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Tag: ego

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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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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Ritualistic pride

When doing a puja, homa (havan) or other ritual, the doers often become conceited. “Oh look I just performed a huge yagna and see how many people attended, and see what amazing catering I arranged” etc. Even if the havan was done on a small scale, ego can creep in. But it’s helpful to really think what aspects of the homa or puja were done by “the doer”.

How about these?

  1. The deity we are praying to has to make him/herself available
  2. Agni, the fire God, has to function as the medium and carry one’s prayers to the deity
  3. The various ingredients – coconuts, walnuts, other inflammable items, flowers, ghee, water and everything else – does the yagna doer create these items?
  4. The priest who conducts the ceremony – is the organizer the priest? Soes s/he know every single mantra, shloka, chant – not just to recite, but to understand and to feel? Did s/he create those incantations?
  5. Or maybe if it’s a self-chanted self-conducted ritual, then gratitude to our own memory, vocal chords, the guru who taught us the mantras…
  6. How about the free time we were allowed by our family members to devote to the puja
  7. Also the attendees who showed up, and the cooks who prepared all the dishes
  8. A few other things I would have missed here for sure

Without any of these, how would the havan have been a success? Really is there much for us to be proud of then?

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DK boss

Look around you. At work, at the gym, in your social media feeds etc. How many people are really really successful and good at something? And how many just make a lot of noise? Okay, identifying this on social media could be hard, because everyone always puts their best foot forward. But is it really possible that everyone around us, is doing super duper amazing work, all the time?

There’s a principle called the Dunning-Kruger effect. It refers to cases where people significantly overstate their abilities, without realizing it, because they are too incompetent in the first place to even realize that they are incapable. Have you come across any such people? Many people? Maybe your boss? Your employee? Your colleagues? Most of your friends? There are so many people in the all talk and no do bucket.

A very simple mistake we can make here though is to solely evaluate others. Pointing fingers at others is too easy. But the above is meant squarely for each one of us, or definitely at least for me. I need to accept that there is much I do not know, much I am not good at – and being humble about it, I can attempt to bridge my ignorance with knowledge, and inability with practice.

Relevant here is one of Albert Einstein’s less referenced quotes. It is simple yet profound, and also a math equation!

1 / Knowledge = Ego

More the knowledge, lesser the ego, and vice versa. How cool is that?

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Oh what a sacrifice!

So many things in this world are misunderstood and mistreated, simply because we do not take the pains to delve deep enough. Many (pseudo) intellectuals today criticise palmistry, astrology, vastu, ayurveda and various other sciences, and conveniently twist certain extracts to suit their arguments.

“How dare you even call these sciences?!”

Nothing wrong with criticism, as long as the critic has studied the subject in sufficient detail. Chances are, and my personal experience attests to it, that by the time the period of study is complete, even the staunchest disbelievers become converts.

An example of such misunderstanding? The ancient Hindu tradition of animal sacrifices in temples during fire offerings.

In his book on Purusha Suktam, Swami Tejomayananda beautifully clarifies. Animals were never killed at temples. Rather, they would be tied to a pole at the start, and as an offering, they would be set free, i.e. the owner of the animal would ‘sacrifice their ownership‘.

This is key. It is not about the object. Rather it is about relinquishing ownership of the object. The animal would then be free to roam around the village, and would be fed by all villagers with equal reverence. Such a beautiful concept, but misunderstood!

The ultimate goal is to sacrifice our egos. This is considered the pinnacle of self-realisation.

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