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Category: mind

Angry turd

No one likes angry people. Except the angry ones themselves, who feel great, in the heat of the moment. And these angry people aren’t other people, but rather each one of us, and specifically me. Guilty as charged folks!

It’s not necessary that angry people only show their anger outwardly. Sometimes the rage can be simmering on the inside for a very long time. One day that volcano might erupt.

What’s the opposite of being angry? One would say it is being peaceful. Maybe, but while being angry is seen as being active and assertive, being peaceful is seen as being passive and suppressed.

That can’t be further than the truth. Being peaceful is a positive and active state of consciousness. True strength is when our inner peace is completely unruffled, no matter what the external stimulus is.

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Educated guess

When someone says they are educated, what is it that comes to mind?

School, college, university, 12th grade, board exams, coding, chemistry, MBA, Harvard, Stanford, MIT, IIT, IIM, doctor, lawyer, engineer, CAT, UPSC, JEE. These could be a few of the top ones.

All good.

This is indeed what education means today.

What about character building? What about spirituality? Self discipline? Values of love, truthfulness, goodness and nobility?

But is this all?

Today’s education is mostly about living off of others, one-upmanship – always gaining something at someone else’s expense, always wanting more. More and more. The wants never stop.

True education is in our scriptures. They teach us that we should live not for ourselves, but for others.

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Mandatory rituals

There’s a lot of people who will tell you when and how to do what. Like don’t pray facing this direction. Don’t prostrate in that direction. Don’t chant without taking bath. Don’t eat with that hand. And on and on.

Are these rituals or rules important? Yes, very much, but…

But, standalone, these rules are meaningless. As my Guru states very clearly in chapter 18 verse 3 of the Amazing Simple Gita, all these external rituals are only important to overlap a clean mind. If the mind is not clean and purified, then all these external rituals have no meaning.

Here is His outstanding example in the purport:

Again this purification is superficial, if the Knowledge of Reality is lacking. Each time the mind is purified, it is like dusting our veranda. The next day, the veranda has new dust. Only when the windows and doors are shut tight will new dust not accumulate. 
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One or the other

Having a traveling job is awesome. You get to see so many places, live in nice hotels, and enjoy diverse cuisines. Except, this is the outsider view. Ask anyone working like this, living half their lives on a flight or hotel and they would tell you how much they would rather be in a non-traveling job coming home to family each night. Ask anyone doing a desk job, and they’d be yearning to travel to various countries, always jet setting and globe trotting.

Working in a startup is really amazing. Freedom to choose your own work, style of work, location of work – you name it. But ask someone in a startup and they’d probably like the stability offered by a role in an established company. Ask someone in an established company though, and they’d be yearning for working at a startup.

Ask someone living in a city, and they’d hate it and want to “go live peacefully in the outdoors”. But ask the rural folk, and they’d love to be in the city to “earn more and live better”.

You can see where these comparisons are going. No place is perfect, except if our mind thinks it is.

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Don’t worry be happy!

This title is the crux of spirituality. Really.

All is well. And all will be well. Whether something is good or bad is decided by the mind. Our minds are very poor predictors of what is to come – and that is why we can never stay happy, even if we achieve exactly or more than what we want.

When we let every minor or major problem in our lives derail our happiness, we get more and more irritated, angry, frustrated, jealous, disappointed… which then leads to further worry.

Why do we worry? Because, my Guru says, we are living in the past or the future, not in the present moment. What is the fix? To simply accept things the way they are, to enjoy the moment, and to not worry about what was or will be. Easier said than done?

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More and more

The other day, I came across a book in a bookstore (yes those still exist!).

It was partially covered, and so I only saw half the title.

The words were “Ask For More”.

I thought to myself, “What a weird title!”, and then proceeded to pick up the book out of interest.

Turns out, the title was actually “Say Less, Ask More”. It was not ‘ask “for” more’. That was just my mind playing tricks on me. Not just tricks, but working in its usual ways of wanting more and more.

The book instead was on how to lead effectively. By listening more, saying less, and asking more questions so that learning improves. Nice isn’t it?

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Trasher

Here are three hard hitting lines I came across in a podcast.

“Would you let someone to come into your house and trash it?”

“No right?”

“Then why are we letting people come into our minds and trash it?”

The moment we feel weak or sad or angry simply because of what someone else told us, we have let them into our minds to trash it.

Is that what we want?

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Can we think of the Lord all the time?

A close friend couple (husband + wife) had taken a 1 year sabbatical. This was what they recounted to me.

They planned their sabbatical about 10 months in advance. And they were both working right till the start of the sabbatical.

Initially, they said, it felt so far off, and they would hardly think of it.

But towards the end, as time kept moving forward, and as the time-to-sabbatical reduced from months to just weeks and days and hours, they said that they kept thinking of the sabbatical ever increasingly, even during their office work, which they were anyway doing, and doing well.

We certainly seem to have the capacity to process multiple things at once in our minds. So can we think of the Lord a lot of the time, while also going about our other daily duties? We sure can!

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How to work?

My Guru repeatedly says that there is no such thing as a perfect type of work.

Even the best of things, done over and over, will only bring boredom and frustration.

Our scriptures also place no emphasis on the actual work we do, but rather only focus on the state of our minds, while we are engaged in that (any) work.

How to work then? My Guru repeats this verse from chapter 18 of the Gita:

mukta-saṅgo ‘nahaṁ-vādī dhṛity-utsāha-samanvitaḥ

It means that one must be free from attachment and ego, and be endowed with dhriti and utsaha, i.e. perseverance and enthusiasm. That is the simple (but not easy) secret sauce to success.

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Constructive focus

Was observing a construction worker recently.

He had just laid a ton of bricks. Putting one after the other, and cementing up an entire wall. Grunt work, if there was any.

His boss came up to him the next day and said the owners had asked for the wall to be shifted a little. This meant disassembling his entire work from the previous day, and putting the wall up again, brick by brick, a couple of meters away.

Anyone in his place would have been frustrated, and understandably so. Why couldn’t someone have told him the correct place to put the wall up in the first place?

But our man? Not at all fazed. He coolly nodded, and went about taking apart the current wall and setting up the new one. His entire focus was on the work itself (laying the bricks) and not at all on the result (whether the wall was here or there or on Mars). A good lesson for me as I go about my daily work.

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Mental case

Troubled by stress, anxiety and tension? You are not alone.

How to keep these at bay? By not worrying about what will happen. We know this.

The only thing that differentiates each one of us, and especially those who take a lot of tension versus those who don’t, is their state of mind once a problem has been revealed to them.

Maybe you found out that you need to make a presentation in front of a 1000-people audience, and you just detest the idea. But you need to do it, because that is your job.

The chilled out guy is not worried, because he knows he anyway has to present to that large group, so why worry? Besides, he has faced several tough situations before, and he’s still alive, and so he has faith in himself and/or at least in a higher power to help guide him.

Often it’s not the fear of actually presenting that is the cause of worry, but the fear of underperformance. That people will laugh. That I’d make a fool of myself, and be relegated to YouTube’s Greatest Fools’ Hall of Fame top list. The reality is that no one cares, because everyone is too busy worrying about themselves.

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Public Work

Met an old bloke today. Probably in his fifties.

He was happy – smiling and whistling to himself. Not that I met him in happy circumstances.

He was in his small claustrophobic office doing his work. We know his office well. It is also called the public restroom. No he wasn’t spending time there because of a bad stomach. It was just his daily job. 8 hours of business to be done once others were done with theirs.

He said he traveled 2 hours one way from house, in an overcrowded train, every single day. 4 hours spent in traveling, in sweat and crowd, all to get a pittance, after being locked 7 days a week 8 hours a day in a tiny smelly room!

How could he possibly be happy and smiling and whistling? The only possible answer to this question is that happiness is in the mind.

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The 5-4-3-2-1 technique you cannot miss!

We all get stressed sometimes. It’s natural. And then we read up on how to reduce this stress. And nice books will tell you that you should not worry about the future. That you should only live in the present.

This is absolutely perfect advice of course. But how to follow this?

Here’s a method I came across. It’s called the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. And it is really simple. If followed properly, it can quickly yank us right back into the present. How to do this?

5. Acknowledge 5 things you can see around you.

4. Acknowledge 4 things that you can touch around you.

3. Acknowledge 3 things that you can hear around you.

2. Acknowledge 2 things that you can smell around you.

1. Acknowledge 1 thing that you can taste around you.

That’s all there is to the 5-4-3-2-1 technique, but it works, and your mind should be less stressed already!

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Toil-let

It’s interesting how quickly we humans adapt.

