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Month: December 2023

Teammateship – part 2 of 4

Back again today with another insightful tip from Shane Battier. This time, he’s sharing the key to staying focused and achieving peak performance, aka, the power of the “next play.”

We’ve all been there, right? Dwelling on past mistakes or getting too caught up in celebrating successes. But Shane says the key to staying on top of your game is to focus on the next play.

Think about it like this: every moment is a new opportunity to start afresh and give our best effort. Shane days, “Don’t let the past hold us back or let the future distract us. Just be present, focus on the task at hand, and give it our all.”

Shane even says this applies beyond sports, to everything in life. Whether you’re working on a project, studying for an exam, or just facing a personal challenge, it’s all about the power of the next play. It’s about taking things one step at a time and giving our best in each moment.

Tomorrow we explore the fuel that drives success: a burning hunger for greatness.

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Teammateship – part 1 of 4

Did you catch that awesome podcast with Simon Sinek and NBA champ Shane Battier? Never heard of Shane? Ya me too. But that’s the point! You know who all he played with? All the famous guys – LeBron, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan etc. And yet hardly anyone’s heard of him.

He might not have been the top scorer, but guess what? He was always on teams that won the championship. And according to Shane, the secret sauce isn’t just about having a superstar leader. He believes that “teammateship” might be even more important.

Let’s think about it. Championship teams are more than just a collection of talented individuals. They’re a well-oiled machine where everyone trusts each other, helps each other out, and pushes each other to be better. They’re all working towards the same goal with a deep commitment to the team.

Shane used the San Antonio Spurs as a great example. They were known for taking players who weren’t quite there yet and turning them into valuable contributors. They created a culture where everyone felt valued and empowered, and guess what? They won a lot of championships!

So, the next time we’re working towards a goal, we can remember Shane’s words. It’s not all about having the best leader. It’s about building a strong team and supporting each other every step of the way.

Tomorrow: we’ll unlock Shane’s secret to staying focused and achieving peak performance!

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Aspirational heights

In ancient lore, mountains were realms of the divine, unreachable and mystical. Today, they stand as majestic challenges, echoing George Mallory’s sentiment on Everest: a mountain is to be climbed simply because it exists!

Our lives are dotted with such peaks, personal Everests that beckon us. They are not just physical heights but symbols of our highest aspirations and achievements. Victorian poet Robert Browning once mused that our reach should exceed our grasp, a reminder that true fulfillment lies in striving for the seemingly unattainable.

Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s triumph over Everest serves as a metaphor for overcoming life’s steepest challenges. It teaches us resilience, urging us to persist despite setbacks. For every mountain we face, whether in the physical or metaphorical sense, is a reflection of our potential to ascend beyond our limits, turning daunting challenges into triumphs of the human spirit.

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You’d be best served if you practice gratitude. That’s what every spiritual guru says. It’s also what our shastras / scriptures teach us.

The idea is simple. To identify basic things from our lives and be thankful for them. Got food on the table for all the 3 meals of the day? We’re already better off than maybe half the planet. Wow, what a start!

The moment we begin to look at the world this way, finding the positives in everything, the chances of our material success multiplies manifold. Why? Because negativity and self-doubt get booted out the door, one thought at a time, as we are thankful about more and more things going our way.

Life is all about how everything that happens is part of a long story of lessons. We may just need to appreciate the flow and learn from them teachings. This then automatically converts from material success to spiritual success. Because once we are grateful for everything, then we want nothing more, and eternal peace follows.

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Non-violent violence

The sanskrit word ahimsa is a misunderstood one.

It is commonly defined as non-violence, and the treatment suggested is to show the right cheek when the left one has just been smacked.

Does this make sense in today’s world of wars and mobs and rapes and riots?

Absolutely not.

Ahimsa doesn’t mean complete non-violence. Instead, it aims to minimize collective harm and maximize collective harmony.

In many contexts, ahimsa will require engaging in war in order to establish and protect or restore collective harmony.

Why else did Lord Krishna ask Arjuna to fight?

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4 letter word

One of the Presidential candidates in the US recently put out his daily schedule video.

It was insane.

He did some 7-8 townhalls in a single day, across multiple regions – starting way before sunrise and going non-stop (travel, speeches, Q&As, meets-n-greets etc.) all the way till well past midnight.

Only for it to all begin again the very next day.

He summarized it beautifully.

“LUCK is a 4-letter word that is spelt as W-O-R-K”

So powerful isn’t it? Time for me to get back to work now!

