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Category: Ego

Big boy

Heard this in an amazing speech recently. A man was struggling with his child’s habit of scribbling on the walls in his home.

When the man caught his son doing it the first time, he shouted and said, “Are you stupid or what? Don’t you ever do that again!”

Sure enough, two days later, the boy was back to scribbling on the walls.

Why? Because his pride didn’t let him give it up. Nobody likes to be intimidated, not even a little boy.

The next day, the father tried a different tactic. When he caught the kid drawing on the wall again, he called him near and said, “Sweetie, come here, don’t do that, you are big boy now.”

And the boy never did it again.

What we say matters. But how we say it matters more.

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Here’s some feedback for you

How many of us like to take feedback? Especially if it’s not good feedback?

We may have spent hours and days and weeks working on something, only for someone else to come and peepee all over it with their comments.

Obviously handling such a situation can be very hard.

But this is where successful basketball and NBA coach has the following to say:

Average Players want to be left alone. Good players want to be coached. Great players want to be told the truth.

This is surely applicable off the court as well. Do we want to be left alone? Or be told the truth, so that we have every opportunity available to improve?

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Hide it!

In a recent podcast on analyzing the traits of successful people, there was a radical point of view.

Everyone says successful people and especially leaders, need to be humble.

The common question is, if someone is humble and soft spoken and down to earth and approachable and all that, that’s great, but does such a person have what it takes to really be aggressive and win in life? Effectively, this can be rephrased as, “Ego isn’t good for relationships, but ego is critical to success”. Because ego is what pushes people to succeed, so they feel like they achieved something, or that they achieved more than others and such.

Our scriptures say we should lose the ego altogether, which is important of course, but from a spiritual point of view. Would this work in the cut throat world we live in? Maybe not, especially if not used properly, because we can’t expect everyone in our work-environment also to have read the scriptures and abide by it. Hence the interesting view in the podcast, that successful people have egos. However, they keep their egos hidden. So it super charges them on the inside, while still keeping them approachable and down to earth!

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Smack

SMACS 0723 is the name of one of the galaxies in our universe. This was recently photographed by the much celebrated James Webb telescope.

SMACS 0723 sits a cool 4.6 billion light-years from our Earth. What does this mean? That the the light we see making up the photograph captured by the telescope was emitted shortly before our planet formed.

Think about that for a second. The size and scale of what is going on beyond our blue planet is just unimaginable.

And all this we see from the perspective of our tiny lives, typically just a 100 years end to end, no matter king of the world or pauper on the street.

Despite this, the ego inside has swelled up as though we are the centers of the universe itself. How ironic, isn’t it?

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Medi-what?

In a recent podcast, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev was asked about meditation.

He clarified, that meditation is not an activity. It is not about sitting in a place and trying to do something specific. Really? It’s not?

He said that meditation is not something that can be done. But rather that it is a quality. How?

Because, he explained, that one of the qualities of a person, is to be meditative. That is the way to truly live one’s life. This is exactly what my Guru also says, and we have covered this extensively here on FHN.

How to build this quality? By reducing attachments and desires. Which we know, don’t we? 😀

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Give up yet never give up

There is a lot the Gita asks us to give up. Fruits of our actions. Desires. Extremes. Attachments. And so on.

But there is also something that Krishna says (and my Guru strongly advocates) we should never give up. This comes up in chapter 18 verse 5.

What is this? It is SAC.

SAC? Yes, Sacrifice, Austerity and Charity.

Sacrifice is doing everything for the benefit of others. Austerity is living with simplicity and minimalism. Charity is providing for others who cannot provide for themselves.

Why do SAC? My Guru says it is to purify our minds. How so? By shifting our focus from ourselves always (ego) to those around us. And we know how the pinnacle of spirituality is achieved by giving up the ego. Such a beautiful connect, don’t you think?

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One Love

Back in the noughties (only 20 years ago!), the boy band Blue crooned, “One Love is all we need”, and that song became a massive hit.

While that song was about something else too, it is indeed One Love that is the common denominator across all religions.

People fight today in the name of religion, declaring that their own path is Supreme, in isolation, and to the exclusion of every other faith.

But no God ever said this. Only man did.

And humans do this why? Because of their ego.

It’s not about the Lord or the religion anymore, but about “their” God and “their” religion.

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Is God showing off?…

…is a question some have on their minds.

What is the meaning of this question even, you might be wondering. Consider the Gita. Everywhere in the wonderful scripture, the Lord talks of his own greatness.

How He is the greatest amongst all Creation. How He is the thread underlying all manifestation. How He knows past, present and future, and everyone and everything, but none know him. How He is the best of the best (vibhuti) of all that we see around us. And on and on.

When this same Lord says that giving up our ego is the most important thing in spirituality, is it that he is showing off about His own abilities? Absolutely not, and here’s 2 key reasons why:

1. He is indeed the true Creator, Sustainer, Destroyer of life and everything around us. We weren’t there for even a fraction of a second, if we look at things from His time frame. If He doesn’t tell us the truth about His nature, then who will?

2. The second point is critical, because there is ego and showing off only if one keeps something to themselves, for selfish reasons. The Lord though has been shouting hoarse to Arjuna that deep down, there is no difference between anyone, i.e. Atman = Paramatman!

LHS = RHS, Hence proved!

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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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Sellers

The most important trait to make money surely has to be IQ right?

Warren Buffet, the world’s foremost investor has a different view.

He says very clearly, that a high IQ is not necessary at all.

He is so sure, that he recommends selling 30 points of your IQ, if you’re at 160, because a 130 is more than enough.

You know what else happens when the IQ is too high? Self confidence morphs into over confidence, and the ego gets a boost like no other. And we all know the perils of an inflated ego…

If IQ doesn’t matter much, then what is important? Mr. Buffet thinks that “just being sensible” is key. Simple, but not easy.

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Thud

A few years ago, my grandmother set out for an early evening walk around the colony.

The area had a lot of trees, and so was nice and green, while also providing decent shade from the sun.

Midway into her walk… and a large branch from a tall tree above, broke off and grazed her hand.

She returned home immediately, and had to put some medication, but it was nothing serious.

It might seem like this was a small incident, but she herself knew it’s importance. Not that the branch broke off, but where exactly she was at the time. Just one step to the right or left, and the branch would have hit her on the head. And with such a hard blow…

We may egoistically think we are in full control of our lives. But we don’t even know what can fall from the sky when we step out for an innocuous walk.

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Elevator pitch

We all know the electricity analogy for Barhman or Arman right? We might not be able to see the Atman in us, but that’s the divine force driving everything. Just like we can’t see electricity, but that’s what powers all our appliances.

Here’s a short story. A villager came to visit his city cousin. They both got into an elevator, and they started moving up at a great speed. The villager was mighty impressed, “Wow at the touch of a button you are able to make us go so high!”

A few seconds later, there was a power cut and the elevator stopped midway. “Can’t you press the button again and do anything?”, the villager asked his city cousin. To which the latter remarked, “No sorry, it’s all ultimately driven by electricity only.”

This is no different from the Divine within us which is solely responsible for all our achievements and successes. So then, why this much ego?

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Netted

There’s a beautiful description of two of the greatest devotees of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa as given by Swami Ranganathananda in his Bhagavad Gita exposition.

It was said that Maya could never catch either of them. Why? For two opposing reasons.

For the first devotee Narendra aka Swami Vivekananda, he had becomes just too big for the net of Maya. How? Through jnaana or knowledge. The jnaani knows he is the same as The Infinite One, and hence no net however large can contain such a person.

And the other devotee? He was Durga Charan Nag, a householder and a doctor. He was supposed to have been one of the greatest devotees of the Divine Mother. He was so humble, that he would say the Lord is everything and he is nothing. This made him so small that he could easily pass through the Maya net!

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Successhun – part 2 of 2

There’s an amazing scene in Succession. Correction, there are several amazing scenes in this 8.9 IMDB rated show.

One in particular stood out for me. No spoilers don’t worry.

The kids (grown up of course) are all standing around papa Logan, the big man, the head honcho.

Everyone is looking for their own pound of flesh, trying to score brownies points, and put everyone else down while at it.

One narcissistic chap tries to sell himself golden, “Dad, remember how I did this and that and succeeded and cracked the deal last week and blahblueblee.”

To which the big kahuna replies curtly as only he can, “I don’t do ancient history.”

Finito. Trap wide shut. Nobody gives a damn about the past. It’s over. We shouldn’t either. The future, is in the present. That’s all that matters.

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Booster shot

The ego is a funny thing.

It just keeps on and on growing.

When we are babies, kids, there is hardly any ego.

But as we grow up and mature, and earn money, and attain fame and status, the ego swells bigger and bigger.

Oh a fat paycheck? Ego boost. A new car better than the neighbour’s? Ego boost. Double promotion at work? Double ego boost.

The more we apparently achieve, the more we think about ourselves, and greater the ego boost.

But funny it is then, that we achieve the foremost greatness, when we become One with all of Creation, when realization is attained i.e. the greatest of the greatest achievement, then the ego promptly falls to zero!

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Great falls – part 2 of 2

We discussed great falls just a few months ago. Another thought struck me, and so I wondered why not discuss this as well? It is another example of such a great fall. One that was experienced by a saint called Sri M. You can see his videos and lectures on YouTube. He was born as Mumtaz Ali Khan, but is highly fluent in Hindu traditions (maybe more than many Hindus themselves!), including being able to chant the Vedas etc.

