Skip to content

Tag: guru

Hair pulling

A very chubby baby I came across recently had the cutest baby laugh. Gurgling and chirping, it was just a joy to be around. Except when it would pull its own hair. Babies, as we know, do funny things sometimes. They don’t know the exact cause of pain, and because they tend to be fairly (very) uncoordinated, pulling their own hair with one hand satisfies the requirement of the hand to grab onto something. But it also simultaneously causes immense pain.

Now what to do? The only way is for the baby to leave its own hair alone. Even it’s parents can’t do anything at that point, because the grip of the baby is too tight. But it’s a matter of time, and the baby loosens the grip on its own.

Such is also our plight often in life. By keeping gargantuan expectations, we often invite misfortune into our lives. This self-inflicted pain is no different from the baby pulling its hair. And these expectations are not just milestones in professional setups, “achieve sales of x%”, or “drive costs down by y%”, but also expectations related to when happiness should be allowed to flow. It’s almost like we have a stop button inside us. “No, today I have a lot of work, and hence I will not smile even once.” Surely I’m guilty of that many times!

Taking myself too seriously can only end badly. It’s better to be sincere, than serious. As Swami Paramarthananda says, the disciple needs to first identify that a problem exists (with themselves). The Guru thereafter, needs to not only know the remedy, but also be free of the problem!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

On priority

How does one who is completely devoted to and lost in the Lord behave? Maybe there’s more than one way – surely. But here’s what’s on the cover page of the Mukunda-mala-stotra book originally composed by King Kulasekhara and then of course expounded upon by various greats. This specific excerpt is from Srila Prabhupada’s commentaries:

When King Kulasekhara saw the breath-taking beauty of Lord Krishna in ecstatic trance, he lost all the desire to rule his vast kingdom. Later he wrote, "My mind cannot turn from Sri Krishna's lotus feet even for a moment. So let my dear ones and other relatives criticize me, my superiors accept me or reject me as they like, the common people spread evil gossip about me, and my family's reputation be sullied. For a madman like me, it is honour enough to feel this flood of love for Godhead, which brings such sweet emotions of attraction for my Lord"

The very things that we each are craving for – societal approval, name, fame, wealth, status – are being given up in an instant by a great King, simply because he tasted the true nectar of being one with the Lord. We are no kings, so it is all the more important that we have our priorities straight. But is that the case?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

First who, then what

Much of the work in the world is focused on answering the “what”s. What is the solution to this problem? What is the workaround here? What should be my position on this issue? What should I tell him or her? What should I expect from this project? What is our vision? What is the outcome of this strategy? What, what, what, what … that is what is everywhere.

However, the really successful people (think billionaires), they don’t care much about the ‘what’. They only care about the ‘who’. They know there’s a problem. But they also know they cannot solve all the problems in the world on their own. They know that the most optimal use of their time is to get the best person to solve that problem. Who do they want to work with? Who do they like? Who knows this job the best? Who is the one who’ll do this with the least fuss? That’s the important question – it’s always about the who. If the ‘who’ is taken care of, the ‘what’ will sort itself out. If the driver is good, then one needn’t worry about the car heading in the wrong direction.

Similar for spirituality as well. We are often focused on the what. What shlokas should I chant? What mantras work best? What meditation mat should I buy? What scriptures should I read? What seva should I do? What satsang should I join? So many whats.

But all we need, is one who. Who is the right person to answer all these questions? The answer is only one. The Guru. Once that answer is fixed, then all we need to do is to follow his advice. All problems solved.

500th post today by the way. Thank you for reading, and being part of this journey of joint transformation! 🙂

Like it? Please share it!
2 Comments

Ready for battle

Here’s what my Guru says. Imagine you had the world’s best army.

It can achieve anything.

No task is insurmountable for this army.

100 billion in this army. And another 90 trillion. And another 27 trillion.

Yes that’s how awesome this army is. Imagine the scale and the power!

And you really do have this army – it’s no joke.

100 billion brain cells. 90 trillion body cells. 27 trillion hormones. It’s there in each and every one of us.

Are we making the most of it though?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Devil in the details – part 3

In the superb Hollywood TV show called Lucifer, the (very funny and likeable) Devil himself, walks around Los Angeles in the garb of a human being. He never lies, and in fact goes around announcing to everyone who comes and goes in his life that he is none other than the ruler of Hell. But where are the horns? And the red tail? And the Devil doesn’t wear expensive designer suits now does he? Despite him telling the truth to everyone, no one believes him, and so it really is never a problem for him.

