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Category: transformation

For the non-believers

There’s always a raging debate about whether God exists or not.

Has He created everything around us? Are we responsible for our own fate, and did we each land on this planet and into this family and unique circumstance just by chance?

“It’s all just a random coincidence.”, is what the non-believers will say.

And that’s where the debate begins.

But why debate at all? Lord Krishna clearly says that only 1 in millions will even begin to appreciate true Divinity. If you are that 1 in many millions, why spend time and effort trying to convince others?

Everyone’s time of awakening and understanding will come, either in this life, or after many more.

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3 factor model

Was speaking with a friend who volunteers with anti-cybercrime elements. “How cool!”, I’d told him the first time I found out. He said he himself had been the victim of cyber fraud and lost money. And hence he decided to help others who might be in a similar predicament.

The coolest part of whatever he told me was his understanding of why people fall prey to such cyber attacks. 3 things he said, in Hindi:

  • Darr (fear)
  • Laalach (greed)
  • Aalas (laziness)

They didn’t all make sense to me, so I asked him for an explanation. He said the fear was not fear of the fraudster, but the fear of missing out! The scam looks so juicy that you don’t want to be left behind. The greed angle is obvious. The laziness aspect is that we may be too bored to report some wrong doing.

The 3 factors are also what in many ways keeps me complacent in my wordly life, not pushing through as much in the spiritual path as one should.

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What to renounce? – part 3

So what is sattvika renunciation? That is doing one’s prescribed duty but giving up attachment and fruits.

So I do the work as though my life depended on it, but then do not worry about the results as if I know I’m going to live peacefully anyway.

Can this be confusing? Yes very, and so my Guru has provided various examples in his Amazing Simple Gita in chapter 18 verse 9’s purport:

  1. Manager forgiving the subordinate when the latter is not doing his work is foolishness and has nothing to do with the former’s Sattvik renunciation or prescribed duty
  2. It is foolishness to say it is alright that I did not get my bonus. What you need to do is to ask for and get your due share and then do charity out of it
  3. Doing self improvement workshops for students is the right thing and our prescribed duty
  4. We are duty bound. Duty has bound us, no escape, and so do duty the sattvika way
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Inner voice

There are many spiritual people I’ve come across who have said their meditation takes them to different higher planes. Ones where they get messages from their own Gurus, or where they get answers to questions, learn about karmic exchanges for others, see the future and so on.

I’ve myself seen none of these. I find it difficult to even sit in one place, let alone meditate and keep my mind fixed.

So I asked one of said spiritual people recently about why I have no such divine talent. His answer was relevant and encouraging.

He said to me, “I’m a spiritual healer. So whatever I experience during my meditations or thoughts helps me in my work. In your case too, you would be getting messages to help you, in your own line of work. Maybe you are creative at work, or while making a presentation or in the speed at which you find solutions to problems and so on. All of this is your intuitive power, which is nothing but divinity. If you see it this way, it will only continue to increase.”

We all have this inner voice, but we probably do not pay much attention to it.

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Turning the tables

In many parts of the Gita, Lord Krishna mentions that he is only the Watcher, not the Doer. He has only created the Nature around us to function based on certain laws (of nature), and whatever happens thereafter is upon creation, not Him.

Some people question this. How?

By asking why the Lord would not step in where required. Seems very easy to just say, “Okay, I’ve created, and so my part here is done.”. Why not interfere when things are going wrong? If crime is being committed, why would the Lord not come in and take charge? Why does he have to say that he has nothing to do with this?

The answer lies in karmic theory of course. That we each are responsible for what we do, and this karmic record spans multiple lifetimes. But there is another way to think of this as well.

What if the Lord questions us thus, “Hey I created this universe and world and have given each of you the most beautiful planet to live on. I’ve ensured everything is perfect, beautiful nature, bountiful resources and every reason for you to be happy forever. And yet, what have you people done? Are you really happy? Are the resources you’ve been given used properly? Sustainably? Are you all living together in love and harmony?”

The tables have been turned.

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Is good always good?

We often think that only good needs to happen to us, all the time.

Is that really a good thing though?

Think of a turkey. Not the country, but the bird.

Every day it gets fed lovely food. The tastiest choicest of grains. And it’s loving it.

The turkey thinks that it has arrived in life and achieved it all.

The more it eats, the fatter it gets.

All is good, right?

Then comes Thanksgiving…

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Here’s the shortcut

The shortcut is that there is only a longcut.

We all want to evolve spiritually, and evolve fast.

We want to quickly conquer the vices, never get angry, never be greedy or jealous, and never cower in fear.

But there are no quick fixes. Only preparatory fixes. The prep for a war cannot start one day before the war. It’s a continuous process, requiring years and years of prep. Many army / navy / airforce people might prep for decades (and even retire!) without so much as entering a real battlefield. Then why prep? Because that’s the only way to be ready, because we can never predict when the war will begin. Just like in our lives too – we need to be ready in advance. That’s why our scriptures focus so much on satsang and sadhana – so that when a problem strikes, we are ready!

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LLL

Chapter 8 in the Gita is about death. That’s what everyone says. So gloomy, so moribund.

But my Guru has a different take.

He says it’s about the 3 Ls.

The art of Living.

The art of Loving.

And then and only then, the art of Leaving.

Yes Lord Krishna talks about death, and what one should do at the time of death (i.e. think of Him). But that’s not easy, and doesn’t come at the last minute (literally!).

