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Category: acceptance

Persona non-deada

There’s a nice Turkish TV series called Sahsiyet, which apparently translates to Persona.

It’s about an ex-judiciary employee who starts to suffer from Alzheimer’s. And then decides to consider his lack of memory as lack of a conscience, allowing himself to kill those who he believes have wronged, but who have not received appropriate justice.

This is just the intro plot, which you’ll figure out in the first 15 minutes, so a lot more happens through the series.

One specific scene early on is super.

A post-mortem specialist is working on a body in the morgue. The guy is totally chilled out, enjoying his work, cutting up a dead body, whilst coolly sipping on his coffee. And then he remarks:

"It's so much easier to be here with the dead. Because the dead can't harm anybody, at least not anymore. But the living? The hard part is to get used to the living!"

How true, isn’t it?

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Good and Bad

Here are some outstanding lines from the Ashtavakra Gita:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Newspaper realities

Here’s what I came across while glancing through today’s newspaper:

  • Flying chunks from a construction site hit two bystanders, a mother and son, and kills both instantly
  • A truck full of soldiers falls into a deep ravine and they all die
  • A father is killed by his sons because of an alleged affair, and they burn his body in his own furnace where he used to make snacks
  • An actress commits suicide because a co-actor threatened her
  • A 3 year old died when he fell 5 floors as he was trying to climb a staircase where a glass safety panel was missing
  • 8 temple pilgrims die in car mishap

I did not even have to look past the first 2 pages for the paper for this. If you are reading this and have not faced something so gruesome, then you have the protection of your Guru and the Lord. All we can do is to smile and bask in that good fortune and dedicate our lives to Both of Them.

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Awesome Inferiority

Watch any toddler for a while.

Apart from all the cuteness, what is most striking?

Their complete lack of ego.

They know that they do not know.

They also know that everyone else in the room knows more than them.

Their inferiority complex actually leads to their superiority in learning.

Why do we, as adults, then fear an inferiority complex?

Not that we need to feel inferior about everything. But it is probably a great tactic to enhance learning.

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Fundamentals of life

Here’s what Osho used to say are the fundamentals of life:

Remember, the ordinary person is the one who thinks he is not ordinary. The average person is the one who thinks he is not average.
The moment you accept your ordinariness, you become extraordinary.
The moment you accept your ignorance, the first ray of light has entered your being, the first flower has bloomed.
The spring is not far away.

What do we think of ourselves, as we go about our daily lives? As great accomplished people? Or as anxious, worried, stressed-out victims? Clearly, neither extreme is helpful. Average is beautiful.

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Is there a question here?

A star investor-cum-poker player once had an 82% probability of winning a hand. She was on the biggest stage of her poker life ever. And the prize money was the most she had ever played for too, and so, no pressure at all!

As luck would have it, she lost. It truly was a bad luck moment. From an 82% probability of winning to actually losing. Probability isn’t certainty, as we all know.

At the same event, she met a celebrity international-level poker player and said to him, “Damn it, that was such terrible luck. How I wish I was given a better hand to start with. I hate it when I encounter bad luck. I’m so unlucky”. To which the man simply replied, “Is there a question here?”

Needless to say, the lady was taken aback. And as she herself recounts later, the celeb-champ was not wrong. That guy was more than ready to discuss poker strategies and in-game tactics till the cows came home, but he was least interested in wasting time talking about things that were outside of his control (like bad luck). Nice lesson for me in my daily life!

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How to be an awesome learner?

The world is changing fast. Progressing at an amazing pace. And with that, elders, seniors, those with more experience, whatever you may call it, are getting disrupted. Not just technology but people itself. Pretty much everything I studied in college or university many years ago, is all obsolete. Poof. Gone.

How to survive then? Only by learning constantly. There is no other way. And the best way to learn is to look at Arjuna for tips. Learn from the best learner himself.

What are his attributes?

  1. Being a very patient listener, having sat through 18 Gita chapters with Krishna
  2. Ensuring he understands everything correctly, by asking relevant questions, and
  3. Implementing everything he listens to and understands

Simple, but not easy…

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Uketamo

This term, Uketamo, is a new one that I came across recently.

It is the core philosophy followed by the Yamabushi, who are mountain dwellers in Japan.

Uketamo means, “I humbly accept with an open heart.”

Was expecting a promotion or bonus or wonderful party at home or kids’ exam topping results or spouse’s career advancement or whatever else – but, that didn’t happen? No problem at all, because, “Uketamo”, which means, I humbly accept with an open heart.

