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Category: appreciation

Superhero

We all know the Indian version of Superman, Spiderman and Batman, because he is none other than Hanuman.

But why is he a superhero, and worshipped with so much love and affection by countless devotees?

Not just because he is macho or immortal.

But because, as the Hanuman Chalisa says, he is the one who has complete alignment of man-karam-and-vachan, ie, thoughts, words and actions.

When he thinks of Lord Rama, his words and actions are completely in sync with his beloved Master.

If only I had this superpower. I can barely even write one blog post completely before my mind wanders off somewhere, my hand instinctively looks to check WhatsApp, and the mouth opens not to speak but to pop some junk food into it 🙈

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50th best – part 2 of 3

After coming in 50th best restaurant in the world, were they happy?

Not at all! Disappointed, disgusted, disoriented. That was how they felt. Because now they were not seeing themselves as the incredible 50th best restaurant in the world, but rather the last out of 50 restaurants.

Of course these feelings lasted only a short while. The restaurant owner was determined to figure out why they didn’t get a higher rank. After all, they had immaculate quality, taste, variety, service and what not. And yet, something was missing?

There certainly was. Impact. Social impact to be precise. Each of the other restaurants were contributing to society, making a real change, apart from their anyway class leading culinary impact. Donating to charity, supporting underdeveloped communities, lessening impact on climate change and so on. In order to separate the best from the rest, it isn’t enough to be good at work, but good at heart.

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50th best

Imagine you are a Michelin-star restaurant. You make dishes that others cannot even dream about. The skill in your cooking and adroitness in your plating are just so exceptional that even looking at you in action makes peers in your locality gasp in amazement.

But you aren’t happy. You want to be recognized on a bigger stage. And so you apply for the World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards (yes, there is such a thing apparently!).

What is the expectation? That you not just break into the 50-list, but also in style. Like maybe at number 20 or 12 or even top 10!

One similar super duper restaurant was talking about their own story, very similar as this. They waited with bated breath for the award announcement. And guess their rank?

Fifty! Yep, five-zero, fifty. Right at the bottom of the list.

What was their reaction? Concluded tomorrow!

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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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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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Kohinoor is who’s?

After the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth, there are a number of people who have begun questioning the true ownership of the Kohinoor diamond, housed in the Tower of London.

Does it belong to Britain?

Does it belong to India?

Should it be returned?

There are 100s of views and articles and debates and opinion pieces.

The real question should be, “What is the real Kohinoor?”, because the true Kohinoor is inside each one of us.

And to identify and excavate this real Kohinoor, we need the help of another Kohinoor, our Guru.

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Thanks Please

These are two words of great politeness and courtesy. We are always taught to say thank you and please right from childhood. This is good manners, nay, great manners.

But the two words could not be further apart in their import!

Please is for what is to come.

Thanks is for what came already.

We always want more and more, and hence we probably use please far far far more than we do thanks.

However this usage probably only keeps us unhappy, even if politely so. Because no matter how much we get, the – please I want more – will only grow.

But imagine starting each day, each hour, each minute, each second – with deep rooted thanks. A genuine gratitude for everything that we have already got. Not only is it polite, but it also keeps us mentally happy. Instead of looking for more, we realize we already have more and more.

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Greenest grass

On a recent rural trip, I couldn’t help but marvel at some homes on the way. Yes they were rudimentary, but also so peaceful. There were cattle grazing, elders lounging around in the sun, kids playing by a small brook, and lush pristine green as far as the eye could see.

The immediate thought that comes to city dwellers in such circumstances is, “What am I slogging for really every single day in the concrete jungle I’m living in? All the money in the world cannot buy such experiences in nature and simplicity. Wish I could live here instead.”

Mine was a day trip, and I had to head back to base in the evening. This meant I passed by the same rural homes, although this time after sundown.

It was pitch dark. A few earthen lamps lit the patios. But enough to warn of any wild animals, especially snakes in the grass, or other creatures lurking in the shadows? Not a chance. Men and women walking along the sides of the main roads could only be seen if lit by the high-beam flashlights of passing vehicles. God forbid if someone was driving with low or no lights. All the dazzling serenity and beauty of the place in the morning, was replaced by an eerie silence instead.

Surely these were the good old days, where waking up with sunrise and winding down by sunset were the order of the day. But can we follow this in our city lifestyles? Will that keep us happy, or is this just greener grass?

