Skip to content

Category: Ego

Deification

One of the misconceptions about Hinduism that even Hindus harbour is that they think there are 300 million Gods and Goddesses and hence so many different things to ask for from each one.

This might be true to some shallow extent. But from a spiritual point of view, all the asking and begging and pleading for materialistic perishables would be utterly meaningless.

Here instead are two better ways to think about deities.

  1. Instead of focusing on our own wants all the time, we move the spotlight to the deity. This reduces our ego – and by itself perhaps a pinnacle of achievement among spiritual milestones.
  2. Instead of focusing on our own weaknesses all the time, maybe there is a way to focus on strengths? The more we think of our limitations, the more self-reinforcing they become. But visualizing a deity and its superpowers? And 300 million deities? That’s easily several billion positive traits to focus our minds on. Imagine the self-reinforcing power of that in comparison!

Anyone can make use of the power of deities. It is not superstition, but a super decision!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Chosen two

In a satsang session a few years ago, my Guru was asked to do a quick recap of the entire Gita.

What better way, than to do it in just 4 minutes? Wow a 4-minute Gita!

He recited 1 shloka per chapter, so 18 chapters, 18 shlokas, with their meanings and application, and all extempore. It was truly a sight to behold.

For only the 2nd chapter, he recited not one, but two shlokas. 2.71 and 2.72.

To say he thinks these are important shlokas would be a massive understatement.

2.71 is vihaaya kaamaanya sarvaan. Vihaaya is giving up, kaamaan is desires, sarvaan is all. And then he recited is backwards. Sarvaan kaamaan vihaaya – All desires give up.

2.72 is similar, stating that one who achieves such state of mind, achieves liberation even at the time of death.

Each chapter has only 1 shloka that he picked. But chapter 2 alone had two. Is it important? Yes, twice as important.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

L_t o_h_r p_r_o_ w_n

Can you try to figure out the blanks in the title above? Somewhat like guessing the letters in that 90’s show Wheel of Fortune. Sadly, no prizes here though, not a monetary one anyway.

This title above, is what my Guru wrote to me recently. Absolute pearls of wisdom, and clearly I need it 🙂

We think degrees and education beget success. Not so. There is only one thing that is needed. And that is win-win mastery.

Here are his words:

The principle in win-win mastery is these 4 words. 'Let other person win'.

When? Once in a year on their birthday? Or every month? Or week? Or day? Hour? Minute? Second?

Yes every nano-second!

No one can defeat him/her who agrees with you. This appears to be the art of flattery. But it is the quickest way to win life's invisible gold medals, and have practically zero adversaries, zero enemies, even competitors. All gold medals of life will be yours.

An intelligent wife / husband / child / parent / grandparent each can' win, if they brush aside one major obstacle called ... Ego. Yes, the root cause is ego. Watch only one person in life, who's name is MY EGO.
Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

This is the biggest sin – part 1 of 2

Look at the world around us. So many sins are committed by so many people on a daily basis. The aggregate of sins on a sin meter would hit infinity in no time.

Then look at ourselves. Are we any different?

The countless mistakes we’ve made, well, “by mistake”, those are probably not sins, and can perhaps be forgiven. But even though we made these mistakes unintentionally, they still could have hurt someone deeply right?

And the sins that are committed on purpose – what about those? No respite there.

My Guru though says there is only one real sin. The biggest sin of them all. And we have all committed it. And continue to commit it.

That sin is called aham in Sanskrit. The “I” feeling. The ego. The conviction that I am the body and mind and not the soul.

In front of this sin, all the others are meaningless. If this one sin is rectified, the concept of a sin itself becomes irrelevant.

Concluded tomorrow…

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Monk-ey business

In his book Think like a Monk, monk-turned-author (and many other things) Jay Shetty writes about competition. Not just normal competition like in sports, or at work.

But competition amongst monks. What? Monks have renounced the whole world right? What is there for them to compete on?

He says in their ashram, monks would aspire for such high levels of purity that they would compete as follows:

  1. I meditated longer than everyone else
  2. I ate lesser than that monk
  3. I outlasted all of them, etc.

He poses a valid question at the end. If a monk behaves like this, then what’s the point of, well, being a monk?

He also concludes beautifully with a reference from another book called The Monastic Way. “In a monastery, the only competition allowed is to outstrip each other in showing more love and respect.”

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Advanced beginner

As a kid, going to amusement parks meant having to size oneself up against a ‘bar’. If I was shorter than the bar, then sorry, that ride wasn’t for me, no matter how adventurous it looked.

We always want to be permitted to do what we want. To be what we want to be. No shackles, no limitations.