We need to Live a life of Love for the Lord, and then all of a sudden, the Leaving will become an art.

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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 make the right decision?

You know how we are at a crossroads so many times in our lives? We need to make one decision or another. This job or that. This country or that. This course or that. This institution or that. And so on.

Despite this, we rarely have a clear blueprint of how to go about these decisions. So critical, yet so confusing.

A senior satsangi this past weekend gave a simple yet profound 3-step technique for just this problem:

  1. Pray for the right wisdom.
  2. Ask for guidance from materially successful mentors especially if they are also on the spiritual path, such as a part of the same satsang.
  3. Understand deeply, that the grass is always greener elsewhere. Not that we shouldn’t strive for better – but just that it helps to have realistic expectations.

Decision making conquered!

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Pottymouth

One guy I came across has a real potty mouth. Not just cuss words or expletives, but even hurtful and derogatory words were common usage for him. You know some folks are just very angry and irritated by everything around them? Yes, this chap was exactly like that.

It so happened, that one of the times very recently, he shouted at someone for their tardiness, only to realize that the other person had just lost a parent, which was the reason for the delay in the first place.

And then this pottymouth fellow felt really bad, that he gave that poor fellow a tough time, when he was already grieving over the loss of his closest one. What to do now? Because no amounts of sorrys would offer reprieve. “I wish I had been nicer to him on that day”, he said.

But no, that’s not how this works. You cannot pick and choose the time to be a nice person or a bad person. Good and bad are ingrained into our psyche, assuming we are normal people. That’s why my Guru says we need to transform our thinking, our lives in totality, and not just chase after temporary solutions.

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You have been replaced…

…is a fear each of one us have had at some point.

Whether replaced in a pivotal relationship, or replaced in your job, or replaced from a position of authority, everyone likes the status quo. And the inertia of sitting and lazing around is probably the strongest force in the world!

A new and more recent threat of replacement is one of AI – Artifical Intelligence. We already see so much of computational power around us. Many jobs that were once done by people (ATMs in place of bank tellers; Alexa instead of typists; e-booking instead of travel agents) are all done by computers.

How to survive this? What skills are irreplaceable?

Here is the list, according to a study I came across. 1) Empathy, 2) Emotional Intelligence, 3) Creativity and 4) Unstructured Problem Solving (i.e. not solving via code).

That’s the list. And you know the beauty of these? Each one of these can be developed by us, and strengthened. And forget computers replacing us, if we excel at these, even other people cannot replace us. The hard part? None of these are taught anywhere. Except maybe in satsangs and spiritual books.

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CEO skills you need to have

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to be part of a meeting with the senior leadership team of a large bank. A very very large one.

They were looking for a CEO. Nope they were not interviewing me for that role, but just that thought is itself funny 😂

In any case, the topic of how they would select the next CEO came up.

The leaders had the criteria for CEO super clear in their mind.

Requirements 1 and 2 had no mention of academics or achievements or credentials.

Requirement number 1 was humility. And requirement number 2 was alignment to their culture. Everything else, was quite literally, tertiary.

What abilities are we looking to build if we want to become CEO?

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Beyond home and work – part 8 of 8

Continued from yesterday:

How has Satsang helped me?

It has brought discipline to my life.

Satsang has made me less concerned about money – not that money doesn’t matter, but my happiness doesn’t revolve around it as much.

Satsang has given me more peace, and the ability to step back and look at situations more holistically, and not being sad immediately or for too long if something doesn’t happen the way I expect it to.

Satsang has made me a part of larger community – there are so many close friends here in satsang, it is more like a huge extended family.

Very importantly, satsang has brought a noble / everlasting mission and direction to life, beyond just the mundane home and work.

Last but not least, through the Guru’s grace and blessings, satsang brings miracles not just sporadically but daily.

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Beyond home and work – part 7 of 8

Continued from yesterday:

And satsang isn’t just about singing bhajans, or chanting mantras or some other boring sounding stuff.

Then what does satsang help us give up?

Satsang helps us give up our anxiety, our stress, our jealousy, our anger, our greed, our fear.

Satsang helps us do our dharma.

How?

Most people say dharma is religion. No dharma is not religion. Dharma is really the art of balance.

How to balance all the taking with the giving, that is dharma. and that is why satsang helps us in our dharma.

Continued tomorrow…

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Beyond home and work – part 6 of 8

Continued from yesterday:

Imagine you had to setup a justice system, your own justice system. You are the Chief Judge. That’s right. You decide the law. You are the law! Would you favour the ones who are only taking-taking-taking? Probably not, right?

How does this get balanced out? Because at home we are taking-taking-taking, at work also taking-taking-taking – money, bonus, position etc. Then when to give?

That’s exactly what satsang can help with. – to kickstart our giving process, and also the giving-up process. To give-up what? Your money? No, SS doesn’t need your hard-earned money.

Continued tomorrow…

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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 3 of 8

Continued from yesterday:

It might seem that satsang and its benefits are important in two large parts of our lives, home and office.

This is true of course, but if you draw a Venn diagram, you’ll have one circle with Work, another circle with Home, and the part where both intersect (that post-2020 is called work-from-home!).

But even outside of that, there is life and so much stress and anxiety, and really there is no aspect of life that satsang cannot touch and transform.

I recently had to take an early morning flight. As early as 3 am, there were serpentine queues, with people of all ages waiting to check-in. There were literally 100s of passengers, and just two open check-in counters. Crazy isn’t it?

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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