Earth day

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Today is Earth day. Actually everyday should be The Earth Day, its ok at least we human have given recognition to earth that one out of the 365 days is celebrated as Earth day. Perhaps we have taken the liberty to pollute earth for 364 days after celebrating one day in the remembrance. If we keep our act as it is currently, the remembrance will soon become “remembrance” only. More precisely worst we wont be there to observe the remembrance either.

Is there something that we can learn from Earth? Many! Just stick to the two here. It gives without any expectations. Thanks to the Earth, every cell in our body is made up of earth. We did not bring anything and would not take anything back with us. Can we learn to reduce our expectations?

It holds us all without any ego that “you exist because of me”. We get into this kind of me, my opinion and my way of living (religion) better than yours faster than we learn to exist on this earth. Humanity is fighting for small little opinions for centuries, its lately that we have realized the value of Earth to at least celebrate the day. In fact this Earth day is a lesson to all of us – that we need to give up our dominion. This image represents it far better than words can.

We believe we are free to take our actions, we forget that the consequences are also there. These consequences are not just for us but for everyone around us. Some of the species are extinct already other few are in line. The whole world is interdependent on each other. If we miss this point we wont exist sooner rather than later. I read it once – If all bees die, humans will die soon too.

Let us celebrate this earth day with respect to the mother earth and to each and every creature on the face of the earth. Otherwise for long we have been the “takers“.

Forget businesses and countries, humans wont survive if we do not learn the lesson of interdependent co-arising. No wonder we need to learn the lessons taught by previous spiritual masters – compassion, Non-attachment, Nonviolence, mindfulness and gratitude.

A Hasidic tale – Prayer

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I have been reading one or the other story of Father Anthony De Mello’s books – The Prayer Of The Frog Vol. I and Prayer of The Frog Vol. II and share the same here occasionally. The books have small and very interesting stories. One of the story I read was on Prayers, here it is –

Late one evening a poor farmer on his way back from the market. He was a religious person and when he found that he has missed his prayer book at home. The worst fear he had was he has misplaced it. This was the most disheartening thing that could happen to this pious and religious person.

The wheel of his cart had come off right in the middle of the woods and it distressed him that this day should pass without his having said his prayers.

With this disappointment, he was worried that he is missing something very important today. So he did something interesting. This is the prayer he made: “I have done something very foolish, Lord. I came away from home this morning without my prayer book and my memory is such that I cannot recite a single prayer without it. So this is what I am going to do: I shall recite the alphabet five times very slowly and you, to whom all prayers are known, can put the letters together to form the prayers I can’t remember,”

And the Lord said to his angels, “Of all the prayers I have heard today, this one was undoubtedly the best because it came from a heart that was simple and sincere.”


I have heard that Jesus said, “The kingdom of the Gods belongs to people who are like child-like.

We all must do our prayers and any other works – personal or professional – with such sincerity and simplicity, isn’t it? Do share your thoughts.

Trust, PNBFraud and Cryptocurrency

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It was a monthly routine of some of my friends of our engineering days that can explain one Professor Mankad’s statement – “Money is what is accepted as money”. Some of my friends, used to be penniless for last one week to ten days every month. Possibly it is a common phenomenon of current generation students. So for about last ten days these friends of ours used to borrow from us. A couple of times I gave, returns used to be few and far between. I and few other “venture capitalists” stopped lending these friends. In these trying times, the borrower friends came up with an idea – whenever the received a cheque (rarely demand draft) – from home it used to take three or more days to realize those – they used to borrow against it.

Let me try to explain it with example, say Neerav got a cheque of INR 2500 from home, he will show that and borrow money (say INR 1000) from Yogesh and possibly INR 1500 from Pravin and another INR 1000 from Prateek. Now Neerav has borrowed INR 3500 against a cheque of 2500. All of the lenders used to be under an impression that within next five days or so we will get our money back as Neerav has got INR 2500. We used to accept that cheque as guarantee of timely return. “We” accepted cheque in “Neerav’s name” as a money. Thankfully none of the Neerav’s defaulted on our outstanding.

