joyous return of Prince Rama to Ayodhya, marking the end of his 14-year exile. Symbolically, it mirrors our contemporary journey, as we navigate challenges akin to Ram’s banishment from his realm of peace and prosperity. Deepavali, at its core, signifies the victory of good over evil (including inside us). The lighting of lamps illumines not just the world outside but our very souls. Amidst the festivities, our actions carry profound symbolism.

Cleaning the house becomes a metaphor for purifying our minds, discarding emotional stains of the past.

Donning new clothes and household items symbolizes the ushering in of newness as we transform our thinking and behavior.

Exchanging gifts takes on a profound meaning, offering each other the priceless blessings of pure thoughts and feelings.

Savouring sweets becomes a pledge to sweeten our words with love and respect (while also adding to the waistline!).

Starting new account books reflects our resolve to reconcile past issues and embrace acceptance.

Happy Deepavali!

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Tip sip

Came across an interesting anecdote today from a well-traveled friend.

In most parts of the world, he said that anyone in the service industry will be happy when they are tipped for their quality of service. A few extra bills and the smile on their faces would be telling.

In a few countries however, tipping is a requirement, a mandate, no matter what. “If you don’t tip”, he said, “they can even become angry and abusive!”

In Japan however, he said tips are actually frowned upon. It is culturally insensitive to offer tips to waiters, taxi drivers, hotel boys and anyone else.

Why? Because they believe that they need to do their best at work irrespective of any additional incentives, and they also trust the original bill that is charged is all-inclusive.

Good service begins in the mind!

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Embracing TIME

Jay Shetty’s book Think Like a Monk has an interesting acronym: TIME.

It represents four transformative habits: Thankfulness, Insight, Mindfulness, and Exercise.

Thankfulness encourages recognizing life’s blessings.

Insight propels a journey within for deeper understanding.

Mindfulness invites present-centered awareness.

Exercise emphasizes physical well-being.

Integrating TIME into our daily regimen can steer us towards holistic wellness and enduring happiness, enriching our journey towards a fulfilling existence.

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The Lasso Way

Apple TV has an outstanding series called Ted Lasso, which we’ve discussed before. Season 3, the last and final one, just concluded. It was super. No big spoilers below, but don’t read if you don’t want to!

Trent Crimm, originally a harsh newspaper critic of Ted Lasso, turns over a new leaf, and even writes a book, called “The Lasso Way.” He then requests both Coach Lasso and Coach Beard for their feedback.

The contrast couldn’t be more pronounced. While Coach Beard’s feedback is direct and detailed, Ted Lasso, true to his character, simply writes that everything is perfect. He also adds, that the only suggestion he has, is to change the name of the book, because it was always about the team, and never about him.

If only everyone would be so kind and understanding!

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Medical spirituality

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor!

But from my experience going to some, generally we would have some problem, like say a stomach ache. We don’t go to a plumber for this, although a leaky gut might need some plumbing of another kind. The doctor would have to be a general physician at first and then maybe a gastroenterologist. And the all important medicine? Some specific tablet or syrup that only the doctor can prescribe.

Our life’s problems are no different.

What is the illness? Samsara, aka our dependence on external factors for attaining and maintaining happiness. Who’s the doctor? This one is easy, the Guru of course! And the medicine? Scriptures, spirituality, devotion, God… take your pick.

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It’s amazing sometimes, the bravery I see around me.

So many politicians, especially those fighting for justice, are willing to step up and speak up. Unafraid of the consequences.

Don’t they have a family? Of course they do, and yet they do their duty in unimaginably bold ways.

With the recent wars that have broken out, most people would be fleeing the scene. But I see brave men and women who work as journalists running towards the battlefield!

Such level of bravery is mind boggling. Many spiritual masters do suggest that one should be completely fearless. Like a fight for dharma. Because ultimately we are not the body or mind.

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Know who should be the judge of any court? We each of course! Because we are born judg-ers!

Ever found yourself silently judging? We see someone act, and instantly, there’s a mental thumbs-up or thumbs-down. We all do it, right?

Guru Sri Sri Ravishankar suggests imagining judgments as breezes, brief and passing. That there’s something freeing about being immersed in love and compassion, where these judgments lightly touch and go. They guide our choices, like picking the freshest apples from a market, and shaping the company we keep. Some folks lift us up, others not so much.

It’s quite the journey, this dance with judgments. Can we completely eliminate it? Sri Sri says it’s not possible unless we attain the state of Being, as then we are always full of love and compassion.

What’s your take?

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Bent Lee

There was a clickbaity article recently on a man who asked to be buried after his death along with his 1 million dollar Bentley. And obviously I clicked on that clickbait (how else would such folks make money if not for suckers like me!).

I couldn’t imagine why anyone would think that they could take their car with them. Maybe to coolly cruise past the gates of heaven?

As it so happens, Mr Lee’s (don’t know his name, so we can call him Mr. Lee) brain was not bent out of shape. Quite the contrary actually.

He was trying to use his Bentley to bring awareness to people about the noble opportunity of organ donation. We feel we may useless after death, but actually the death of one person (inevitable to all) may bring life to another. Well bent sir!

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Utterly butterly

What’s a lovely analogy to understand the concept of soul and atman and other similar confusing terms?

The Amritabindu Upanishad of course!

Here’s an outstanding 4-liner:

Cows are of various colors, milk is one-colored,
the wise man looks upon soul as milk,
of bodies as cows of different garbs,
knowledge is hidden, as butter in milk

Utterly butterly delicious!

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Humble mumble

Came across a powerful, self-explanatory and yet profound line today.

Humility is a powerful virtue that involves thinking of oneself less, rather than thinking less of oneself.

That’s it. That’s the post for today. Much to reflect on!

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There’s a lovely sanskrit word called mumukshatwam. It refers to a deep yearning for liberation.

So deep, that the yearning for liberation is the only thing that the spiritual seeker yearns for.

Funny it is then, when my Guru asks a gathering of devotees, “How many of you want liberation?”, and all hands fly up immediately.

He then proceeds to add just one more word, “How many of you want liberation, now?”.

And suddenly all hands go down!

Hilarious, but the joke is on us ????

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Living peacefully

There’s war all around us in the world.

And incredibly, there’s war inside of each one of us as well. In our minds. Constantly fighting a variety of emotions and desires, with nary a clue of what is right or what is good.

So how to live peacefully then? The saints say this:

  • Continuously chant and attribute all actions to God for a joyful life.
  • If an actor doesn’t bring his stage role home, should we let our worldly roles define us? Remember, our pursuit of God isn’t an act because God resides within each of us.
  • When surrendering to God, let go of titles like devotee, scholar, or wealthy person. Then peace will prevail.
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The direction is clear of what happens with me:

Something in the physical plane triggers my senses. The senses pass on information to my mind. The mind then gets super excited and begins planning for the future as though it’s already happened. This in turn waylays the soul, keeping it from achieving it’s true objective (of realising itself).

Spiritual wisdom unanimously dictates that this direction is wrong.

Our soul is meant to lord over the mind and the senses, not the other way around. Instead of focusing on the distractions of the outer world, we need to focus on the peace within.

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