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Month: February 2024

Extra of the ordinary

How about we cherish the beauty of the everyday? In the simplicity of routine, we uncover moments of wonder and joy, whether it’s the melody of birdsong, the comfort of a familiar embrace, or the aroma of freshly baked bread.

Amidst the hustle of life, we could pause to appreciate the magic in ordinary moments, like the gentle rustle of leaves in the wind or the soft glow of a candle’s flame.

We can embrace the notion that true miracles lie in the everyday, reminding ourselves to seek awe in the seemingly mundane, like the way sunlight dances through the trees or the laughter of children playing in the park.

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Journey or destination? Neither?

We’re always told to value the journey over the destination, right?

Because focusing on the destination aka result is what brings us stress and anxiety. Focusing on the journey hence will allow us to “enjoy the moment”.

Here’s another nice take I came across recently.

Shift your focus from the ‘how’ to the ‘who‘ – because the people you surround yourself with shape your journey.

In life’s adventure, the beauty lies in the company you keep. Prioritize the ‘who’ over the ‘how.’

There is magic in embracing inspiring souls; they transform ordinary journeys into extraordinary adventures.

The right people could make every journey and destination brilliant.

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Cat outta the bag

In Rajarshi Nandi’s book called Adhyatmikta, the author presents an interesting view on sects or lineages of saints, called sampradayas.

Many people simply become egoistic today, saying that they are linked to so and so lineage. Does it really matter?

Here’s a funny excerpt from the book…

Each sampradaya is susceptible to a single weak link in the chain of transmission. Nobody can fix this; that is how matters transpire. The classic example given is that of one great pundit who had a cat and would tie that cat near his puja room when he sat for puja so that the animal did not disturb him. Few generations down the line nobody really remembered why he used to tie the cat, but the thought process, and that action transformed into a dogma and a new rule was made that whoever did that puja ought to first buy one cat for himself and then tie it near the room!
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Simple reality

  • Life’s pursuit? Seek limitlessness.
  • Problem: How we seek.
  • Why? Because desires drive us, and actions limit us.
  • Upanishad say: Seeker and sought unite.
  • Knowledge, not action, leads.
  • Then why act? As work purifies mind, detached.
  • Pure mind grasps reality fast.
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Nature’s call

In Sanskrit philosophy, there’s this concept called “prakriti,” which refers to nature’s role in shaping our consciousness and giving it boundaries. Pra+kriti, first+action.

It’s like nature’s way of guiding us to act in certain ways, almost instinctively. Picture it as our default mode of action, the way we naturally respond when faced with a situation that demands action.

This innate nature, deeply embedded within us, influences how we perceive and interact with the world around us. Until we learn to master it, we’re bound by its constraints.

There’s this saying in Sanskrit that I came across, “svabhavo vijayati iti shauryam,” which translates to “the true heroism is to conquer our own nature.” It’s about overcoming those instinctual impulses and limitations to truly assert control over our actions and decisions.

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A relative was recently discussing an experience of a silent spiritual retreat.

I’ve heard of these before, but never had the courage to attempt one. Still won’t, I think.

But it’s interesting when you realize that verbal silence is only one aspect of it. The real mauna is in the ability to make the mind go quiet. Silencing the mouth is just a means to that end.

Apparently there are a few types of maunas.

Karna mauna: control of speech;

Kastha mauna: maintaining a neutral expression in every way;

Susupti mauna: clearing the mind of doubts, recognizing life’s transient nature and the role of the three Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas;

Maha mauna: achieving a complete cessation of thoughts

Clearly, shutting my mouth is far easier than the others!

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No fear seer

Guruji’s Wisdom: “I am the body” breeds fear—of hurt, death, loss.

Cosmic Play: Recognize life as Lord’s Prakriti, embracing desire’s exhaustion for innate fearlessness.

Death’s Truth: Realize death befalls the body, not the everlasting soul—fear wanes.

Relinquish Labels: Strip away “I and mine,” embracing everything as the Lord’s—fear fades.

Devotion Triumphs Fear: Total faith in the Lord dispels fear; Prahalad’s unwavering trust exemplifies.

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Hard or soft?

In the realm of leadership today, there’s a lot of buzz around soft skills, and empathy often gets thrown into that mix. But Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sees it differently. He believes understanding others goes far beyond what we typically consider soft skills. To him, labeling empathy as “soft” undermines its true importance—it’s actually one of the toughest skills to master.

Nadella emphasized this point in an interview with Axel Springer’s CEO Mathias Döpfner, stating, “Empathy is not a soft skill. It’s the hardest one to master—to truly connect with the world and the people who matter most to us.”

Moreover, Nadella highlights that empathy isn’t just about bettering relationships within a company—it’s also integral for understanding customers. According to him, genuine innovation stems from empathetically addressing unspoken needs.