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Easy come easy go

Here’s a story about “no free lunches” that I really love.

A wandering saint and his disciple stumbled upon a town where everything, from diamonds to daggers, cost a mere penny. The disciple, lured by the easy life, refused to leave. The saint, knowing that true happiness wouldn’t bloom amidst such absurdity, continued on his journey alone.

The disciple reveled in his newfound fortune, oblivious of the looming storm. One day, a man injured by a falling brick wall sought justice. The king of the land, in a ludicrous series of senseless accusations, blamed a girl for singing distractingly, leading to the wall’s collapse.

As the noose was slack around the girl’s slender neck, the king, unable to hang her, demanded someone whose neck fit the noose. The once-thin disciple, now plump from his easy life, was thrust forward by the king’s guards.

In that moment, the saint reappeared and convinced the king, blinded by his foolishness, to hang himself instead, promising him a glorious rebirth. The disciple, finally understanding his folly, thanked the saint as they left the town, and lived forever changed.

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Kety Perry

If you had a net worth of a million dollars, would you be happy? Depends on your position and privilege of course. But statistics from 2022 show that just 0.7% of the entire ~8 billion population in the world are millionaires. That’s it. So there’s 99.3% of 7.94 billion people who would be incredibly ecstatic if they got a million dollars.

Matthew Perry, was an outstanding actor, known for his role as Chandler Bing in the hit sitcom Friends. Personally, I loved Friends, and loved the Chandler character. Matthew Perry brought incredible wit to the character.

He passed a few weeks ago. Apparently from overdosing on ketamine, which is used to treat addictions and mental health problems. Surely he was a wonderful human being. He was also a millionaire, or a hundred-millionaire, with a net worth of over $120 million.

If there’s one takeaway, then it is that money and fame and success are not guarantees of happiness. Maybe flipping this around might help. True happiness could guarantee some or all of these things. Who knows?

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Latent tendencies

There’s a concept called vasanas in Indian spirituality, or latent tendencies. It refers to deep-rooted karmic imprints that tend to dictate our lives. Assuming one believes in reincarnation, then the soul or consciousness or Atman or Brahman pervades everything. But the mind goes from body to body, from one life to another.

Which is why maybe someone who died of drowning many lifetimes ago is still instinctively scared of drowning, even if they’ve never really been in the water much.

In a video I was watching where the speaker was a very accomplished tantric upasaka, he spoke of various practices and rituals he performs. He also spoke of the various deities he has personally experienced.

All in all, a very spiritual person, clearly on a very advanced plane. Pun intended, because while all his sadhanas have made him absolutely fearless in facing demons and what not, he still sheepishly confessed that he is very scared of traveling by plane!

That’s vasanas at play, and it doesn’t leave even those who are far ahead on the spiritual journey!

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Back to the suture

What is our life, but a tapestry of experiences, all stitched together by time?

Most people would give an arm and a leg (many sutures notwithstanding) to go back in time and relive their childhood.

But not everyone. There are some that would happily live in the today. But is that because they are mindful and spiritual? Or it is because they hate their childhood and are far better off today?

Then there are some that constantly live in the times to come. Neither happy with their childhood, nor happy with the way things are unfolding today. Ever writing in their minds, a chapter that has yet to be written.

As Vedanta teaches us, eveything around us is maya only. Yes we see life as a tapestry of experiences, but in reality, these are a string of lifetimes, of which we remember only a tiny part.

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Within life’s intricate dance, Dada J P Vaswani crafts a transformative roadmap to conquer stress, encapsulated in a powerful acronym:

  • S: Smile
  • T: Tolerance
  • R: Relax
  • E: Easy
  • S: Service
  • S: Silence

Each element unfolds as a key to serenity and spiritual growth. Cultivate a perpetual smile, foster tolerance, embrace relaxation, adopt an easy-going stance, engage in selfless service, and practice silence for divine connection.

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Parking problem

With a small car in an insanely congested city, I thought car owners face a daily nightmare. Not just while driving, but perhaps worse, while parking.

I thought money would solve the problem, because with a lot of money, you buy some parking space, and poof, problem gone.

But apparently with more money, people buy more cars and bigger cars, and that only makes the parking problem worse.

But I read an article yesterday on Mr. Bezos’ mega-yacht, which apparently also suffers from the same parking problem! One of the richest men in the world has a parking problem?!

His yacht costs a cool 500 million dollars, is 400 feet long, and effectively cannot be parked with other yachts. Why? Because it’s too big! They had to dismantle a bridge to let it pass and that was met with fierce opposition that the yacht is now parked with larger ships out in the deeper sea.