That’s in the reel world, but here’s a parallel in the real/spiritual world as well. Most spiritual seekers are looking for something to ‘happen’ to them. Like in comic books when they show the Buddha was enlightened, they show a halo around his head. So seekers expect they too will see light, or hear some messages from the air, or experience some otherworldly mystical phenomena.

But what if there is really nothing more to spirituality than simply watching your thoughts and actions in an unbiased and detached manner? It doesn’t mean that miraculous inexplicable things can’t or don’t happen. But that is maybe something else? Many spiritual greats forewarn seekers to not be swayed by anything cool they come across on their paths – power et al – as those may be mere distractions. As my Guru repeatedly says, the only thing that is required for spiritual progress is to drop one’s desires and attachments, and turn the mind inward aka toward God. It sounds simple, but its certainly not easy (to do, or to believe, à la Luci).

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Pretty girl

On the theory of relativity, Einstein once said “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute.”

And so time is a matter of perspective. We often hate office and work, but love vacations. It might seem like the 12 hours we spend a day at work just drags on forever, while the 24 hours in a vacation goes off in a jiffy.

Satsangs are similar too. At times, they may feel boring. Almost like we have heard the same things (messages, quotes, stories) over and over again. And to find even that 1 hour a week would be the hardest thing in the world. Why waste an hour when we can do something else – like catch a movie on Netflix or Amazon Prime?

If we have spent countless births stuck in Maya, the thought to ponder over is, will just an hour a week suffice, to get us out of it? We will have to fall in love with satsang, just like Einstein’s pretty girl, if we wish to make tangible progress. Eventually, every waking minute will become a satsang, just like a Guru’s life.

As Guruji says, satsang is the most noble place, because it is a zero-liabilities place. There are no downsides to satsang, only humongous benefits.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Blinded by

There is a medical condition called Anton’s Blindness. It is a real thing. But those affected by it, do not believe it. They think they can see perfectly well. But they cannot, and so when they walk or move around, they bump into objects they cannot see and often hurt themselves.

This sounds exactly like what my Guru would think of me. “Blind fellow, bumping around in the world from one problem to another, and constantly hurting himself. If only he would accept that he doesn’t see the Truth. The Real Truth. That Consciousness that powers everything. And then this acceptance may bring him some solutions. But alas. He is blinded by ignorance, anger, jealousy, greed – you name it. And he seems to enjoy this state of blindness too. What a pity.”

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Middleman

There are so many messengers. So many intermediaries. So many so-called postmen.

Take the case of a delivery person from Dominos, Swiggy, Zomato or Grab. They take food from restaurant A to person A, and then restaurant B to person B and then restaurant C to person C. They carry the food with them, piping hot, tasty pizza, or lovely creamy pasta, or some tantalizingly cold ice cream sundaes. So yummy for the tummy. However, it is not for his tummy – for he is only the carrier, the messenger.

The same goes for a postman. He can carry letters of love and romance and adventure and delight. But none of them are addressed to him.

Likewise for the private secretaries of the king or queen. They may know all the intricate details, but cannot truly experience what their masters revel in.

This is the case for every single messenger there is – whether at home or at work or in politics or in society.

But there is one exception. And that is the Guru. He is the messenger of God, yes. But he is also completely dunked in the Bliss that is Consciousness, and therefore that makes him simultaneously both God and Carrier. Teacher and Creator. The Guru is the only one, who delivers the package as brand new, well after enjoying its contents. If such a messenger exists in our lives, we would do well to take in his message.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Hearty speech

Many satsangis under the guidance of my Guru have conducted amazing personal empowerment workshops. Mainly for students, but also for teachers, principals, army officers, corporates and so on.

The experience for conductors has been exhilarating, to put it mildly. The experience for the attendees, specifically the students, has been life changing.

What is critical for conducting a workshop well? We would think the most essential ingredients are a good grasp over the content, excellent communication skills, top presentation style, stage presence, presence of mind, a good voice and other such attributes.

The Guru obviously has a unique viewpoint. He says, yes these are important, but there is one thing far more essential. And that is to harbour great a great and selfless love for the students. He asks conductors to feel the love and nobility – to imagine the poor undernourished students, who have had no opportunities in their lives thus far, and how this program could transform their lives.