We have been living in a very nicely woven cobweb of currency and economy for at least last two centuries. Currency and thus “money” is the biggest fraud happening around us. Be the gold standard (relatively better method of “value”) to fiat currency. What is money? The question Professor Mankad asked us in our MBA class about 8 years back is still very relevant and I have been revisiting it time and again. When he asked such question, we started answering coin, currency notes etc etc. His one line response was – “Money is what is accepted as money”. Yes that is true, money is what is accepted as money, as we used to accept cheque without known Neerav has kind of pleaded same cheque to 5 different lenders!

Bitcoin logoEarlier, I wrote on trust as a foundation – Currency for the future. QUOTE from there Let us flip the coin and say “Trust” is the currency. What would happen? Those who have hoards of currency may be the most bankrupt people on the earth. Perhaps, a business of trading of trust would start (Bomday Trust Exchange or National Trust Exchange). Would the world be a different place then when currency would be mutual trust (well not necessarily Mutual such as DLF and Robert Vadra. UNQUOTE. This I wrote in 2012, at that time Cryptocurrency (example bitcoin) was not commonplace – well even I did not know about it. I had a different measure and calculation for the currency – money what is it?

However, lesser than the intangible concept of Trust that I thought, we have a better believable system evolving these days – cryptocurrency. If we keep on seeing the meltdown of 2008, NPA frauds of India and many other such scams from the politicians and their accomplice etc. we will soon accept the bitcoin or other such more reliable systems for transactions. Crypto is putting pressure because administrations and regulatory authorities will lose control on the economy. With the control also they are not making any good; at least if we see India – a former FM and his son facing trial but our system is unable to conclude the trial or many scammers settling out of India.

I am bit hopeful on blockchain, it is more reliable (difficult to fudge) and open as against the lenders like Punjab National Bank who can decide on their fancy on the money of other depositors. Blockchain is the way for not only currencies but for many other things including contracts and agreements. Hopefully then we will have a more balanced society and “trust” as digital money. Only fear is these “connected” bureaucrats, politicians and their page 3 friends, clique will first get their ill gotten money put in these digital currencies and probably try to make it murky too.

Disclaimer – story of engineering days is authentic, names of my friends are changed, I didn’t have any batchmate in Engineering named Nirav.

Driving in India

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Many activities in India can be related to spirituality take for instance driving. It is a very spiritual experience. I have had the privilege of driving on Indian roads – streets and highways, metro to small cities and even two wheeler and four wheeler. I have used choicest of the words while driving. This experience also includes bicycle and how can I ignore walking? This idea of connecting spirituality and driving (plus walking) stuck to me when one of my friend’s was hit by a two wheeler rider breaking his wrist and handset.

In two ways spirituality is manifested when you drive in India, one when you are stuck in traffic you have two options. Option one you are at the verge of meditation, or the complete opposite curse self or Google maps left right and center for selecting the route or abusing people who caused (not following lanes, jumping signals etc) the traffic. Option number one is better any day. I can vouch for this specially in traffic of Mumbai.

The other way of manifestation of spirituality is when you are riding a two wheeler, specially in a tier 2 city. The two wheeler riders in tier 2 cities drive such that you have to take care of yourself. The thought processes of these riders are like this – “I’ve to take care of myself, hell with others, they will take care of themselves”. You have to be very careful because anybody can pop from any side. When my friend’s wrist was hurt badly and mobile screen broken I could not resist but think about all these. The rider it seems was practicing riding meditating (like walking meditation) while driving went away in thin air, without stopping and apologizing.

You have to be selfish to drive in tier 2 city because a two wheeler rider will take care of himself you take care of your vehicle rest of the other people around you are Maya, signals are for mortals you are self realized parabramh (the non destructible God).

This “selfishness” reminded me of the above short comment from Osho – the other way of connecting spirituality to Indian traffic conditions. What is your take? Can driving in India be a spiritual experience?

 

One world

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Can we have a world where there is no need of defense and police?

Earlier human beings had fear of wild animal now of other humans. Have we become like wild animals or we’ve civilized bit more? Recently there was a terrorists attack in Egypt. I wonder what’s wrong with us human beings, we’ve become dangerous than wild animals. Animals kill to eat and that too when required. One animal does not kill the other because the other is not following what one is following, teaching or has learnt.

Recently, when I landed in a country for the first time, my suitcase was thoroughly checked. As usual with most Indians, I too had taken home made, Indian food because the country where I went was predominantly a non-vegetarian food eating country and I am a vegetarian. I opened by suitcase, the security person took out the food and dumped it in dust bean. There are two different types of feeling – 1. individual level and 2. social level. Individual level 1. there is a saying in Marathi – anna he purna bramh (roughly translated as food is divinity) 2. people die hungry and you are throwing the food and 3. that is my at least 10 days ration! and Social level 1. Can someone likely be so dangerous to a country 2. why so much concern even with food items and 3. have we become worst than animals.

This incident translated into two way thinking 1. defense budget of countries and 2. death due to hunger worldwide. Some statistics (source 1) suggest that USD ~4 Billion is required to feed 66 million school age children per year and daily total of 800 million go hungry worldwide. Defense budget (source 2) of the whole world is USD 1686 Billion. If we do number crunching defense budget comes out to be about more than 10% of budget required for food for hungry people. Alas, effectively the defense budget is utilized to kill people. What have we become? Imagine if we utilize the worldwide defense budget money in doing something constructive.

The other downside emerging with this thought was a news of likely death of 44 crew members submarine of Argentina. Its not that only others are at risk, even the risk of those who are working in defense are equally there.

A perspective will be that defense is needed for self defense for example against terrorism or other military hostility. Perhaps there will be time, when we will fight for food and water at that time we will need military! Well, in last so many millenniums we are fighting all in vain, when are we going to have a world – one world, without boundaries – as a family?

Related blogs – Border-less world, world is imperfect, Ambitions selfishness and fear, size of the universe and dont divide we are interdependent.

  1. Image source –Hindustan Times
  2. Hunger statistics source – FoodAidFoundation and DoSomething
  3. Defense budget source – Wikipedia

Start the new year by giving

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Capitalism has specially fascinated me in recent past. The fascination had been such that I have believed that capitalism is an approach where we realize futility of running behind all the comforts and all the need hierarchies. If there are other economic models too that help you approach this realization, than capitalism seems to work faster. My feeling had been that the possibility of realizing that need hierarchy under a socialistic and other type of economic systems is lower compared to capitalism. This impression is based on visits to certain cities of developed – mostly – capitalistic economies.

My opinions may be incorrect, as repeatedly pointed out in comments by Ramana uncleji. I am still analyzing why I may be incorrect in the sense that capitalism a better approach to move towards spirituality compared to other systems.

Image result for donateOne recent incident helped me evaluate my premise bit more. I was collecting donations for an NGO – DSY. The plan was to collect about 1 lac Indian rupee within 5 days before 25th Dec. Some unexpected mail, call and chats resulted in donations. I was confident of other close friends to donate – they did not! It was utter surprise to me. I am not asking money for myself, I am giving financial details of the organization and I am also showing the work the organization has done, yet the closest of my friends are uncomfortable to donate. Impact of two of the projects are below –

Some of my friends are MBAs and others are Engineers working in respectable organizations. They are well to do, yet they were unwilling to donate. What was the problem with them to even commit INR 1000 or say INR 5000? In fact I told a few of them if you donate INR 5000 or more you will get tax deduction under section 80G of Income tax too. The question I had in my mind was – if someone can spend few thousands on New Year eve, cannot someone commit that much or lesser for someone else? The money can help a farmer stay alive, not commit suicide or a tribal child study. Why so? Have we become so callous? Are we less compassionate in the influence of capitalism?

Answer to the question and my recent analysis was – in many cases today’s capitalism is a constant feeling of “having less” and “willingness to have more”. I’ve been writing about this desire for more, constant running behind many things in past. I felt that it’ll get subdued over period of time under capitalism. Prosperity will help a person view futility of this constant race to get more. Because over a period of time an individual will start questioning own’s running – why? What more? Resulting in realizing futility of this rat race sooner rather than later.

Abundance possibly is based on our sense that “I already have things in abundant supply”. Possibly, we’ll have some different economic model in future, not exactly capitalism; where contentment will be primary and give will be preferred over feeling of paucity depravity and wanting for more.

Last not the least – I’ve extended my targets to 2 lac. By 31st March 2018 you can donate at https://www.dsyindia.org/login.php. Once you donate please share the acknowledgement with me so that I know how far I’m from my targets.

Start the new year by giving. Wish you a Very Happy New Year. I hope few of you will think of donating besides wonderful celebration of the coming year.

Image source – http://mike-ward.net/donate/

Related blogs – Education, Chicken in the “poultry farm of economy”, Race – never ending, What more you need?, When will we stop?, Swasthay – dwelling in oneself, Money worth earning, A cup of tea

Capitalism’s possible impact

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Keynes in an essay had said “his grandchildren’s generation would only work 15 hours a week.” Apparently, that generation is in the workforce now. Are we working <2 working days a week? Far from it. According to some studies, working population of the developed countries are still working at least 34 hours a week (if not 40 hours). Possibly the prediction was incorrect by a generation.

On a leisure weekend, we were wandering in one of the biggest cities of Latin America last month. It was our first visit to the country. We were talking about the way of living there and possible future for us. I said, in future, we may be working for enjoying what we do, not for earning our living. So, when Keynes said working 15 hours a week, it is possible that rest of the time, people do what they otherwise would want to do – it can be work too. Given a choice I would want to study, read books, wrote blogs 🙂 share my knowledge etc. Some of it I still do though, but over the weekends. Was this the future that Keynes saw as possible? I think yes.

Uber, Apple and Google are working on autonomous cars. We’ve technology intervention in everything – industrial revolution brought partial automation, technology revolution increasing automation. It is possible that in future organizations will be minting money on robots alone. Hopefully when we reach that state, we will be beyond food, shelter and social standing. In fact that possibly can be one of the reasons for the following outcome of a research – population of developed countries are not that happy. Perhaps our mind has the habit of occupying itself. When there is nothing to be occupied with, either one is unhappy or one can think of bigger purpose in life.

The statistics can be contested such as – how were these 50 years compared? This discontent and prosperity will surely lead to the questions towards spirituality. When a society is prosperous that is when it starts or tend to move inwards – at times capitalism it is that provides opportunity to dig deeper within [From my previous blog]. I see a lot of people pursuing Buddhism or for that matter meditation in west.

Besides, when development will lead to unhappiness, the journey of inwards will start. People will ask question – what makes me happy? That is when people will start working for 15 hours a week for wages and rest for self. I see that as an impact of capitalism. When that happens economies would not remain purely capitalistic. There will be change in our approach of economy, it wont remain purely capitalist.

Image Source – https://twitter.com/nareshnshahani/status/938937338431807488 tweet from – Mr Naresh Shahani.

At times capitalism it is!

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CD of Jane Fonda can be more useful for you to learn Yoga – an Indian physical, mental and spiritual practice. When you watch her video you are likely to feel as if she is a native to this art, have you ever thought why? It is not a case of go Yoga alone that many Indians would neither know nor will be able to practice such things well. It is the case with practice of meditation – an eastern method of consciousness – too. Would not you be impressed with many foreigners not only talking seriously about meditation but also practicing meditation religiously and needless to say better than many Indians.

Have you ever wondered why? What happened that we have relegated such a unique knowledge to either books or only to religious institution? At the same time how the Western world has been taken to these practices with ease and are excelling in it? It would not be surprised that in next 100 years there would be more spiritual readers from the Western world than from India or South East Asia.

There was a time when India was prosperous. Prosperity makes one question the significance of life, after life and whys of existence. It is unlikely for a hungry stomach to think beyond food. It is difficult for a person in danger to think about higher purpose of life; not impossible but difficult for sure. I remember my professor Dr Anand Saxenasaxena-sir-25dec12 told me –

गो धन, गज धन, काज धन, सबे रतन धन ख़ान|
जब आवे संतोष धन, ये सब धुरी समान||

Go dhan, gaj dhan, kaaj dhan sabe ratan dhan khan
Jab aave santosh dhan ye sab dhuri saman.

Meaning:

It is true that owning cattle, jewels or kingdoms is mine of wealth
But when you own wealth of contentment (satisfaction) those mines (cattle, jewels etc) of wealth become worthless (like dust)

 

I love capitalism because it gives an individual the possibility to be prosperous. Prosperity, at least once, can give a person a chance to raise questions on existence. I believe capitalism and what follows, for example wealth, well-being, abundance etc may make one question – why and how of cycle of life. That is why probably Jane Fonda is a better practitioner of Yoga and many in West are turning towards meditation.

When a person goes beyond food, shelter and social standing one can think of bigger purpose in life. It has been story of many warriors in India – Mahavir or Buddha. Shashi Throor in one of his famous speech said before Britisher’s arrived in India, India had 23% of the world GDP. That is as much as if not more than current GDP of USA’s proportional GDP to the world. When a society is prosperous that is when it starts or tend to move inwards – at times capitalism it is that provides opportunity to dig deeper within. It seems very counter-intuitive though but that is how the logic of Business to the Buddha; that is how the journey for within may start for the West.

You Need To Believe

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When I hear the phrase “you must believe” the first thing that comes to my mind is “Kung Fu Panda“. I love the movie and here are two videos that come to my mind when I think of “you need to believe”. First is when Master Oogway tells Master Shifu to believe. The other is Po’s father telling him “…there is no secrete ingredient, you must believe the soup is special…” this gives Po an idea what the message of Dragon scroll is.

 

I reached in a country (continent) where I never thought I will go. I am walking on the streets and meeting people on the other hemisphere, it is no less than a surprise. This makes the title “You need to believe” apt for me today. Believe is a verb for belief, I am slowly making some perspectives that one must accept things and be willing to be amazed with life as it comes. It requires some sort of trust (trust in who is immaterial and can be explore in some future blogs).

Change in perspective is happening on other dimensions too for me. I was of the type of liberals who hate present Prime minister of India Mr Modi. In my mind it was kind of dislike for him after 2002 to almost until 2015, even though Indian courts have already acquitted him. Slowly, I started feeling, he being the PM of India is a better choice than any other current politician in India.

On believing some of his steps, I loved demonetization as a decision. In fact I am a step ahead – wish we do away with denominations higher than 100. I know there were execution challenges, however after a lot of planning too in last 70 years we have seen what the results of planned policies resulted in – roads made but do not sustain, money gets allocated but only 5% of the actual amount reaches the needy. What is the need of such planning in those cases?

We need a kick to start a bike, isnt it? Perhaps some decisions of Mr Narendra Modi are like that. If someone who has the guts and takes decision and makes course correction – we think planning is less but at least some actions are taken. Those who start have the possibility to reach those who do not start cannot go anywhere.

We need to believe. I live in Mumbai, I have seen stagnation of property prices in there. I am a fence sitter for buying home, after demonetization the prices have come down, not to my expectations though but yes some things have change for better. The artificial inflation is low now. It is possible that growth number at the time of previous government were impacted positively due to such inflation.

I believe, artificial property price rise and corruption was “Organized loot and legalized plunder” what we saw in Manmohan Singh government of Indian National Congress. It is when CWG, Coal and 2G etc scams happened – that is organized loot and legalized plunder. All the scams were kind of legal activities but organized such that payments were made under the table to those who were in government. I hope former PM Manmohan Singh who presided over these scams will know what a common-man sees as Organized loot and legalized plunder.

We need to believe things will be better – be it GST or demonetization. Who knows perhaps in 2019 it will be a hung parliament?

You Need To Believe was last week’s LBC topic where Maria, Ramana uncleji, Ashok and Shackman write. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.

Shashi Throor in us

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There is a Shashi Throor hidden in all of us. I did not mean the English one – “…farrago…” whose English is such that even native speakers (Brits) need to sit with dictionary. I meant Throor who feels besides him all others are “cattle class”. We all have that Shashi Throor hidden in us; if not all, many of us.

Well, this feeling of “I am special” is too ingrained in the politicians and bureaucrats that many feel they are the god’s gift to the mankind – more precisely to India. If you have heard the statement – “You don’t know who my father is (you don’t know who am I)” in all likelihood you have confronted son or small time sidekick of some politician. Or “this will go upto the PMs office” you have lived in Delhi. The swagger is higher in politicians of higher level – like Shashi Throor. Also, this bullying happens by many other son’s of neta / small time netas to commoners like you and me.

Throor’s cattle class comment is special. When he made this comment I believe he was to board a flight. A country where at least half of the population never traveled by a flight, calling the rest of 50% – who are rich enough to fly – a cattle class either makes one feel India has not progressed or there is some disorientation in the minds of few.

At the same time, other mortals like you and me too have the feeling of being unique (watch a 1 minute video of Madagascar which will let you know – we are all unique – but still the same). We – most of us – have a feeling that I am one up over others and a (smaller than like of Throor) gift of god to the mankind. How it occurred to me that we all have a Shashi Throor in us (like Marty of Madagascar) was a brief chat with my sister.

Once, my sister and her daughter was flying from Delhi by Indigo. They were in queue for check-in, a lady just cut through the line and went for check-in. Others in queue said – “we are all here in queue for check-in, Please get in the queue?” The lady said – “there is so much crowd.” My sister was second for check-in at that time, she told her – “Madam, everyone has a flight and is a passenger like you“. Some people when they realized the sarcasm, of crowd and passengers, told her – if you feel so special why dont you take Jet or Air India Business class why are you traveling Indigo? Isn’t it below your dignity to fly an economy flight if you are so special and not like others?

The lady got the message – she is a part of crowd too, she is no different. But she didnt budge. After narrating this story to me my sister said you know we feel special for ourselves but feel other’s as “crowd”. We forget we are part of the same (in general and spiritual context too). The reason she told me this was – I was driving, picked her up from airport and was cribbing about traffic stating “driving is no fun here, it is a ordeal”. She told me we are all equal why are you cribbing?

This cribbing was specially for those who drive Innova or other very long car – monster actually – alone to office or for those who cut lanes just to save their two-three minutes – end up messing whole road. She told me – accept this mess, you will be peaceful. Also, if you think the person cutting lane is crowd, you too are the same for him/her. Accept that traffic is going to be here – you are no special – in fact at times you are the traffic! We laughed, I learnt my lesson, though I still crib about traffic – bit less though. Knowledge will sink slowly.

I wish Shashi Throor (and many others) too had a sister like my sister who can teach him/her – we are unique, yet same. We all are Marty of Madagascar – we need to identify that others are equally unique and like us. At times we’re the traffic. We’re the cattle / sheep – pun intended – following the one ahead of us – by wheedling someone (praising an incompetent).

 

PS – The blog is to make a point – we are unique yet similar and are equal humans. There should not be any ego. “Cattle class” of Shashi Throor happened to be a pertinent example. The author does not intend to malign political personality or defame/demean anyone (including Shashi Throor).