Does money truly solve all problems? Or bring up new ones that one could have never even imagined!?

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Heavenly pitch

Every time I watch some cricket, I can’t help but feel the pull towards being more devoted to God.

What’s the connection, you might ask?

Well whenever a batsman scores a 100 runs, or if a bowler takes an important wicket, they implicitly look up to the heavens, thanking the Gods up there for their mercy.

This might seem like a simple gesture. It might even seem reflexive, almost part of a ritual ever since the first times the players of today saw their own idols doing the same on the pitch many decades prior to them.

But the thought of dedicating a small victory to the Infinite Divine is still outstanding.

I wonder about myself then. If and when a small victory does come my way in my own line of work, do I quickly look up in gratitude? Or do I first pat myself on the back for a job well done?

Mostly the latter I think, hopefully someday it’ll be the former.

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Pricing power

Imagine you could buy a dress for 100$. Do you think it’s worth it? It might be. Depends on so many factors – quality of the material, the brand on the tag, the end-use, like for a wedding or for a party, or just for home use?

Prices tell us a lot. But is there a price tag for after buying the item?

There is, but it is usually invisible. Like the cost of maintaining the item. A little lesser for a dress, a little more for a car, and perhaps substantially more for a home!

So there’s one price tag we see, and one we don’t.

It’s no different when we look at those around us who seem to have what we so desperately want. Their success, their wealth, their happiness, their fame. We sometimes don’t even see any price tags. As though we should have their success by default.

But even if we do see their visible price tags, what about the invisible ones? All the anxiety and jealousy and constant looking-over-the-shoulder that such success brings?

There’s an invisible price tag for sure. We just need to be cognizant of it!

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Time machinations

In the lovely Netflix series called Better Call Saul which is a prequel to the super hit Breaking Bad, there’s a tense yet funny moment.

Saul asks a bunch of people what they’d do if they could build a time machine and go into the past. What would they change?

Everyone thinks up some moment and goes on to say that they would go back in time and do this or change that.

When Saul poses the same question to a scientist known as Walter White (fans know he’s no ordinary scientist!), the response is incredible!

Walter first reprimands Saul for asking about scienfitic impossibilities. “Time machine? Of course there’s no way such a thing can ever exist.”

He then proceeds to tell Saul what he’s actually looking for. That he simply wants to recount times where he regretted what he did in the past. And that he just wants to get his regret off his chest. So what he’s searching for is not a time machine, but a regret machine.

Regrettably true, isn’t it?

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Happy crappy

Do we feel happy most of the time? Or crappy? Perhaps the latter, isn’t it?

Maybe it’s because we are constantly focused on the past. Thinking of things we could have done differently, aiming to jettison all regrets.

Or maybe it’s because we are constantly focused on the future. Thinking of the infinite permutations and combinations of a life that is yet to unfold. Can we control all of it? Most of it? Any of it?

We can instead give the highest priority to God right now, and become more and more aware of His presence in our lives. This will prove to us by self-experience that we are an integral part of a divine plan. We don’t need to demand for anything then, because by surrendering to the Lord, everything is automatically being take care of.

Instead of a fast mind and slow actions, these will invert, and peace will follow.

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Bridge of wisdom

Once, a massive elephant traversed a rickety bridge over a roaring river. Amidst the creaks of the old bridge, a small ant perched on the elephant’s trunk claimed that their combined weight almost shattered the bridge. Unfazed by the ant’s misconception, the elephant chose peace over proving a point, and simply agreed that yes the ant’s contribution to the total weight on the bridge was indeed massive.

The elephant’s tranquil response echoed a timeless wisdom: the futility of ego-driven conflicts. Yet, blindly mirroring the elephant’s response might not fit every scenario. Life demands a nuanced approach, where humility intertwines with assertiveness.

Striving for inner calm amidst ego clashes remains pivotal. However, discernment plays a role, determining when to stand firm and when to maintain serenity.

The tale of the elephant and the ant on the bridge whispers a lesson beyond ego battles—a subtle reminder to balance peace with assertiveness in the symphony of life.

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Full body glory

Had gone for my full body annual check-up this week.

They took a fair amount of blood to run various tests.

It’s astonishing how the body survives without that kuch blood. But it’s equally astonishing how so much blood manages to stay within the body, unless poked and collected like red wine in a glass!

Various instruments to test various things, but all only to see if things are running as they should be. No clue of why or how they came to exist in such a state. Who created this wonder?