What is Uketamo doing here? It is teaching us to accept that which we cannot change. Doesn’t mean we should try or put in our best efforts. But despite all that, sometimes things don’t work the way we think they should. In such cases, it’s okay. Just take a deep breath and Uketamo!

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Bye-byes

Goodbyes are always hard. Unless you are leaving a toxic workplace or a terrible boss.

Even then, there’ll always be some people in the organization that were nice to you, and bidding them adieu isn’t easy.

But the beauty of change, is that when one door closes, another opens up, bringing with it several new relationships and possibilities.

Life on a spiritual level is similar too perhaps. Even at the most difficult time of death, which the Gita speaks about in great detail, the give up of these wordly attachments and cling-ons means that one gets to truly know and meet their Creator. Unless one wants to come back to this cycle of births and deaths of course.

As the poet Rumi noted on his deathbed to his weeping disciple, “Don’t weep, I’m parting ways with this world and getting ready to embrace my greater beloved.”

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Turning the tables

In many parts of the Gita, Lord Krishna mentions that he is only the Watcher, not the Doer. He has only created the Nature around us to function based on certain laws (of nature), and whatever happens thereafter is upon creation, not Him.

Some people question this. How?

By asking why the Lord would not step in where required. Seems very easy to just say, “Okay, I’ve created, and so my part here is done.”. Why not interfere when things are going wrong? If crime is being committed, why would the Lord not come in and take charge? Why does he have to say that he has nothing to do with this?

The answer lies in karmic theory of course. That we each are responsible for what we do, and this karmic record spans multiple lifetimes. But there is another way to think of this as well.

What if the Lord questions us thus, “Hey I created this universe and world and have given each of you the most beautiful planet to live on. I’ve ensured everything is perfect, beautiful nature, bountiful resources and every reason for you to be happy forever. And yet, what have you people done? Are you really happy? Are the resources you’ve been given used properly? Sustainably? Are you all living together in love and harmony?”

The tables have been turned.

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What if I can’t remember the Lord always?

This is a common question every spiritual aspirant gets at some point. Yes, we need to remember the Lord all the time. But when I’m speaking to my friends, browsing Instagram or Facebook, doing my office work, having dinner with family at a restaurant on Friday night, taking the kids to the park, meeting other important deadlines and so on, it’s practically not possible to constantly keep the chanting of the Lord’s name going on in the background. Isn’t it?

So what to do?

Lord Krishna has already addressed this in chapter 12 of the Gita verses 9 to 12. What does he say?

My Guru explains beautifully in his Amazing Simple Gita thus. “Fix the mind and intellect on Him. That’s the goal. Can’t do it? Okay, try next. Practice meditation. Keep practicing. Can’t do this also? No problem, try next. Be intent on working for Him, and you shall attain Perfection. Still difficult? Relinquish fruits of actions in whatever you do, and peace immediately follows.”

The best takeaway from the Gita ever, don’t you agree?

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Miraculous – part 2/2

Surely the greatest thinkers ever, the rishis who had communion with God Himself, they would immediately realize that the planets are too far to make an impact on humans? And yet they persisted. Writing treatise after treatise on astrology. Not just astrology, but also palmistry, and yoga, and ayurveda, and so many other sciences.

It’s alright if it doesn’t appear to make sense or seems illogical. But we should come to this conclusion after spending enough time studying these subjects, should we not?

In my personal experience, while I started as a sceptic, the more I read and learned about these fields, the more I realized these teachers-of-yore were onto something. If anything, my initial scepticism helped build even stronger faith later on. Eventually, it has led to acceptance, that 1+1 is not always 2, and that there are many things I will never fully understand.

Here are some interesting books in no particular order that help satiate a bit of curiosity, while also opening our eyes to newer possibilities. 1) The Aghora series, by Dr. Robert Svoboda, 2) Demystifying Reincarnation by Chaitanya Charan and 3) The Autobiography of a Yogi.

Do let me know what you felt after reading some of these!

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ABCs

In JP Morgan’s recent quarterly commentary, I came across an interesting acronym.

If you read the title of this post, then no doubt you guessed it already.

ABC (duh!).

Here is the statement verbatim.

“We’ve always believed that ABC – Arrogance, Bureaucracy and Complacency leads to stasis and death.”

You don’t usually expect to find such lines in boring corporate commentary, but sometimes such gems do exist in the most unlikeliest of places!

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Directions

We were all set for experiencing the Siddhivinayak Kakad Aarti at 5.30 am. One would have to wake up much earlier maybe 4 am, shower and then reach the temple.

Night owls would consider such trips sacrilege. But those familiar with morning sevas of Indian temples would know this is not such a bad time – given some start at 2 am!

In any case, we were headed to the temple, just on time. Until of course we encountered a road closure. It was tantalizingly close to the temple, while also being far enough that we couldn’t walk to reach on time.

The area wasn’t familiar, and so we didn’t know the bylanes at all. Momentarily, and out of nowhere, in an otherwise deserted street, a car overtook us, as if directed by Someone higher up. The car went ahead, hit the same road closure, took a U-turn, and then proceeded to the take the shortest alternative route to the temple. We obviously followed, quickly, and otherwise would have had zero chance of reaching on time. Divine directions indeed!

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Conflicted

There’s a big conflict in Arjuna’s mind.

He sees a lovely path ahead of him called the Path of Knowledge. Jnaana Yoga.

And then a much tougher one, the Path of Work. Karma Yoga.

Of course he is drawn to Jnaana Yoga. Just “learn” some “knowledge” and run away from the battlefield and be done with all work forever.

But this is only an apparent conflict, borne out of delusion, as Krishna explains to him, and indirectly to us.

There is hardly any difference between the two Paths.

Jnaana Yoga is also a path of work only. Because the true Path of Knowledge gets the individual to realize that it is not work that should be shunned, but only attachment to it and its fruits.

The paths only exist in the mind. To the realized soul, everything is the same.

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Key, da!

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”, is what French philosopher Pascal once said. Bang on he was of course.

In Hindi, this is also known as ‘keeda’. Well not literally, because keeda only means insect. However, do imagine a small insect running around in your mind, with the latter unable to sit still.

That’s a keeda for you. Everything is perfect, life is great, the job is great, the pay is great, and yet, you want something more. You feel like something is missing, even though to an outsider, your life would look absolutely perfect. That’s a keeda in action.

How to get out of this feeling? Because everyone’s experiencing it most of the time. What’s the solution – the key, da? (to use some Tamil slang as well).

As my Guru keeps saying, the only way, is “to realize the futility of it all”. So many greats have come and gone. Where are all their worries and troubles now? Where will ours be in a 100 years?

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Emoshunned – part 2 of 4

The way we are often asked to deal with emotions is to simply ignore them. When things turn ugly, how many times have we heard “just grin and bear it”, or “this too shall pass”, or “time is the best healer”.

These statements are each true no doubt, but in that very moment, does “not dealing” with the emotions we are going through help us?

Likely not. In her book, Brene lists 87 types of emotions. Wow. That number blew my mind. Eight seven of them, really?

Apparently there are more, but she just chose those she felt were most important, and what we tend to experience fairly regularly.

She also didn’t want her book to be translated into any other languages because she would have no control over the final meaning. For instance, the word shame in English has at least 3 similar but different words in Spanish.

Why is it important to name these emotions properly? More tomorrow…

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6 months to… part 2 of 3

As mentioned yesterday, today’s and tomorrow’s posts will contain some gems from the amazing book 6 Months to Live (available here).

  1. When some people are faced with a life-threatening illness, they lose all hope and wither away. True strength of character is seen when death is faced eye to eye without blinking, without questioning, without self-pity.
  2. “Not everything that is faced, can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
  3. We talk about angels in disguise…. What disguise? Here was an angel incarnate, whom God had sent to look after us in those trying times.
  4. The above vacations and participation in various family events just proves that cancer is not THE END of everything. You can almost go about your routine life with positivity and enthusiasm.
  5. Moving on is the best tribute you can give your most loved one who is no longer with you in person.

Concluded tomorrow, with some more gems!

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6 months to… part 1 of 3

There’s an outstanding short-book that I just finished reading.

It’s called 6 Months To Live, and written by Dr. Sangeeta Raman Girdhar.

The book is only about 70-odd pages long, and can easily be finished in one sitting, and within the hour.

But the convenient length of the book not the reason everyone should read it.

What the book captures so beautifully, is a combination of 4 things:

  1. What all a loved one goes through when faced with a terminal disease
  2. What the immediate family of this person goes through
  3. What life lessons and spiritual lessons we can each take away, especially if (God-forbid) put in such circumstances
  4. How to deal with cancer, and even make micro lifestyle changes to prevent it

I’m going to share a few powerful takeaways from the book over the next couple of days, but the book has much more than just these, so do consider reading it. The author is my cousin sister, who is an amazing human being. The least I can do is feature her work on FHN! The book is available here.

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