It is not oratorical skill from the brain that matters, but genuinely felt love from the heart.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Visual creatures

One of my Guru’s most favourite topics is the power of visualization. He loves to help others (young and old) visualize their future dreams and goals. He is of the strongest opinion that it has an undeniable and incredible influence on the final outcome. And through this power of visualization, he has made so many miracles happen – things that otherwise seemed impossible, but happened nonetheless.

This visualization principle is not different from what other sources might teach us. Rhonda Byrne’s book The Secret, which became a worldwide phenomenon when it was released, essentially said “The universe will give you whatever you ask it.”

And we know that if we set our minds to something and go after it with single-pointed focus, then rarely can something stop us along the way.

“But how is it possible Guruji, how can we create the future by simply visualizing?” I once naively asked him.

His response was golden. “Deep down, we are all Brahman. All Creation has come from the same Brahman. Why can’t the Brahman inside you create the future that you want then?”

Point taken.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Possible?

My Guru keeps giving the example of Roger Bannister (RB). In 1954, RB ran one mile in under 4 minutes.

He was the very first person to do so. His doctors had advised him before the run, that he should not go so fast, otherwise his organs would go all over the place, his body cannot take it and that he would die.

Of course, none of the warnings came to pass, and RB did indeed run the mile in under 4 minutes. What an achievement!

But funnily enough, RB was not the last. After his feat, almost every decade thereafter, someone or the other has been besting his record.

The current title is held by a Moroccan, Hicham El Guerrouj, who completed the mile in 3 mins and 43 seconds!

The actual time taken itself doesn’t matter. But it’s amazing how the human psyche works. Until someone else does it, it is considered impossible. But once it has been done, then there’s a line of people who follow it up, and even better it!

My simple learning from this, is that we don’t need to wait for anyone else. As the saying goes, even Impossible says I’m possible. And we’re each uniquely positioned to do things that no one else can (please see Mosaic Man).

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

(Wo)men

One of the books my Guru suggests we should all read is the Kural by Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar. No he’s not a Tamilian and he cannot read Tamil, but there are English translations (C. Rajagopalachari), so nothing to worry. We’ve discussed this book before a few times. It is a series of couplets, ~1300 of them, with amazing practical takeaways for daily life.

A question that comes to some readers is, why is everything written from a man’s perspective? And why does it sound derogatory to women? Like the ‘Life Partner’ chapter is all about duties of a woman – so men go scot-free?. And the children bit talks only about sons, not daughters. Where is the feminism and equality angle?

How should we understand  this? My Guru says whatever lessons are applicable to a man should also be taken to be applicable to women, wherever relevant, using common sense. Also:

  1. The book was written 100s of years ago. So certain aspects may need to be re-read in that context.
  2. We can combine the lessons from his Amazing Simple Gita – marry it with his purports. When it says a woman must be completely devoted to her husband, we absolutely take it to read the other way as well.
  3. Like the Vashishta – Arundhati stars in our galaxy – where they both go around each other, unlike the Sun in our solar system, where the Sun is relatively stationary and other planets orbit around it. Wedded couples too are supposed to be going around each other, not just one being stationary at a time.
  4. There are negative criticisms too in the Kural. But all of those too, are directed towards men only. Like a person who is speaking harshly is referred to as a man not a woman – so in that sense, both good and bad have been treated equally.

There are some absolute gems in the book – totally not worth missing out on, and certainly not because of this gender issue!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Penance

In one of our recent youth satsangs, we had a very engaging discussion on ‘thawam’ from the Kural, which in Tamil means penance / austerity. Is penance only for the likes of Ravana or others who sat and meditated for years together? Or is there some penance possible in our daily lives as well?

Maybe waiting in a line for 14 hours to get one’s hand on the next latest and greatest iPhone could be considered penance. But that would only be scratching the surface. To some, penance is minimalism, such as getting rid of all gadgets (including aforementioned iPhone) and spending time with nature instead. They may also spend much lesser money than others – never eating out, never traveling – being extremely frugal. But where does one draw the line? Does one also stop wearing clothes, taking bath, not sending the kids to school, not visiting a doctor for a medical emergency? Surely penance is about frugality, not miserliness.

