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Category: selflessness

Sacrificial paradox

Was reading an interesting article by Sri Sri Ravishankar, about the paradox of sacrifice.

Of course we know that sacrifice is a good thing, because we are doing it for others, and it helps build selflessness. Sacrifice is also the foundation of yagna.

But sacrifice can only come from love. The example Sri Sri gives is of a mother who was scheduled to watch a movie, but then her child falls sick. Does she sacrifice the movie to nurse her child? Apparently she does, but in reality, it is not a sacrifice at all. The mother couldn’t care less about the movie because all her attention is on her child.

So love is key, and one can only sacrifice something they value (such as the movie). If there’s no love, there’s no sacrifice.

As Sri Sri concludes, for a wise man, there is nothing higher than the love for God. If that is his greatest love, then how can he sacrifice God? That is the paradox of sacrifice.

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International Meatless Day – again?

Yesterday was International Meatless Day. But ideally every day should be this day. Not just one random day in the year. Kill and make merry 364 days, but celebrate one day for animals. Not a good way.

I wasn’t planning on continuing a post on this topic today. But I opened the Amazing Simple Gita written by my Guru just now and randomly chanced upon shloka 17 in chapter 18. Here’s what he has written, and so beautifully yet pointedly:

When we know that soul does not perish, when body perishes, what happens to the victims of violence, say animals? Who does justice to the 10 billion land animals that are slaughtered each year for satisfying our taste buds? Retribution by karmic laws takes place. The eater now becomes the eaten, and the eaten becomes the slaughterer. You may prevent for a while world wars. But hatred, violence, terrorism, all borne of selfishness, cannot be eliminated, and they replace wars. 

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El Genioso

Everybody wants to be a genius. But not everyone is. Most aren’t. Wikipedia actually doesn’t even have a proper definition. It says there’s no way to quantify any thresholds on who makes it to genius and who doesn’t. IQ 200, and hence confirmed genius? Nope, no such thing.

In a podcast hosted by author and optimist Simon Sinek, he talks about how the word genius was originally not even a trait. The word came from ancient Rome, where genius was actually a good spirit that every human being was thought to be protected and guided by. So it was never “you are a genius” but that “you have a genius”. Along the way of course all this got corrupted.

Simon also posted this once:

The genius at the top doesn't make the team look good. A good team makes the person at the top look like a genius.

There’s no need to be a genius and lose sleep over it. Instead, it’s more important to be ge-nice, i.e. a nice human being.

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Selflessly sweet

There’s an Indian sweet dish named Rasgulla or roshogulla as the locals call it. It was invented in the city of Kolkata in India, back in the 1860s.

The sweet has two components, a white ball made of cottage cheese and an accompanying sweet brine. For anyone who has eaten this divinely indulgent dish, the sweet syrup and the ball are inseparable.

But did you know, that the very first version of rasgulla only had the white ball. No syrup. No liquid. No brine.

How did that come about then? Because of empathy!

The inventor, one Nobin Chandra Das, wanted to help quench the parched throats of his customers. They would often come to him on a hot day, and eating a dry ball of cottage cheese, no matter how sweet, would hardly be of help. So he added the brine. What a sweet gesture!

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Family first?

This is not a political post, but simply a humanitarian one.

The current President of India is Droupadi Murmu.

This statement can just end there of course. But someone who didn’t know better could assume that this lady got there easily.

But nope, couldn’t have been harder.

She is from one of India’s most backward and underdeveloped communities. She also lost her husband, both her sons (one to an accident), her mother and her brother, all in the span of a few years. Losses that would have destroyed any other normal person.

But this strong lady continues to work selflessly for her country. And with a smile.

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Animal sacrifice – part 2

Who says that animals do not have emotions or feelings? That they are mere animals?

The second instance of animal sacrifice is of a baboon that is ostracised by its tribe.

When a leopard attacks one female baboon which has a new born baby, our man-baboon jumps into action. He literally drives the leopard away from atop a tree, single handedly. Leopard versus baboon, and the baboon emerging victorious? Wow I’d have never bet on that outcome!

As fate would have it though, the female baboon is unfortunately caught by a large python and crushed and swallowed in seconds.

The ostracised male baboon does not even bat an eyelid, before adopting the new born baby.

Soon, the leader of the baboon pack comes by and harasses and humiliates our hero, including urinating on him. But our guy doesn’t even flinch, else he risks the pack leader fighting him and harming the baby. But nope, not a flicker.

What a lovely series of sacrifices!

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Animal sacrifice – part 1

No this is not about sacrifice of animals at the altar as some blood ritual. Rather, it is about true sacrifice, in the animal kingdom.

In a BBC documentary called Serengeti, there are two outstanding sequences of sacrifice.

The first is about a hyena family. The queen hyena of the pack is also their chief hunter. She is not just a mother, but also a grandmother.

In order for her daughter-hyena to take her place as the new queen, the daughter will have to earn her status, including completing a successful hunt.

Given her lack of experience, the youngster chases the prey from behind, kills it, but also breaks one of her hind legs in the process. A pride of vicious black-maned lions smells blood and looks to attack and kill the daughter-hyena.

In one swift move, the queen hyena steps in, gives herself up, and is instantly mauled and killed by the lions. What an unbelievable sacrifice.

The second story, tomorrow…

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Working for who?

Was sitting through a CSR-activities presentation recently. You know, Corporate Social Responsibility, that most companies try to do.

Apparently in many cases, they just donate money to funds, and then hope that their donation takes care of bad things in society. It’s not a bad approach, but this presentation I was sitting in was unique.

They were not bothered about overall money donated. Rather, they were focused solely on true impact, even if it meant improving the life of just 1 person.

And what was even better was how they were going about it. While they were donating a large sum, the actual projects to which the money would go were being crowd-sourced or maybe villager-sourced. Why? Because only the villagers knew what their real problems were, and so this was a lovely case of paying attention to the details and listening to the problems faced by those in need. Such a nice way to think about this!

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What to renounce? – part 1

Some people are very practical renunciates. What did they renounce? Karela, or bitter gourd 😂

Most people don’t like it anyway, so it’s amongst the easiest things to renounce. Like a shortcut on the spiritual path almost. But is it so?

Nope.

My Guru in chapter 18 verse 7 of the Gita clearly states that renouncing in ignorance is tamasik.

He follows up with verse 8, where he says that renouncing for fear of physical strain is rajasik. Like if I hate going to work, and have Monday morning blues, and decide to just sit and home and not work at all, that is rajasik renunciation.

The only correct way to renounce, is the sattvik way. More tomorrow.

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Dusty feet

Lord Krishna once got a headache (yes apparently God’s can get them too!).

The cure? To simply sprinkle some dust from under the feet of any of his devotees.

He asked sage Narada to go looking for any devotee that would give him the dust from under their feet. Narada thought it would be easy-peasy.

But to his surprise and dismay, not a single devotee agreed. Everyone was worried, that if the dust from their feet would fall on the Lord’s head, then they would be sent to hell!

Finally sage Narada reached the gopis (cowherds) of Vrindavan. The gopis immediately collected some dust from under their feet and asked Narada to take it back to Krishna at the earliest. Narada was perplexed, and asked the gopis, “Aren’t you worried about going to hell like all the other devotees were?”

“Who cares about hell?”, they said. “All we care about is that Krishna should be healthy and happy again. Kindly go and give the dust to him as soon as you can please.”

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The art of war

Was reading about a war situation. One family of 6, two parents and 4 of their children, were stuck in their home as war broke out. They thought they were safe, until an enemy missile exploded barely 500 meters away from their home.

They dashed into their car and decided to make a run for the border. Only 5 of them though. Because the eldest, at 18 years of age, decided to stay back and fight for his country.

The other 5 somehow managed to reach the border, staying in all sorts of temporary encampments enroute. With great difficulty, they crossed over into the neighbouring country.

The husband ensured his family was safe, and the next morning began the drive back home, to join his son in the fight. Whether the wife and 3 kids would ever see their husband/father/brother/son again, was a question no one had the answer to…

Meanwhile, what silly tiny immaterial problem in my life was I complaining about again today morning?

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Assisted greatness

Just saw a very nice ad for a shaving razor by Gillette.

What’s the big deal now?

Oh so much build up for just another shaving razor. 🤦

How many blades have they got these days – Mach 3 or Mach 5? Or is it Mach 10?

I have lost count.

But the ad I just saw was different. Because it wasn’t about self-shaving, but rather ‘assisted shaving’.

First time I’m hearing about this concept. And apparently the Gillette Treo is the first and only product of its kind too.

Assisted shaving is to shave someone else – like someone paralyzed, or an elder in the family that is weak or sick and can’t tend to themselves.

Doing something for yourself is good, but assisting someone else? That’s just great.

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Holy Cow – part 5 of 5

A follow up question or thought could be, “There are so many cows in the world. I cannot help them all. Would my seva even matter?”

It is true that we cannot save all the 300 million cows in the world. But any seva we do to even one single cow, will surely make a world of a difference to that one gentle individual! Such could be the power and impact of our gauseva.

We are taught in the rat race that if we work hard, and get success, then we will be happy. But spirituality teaches us the reverse. Be happy first and then work hard, and this will automatically bring worldly success.

A similar sequence can be extended to cows. The reasoning is not that cows provide milk, which is useful, and hence cows should be worshipped as holy. Rather, because the cow is holy, everything that it produces is also perceived to be so.

If we get the chance to serve this most lovable of creatures, we should certainly grab the chance. It will provide peace of mind and other tangible and intangible benefits that can only be experienced first-hand.

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Holy Cow – part 4 of 5

Yet today, there is so much of cow torture and abuse, largely for commercial purposes.

Many cows are disposed of once they stop giving milk.

Do you know how many cows are slaughtered each year around the world?

300 million. Isn’t that shocking?

How insensitive is it, to chop off the hand that feeds us?

On the contrary, imagine the blessings one would get if provided with the chance to tend to this beautiful, peaceful and loving creature.

That chance is available, with the ability to participate (online in many cases, thanks to technology) in the seva of cows. Where gauseva is 100% seva, and 0% commercial. All cow products are either utilized within the premises or given away for free. And all cows are loved and cared for, no matter whether they continue to give milk or not.

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Holy Cow – part 3 of 5

Of all the animals and their products, it is milk from cows that we each have grown up on.

After the first few months of mother’s milk, all babies are switched to cow’s milk. And thereafter, cheese, khoa, butter, buttermilk, curd and others we continue to enjoy even to today.

Would it then not be fair to regard the cow as our second mother?

There is so much selflessness, that the cow shares her milk with us, despite having her own calves to feed.

Not just milk, but even cow dung is useful as fertilizer.

Many drink cow urine for its medicinal properties as recommended in Ayurveda. Not everything may be scientifically proven, but there have been miraculous cases of recoveries that medical science cannot explain.

And the cow’s sharing with us is totally unconditional – no care about our caste, or religion or gender or what background we come from.

What did we do to deserve this blessing?

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Holy Cow – part 2 of 5

Our scriptures prescribe 5 types of maha yagnas. These are

  1. Deva Yajna (for the dieties like sun, moon etc),
  2. Pitri Yajna (for our ancestors),
  3. Manushya Yajna (for our fellow humans, via charity),
  4. Bhoota Yajna (for other living creatures – feeding animals, providing shelter) and
  5. Brahma Yajna (for the soul inside us).

    Each of these are very important. But Bhoota Yagna is unique because it is service to creatures that have emotions (like us), but cannot speak or express themselves (unlike us).

There are many ways to do seva and Bhoota Yajna, but one of the best ways is gauseva, or seva of cows. As we know, the cow was very special to Lord Krishna, the Divine Cowherd. Most photos have Him playing His flute, relishing the company of cows and cowherds. So gauseva is not just a physical activity, but when done with humility, it can become one of the highest expressions of bhakti.

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Holy Cow – part 1 of 5

Remember the cow race from last year?

We all know the cows on our Indian roads – sometimes in the middle of a highway, and other times in the middle of smaller roads – but always unbelievably oblivious to the traffic around them. Irrespective of the commotion, they just do not let the outside world bother them, peacefully chewing away on their grassy meal.

And because of their gentle disposition as well as their generous nature (sharing their milk for one and all), they are considered not just bovine, but divine as well.

How to participate in this cow race?

By first realizing that it is not a race at all. Rather, it is a road to grace.

Our normal day to day world and work may be hard to change.

But we can use the bovine, to spark our inner-divine, and that itself can be life-changing.

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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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Tree wood

Know the saying “Don’t miss the forest for the trees”? You have surely come across it.

Here’s some forest-for-the-trees questions we get regularly in the satsang.

  1. Did Ravana really have 10 heads?
  2. Is there really a heaven and a hell?
  3. Are there really 7 worlds above and below?
  4. Did Krishna really explain the Gita to Arjuna on the battlefield? What were the others doing then?
  5. Did Rama really cross over to Lanka by walking on floating rocks put together by monkeys?
  6. Did Ravana actually fly to India?
  7. Is it possible that the Vishwaroopa darshanam actually happened?
  8. How did Creation happen?

All of these are amazing questions. However, even the most amazing answers to these questions will not help us transform ourselves and progress on the spiritual path.

When the real transformation begins (work selflessly as worship, i.e. karma yoga), the questions will automatically fall away.

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Call centric

We’ve all had to call customer care at some point. Something breaks, something is not working, something needs to be returned, some parcel needs to be tracked, some refund needs to be appropriated – the reasons are many.

But do you really like speaking to customer care?

Most of us hate it, don’t we?

But those folks are so polite no?

They say “please”, they say “thank you for calling, have a nice day”, they also say “sorry to keep you waiting for such a long time”

So very polite. But we still don’t like most customer care experiences. Why?

Because these are mostly empty words. The commanding language or flowery vocabulary really doesn’t matter.

The only thing that does matter, is the deep desire to help the other person. If that is there, then nothing else is necessary.

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