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Temple twitter

Before the pandemic and the lockdowns and all that, going to a temple would be a normal affair. Either once a week, or a fortnight or a month, or whenever.

Stand in serpentine queues for hours, get a darshan for a couple of seconds, and then get jostled away by the guards.

My Guru used to suggest (and still does!) praying to Lord Siddhivinayak, chief of the problem solvers and obstacle crushers.

While I’ve been to Siddhivinayak temple many times, I hardly had the time to note the specifics.

But that’s all changed now. Technology has brought Siddhivinayak home, into our hands through our screens.

Check out his outstandingly beautiful Twitter page right here. Available 24×7, and in unbelievable high-res beauty. Similar pages exist for many/most temples now. What more could any devotee ask for?

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Showerma – part 2 of 2

A good friend narrated this incident to me.

He had travelled for an educational workshop to some remote villages in the northern most tip of the country.

Suffice it to say, that it got very very cold there.

Most folks didn’t take bath there for days, he told me.

But he came across one child, enjoying his bath, out in the open, wearing just a small half-pant, and singing bhajans of the Lord.

My friend asked him how he could be so happy when the climate and the water are so cold.

The child’s reply? “Arre sir, kam se kam, yahaan paani toh hai na!” (at the very least, water is available here!)

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Showerma – part 1 of 2

When my house was being renovated recently, I had to move out to another temporary accommodation.

The shower at my home was good. The nice, warm and powerful type, rather than just a cold trickle.

In this new temp place, the shower didn’t work. So back to old style bucket and mug it was. So be it.

A few days later, I had to travel up north. The temperature was -5. The hotel I was staying at, didn’t just have a shower, but their water heater was also broken. Brrrrr. That was a terrible experience.

And then a few days later, I was back to my temp accommodation. I couldn’t care less about the shower, as long as there was some hot water.

What a quick change in perspective!

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Pretrust

A friend of mine who runs a very successful start-up said something very nice recently.

It was about tipping.

Most people tip, like at the salon, or a restaurant or such. If the service was great, we may tip more, and if not that great, then we may tip less.

But he was talking about the brilliant effect of tipping before the service even starts.

His thought process was, that the service providers are often expectant of a tip, but unsure of whether they will get one or not. Because not everyone tips. Hence giving the tip upfront puts the receiver at ease.

But no. In a conversation with his own barber, who he tipped beforehand, he got a different reason. The guy told him that it was not about the surety of money, but the surety of trust. The trust placed on the service provider of superlative service, even before the service began. Such a nice way to think about this isn’t it?

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Shiva cafe

On a recent trip to a Shiva temple, we had the opportunity to trek up a little hill. Why? Because there was a nearby waterfall, which the locals swore by.

We quickly fished out our phones to check the exact location (thanks GoogleMaps!).

Not only did we spot a waterfall on the map, but we also saw ‘Shiva Cafe’, located right in the middle of the water (on the map, not in real!).

Curiosity piqued and all, we quickly read up. It was a 1.5km hike to the top – not the easiest. But the cafe had amazing reviews – the views, the food, the ambience.

As we started our ascent, we realized it was definitely not an easy climb. However, we were also surprised by the fact that a number of others (old and young) were also trekking up to Shiva Cafe – the difficulty of the climb notwithstanding.

Of course the view was super from the top, but it also reminded me that quality of work trumps everything else. To receive good food and be treated well, people will climb mountains. Said differently, if we work as worship (karma yoga) and add value to others, there is no reason why others will not flock to acknowledge us.

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No pain no…

We all hate pain. Even the thought of having to give some blood makes us squeamish. Needle? No thank you ma’am.

But as doctors will tell you, pain has a very important function.

Consider the real life story of Gabby Gingras. She was unable to feel any pain – because of a rare genetic condition.

She could feel touch, but not pain.

Might seem cool almost? Not in the least.

Think of it this way. You kept your hand over the flame, and the pain makes you take your hand away instinctively.

But Gabby? She would just watch her hand go up in flames, and have no instinct to move her hand away. Imagine how many other issues – biting the tongue, biting the fingers, twisting a body part etc etc. Unimaginable no?

Pain is good. It helps us not just prevent the worst, but also constantly improve. Let’s be thankful for it.

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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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Religious matters

World over, people are fighting over religious issues.

Theists fights atheists. But also atheists fight atheists, and theists fight theists!

Followers of one religion fight, abuse and slaughter those of another religion.

But equally, followers within the same religion might fight, abuse and slaughter one another due to perceived ideological differences.