Great men and women have said (and experienced) that nothing worth having comes easy. Which means penance is a part of all success worth having. It also begs the question, why is penance so hard? The answer is that it’s not hard. It’s very easy in fact, if one TRULY wants something. Most struggle with this, because they want something (like success), but do not want to work for it.

It’s one thing to do penance for our own benefit. But the truly great people – like my Guru, they observe penances solely for the benefit of others. He observes fasts or chants 21,000 ashotrams for other people’s health – sometimes people who he has not even met! As Thiruvalluvar says, “How fire refines the gold, the pain of penance refines the person.” What more can one ask for?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

The one formula for success – part 3

Here’s an example of how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes – from a conversation between my Guru and I recently.

I had kept a vow for donating some money to Tirupati (a large and famous temple in south India) if some specific important event took place in my life. Like Guruji says, it is very important for everyone to set lofty goals, work towards them, pray for them, and if those goals are achieved, then unabashedly do something in return.

When said event did work out (miraculously!), it was time to keep up my end of the bargain. But I had a conflicting thought. Should I donate to Tirupati? Or should I donate to the cause of my Guru? So I asked my Guru. “If it’s just money, can I not give to your cause Guruji? Why Tirupati? Isn’t God and his money fungible?”

To which he had a wonderful answer, and such an answer is only possible if he put himself in my shoes. Because from his point of view, he has already realized Brahman and moksha and liberation, and to him these material differences do not matter!

But to me as one who is faaaaaaar away from such realized states, he said simply, “What if something bad happens tomorrow? Then it is possible I might connect the dots? That it is because I did not donate to Tirupati as planned but instead gave the money off to another cause, that there was a hole left to be plugged at Tirupati?” Instead my Guru told me to go and happily give to Tirupati, and then also pray to the Lord there to give me more money so that I can donate to the other causes with even more fervour. Win-win?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Keep company

In Sadhana Panchakam verse 13, Adi Shankara gives the instruction that one must keep the company of knowledgeable people, specifically the Guru. Most people focus on the latter half, i.e. finding the ‘knowledgable One’, i.e. the Guru, and making sure the Guru is the right one for us. Even when we are in dire need of help, materially or spiritually, we only think of estimating / forecasting whether this Guru can really help our cause. Will the Guru make us stop eating the foods we like or watch the TV we crave or visit the pubs we like? If so, then I’d rather change my Guru, because that is infinitely easier than changing my lifestyle.

All the focus though, has to be on the first part of the sentence, i.e. ‘keeping company of’. This looks disarmingly easy, but is extremely difficult. A true Guru might administer some much needed bitter medicine, and in such times, sticking on to the chosen spiritual path might seem not just troublesome, but also unnecessary. While the solution for this problem is introspection, grit and perseverance, the oft-resorted-to measure is Guru-hopping.

From a more materialistic point of view, keeping company with knowledgeable people helps akin to the “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” adage. Hence it is important to choose the people we are around. If we surround ourselves with billionaires, the chances of us thinking lofty, goal-oriented and futuristic increases manifold, as does the chance of success. The question of course is, why would even one billionaire want to spend time with me, let alone five?

‘Billionaire’ is the end goal, as is moksha. It is neither the start, nor the journey. What if we could have lunch with one person smarter than us, every day, or at least twice a week, instead of eating alone, or with the same team members? What if we could cold-write to people for their guidance / mentorship on LinkedIn? What if we could reach out to people seeking to partake in their wisdom? Without doubt the results will come. But taking the first step, and maintaining it (keeping the company going) is in our hands. The rest will follow.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Fakes and real

Gurus, while realized souls, have physical bodies through which they too experience pain and pleasure like you and me. Even the great Ramakrishna Paramahamsa did not just die easy in his sleep. Instead, he was inflicted by throat cancer for 18 months. The pain was excruciating, and he could not eat, or speak, or even lie down and this tortured him day and night. Despite this, his heart was with his devotees, and everyday he would wait for seekers of God to come so that he could bless them and help them realize God. Did he not have the power to heal himself? Of course he did – as he was a master of Siddhis. But strange are the ways of God-realized men. Even though his close disciples would beseech him to heal himself or pray for his own health, the saint would always refuse. Why? Because his mind was totally focused on God, and he did not want to waste even a single second, by bringing his mind to his body, from God.

There is much fanfare and following in India for those who call themselves Gurus. There are plenty of fakes too, but that is only natural. Is there a way to call out the genuine from the rest?

It is difficult, but not impossible. A tell-tale sign would be – how much the Guru is undergoing pain and suffering for the benefit of his devotees and disciples.

The phoney Gurus might care for their people, but they care for themselves first. The real Guru will have no care about him/herself, and instead have full attention on you/us. They do not care about themselves because they seek nothing material. And the spiritual wealth they have, they want nothing more than to be able to share with us, while also alleviating any of our physical troubles.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

The ride of a lifetime

You have read before of the magical benevolence of my Guru (link) – specifically point 4, where he would give a lift to labourers walking in the hot sun. One way to think about this, is that it is wonderful and almost unthinkable for anyone to offer this sort of a service to those with lesser means.

But there is another deeper possibility. In this scenario, the labourers are none other than we ourselves. We are the ones walking in the hot scorching sun of Life – being tossed around from one thorny problem to another. The lush oasis in the distance, is in reality nothing more than a mirage.

The Guru in his infinite compassion, is picking us up in his car, and delivering us from the madness that is our lives, to moksha. What more could one ask for? Nothing. What can one give in return? Also nothing. Because nothing will ever be enough.

And yet what do we often do? We do not even get into the car. We doubt whether the car is even real. We question the driver, and his experience. We do not get in. Even if we do, we stick our heads out the window and keep looking back. Or we open the door, step out and walk away.

There will come a day when we all wished we had got in to the car and stayed in. Why not take the ride from today itself then?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Being nobody

There is only one difference between us and God. That difference, is the ego. The feeling that “I am”.

In material life, all success comes from “I am”. I am – an engineer, a charter holder, an accountant, an architect, a tennis champion, a saxophonist, a movie director, an Oscar winner, an artist, a photographer.

In spiritual life, only failure follows “I am”.

Swami Premananda, one of the foremost disciples of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, was once told by a younger monk that Premananda was lucky because his Master had “made him great.”. To which Premananda immediately responded: “No! The Master did not make us great, he made us ‘nobodies.’ You also have to become ‘nobodies.’ Wipe out all vanity from the mind. The Master used to say, ‘When the ego dies, all troubles cease.’”

Practically for us, is it possible to live a life giving up our ego completely? Not at all. We will only be trampled underfoot. However, one can give their ego up to their Guru. This would mean doing as the Guru says, no questions asked. This path too is very hard, but at least the Guru is there to take care of us, acting as a safety net at all times. Practising this form of ego deposition at the Guru’s feet is not easy either, but it is perhaps the easiest of the various spiritual paths on offer.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

The cyclist

The word ‘Peloton’ is probably familiar to exercise enthusiasts, as the company which provides high-tech in-home workout equipment. Late in 2019, the company went public after much hoopla over a pricey multi-billion dollar Initial Public Offering.

The word peloton is also used in professional cycling. It refers to the close-knit formation we see in cycling races. The cyclist in the lead ends up taking the brunt of the wind and air. This helps the cyclists behind him, because the leader cuts the wind drag to them by up to 40%, leading them to conserve significant energy.

Our lives are tough, peppered by all sorts of uncertainties and calamities. Even the spiritual path is fraught with enemies – like our minds – and largely of our own creation.

There is one person in the lead though. Unflinching, he has walked the path and the talk. He has experienced everything there is, and knows all the pitfalls. He is at the head of the peloton, helping us seek and reach the Truth, while conserving our sanity, and shielding us every step of the way.

He is the Guru. The scriptures say, that when the time is right, s/he will enter our lives.

All we need to do, is to follow her/him, with utmost faith.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Problem Gone?

The plumber came home to fix the leak. “That’ll be $100”. We don’t understand what he does. But we pay him anyway.
Problem Gone.

The technician came home to fix the TV. “That’ll be $200”. We don’t understand what he does. But we pay him anyway.
Problem Gone.

The mechanic came home to fix the car. “That’ll be $500”. We don’t understand what he does. But we pay him anyway.
Problem Gone.

The doctor came home to fix the broken bone. “That’ll be $1000”. We don’t understand what he does. But we pay him anyway.
Problem Gone.

The Guru came home to fix us. “That’ll be free of charge”. We don’t understand what he does. But we doubt him anyway. “Will it work? How can he get rid of all my tensions and stress? Who is he to know my life and give me advice?”
Problem Not Gone.

No Faith = Problem Not Gone.
Faith = Problem Gone.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment