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Category: time

Ageless

If you are middle aged and have many years of experience, would you work for a teenager? Probably not, right? Huge career risk perhaps, and their lack of experience means you may not learn much. Besides, working for someone that much younger than you could be a bit weird.

That thinking is passé now.

No I’m not saying this frivolously.

I recently discovered that one of the hyperlocal apps that I use is a billion dollar company run by two teenagers!

Of course no one can see the future and how risky it can be. But surely in this day and age, age is no bar. Execution of an idea (perseverance, patience) trumps everything else. Good advice for spirituality as well.

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Beyond home and work – part 5 of 8

Continued from yesterday:

So here is something for each one of us to think about deeply.

Everything we each have succeeded in today, can we really say with 100% confidence that it is all solely because of us? The marks we got in school? Yes we studied of course, but teachers helped, parents helped, someone wrote a question paper, someone wrote a book, someone invented or discovered something that could be written about in the first place – and on and on!

Same for the bonuses and promotions we got at work, somebody trained us, someone recognized us, someone provided us with a job to be, someone invented a computer decades ago, without which much of our work wouldn’t even get done!

It’s not that we should not get credit for our actions, but think about it, and we’ve really just been taking-taking-taking from day 1.

Continued tomorrow…

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Beyond home and work – part 4 of 8

Continued from yesterday:

One-and-a-half hours later, there was still no respite, and people started getting angry and stressed. Some were shouting, others were fighting, some started live-tweeting their frustration, babies were crying – it was just total and complete chaos.

And it was immediately evident, that even outside of home and work, stress and anger can cause the entire day to become unproductive.

Because yes this got sorted and people checked-in and all. But even after the flight was over and we landed at the destination, there were some people arguing with each other about having cut in front of them into the line in the morning and how they have no manners and such!

Continued tomorrow…

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Beyond home and work – part 2 of 8

Continued from yesterday:

For many of us, the question will be, “Really? Is there even anything outside of work and home?” “With weekdays and weekends both just flying past in a complete blur?”

But there still are things that frequently upset us – like:

  • struggling with our workout schedules,
  • not being able to take vacations, or even worse
  • taking vacations but mentally still being unable to relax;
  • or we may have doubts on what the right decision to make is, given a certain set of circumstances;
  • or there may be an inability to maintain true friendships – we may be online all the time on social media, and yet feel extremely lonely and disconnected,

and on and on and on….

Continued tomorrow…

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Peda

Peda is a sweet popular in India. There’s also PEDA. That’s not a sweet, but can surely make your life sweet. How?

Most of us struggle with time management. There’s just never enough time. But that’s probably because of how we look at time.

We start with our task list and then start assigning times it will take to complete each. Total them up and realize it would take days and weeks to complete, leading to frustration.

Enter PEDA. (Okay okay, too dramatic I know, but hear me out). It’s just an acronym I put together for the following:

  1. Procrastinate (everything you don’t need to do right away)
  2. Eliminate (whatever you don’t ever need to do)
  3. Delegate (to others who are better at the work or have more time)
  4. Automate (if it is repetitive and can be coded)

There you have it. Follow PEDA, and you’ll find time is actually plenty.

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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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What’s the hurry?

Maybe this is an Indianism. I’ve grown up hearing the phrase ‘hurry burry’. The word burry doesn’t mean anything in particular, but taken together, the words refer to the crazy pace of life.

Indeed, everywhere I look, people are in a hurry. Mostly the hurry to achieve. To have lofty goals and ambitions and then shoot them down in half the expected time. And then feel dejected that it even took that long.

20-year olds are now routinely talking about making at least a million dollars by the time they are 30, and retiring by the time they are 35. Everyone wants to be a founder, and a CEO. By 20. Not 30, because 30 is very close to retirement.

What will someone do after retiring at 35, I wonder? Assuming life expectancy of a 100, that’s another 65 years to live through. Money = freedom, and I get that, and having a good sum of money saved up is great. But the crazy pace to get there? To put arbitrary age thresholds (30, 35 etc.)? Quite unneccessary.

Whether 30 or 60, it will always feel like there is too much time (no one thinks they are going to die tomorrow), or that there is too less (when things aren’t going your way). Best to not think about time as a factor, and instead just enjoy the work.

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Basically

Many of us want success and we want it quick. We also want it with smart work and the least effort.

One journalist covering basketball champion Kobe Bryant wanted to catch up with him while practicing.