I came across a spiritual book recently, which needed some permissions to be read. To read a book? Really?

Here’s what the book cover said. “Only for advanced seekers or absolute beginners.”

What an amazing requirement. I don’t know what was in the book, but it certainly makes me want to read it (even though I don’t fulfil the requirements). I’m certainly not an advanced spiritual seeker. And unfortunately, I’m not an absolute beginner either. I’ve read some spiritual books and listened to some YouTube talks, and that means my ego has only risen, rather than crumbled, as would be ideal.

Krishna makes it explicitly clear in the Gita. He needs no status, wealth, name, education or credentials for granting a spiritual revolution unto Him. All he needs is a clean heart dedicated only to Him.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Chocolate Olympics

’tis the season of the Olympics, and the medal tallies for each country are scrutinized keenly. In some sports, there are well known champions, while in others, new ones are created everyday.

One such champion is 24-year old American swimmer Katie Ledecky. She’s considered one of the best swimmers of all time, with 7 Olympic gold medals and 15 world championship gold medals.

Quite the feat. When I watch videos of her races, they are simply unbelievable because of the gap between her and number two. The focus and determination needed to not just swim 8 minutes at super speed with the whole world watching, but to also practice many many hours more on a daily basis, the capabilities of the human body are just mind boggling.

One practise video shows her swimming a lap in an Olympic pool while balancing a brimful glass of chocolate milk on her head with nary a spill. If there was a better demonstration of focus, stability and poise, I haven’t seen one. There’s another one where technology shows the World Record time as a line drawn across the pool as Katie swims, and the previous WR line is actually chasing her from behind!

Yet, as life shows us over and over, no matter the level of success, a new era will dawn where the incumbent is vanquished by an emergent victor. For Katie Ledecky, there is another Katie, a 15-year old Katie Grimes, who is already nipping at her heels. And hence for everyone in life, there is zero room for ego – which incidentally is the crux of all spirituality as well.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Rejection notice

Here’s something I came across on my LinkedIn feed recently. A man who was in need of a job was giving some interviews.

During one such interview, the HR told him about the great practices followed in the company, the compassion, the empathy, the work life balance, the amazing culture, the camaraderie and so on. A wonderful HR marketing pitch if there was one.

A few days later, he got an email from the same HR. The email had no greeting, no salutation, no niceties, no ‘thank you for attending the interview’, no template-response either (‘thank you for interviewing with us, we appreciate your candidacy but regret to inform you…’).

Instead, the email from the HR had just one word. “Rejected”. Yes just this one word. Nothing else.

Maybe that HR didn’t have time, or was genuinely irritated by this applicant – who can say for sure. But it’s still basic courtesy isn’t it?

The learning for me was, that even though I don’t write ‘rejected’ emails, maybe I speak similarly – harshly and curtly at times. I may not even realize it, and I wouldn’t know the impact on the other person, but the other party might feel deeply hurt. Much care must be taken. Words once uttered, can seldom be taken back.

Like it? Please share it!
1 Comment

Humble prostrations

Here’s how my Guru began his address to the satsangis this year during Guru Purnima.

He called out a variety of different Gurus across all sorts of sects. He mentally and verbally prostrated before all the great Gurus of yesteryear and now.

He paid obeisance to all the great rishis and munis and saints of the past. He also prostrated to Swami Chinmayananda, Srila Prabhupad, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Sadhguru, Sathya Sai, Shirdi Sai and all the other divine personalities. He also said we are prostrating daily to them. Not just to them, but also to their followers!

My Guru is 80+ years of age. He need not prostrate to anyone. But a self-realized soul understands that the age of the body is irrelevant, and that at our cores, we are all divine, and that there really is no difference. I’ve seen him physically fall at the feet of those who are much younger than him as well.

His prayer on Guru Purnima day was not for himself. Rather it was that we must all understand this divine unity within us, and love each other. And that the love must begin from each one of us, and spread outward. What humility, and what a thought!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

3-pointer

When we talk basketball, the first names that come to mind are usually Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal or Stephen Curry. Each of these players has really proven themselves on the court, and have amazing records to boot.

But sometimes the magic can happen off-court too! Giannis Antetokounmpo, just 26 years old, has had a great run off late in the NBA. One wouldn’t call his background a very wealthy one – given his parents were Nigerian immigrants in Greece, and even making ends meet was a challenge.

He was asked recently at a press conference how he keeps his form in check, now that he has been playing so well. His answer is a 3-pointer that any basketball fan would be proud of.

  1. If I focus on the past, that’s my ego
  2. If I focus on the future, that’s my pride
  3. If I focus on the present, that’s my humility.