Some months ago, we had the opportunity to stay a short while in a 3 BHK, one with 3 toilets. Of course that is very comfortable for typical Indian standards. Felt good.

Then we traveled, and spent a while in a place with a toilet that was separate and outside the room. A couple of days, and we got comfortably used to that as well.

And then we spent some time in a place with just one loo, but attached to the room. A damn cool upgrade as it were. And very comfortable.

And then back to base with 2 loos.

What did I learn as a nomadic loorist (loo+tourist, but you got that already)? That the body adjusts really fast to any change – almost momentarily. But the mind? Oh that’s a toughie!

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Peace of mind

We are constantly worrying about the future, aren’t we?

How will I perform in a new job? How will I perform in a new family setup? How will my kids do? Will my family be able to cope? Will I be able to deliver my presentation well? Will I be able to get a promotion? Will I clear my impending exams and certifications? Will I be accepted by my peers and colleagues? Will I be able to provide for my family?

And on and on and on these questions go, with hardly any clarity.

And to make matters worse, with each passing day, more and more questions only keep getting added on to the pile.

Then how to get rid of these?

You can’t. That’s the simple answer.

The solution? To keep the mind occupied elsewhere. That’s the only way. I observe this in my Guru. Nearing 80 years of age, he spends not even one waking minute in isolation, thinking and wondering about the future, but is instead always engaged in karma yoga, action here and now. We just need to imitate.

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PeaZzzz

Saw the craziest thing today.

Was stuck in a traffic jam for what seemed like ages.

Everyone there was frustrated, irritated, angry, and likely hungry too.

The tension in the air was translating into louder and louder horns.

Much like a glass filled with stones still has space for sand, the road too with large trucks and buses was choc a block full with bikes, cycles and pedestrians.

There was literally nowhere to go. It was completely maddening, with nary a second of silence.

But to my amazement, in the corner on the pavement, was a hairy homeless man. He was fast asleep, totally unbothered by the din around him. A peaceful smile covered his face, and if he didn’t awaken with all that hullabaloo, he might as well have been deaf.

There is chaos in our lives all the time. But to drown it out is what could differentiate the happy from the rest.

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VVP

This is how the world is deconstructed in the spiritual context.

Vyakti. Vastu. Paristhithi.

Person. Object. Situation.

According to the Gita and other Vedic texts, all of life revolves around these three and the interplay between them.

Why does this matter?

Because it tells us what is important. Or rather what is not.

Can any of these 3 – whether in isolation or in combination – bring us permanent happiness?

The answer is an emphatic No. Hence VVP helps us contextualise what is truly valuable.

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Negative to positive

Many people think that visualization is a farce. That positive reaffirmations do not work. That our minds are not really that powerful.

But just look on the flip side. If someone says something mean to us, we feel so angry. If we don’t clear an interview, we feel like the world has come to an end. That we are not even worth a job. If we have to present something in front of a group, we start feeling nervous, maybe the tummy goes for a toss too. These are all absolutely normal.

But these are all also linked to the mind only. The same mean comment, interview and presentation would mean nothing a few months or years down the line, even if they do not go in our favor. But today they do matter, and the mind getting so restless due to the uncertainty can itself cause bad results.

If this is the case for negative outcomes, why can’t the reverse be true for positive outcomes?

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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 4 of 4

Why the jealousy versus envy example? Because as humans, we are naturally wired to compare.

Naming the emotion here helps. Because we get to identify the inflection point. If we are envious about something someone else has, we can consciously choose what we want to do with that comparison. As someone nicely summarized – if we compare against others, we become bitter. But if we compare against ourselves, we become better!

Brene dropped this cool line on the podcast – “To compare, is human, but to let go is divine.”

She also talks of the 4 Bs. Biology, Biography, Behaviour and Backstory. These help in further dissecting one’s emotions.

Biology is what we naturally have a tendency for. Biography is how we were raised (in a very strict upbringing versus easy going, or rich versus poor). Behaviour refers to my reactions today – do I just control my anger, or do I turn red and punch a wall, or worse. Backstory – this really helps find an answer, such as if someone tears up, is that anger? Grief? Sadness? Disappointment?

A backstory helps us do better. For instance, if we have an interview lined up, it is but natural to have a few butterflies in the tummy. For some, this can even lead to anxiety. But instead of feeling desperate for the job and just making things worse, it would help to have backstory that emphasizes how it would be such an exciting challenge to speak with 4 interviewers and clinch the job.

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