Kobe asked him to come join him at 4.30. Not in the afternoon, but 4.30 in the morning!

To show discipline, the journalist went to meet Kobe 30 minutes earlier, at 4 am, hoping to score some brownie points.

But even at 4 am, he was amazed to see Kobe already having started his practice about a half hour prior, his jersey fully drenched in sweat.

Kobe was in fact practising repeatedly some very basic drills. To which the journo asked, “You are the best player in the world. Why are you doing such basic drills?”

To which Kobe replied smilingly, “Why do you think I’m the best player in the world? Because I never get bored with the basics…”

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Temporarily permanent – part 2 of 2

Did you notice the sly switch of words in title from yesterday to today? 🙂

There’s a reason for it.

While Lord Krishna’s message may have got lost in between, the content remained absolutely the same. Absolutely evergreen. So despite temporary disappearances from our collective memories, it still remains permanent.

Why? Because the message is as relevant today as it was 5000 years ago.

But how is that possible? Would the ancients even begin to fathom how hard it is when your post on social media does not get even 10 likes? Or the difficulties presented by not having a charger on hand when the iPhone battery is close to dead?

Obviously they wouldn’t. But that is also precisely the point. No matter the advancement in technology, the underlying problems are still the same. People still get tensed, jealous, angry, stressed, greedy – you name it.

What should we prioritize then – newer technology or time-tested truths?

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Permanently temporary – part 1 of 2

At the start of the 4th chapter of the Gita, the Lord tells Arjuna, “I revealed this yoga to the Sun god, Vivaswan, Manu, Ikshvaku. It got lost by passage of time. The same is told to you now.”

Can you believe it? The most important knowledge in the world, nay not even the world, of all creation. In fact the secret of creation itself…lost!

What does this tell us?

That with the passage of time, everything is lost.

Grandpa plants a seed, three generations later, the kids are okay to cut down the tree to construct their home. Parents save a fortune, only to see it frittered away by the next layer. Bulbs, telephones, car models, women confined to the kitchens – you name it, and it will change.

What do we learn from this? Not to be (too) attached to anything. Because the expectation that we should preserve anything forever, is just foolishness.

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6 months to… part 2 of 3

As mentioned yesterday, today’s and tomorrow’s posts will contain some gems from the amazing book 6 Months to Live (available here).

  1. When some people are faced with a life-threatening illness, they lose all hope and wither away. True strength of character is seen when death is faced eye to eye without blinking, without questioning, without self-pity.
  2. “Not everything that is faced, can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
  3. We talk about angels in disguise…. What disguise? Here was an angel incarnate, whom God had sent to look after us in those trying times.
  4. The above vacations and participation in various family events just proves that cancer is not THE END of everything. You can almost go about your routine life with positivity and enthusiasm.
  5. Moving on is the best tribute you can give your most loved one who is no longer with you in person.

Concluded tomorrow, with some more gems!

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Memento mori

How did the Ancient Romans manage triumph? Did they let it get to their head? Such a weird question isn’t it?

No, because they actually had a process around it. The process was such, that a victorious general or commander could only enter his home city during a special parade. All the loot and plunder and slaves would be displayed amid great pomp and show.

Bringing up the end of the parade, would be the victorious commander, riding in a chariot.

However, he would not be alone. He would be accompanied in the chariot by an auriga, a slave.

This auriga’s only role during this lavish cavalcade? To continuously whisper the title phrase into the commander’s ears.

“Memento mori, memento mori, memento mori, memento mori…”

“Remember you are mortal, remember you are mortal, remember you are mortal, remember you are mortal…”

What a lesson to be reminded of, at the peak of one’s glory!

And then there are some who gloat, even without achieving any glory… <facepalm>

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Avoidable inconvenience

‘Do it right the first time’ is a phrase my Guru keeps using often. Which is to say, don’t compound your mistakes. Make one, and the domino effect begins. We saw this previously here, called DIRFTI.

A few days ago, I had to catch a flight. The website of this flight carrier said passengers needed to carry an RTPCR test.

This is quite a hassle, and quite expensive too.

Speaking with a few friends, it was quickly evident that this is just a rule on paper, and that no one at either the source airport or the destination airport, were checking. Besides, most folks were telling me that Covid cases have reduced substantially, and questioning if this was really necessary.

Luckily, better sense prevailed, and I did take the RTPCR test before leaving.

Not only did they check it at the source airport, they were also disallowing passengers to board the flight, if they didn’t possess the test report. Further, at the destination airport too, the authorities picked out those who didn’t have their reports to do tests right there (another long queue for that).

Either scenario – while not the end of the world – was unnecessary, and would have led to avoidable inconveniences. DIRFTI indeed.

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Base rates

There are certain things in life that we would just be biased by. Psychologically. And this will mostly have to do with our upbringing. If we’ve only seen one kind of life, then it would be natural to assume that life in general for everyone is indeed as we have experienced it. For instance, a child born in the last decade, can never understand a world without mobile phones. So much so that s/he thinks that life without phones would be impossible.

A common example that would be asked to test biases is, “James Smith living in the USA is either a librarian or a salesman. His personality can best be described as shy and introverted. What are the odds that James is a librarian”

What is your answer?

James is a Librarian of course, at least a 90% probability. Right? That’s what most people would say. Because librarians are reserved and quiet people while salesmen are all chatty and gregarious. But would your answer change if you knew a fact – that there are 100 salesmen for every male librarian in the US? That means the probability of James being a librarian is just 1%, nowhere near the 90% we were thinking! That’s the base rate.

Base rates apply in spirituality as well. They are here for all to see. How many people got super happy and super rich after they died? Not even 1% of the people. Not even 0.0001% of the people. Because death = bye bye. Yet we crave more and more materiality, all the while ignoring the wise counsel of the gurus and saints who’ve lived this exact life for centuries upon centuries.

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Young dung

Often times, new comers, especially youngsters, come to the satsang seemingly in bliss. No, no, not that they’re high or anything, but they can often not see the point of having a satsang or being in one.

“Life is good. I’m working in a good company. I get recognized for my work. I get a monthly salary. I’m interacting with my friends and colleagues and having fun. Everything is fine and dandy. Then why do I need satsang at all? Meditation, liberation, sanskrit verses, detachment, no desires and blah blah blah, my problems aren’t really so big that I need to do all these boring things”, all the youth seem to say.

There can be two ways to think about this.

1. Yes, forget satsang and spirituality and all that. If really someone is in nirvana with the life around them, then so be it! No stress, no anxiety, no peer pressure, no comparison right? Life’s good, and everyone believes you.

2. Maybe one day, some day, hopefully never, there is the off-chance that something in that “perfect life” may not go according to plan. And when that happens, opening up a chapter of the Gita will be too little, too late, and meaningless. Because spirituality is not about knowledge, but about action. And no artist perfected his craft with just the first stroke. That’s why years of practice are necessary, and no different for spiritual success either.

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Randomly random

Karma. That is what we are constantly accruing. But it is also the name of a newly released book by Acharya Prashant. He’s an IIT-IIM-grad-turned-spiritual-Guru and so I was quite keen to read what he has to say on this topic.

There are many interesting things he covers. One for today’s post, is on randomness. He says that the happenings in the material world around us are truly random. That it is impossible to predict the future with any certainty.

There are so many people and creatures in the world and each has its own free will. When all of these interact, in real time, dynamically, how is it possible to ‘setup’ a specific karmic event for any single individual that is supposed to experience the fruits of their past actions?

The thought is sobering, and indeed seems to make sense from the perspective of our limited and miniscule intellect. But for the Creator of everything around us, maybe it is not such a big deal? The author agrees that karmic law exists. However, this is applicable at the level of an individual, by way of his/her reaction to an external stimulus, i.e. two people could react very differently to the same news, for instance.

So is this what the birth chart of a native predicts in vedic astrology? That s/he will be successful during this period, or will get married during this period, and so is perhaps referring to internal emotions likely to be felt by the native? The word ‘likely’ is important, because free will can be exercised in a counterfactual manner.

There are also many great saints who have tweaked the karma of their disciples. Some say that mass fatalities like plane crashes and terrorism are part of ‘community karma’, perhaps engineered to perfection by Nature Herself. How does that fit in here, in a world ruled by free will and chaos? I guess there will always be some things we just cannot understand…

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Distractions galore

Our lives seem to be full of distractions. The mobile phone, the internet, YouTube… Oh there are so many culpable offenders in my fight against distraction. So many things to do, but just no ability to focus on the various tasks at hand.

But maybe distractions are par for the course simply because the work that is done is chosen poorly. The work is chosen only because the result seems favorable. Some money, some benefits, some perks, some power, some something or the other.