It seems as though one just needs a reason to fight, abuse and slaughter.

Here’s another perspective. What if religion is not about God, but about work. Not any work, but about the work each one of us does.

If we can do our work selflessly, and without expectation of the result, wouldn’t that be the pinnacle of all work? Maybe that’s why work is called worship.

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Avoidable inconvenience

‘Do it right the first time’ is a phrase my Guru keeps using often. Which is to say, don’t compound your mistakes. Make one, and the domino effect begins. We saw this previously here, called DIRFTI.

A few days ago, I had to catch a flight. The website of this flight carrier said passengers needed to carry an RTPCR test.

This is quite a hassle, and quite expensive too.

Speaking with a few friends, it was quickly evident that this is just a rule on paper, and that no one at either the source airport or the destination airport, were checking. Besides, most folks were telling me that Covid cases have reduced substantially, and questioning if this was really necessary.

Luckily, better sense prevailed, and I did take the RTPCR test before leaving.

Not only did they check it at the source airport, they were also disallowing passengers to board the flight, if they didn’t possess the test report. Further, at the destination airport too, the authorities picked out those who didn’t have their reports to do tests right there (another long queue for that).

Either scenario – while not the end of the world – was unnecessary, and would have led to avoidable inconveniences. DIRFTI indeed.

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Improv your life

A friend of mine from college used to be fantastic at improv acting.

How he’d get ideas on the spot, how’d he string his thoughts together, how he’d act on the spot, and yet make it all comedic, I have no clue.

In a recent TV series I was watching, I came across a fundamental principle in improv.

It’s called “Yes, and?”

This is a way of continuing the dialogue. Accepting whatever the other person on stage just said, with a “Yes”, even if it is completely nonsensical.

The “And” after the “Yes” helps with continuing the conversation. Like a nonchalant ‘okay, what next?’

Even outside of improv, this struck me as an amazing way to look at life. We’re each beset by so many unexpected troubles and issues. Instead of getting smacked in the face and falling down, we can stay rooted and ask the question “Yes, and?”, then put on a smile, keep calm, and carry on.

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Reasonable

Here’s an interesting interview experience I came across recently. It was one of the early rejects of a person who is very successful today. Not everyone starts off with a golden spoon right?

His interview was with one of the best airlines in the world. He wanted to travel the world, and given he was young, what better way than to get the job of an air steward.

After a few initial group activity rounds that this gentleman breezed through, there was a personal interview round with just one question.

“What would you choose – food, or… service?”

Now this seems like the most obvious question and the most obvious answer for what is a business that thrives on providing the best service to all its fliers. Oops did I just drop a hint?

But this young man all of 18 years blurted out “food”, and was immediately shown the door. While it might seem like an idiotic answer, he came from a very poor background, with uneducated parents who struggled every single day to put food on the table. He had never even eaten at a restaurant till then. Of course “food” would be the first thing on his mind.

This is not about whether he should have been selected or not. Even this gentleman has no grudges. However for our own mental peace, it would help to cut people some slack for their weird ways. They may say or do crazy things, but there could be a good reason for it.

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Double role

Chapter 2 in the Gita, towards the end, talks of dwandvas, which refers to duality, like two sides of the same coin. This duality is such, that no matter what the situation, the other side will occur as well – whether we like it or not. Life is full of such dwandvas. Night is always followed by day, and day by night. This can never be changed. Pain is followed by pleasure, and pleasure by pain. There is no escaping it. Success is followed by failure, and that failure in turn can lead to great success. Where great joy exists, great pain will follow too.

There are literally countless examples – pretty much everything we see and feel around us. Get too close to somebody? Then the pain of separation will eventually become too much. Love your child too much? One day s/he will have to go away for higher education or marry someone elsewhere. Love your job or role or credentials? One day you will have to retire and all these will become meaningless. Desperately waiting to go on a vacation? Soon the vacation will come to an end and you will be back at work. And thus the cycle continues, on and on and on.

What’s the point of thinking this way? Only to understand and appreciate that this duality is the nature of the world around us. We keep praying to God for many things. Each of those things also comes with the same duality only. We pray for good things to happen to us. But we forget that these good things will by design come with some not-so-good stuff attached. That is the law of life and creation. So if a prayer isn’t answered, maybe we shouldn’t be depressed about it after all?

In any case, there is only one thing that is non-dual. And that singular omnipotent omnipresent omniscient being can be found deep within each one of us.

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