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Category: Ego

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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Dying opportunity

Here’s a trend I’ve been noticing on social media off-late.

If someone famous passes away (old age, disease etc.), people post condolence messages.

This is great – a wonderful way to remember someone who made a mark on society.

But the crazy part? These condolence messages are rarely about the one who passed away.

Rather, they start with a joint photo of the person posting the note along with the deceased, maybe a holiday they took together, or a business meeting or family dinner or such.

And then the focus shifts entirely to the one posting the condolence message! Starts with how they met that person, and then moves to how they built their own career, their own business, their own wealth, their own destiny, with links to their products and where to buy etc etc.

There’s so much of commerce in such posts, and even in the wake of someone passing away, these are only seen as an opportunity for self-promotion.

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Egota

Accepting any kind of feedback is hard. We’ve all been there, and we know it.

That’s why a statement a lady made on the venture-capital investment TV show called Shark Tank recently, really caught my attention.

Mark Cuban was giving her some feedback about her product’s packaging. He said that the packaging was good, but not self-explanatory. If a customer picked up that product, s/he just wouldn’t understand it and how to use it and what it’s benefits were.

He tells her he would be keen to invest with her, however, “are you okay with changing your packaging?”

To which the lady replies, “Data over ego. That’s what I believe in Mark.”

Such a cool thing to say! That I might have a view, an opinion, a stance, a preconceived notion even – but if data comes by, if the facts change, if the circumstances change, then I’m willing to open my mind and learn.

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Oh my I

Here is what my Guru wrote to me recently on ‘ego’:

The ego needs to be defined to be understood.

What is this ego? Simple.

My view. My idea. I think. I feel. I am sure. I myself. I alone. I have seen. I think I can. My house. My dog. My experience...

You can easily add another hundred more to such expressions.

As you can see, so much I and my.

My goals...

Might be a good reminder to finish the target, or maybe obliterate it.
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Divine eyes – part 3 of 3

In most visual depictions of the Mahabharata and the Gita, Lord Krishna is shown as though expanding in size and form, until he becomes humongous. So large, that he opens his mouth, and many galaxies are seen inside it. He has myriad arms and legs and heads, and in general is representative of a supernatural being.

But this may not be fully accurate. Because the Lord in his own admission, states that everything is He, and He is everything. So all the empty space around us, all the filled space around us, all the objects, all the living creatures – everything is Him only.

And thus the Lord’s viswaroopa is to be seen as a wake up image for Arjuna (and by extension us). The whole of the 10th chapter where Krishna gives so many examples of his manifestations in the world around us (vibhutis) was not enough to convince Arjuna.

But when he did finally see the True form, not only was he amazed, but also terrified. Why?

Because he saw Krishna as the Creator, but did not expect to see his Destroyer side (all of creation was eventually being destroyed). He had forgotten the lessons he learned in chapter 2 on aham or ego. He was unable to reconcile his friend Krishna, as also the terrible Krishna. But as the Lord himself says, all this is a play of maya. As my Guru says, “Once we are out of ‘body consciousness’, all these will be taken care of”.

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Future memory

Our world revolves around us. It is but natural. If we don’t exist, then it wouldn’t matter, but since we do, the world seen from our perspective has to obviously have us only as the protagonist.

Now extrapolate this to each of the approximately 8 billion human beings on earth. That is 8 billion movie scripts all running in parallel, at times even criss-crossing over other scripts. And then there are billions of other living organisms – animals, plants, microbes and so on. So billions and billions of movies all running simultaneously, with each having one main character, and everyone else in supporting roles and some villainous ones too.

We’re at the centre of our live movies only because of our egos. And we want to remain there, even after death. Which is why so many great kings and queens of lore took substantial pains to leave behind their monumental legacies. That’s also why people even today are doing everything it takes to leave their mark, and be chronicled in the annals of history.

This is all fine, except that mostly whatever is being done, is being done selfishly. It is being done not with the sole aim of helping someone else, but with the aim that if I do something, then my name will be etched in common memory for eternity.

Which is why the mystic Sadhguru’s answer to the question “How do you want the future generations to remember you?” is priceless. He says “I hope people of future generations are so happy and blissful, that they never have to remember me at all!”

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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!

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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.

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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 šŸ™‚

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.
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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…

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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.”

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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.

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