I heard about him first a few years ago when I read his autobiography called Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master. There is plenty of other-worldly stuff going on in it – rebirths, remembering past lives, miracles, magic etc etc. The book is great, if you can stomach these many “happenings”.

The way the book starts, really drew me in. Of course everyone would wonder how a Muslim might be able to chant the Vedas with such ease. Sri M’s own explanation is that he was a devout Hindu in his previous life. Not an ordinary one, but one with quite some spiritual power.

Apparently when he was meditating in the Himalayan peaks back in that life, one old fakir approached him, begging. Instead of helping this person (as any spiritually evolved person should do), he reprimanded him for disturbing his meditation session. The fakir was heartbroken and proceeded to commit suicide by jumping off the cliff. Sri M’s Guru (in his past life) then told him he’d be reborn in the fakir’s religion in his next birth, but still find his way back, in the next one.

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Removing corruption

“How can we get rid of corruption, and how can I prevent myself from becoming more corrupt, as I earn more money?”, was the question asked by a disciple to Sadhguru. I listened to this on a podcast, and found the answer enlightening.

Power corrupts. Isn’t this the famous statement we have all heard so many times? And we look nastily at bureaucrats and politicians as if they are solely to blame. Maybe some of them are, who knows.

However, Sadhguru’s take is different. What does he say?

That people are either corrupt, or not corrupt. It has nothing to do with power. How so?

He links this back to spirituality. Our corruption starts from the moment we identify with ourselves. Not just ourselves, but only ourselves. Because that means we favour only us over someone else. This is the seeds of corruption being sown right there. And then, we get married, have kids, have a large family to take care of and so on. Which means only one thing. More corruption.

The way out? To stop being so self-centered, and to be a citizen of the world. That’s why my Guru doesn’t pray for small small things anymore. His only objects of prayer? Desh (country) and dharma.

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Me me me

No today’s post is not about meme stocks or meme cryptos or meme NFTs. Although it is interesting that the word meme was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book called The Selfish Gene, and the book title has a clue!

But here’s a really short story you may have come across.

An exceptional doctor was nearing his end. He didn’t want to die though. So he created another version of himself, right down to the tiniest detail. Both him and his alter-image were laid down on beds side by side, absolutely still, not a movement. When Death approach, it got confused, because the two were impossible to tell apart. So then Death played a trick. It said, “I know which of you is the real doctor, because the real one made a mistake.”

The real doctor blurted out, “That’s impossible, there’s no mistake.” And Death immediately said, “There you go, that’s the mistake!”, obviously referring to the man’s me-me-me, aka ego.

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Lingo creep

“All well?” “Yes, yes all well.”
“What about you, all well?” “Yes, yes all well here too.”

This seems to be a very standard greeting exchange nowadays. Wasn’t like this say a decade ago. Wonder how it crept in.

“No worries” is another one that people use a lot. Probably came from hakunamatata as taught in Disney’s The Lion King.

A more recent one that I’m becoming increasingly exposed to is “Correct me if I am wrong.”

It might have started off on a nice note. Someone didn’t want to sound haughty or a know-it-all, and so prefixed their statement with ‘Please correct me if I am wrong.” All good till here.

Except that now everyone uses it all the time. I counted 10 of these in a 20 minute conference call yesterday! And the worst part?

People actually butt in and say “Yes you are wrong, let me correct you here.” <facepalm>. In a group of 10 people. Seniors, juniors middlers, everyone. Just unbelievable how self-obsessed people can be, never wanting to lose the opportunity to give someone a hard time, or make themselves look good.

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Laptop delivery

Here’s an incident which happened a while ago, but quickly taught me the importance of being humble.

In a previous avatar, I was once called by someone from the tech support team. This person told me that my superboss had asked for me to bring his laptop to him, from his desk, to a meeting room where he was sitting then.

Surely this was not my job – delivering laptops!

But (luckily) I didn’t think twice about it, walked across the room, picked up his laptop, and took it to the meeting room where he was. When I knocked and went in, my superboss was surprised too, and said, “Hey, you’re here? I’m so sorry, I didn’t ask you to bring my laptop over, I think the tech support guy misunderstood me. I told him to have someone get my laptop to me, and then have it sent to you for the specific task we discussed today morning.”

I quickly replied, “Not at all a problem sir…”, and then he cut me off and motioned towards another gentleman seated in the meeting room, “Please meet Mr. ABC, who is the owner of a large chain of jewellery stores.” And he invited me to sit down. Turned out that we both spoke the same mother tongue, which led to an interesting conversation. My superboss invited me back to the room a while later as his guest wanted to convey something only in the mother tongue, which he was unable to translate otherwise.

If I’d just thought “What the heck, why should I be the laptop courier?”, surely such an interesting experience wouldn’t have transpired!

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