Nadella has long championed the significance of empathy in leadership. His personal experiences, including being a father to his late son Zain, who had special needs, profoundly shaped his perspective. He acknowledges his wife’s empathy as a driving force behind his own commitment to infusing compassion into both his personal and professional endeavors.

In essence, Nadella’s stance underscores that empathy isn’t merely a trendy concept—it’s a fundamental pillar of effective leadership.

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Big, bigger…

Steve Schwarzman is global Private Equity behemoth Blackstone’s Founder and Chairman.

He’s 77 years old, and is worth some ~38bn dollars. So one can say he’s successful.

Here’s what he said in an interview recently, which offers some exceptional motivation:

Schwarzman, who will likely never retire, insists his global ambitions have nothing to do with money. "I look at anything and say, 'What's the maximum we can make this?"" he says of his life's work. "If you see some amazing opportunity, I just get so excited about that. Why shouldn't we own that? Let's go."
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Cool, calm, confident

Ever found yourself pondering how to tackle an unusual challenge? Imagine facing a judge’s puzzling verdict: a prisoner must be hanged on a surprise day from Monday to Friday.

Instead of succumbing to fear, the prisoner remains calm, employing a brilliant strategy. If he stays alive until Thursday, the judge’s Friday execution loses its element of surprise.

Extending this logical approach, if he survives until Wednesday, Thursday’s execution is ruled out. This method continues for each day, ultimately making a surprise punishment impossible.

This tale unfolds a powerful lesson in navigating tough situations with a composed mind and innovative thinking. When faced with adversity, the ability to think beyond the obvious can work wonders. The prisoner’s clever reasoning not only spared his life but left the judge in awe, leading to a compassionate decision.

In life’s challenges, perhaps remarkable solutions emerge when one stays calm and embraces creativity.

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Choosing choice

In our journey as humans, we’re endowed with the incredible gift of the human form, giving us the unique ability to choose our thoughts, feelings, and actions. This power shapes our destiny and happiness.

Life is often turbulent, filled with trials. Yet, amid the storm, our choices remain in our control. We can choose our attitude, our response – to be positive, proactive, and resilient.

Cultivating the art of choice is vital. Each decision carries consequences. Discovering our purpose guides us towards meaningful choices, aligning us with fulfillment and freedom.

But beware of ego-driven choices, which lead to bondage and suffering. The study of Vedanta offers wisdom, clarifying our path towards a meaningful and joyful existence.

In the end, the power of choice is divine – a force that shapes our lives and the world around us. Embrace it, for it resides within each of us.

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Meditative mantra

In the chaos of our daily lives, meditation has become a lifeline for many chasing success and inner peace. But what’s the real key to making meditation work? Well, it’s simpler than you might think: just repeat to yourself, “I am nothing, I know nothing, I do nothing.

Now, that might sound counterintuitive in a world obsessed with achievement, but here’s the trick – it’s all about letting go. Embrace the mantra, embrace the nothingness.

By acknowledging our smallness, we actually find a deeper connection within ourselves. It’s like shedding layers of stress, anxiety and ego.

This mantra isn’t about achieving something monumental. It’s about finding peace in the now, letting go of the need to know everything, and realizing that sometimes doing nothing is the most productive thing you can do.

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Really real problems

We’ve discussed previously the very nice and funny TV series called Our Man in… where the host is none other than James May of Top Gear fame.

Guess where he’s traveled to after visiting Japan and Italy? Well, India of course!

India is a country that’s just too vast to do full justice on a 3-episode show. And so while May has tried, he’s barely scratched the surface. At least it leaves room for him to come back for more!

What struck me as poignant, was how he a Britisher, and therefore ex-“colonizer” (as one of his guests in an episode funnily put it), summed up India at the end.

He acknowledged that foreign people always talk about the problems in India. And then he added, “The problems of India are no different than the problems we have back home. The only thing is, India is much bigger, and hence its problems look that much bigger.”

Nicely on point. The problems everywhere are the same. And interestingly, the solutions are the same as well. All dealing with the mind, and cleanly provided in our scriptures!

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Candle lit

Remember Elton John’s touching but outstanding song, “Candle in the Wind”? It got me thinking about life in another way.

Imagine life as a flame, akin to the candle in Elton’s song, but with an uplifting twist.

Each of us is like a candle, glowing brightly for a time before we’re gone.

Yet, the flame – our spirit or essence – doesn’t end with us. It moves on, lighting another candle, another life.

This is an analogical perspective to rebirth, isn’t it?

Our physical form may flicker out, but our essence continues in the endless cycle of life, much like the enduring melody of a beautiful song…

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Thanks but yes thanks

Daana or charity has a special place in spirituality. Lord Krishna considers it amongst the key rungs on the spiritual ladder.

Why would this be?

Because the root cause of all our troubles is said to be the ego. The more the ego has, the more it wants.

Au contraire, the more it gives away, the weaker it becomes.

This nicely sums up daana. Because when we part with something, we’re actually not losers, but gainers in the most crucial sense.

So charity, assuming it’s done right, with no expectations, and given to the right people / organizations, means that it’s really not the receivers who should be telling thanks to the givers. Rather it should be the givers telling them thanks, for giving them the opportunity to perform daana!

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Listen up

There was a funny incident recently. A session on improving presentation skills was being conducted.

The speaker said that there were three key things to watch out for.

  1. Listening
  2. Questioning
  3. Messaging

The speaker then said that he wanted the audience to pick any one of the three key focus areas that they believed were their strong point.

Everyone picked one of the three and put that into the chat box (most sessions happen online nowadays you see!).

Everyone except one chap. He picked Listening and Questioning.

The speaker said you’ve to pick only one. So he picked Listening.

But it’s funny no? The guy who picked Listening as his strong suit couldn’t listen to the requirement, which was to pick only one! Sums me up well many times, when I’m just physically present but mentally far far away someplace…

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Mental subtraction

Here’s a nice mental model that I came across recently.

What “mental subtraction” calls for, is to imagine that certain situations have not happened in our lives.

Many times we feel low and depressed. But how to get out of this rut? Mental subtraction of course!

So just think of the most important and the happiest events and situations that happened in your life.

Could be when you got married, or when you graduated, or got a promotion, or got your first child, or any of 100s of other such situations.

Now mental subtraction requires us to slowly remove each of these incidents from our lives. The positive triggers that pushed our trajectory forward? Yes, remove them.

How would we have felt? Where would we be? Surely not in a better position than we are in today?

And thus the need for gratitude and faith. Nothing is truly in our hands, but still, we are in good hands.

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Worship mentality

A lot of people would be doing homas (fire worship) for a variety of reasons.

While I was reading an excellent manual on performing a Chandi Homam (Mother Chandi is the divine primordial energy of life), I was struck by the message provided by the author on the mindset one needs to adopt while doing this homam. Pasting it below, verbatim, for your reading pleasure!

However, it is not necessary that She should take away one's material success and prosperity in order to give spiritual upliftment. In fact, many people who perform Chandi homam everyday or every week using this document may experience continued or even increased material success (and yet be able to remain detached from it and progress spiritually). However, in some cases, She may decide to give a shock or two in worldly matters if something is badly blocking one's spiritual progress and a setback is needed. The path towards self-realization is different for each person. She knows the best for each person. Unless one is willing to surrender to Her completely and accept whatever comes one's way good or bad as Her blessings and unless one does not expect any specific material benefit from this homam, one should not use this document to perform Chandi homam.

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Hamster Manster

Seem a hamster wheel before? No doubt you have!

It seems silly that the hamster keeps running on it, despite getting nowhere.

Well here’s the story of someone I know.

He was perched on a ladder, and was doing great.

Then he looked down, and felt super, because he saw many below him on lower rungs of the ladder.

Then he looked up, and felt sick, because there were so many above him on higher rungs.

And he felt those above him were getting away, farther and farther, while those below, seemed to be catching up!

But the Divine Being who was standing outside and observing, could clearly make out that the ladder was nothing more than a circle, exactly like a hamster’s wheel.

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Speak down

Most people today are crazy about speaking up. They just do anything to get the first word in, and more importantly, their word in.

It’s as though the world is run by people who talk, talk and talk more.

Speaking up is important, no doubt, at specific times.

But only speaking, and not letting anyone else in on the conversation? That’s plain bad manners!

And yet, most people just love the sound of their own voice a bit too much!

But you know what’s even more beautiful than sound and perhaps more important?


Silence is crucial if one wants to listen to and understand the words and perspectives of others. Wisdom calls upon us only when we are silent. We can feel the Self within, only in silence. Indeed, silence is the true language of Creation.

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Extreme devotion?

Came across the interesting concept of Virodha Bhakti, or reverse devotion. The practitioners harbor such intense hatred towards God that they undergo self-destruction, only to be rescued by the very divine force that annihilated them.

This philosophy suggests that the immense power and transformative nature of the Divine makes any interaction, even adversarial, ultimately beneficial for the Seeker.

Liberation is attained when an asura, slain by Vishnu or Durga (for example) in battle, experiences this paradoxical union of destruction and salvation.

The gods of Hinduism, capable of formidable deeds, execute their actions with perfect detachment – destroying without hatred and loving without attachment.

This paradoxical nature underscores the profound dynamics of spirituality.

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10k marathon

Everyone who runs a marathon knows that the 10k or 10 kilometers run is not even close to the actual 42km.

Neither is it close to the half marathon at 21k.