Spirituality keeps on asking us to live in the moment. That only means we’ve to love the work, i.e. the process of working, and not the outcome of the work alone. If instead, we are focused on monthly payday alone, of course distractions will plague us. Even the feeblest of winds can get us to alter course then.

If we look at it this way, then maybe distractions are good, even great. If I’m going to work in an organization for the rest of my life/career but still get distracted easily, maybe that work is not something I truly like? What’s the point in doing something if it’s truly not meaningful enough? Note that meaning is only for the doer – what’s meaningful to me might be nonsensical to another.

The alternative of brainstorming, networking and hustling to get to do what you feel is truly meaningful, is not an easy path. And so for most, it is easy to continue to do what they have been, while cribbing about distractions, while letting the void-for-meaning deep within them, grow stronger and stronger.

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One at a time

Sometimes there’s just too much to focus on. Like the rabbits that Jack Ma talked about once. He said that if you’ve got a room full of rabbits and you need to catch one, most people start with the rabbit closest to them. If that runs away, then they switch to the next nearest one. Momentarily another rabbit comes into view, and then they run after that one. And then another one. At the end, they are left with no rabbit.

The better way, is to just focus on one rabbit all along.

This can be extended to our daily ‘things to do’ checklist as well. We could focus on one newspaper, one podcast, one TV show, one book, one scripture, one chapter, one YouTube channel etc. Even within these, say one specific online course that we like, the focus can be on doing only the 10 minutes it requires per day. That would make it easy to execute as well as track.

If this is implemented with discipline, it can work wonders in the medium to long term. But if not, then at the end of the month, on one fine weekend, we are suddenly saddled with hours of work to catch up on, which then leads to anxiety and feelings of incompetence. 10 minutes a day. That’s all it takes. It’s a fine line!

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Live in the moment (really?)

Here’s something we hear often. And it is linked to spirituality too. “Live in the present”, “Live in this moment alone”, “Don’t live in the past or in the future”, “the present is a gift” and so on and so forth. There are many variations of these. And they all sound amazing. Liberating too. Marry these words with some spectacular visuals on Instagram or Facebook and that is enough to make even a corpse feel all charged up and alive.

Feeling charged up and alive is indeed a good thing. But ‘living in the present’ needs to be understood well. It is ultimately dependent on the internal qualities or gunas of a person.

If people are sattvik by nature, they are likely to work for others and for a greater cause. Therefore their focus while working – in the true sense – will not be focused on the results of their actions.

For tamasik people however, this is not so obvious. They too may appear to not care about the result. But this apparent lack of caring comes from a deep rooted centre of laziness, inertia and selfishness which precludes them from calling a spade a spade. Their very success comes from denying the truth, and from seeking to avoid the consequences of their actions.

In that sense, the rajasik folks may be better off – as they at least know there is a gap which they need to bridge.

And thus, it is important to understand well what it takes to live in the moment. If we are thinking only about ourselves, jumping from one desire to the next, we may already be many moments ahead, and certainly not in the present.

If one has transcended the ego however, and is working solely for the benefit of the greater good, then living in the moment will come automatically. It is a state of ‘flow’. Nothing needs to be done to achieve it.

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Regressive development

When a realized soul says, “What is the use of education? What is the use of all this advancement and technology? These are all meaningless in the quest to quell the mind.”, it certainly raises some eyebrows. In this day and age of amazing technology, how can someone denounce these life-savers? “I can’t even sit in a room alone for 5 minutes without my phone – God bless the one who invented it”, would seem a reasonable response.

Maybe a slight shift in perspective would help see the world from the eyes of a jivanmukta. Indeed, to live in today’s world as it is, technology and education are important. But what if this world wasn’t the way it is?

If we went back to the olden times, there were no TVs, no cars, no ACs. But them folks still survived, relying on the outdoors and social gatherings. There were no mobile phones, even for long distance calls, but then there really wasn’t any need for going long distance. All needs were met within the village area. Yes trade and commerce and what not helped ‘develop and civilize’ humans, but was that really necessary? All industrial and technology improvements are supposed to have made our lives more efficient, but here we are, more stressed, more depressed and more anxious than ever before. And the great advances in medicine are now mainly to treat cool-sounding “lifestyle diseases”, which probably wouldn’t have arrived if man didn’t venture beyond his means.

This is probably what the self-realized folks really suggest. If all the technology and modernization and education ultimately leads to a worse life than before, then of what good is all this so-called progress?

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