Oh and the 2D Echo scan to check the heart. The doctor switched on his speakers to listen to my beating heart. Wow what a sound it was. Thumping away at breakneck-yet-measured speed and ensuring that the rest of the body has every drop of it blood it needs. Not just today, but incessantly since the day of our births.

And this maniacal rush of activity can’t be heard by anyone. Not by you. Not by your friends and family. Not even by your own ears. Glory to the Creator for this full body Creation!

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Tech transfer

Tech is awesome, but it can detrimental as well. We know this intuitively already, because we each experience the good and bad sides of tech on a daily basis.

One of the bad things that people speak of is addiction to TV series and the associated binge watching (guilty even without being charged!).

But incredibly, there are some outstanding devotional TV channels and programs as well. Just ask the older generation. It’s a life savior for those who are spiritually inclined.

What’s amazing is how tech is actually helping. Some of my family members were discussing how they’ve never had the chance to be at some spiritual sites during specific times. Like on a mountain top where just a handful of people are allowed to witness a particular ritual. And now? There are drones capturing the same thing live and beaming it to every home and mind that is open to it. Are we?

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Victoriously defeated

We often look at all things in dualities.

If we haven’t won something, then we’ve lost it.

If we haven’t succeeded at something, then we’ve failed.

But are we sure of this?

Many things in spirituality are inverted. If we win something, what really wins and gets boosted? Only our egos!

And everyone knows what happens to a big ego.

Lord Rama was neither happy when he was told he will be the next King of Ayodhya, nor was he sad when he was asked to go to the forest in exile.

True victory is the victory of the self over one’s mind and senses, no matter the external circumstance. Everything else is defeat only!

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Came across a live anecdote yesterday.

There’s some 50 odd octogenarians in a particular place.

They’ve all been there for ages. All living comfortably. Their kids are working in various cities, within the country or abroad, all well settled. Heck, even their grand kids are well settled!

No reason for these folks to be unhappy at all. A life well lived, if there was such a thing.

But old isn’t always gold. Said grandpas and grandmas are in the hunt for nothing less, than gold, in the form of real estate.

There’s some plots of land that these 80 year olds collectively own, and which are now set of go for re-development. Not everyone gets the same value though, for various reasons, and the same happy bunch has now been plunged into anxiety and anger and jealousy. All over some property that will add no real value to these people. When will humanity learn?

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Mischief maker

Some YouTube videos are just incredibly cute.

Especially the ones where there are guilty dogs. Who’ll chew up the whole sofa, and then go and hide. Or even point at some other innocent dog, as though they had no part in the mischief whatsoever!

This sleight of hand (or paw) by the guilty dogs is no different than what we do perhaps.

Who’s the real mischief maker? The other guy of course. Or the other entity. Or the other situation. Or to generalize, it’s the world at large.

Asked again, who’s the real mischief maker?

It’s always our own minds.

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Hunger pangs

In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Lord Rama encounters Kabandha, a demon cursed with insatiable hunger. In fact he has no head, and a mouth directly in his stomach. Kabandha symbolizes the relentless greed seen in many professionals today. Despite consuming everything, the hunger persists, mirroring a desire for endless accumulation. Similarly, some so-called leaders prioritize personal gain, exploiting workers and the environment without ethical considerations.

Contrastingly, Lord Rama embodies selflessness, compassion, and humility. His focus is on service, not amassing wealth or power. Everyone can learn from Rama’s values—prioritizing others, embracing honesty, transparency, and environmental responsibility. Contentment, rather than ceaseless ambition for personal gain, should guide them.

Emulating Lord Rama, one can break the Kabandha-like cycle, fostering a more just and sustainable world.

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Mousika vaahana

Here’s an unbelievable story.

I was out for an errand.

As I was walking back, I saw a dog just in front of me. I was thinking about how I’d heard on a recent podcast that those who pray to Bhairav baba often find themselves in the vicinity (and affinity) of dogs.

But this dog? Nope, he couldn’t care less about me, and it’s not like I’ve been praying devotedly to Bhairav ji either.

But my mind quickly wandered to my Ishta Devata, Shri Siddhivinayaka as guided by my Guru to many satsangis. This elephant-headed deity’s vaahana is mooshika, or the mouse. I wondered to myself, “damn, having dogs around me would be cool, but having mice around me? Scary! Unless them mice would be friendly or something.”

Almost momentarily, a fat little rat bounced along the center of the road, crossing, then going back, and trying to cross again, then zig-zagging. A car came by really quickly, but the driver thankfully saw the rat and he slowed down. Not enough to stop however, and he zoomed off. Only I could see how close a shave it was for the rat. The lucky escapee quickly crossed and went off to the other side.

Incredible. And all coincidence only of course. Isn’t it?

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Where do you go, my lovely?

There’s a song from my childhood called “where do you go, my lovely”. My childhood not because it was from my era, but my father used to hum that tune when it would come on the radio.

While watching some videos on ancient Indian temples today on youtube, this song came to mind.

Whats the connection? Perhaps nothing much.

But I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed looking at the insane number of devotees thronging these temples. It’s no different when I’m at a temple myself. There’s always hordes of people often in various groups, all dressed in similar clothes. One glance will tell us they are rich. Not at all rich by money, but very rich by devotion.

They will often travel ridiculous distances by foot, simply to catch a nanosecond glimpse of their favorite deity. What incredible faith they have. And so many of them!

Where do they come from? What do they come for? Where do they go, my lovely?

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Devi calling devi – part 2 of 2

We were lucky that the 2-mins-away Devi temple was open when we reached. We parked and climbed up the 200-or-so stairs leading to the shrine.

One lady in our group was the one who was really keen on visiting this temple. Actually she was drawn to the other devi temple that I’d mentioned yesterday. But that one was way off-route, and we just couldn’t travel that far. This seemed like some sort of consolation prize.

As we reached the top flight of stairs, there was a notice-board explaining the history of the temple. The Devi idol was a swayambhu, ie, it manifested itself rather than be created by any human. A great king living in the area many hundreds of years ago used to travel to the other far-away Devi temple in his youth. But as age got to him, he was unable to travel. The Devi appeared in his dream, and told him about this 2-min-away temple and that he can pray here instead.

Needless to say, the lady in our group was absolutely ecstatic, what with her unable to travel far enough either, only to come across this very similar story of the king. A case of Devi calling devi.

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Devi calling devi – part 1 of 2

A lot of spirituality happens only when we truly open our eyes and minds and look. Here’s a recent incident to someone I know and was on a trip with. The incident could be passed off as coincidence. Or maybe not.

We were considering going to a specific Devi temple on a trip, but couldn’t, because it was quite far off from our route.

While a bit disappointed, we did continue the rest of our journey. Enroute a few days later, someone who didn’t know about our plans to see a Devi temple pointed out that our route had another devi temple and that we could go there.

It so happened that this new Devi temple was exactly 2 minutes away from another place we were supposed to visit!

And so we quickly made our way there, thanking the Devi mentally for arranging this unexpected darshan.

Continued tomorrow!

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Will free

Does free will exist? Yes of course it does. That’s why you get to choose whether to drink tea or coffee while reading this post. Or maybe you choose not to drink either.

One might say though that hey, tea or coffee isn’t significant enough for a heavy topic like free will. Yes, unless coffee messes up one’s system and leads to a few missed days at work?

Anyway, that’s all conjecture.

More importantly, although Lord Krishna himself hints in various places about free will (such as “Arjuna get up and fight!”), does it really truly exist?

Perhaps it does. But we are also victims of our own pasts, and by extension, victims of ourselves. Everything lies squarely on us. If we’ve built up many lives of conditioning towards certain responses, experiences and situations, then can we really use our free will to change? Will we?

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Computer literacy

Here’s a very commonly used but absolutely spot-on analogy between computers and spirituality.

A Computer / laptop is like the physical body.

A USB drive is like the mind.

Electricity is like the soul.

Between lives, the mind moves from one body to another, taking with its past experiences and emotions.

No different from a USB being plugged in from one laptop to another.

And electricity is always present to power any laptop or computer with any usb drive.

Just like the eternal soul aka atman aka Brahman is omnipresent, constantly powering, animating and enlivening everything.

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Penny pinchers

Came across one social media post today by some influencer.

The person apparently stopped at a tire shop after one tire went flat.

This shop was in a very rural area, and the old man who was apparently very poor soon helped fix the tire, and asked for some 20 rupees (25 cents).

Our influencer said he didn’t have change, and handed over a 500 rupee ($6) note, to which the old man asked him to come by next time and pay him, whenever that would be, if at all.

Mr. Influencer is touched, and goes hunting for change, and comes back with 20 rupees and is delighted enough to not just pay the man some pennies, but also write a long post about it, which is further liked and shared by thousands.

Surely said influencer made a decent amount just from the views of his one post. But he still couldn’t part with his 500 rupees to help that poor old man. Reality is quite divorced from reality these days!

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