But 10k is important in itself, as the stepping stone to the larger numbers. 10k is also the over-publicized and over-quoted number from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers where he coaxes people to get in 10k hours of practice on anything if they seek mastery.

We’ve discussed this before as well, and so we’ll get to the point. 10k hours works in everything, including spirituality. We spend 10k hours on many things, but how about on prayer?

Many people question faith. They say our scriptures and vedic chants do not work. But these statements come from quarters that have never tried these out. Try calling out to a deity with shraddha and bhakti 10k-hours-worth times and the view will change!

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Poverty-stricken who

For the Ayodhya Ram Mandir consecration, the who’s who across various fields were been invited to attend.

But there’s also one poor ragpicker who was invited.

Really? Why?

Because she had donated a meagre 20 rupees in total, 10 from her side, and 10 for her unwell son.

20 rupees is nothing. The middle class will argue that with inflation, even 2 million rupees is nothing.

But what this lady lacked in money, she made up for in faith and devotion.

In terms of money, everyone reading this would never considering themselves to be in poverty.

But I can’t help but wonder if I’m not spiritually impoverished. And whether the Guru has been trying forever to lift me above the poverty line.

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Tester kit

Life is a test. Or maybe a series of tests.

Like in school and college, we can’t always score a 10 on 10.

Some will be really tough tests, and others not so much.

But the tests are what cause us to grow.

They push us to become better.

When people hurt us by doing exactly the opposite of what self-help and leadership and “success-secrets” books tell us, that’s fine. Because those crazily aggravating scenarios too are just tests.

Can we keep our wits about us? Or do we give up?

Every moment spent here on earth is a test not for our bodies and minds, but for our souls. Are we able to overcome our basic instincts, and pass the test to become a higher power?

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Professionally permanent

Many of us may be attending a lot of satsangs, or at least one of them.

How does it make us feel? Great, right?

That one hour spent in satsang could be absolute bliss.

The key messages to empower ourselves, to bring us success, and to elevate our spiritual lives – all in those lovely 60 minutes. And add some socializing and some prasad, and that would seem like spiritual bliss.

But outside of that one hour of satsang?

Does the bliss continue?

Maybe the word professional satsangi is relevant then. We are (I certainly am) beneficiaries and maybe even contributors within that 1 hour period. But outside of that, life (aka strife) takes over.

Only if we consistently and mindfully implement each of the messages of our scriptures, can we hope to move from professional satsangi, to a permanent one!

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Vote for…

Apparently some 4 billion people across 60+ countries are eligible to vote this year (2024).

That’s just insane, and incredible.

A quick look at poll promises overall though?

Many leaders in the decades gone by, would offer development and things. Yes, things like schoolbags and bicycles and computers and what not.

Instead today, there’s hardly much positive left. It’s mostly all about promises of shutting down other communities, wiping out other religions and inviting hate wherever love and peace should exist.

The game seems to be all about self-gratification, ensuring continued rulership (via appeasement votes) with little care for those around.

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Level 43

Rohan Bopanna recently won his first tennis Grand Slam title. Now this statement may not be a big deal standalone, but Bopanna achieved this at the age of 43 years and 329 days!

Easy on the body? Nope. Easy on the mind? Absolutely not!

Imagine having played 100s and 100s of matches during all the so-called “prime” years of youth and not winning a grand slam at all. And yet, he persisted.

He couldn’t do intense weight lifting and similar exercises, so he switched to yoga, to give him the core workout he needed.

And of course, he switched his mindset to being super positive.

As he quipped, “I’m not 43, I’m at level 43!”

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Higher highs yet low

The markets across the world are going higher and higher.

Wealth effect is kicking in.

People are getting richer.

And yet, they aren’t happier.


Because those who are invested, are wondering what to do. Do they pull out their money, crystallize their gains? Or will the market go even higher after they pull out, only to leave them as helpless bystanders?

Then of course there’s the bunch that aren’t invested at all. They’ve just been watching and waiting, hoping to enter, but never able to truly make up their minds.

The market might be high, but the moods of the hoi polloi?

That’s a trick question, as you know by now, where happiness truly resides!!

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Cows have a unique significance in Indian / Hindu tradition.

Foreigners often find it funny that Indian roads (even highways!) are used by these bovine creatures to chill out, for lack of a better phrase.

And because of the respect for cows, people will leave them be.

In Vedic tradition and astrology too, feeding cows and taking care of them is said to bring benefit, including erasing or neutralising bad karma.

Now who’s going to go find a cow and take care of one? Thus when I was scrolling through my twitter feed today, I chanced upon, which is a retirement home for cows, and where anyone can donate whatever they feel like.

I haven’t particularly verified this organization, and maybe there are many others like them, but this one came recommended by some respected individuals, so just thought to share, in case someone is looking for helping spread some moo-sic to cows ears!

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