“And it’s not like I don’t set expectations for my game, but while playing, I enjoy myself and really give it my best shot”

Slam dunk!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

How to attain spiritual perfection

Here are three most important requirements which were discussed in a recent satsang.

  1. Humility
  2. Compassion
  3. Ananya bhakti (i.e. constant devotion to the Lord / God / Oneness / Consciousness / Paramatman / Supreme Being etc.)

If we attempt to analyse these a bit more:

Humility comes from accepting that neither do we know everything, nor are we the best at anything.

Compassion comes from accepting that there others more needy than us (usually we are the only centre of our attention).

Ananya Bhakti is harder to grasp and practise. It requires more alertness than the other two. It requires the spiritual seeker to bring God into every aspect of one’s life, into every waking moment, into every voluntary thought and action. A good way to begin, is with gratitude for everything that has already taken place and is currently taking place.

Seen differently, 1 and 2 chop away constantly at the seemingly infallible tree that is the ego. And point 3 replaces it with the only Truth that exists.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Substantial

My Guru was giving a discourse on the Bhagavatam recently. In that, sage Narada happens to be traveling and reaches the world in its current state, i.e. Kali yuga. What is the sum and substance of this age? That the substance has gone from everything. The Guru explained it beautifully thus.

The ‘substance’ has gone means the ‘purpose’ has gone.

Means people are not putting their hearts and souls into what they are doing. There is no love and enjoyment for work. There is no attention to work.

Not just office work. But to most actions.

If one is going to a temple to pray, the substance is lost, because the mind is not on the Lord, but on what we want from the Lord.

How profound! An important message for me, especially on this auspicious day of Guru Purnima. All glories to Him!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Sacrificial – part 3

Chapter 4 in the Gita is called Karma Sanyaasa Yoga, and talks of a variety of yagnas or sacrifices, as we’ve seen in the last couple of days.

The list of yagnas is beautiful, mesmerizing and sequenced to perfection.

It starts with physical items. Things like ghee, coconuts and other things one would normally offer into a fire ritual. But those are the easy ones.

Next come giving up the sense organs. What does this mean? Cut off my ears and put it into the fire? Certainly not :). Rather it is attachment to these organs and their perceptions that needs to be given up. What? How can I give up my organs. Seems illogical, until we come to terms with the scriptural end-game. Which is that all creation around us is simply maya, and all the sense organs are doing for us, is to bind us more to this world.

A question that is relevant here is – which part of all this is truly ours? All the money and material possessions we have – in some shape or form belong to the earth. We have maybe taken it, and processed it and converted it, but not truly created anything. If none of this is ours in the first place, what can we really sacrifice?

Oh yes, there is only one thing that is wholly solely ours. And it is called the Ego.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Masculinity

There’s an excellent interview on Youtube of ex-US President Mr. Barack Obama. It’s a very short clip – hardly two minutes long. He is quizzed on what masculinity is, what it means to be macho. Mr. Obama’s response, as expected of him, is simple yet profound.

He says that “a man doesn’t need eight women around you twerking to show their masculinity”. When we see most music videos / ads / movies / magazines / item numbers in songs etc. – they all seem to capture this exact theme – machoism and womanizing.

Instead, Mr. Obama clarifies that what makes a good man, is “first and foremost being a good human being and that means being responsible, being reliable, working hard, being kind, being respectful, being compassionate. The notion that being a man is to put somebody down rather than lift them up is an old view.”

Such a lovely thought, isn’t it? In the spirit of equality, no doubt this applies to women as well – because at the core of this life of ours, we are all human beings first.

We become great when we make others around us great, and this starts by treating them as though they are already great.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Twit quot 2

Here are some more simple yet profound quotes I came across on Twitter:

The way to forget insults is to not take compliments in the first place.
When in doubt, go for a walk.
Don't worry about being qualified. Everyone is learning as they go.
Reading 1-2 hours a day puts me in the top 0.00001%.
In the short term you are as good as your intensity. In the long term, you are as good as your consistency.

Link to Twit quot 1

Like it? Please share it!
2 Comments

Ritualistic pride

When doing a puja, homa (havan) or other ritual, the doers often become conceited. “Oh look I just performed a huge yagna and see how many people attended, and see what amazing catering I arranged” etc. Even if the havan was done on a small scale, ego can creep in. But it’s helpful to really think what aspects of the homa or puja were done by “the doer”.

How about these?

  1. The deity we are praying to has to make him/herself available
  2. Agni, the fire God, has to function as the medium and carry one’s prayers to the deity
  3. The various ingredients – coconuts, walnuts, other inflammable items, flowers, ghee, water and everything else – does the yagna doer create these items?
  4. The priest who conducts the ceremony – is the organizer the priest? Soes s/he know every single mantra, shloka, chant – not just to recite, but to understand and to feel? Did s/he create those incantations?
  5. Or maybe if it’s a self-chanted self-conducted ritual, then gratitude to our own memory, vocal chords, the guru who taught us the mantras…
  6. How about the free time we were allowed by our family members to devote to the puja
  7. Also the attendees who showed up, and the cooks who prepared all the dishes
  8. A few other things I would have missed here for sure

Without any of these, how would the havan have been a success? Really is there much for us to be proud of then?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Ego wars

Ego is our enemy right?

It prevents us from seeing things as they really are. It blinds us from believing that we’ve made a mistake. It helps us beautifully and creatively come up with ways to put the blame on someone else. Ego is a sureshot way of making suboptimal decisions and repeating mistakes. Eventually it leads to stress and anxiety.

But is ego always bad?

Maybe not, because it is the force which makes us act, often with great confidence. Without ego, we wouldn’t even want to get out of bed, let alone send a man to the Moon or even strive for that promotion or bonus at work. Nobody would ‘start-up’ as the fear of failure would be too large a force to prevent any action.

Why does spirituality condemn the ego then, and is there a way to reconcile this?

Yes, but it would take some effort. Instead of the using the ego to focus only on ourselves, if we can use it to work for others, to ensure society at large is benefited, that would be a win-win. This is why one with ego is under one’s own will, but a realized soul without ego (i.e. ego surrendered) is under God’s/Guru’s will.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

How to be equanimous

One of the mainstays for a liberated life according to the Bhagavad Gita, is samatvam or equanimity. This is also called having sama darshanam or equity in vision, i.e. looking at everything as inherently the same, irrespective of whether it is good or bad, pleasure or pain, joy or sorrow and so on.

To live comfortably and mentally unblemished in the face of criticism, one must begin by eschewing praise. We cannot have the proverbial cake and eat it too. We want equanimity in hardship, but our pleasure receptors shoot through the roof in the slightest hint of praise and recognition.

How can we then practically be equanimous? When the boss says “Wow you’ve done amazing work here, you deserve this promotion!”, do we just scowl at him and walk away? Or do we say “No sir, it wasn’t me.” The boss is then likely to keep the promotion/bonus for himself 🙂

The way prescribed in the scriptures, is ‘surrender’. Surrender with faith, to the divine, or if that’s too abstract, then to the Guru. In Hindi, sur means head. So putting your head under the Guru or ishta devata, offering everything to him or her. Everything means all good and all bad without distinction. So grab that promotion by all means, but mentally prostrate and offer it to your deity of choice. This will keep us grounded, always. Difficult, but worth it.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

DK boss

Look around you. At work, at the gym, in your social media feeds etc. How many people are really really successful and good at something? And how many just make a lot of noise? Okay, identifying this on social media could be hard, because everyone always puts their best foot forward. But is it really possible that everyone around us, is doing super duper amazing work, all the time?

There’s a principle called the Dunning-Kruger effect. It refers to cases where people significantly overstate their abilities, without realizing it, because they are too incompetent in the first place to even realize that they are incapable. Have you come across any such people? Many people? Maybe your boss? Your employee? Your colleagues? Most of your friends? There are so many people in the all talk and no do bucket.

A very simple mistake we can make here though is to solely evaluate others. Pointing fingers at others is too easy. But the above is meant squarely for each one of us, or definitely at least for me. I need to accept that there is much I do not know, much I am not good at – and being humble about it, I can attempt to bridge my ignorance with knowledge, and inability with practice.

Relevant here is one of Albert Einstein’s less referenced quotes. It is simple yet profound, and also a math equation!

1 / Knowledge = Ego

More the knowledge, lesser the ego, and vice versa. How cool is that?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Compounding experience

Here are some simple truths my Guru keeps mentioning. They are so easy to apply but we (or I) still do not.

  1. In Hindi, “Viveki ko anadar mat karna, warna zindagi bhar dukhi rahoge“. This means, if you disrespect a wise person, you will be sorrowful throughout your life. Is this easy to understand? Yes it is. His own example is, between a 2 year old and a 6 year old, who is better for life advice? The parent will always tell the 2yo to learn from the 6yo. But introduce a 10 yo, and automatically the 6yo will learn from the 10yo. Life experiences have a compounding effect, and hence an 80yo (especially a wise person like a Guru) will have a better world view than a 40yo.
  2. Benjamin Franklin’s statement on the same point, but just said differently. “Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other

My Guru was no doubt referring to me when he said these things. He continues to say them, which also tells me I have a long way to go. As Robert Frost would say, miles to go before I sleep.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment