Adviti and perspective change

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Adviti is growing up, she has started turning and every now and then she turns. When feeding her, she turns that makes putting food in mouth difficult. It was surprising initially to feed her used to be irritating that she is turning in no time. Once, I was talking to a relative, she said – Adviti will keep on doing it because it provides her a different perspective to the world. As an infant, how good and easy for them to change perspective – make it exactly 180 degree and enjoy. How difficult for us to change our perspective?

This change in perspective gave me an opportunity to question my own opinions. So, first was marriage in particular caste. The other apparent Indian customs such as – girls parents to not step in her home once girl is married! Yes that I have heard in conservative families. I don’t know how much is it followed now. So, when I badgered Lingayat community for disrespectful behavior on marriage issues, today I try to look at another perspective.

perspectiveOne of the possible reason for people looking at their own community or professional background could be that a girl grown up in similar environment may find it easy to settle in new family with similar customs or work requirements. If a farmer marries a goldsmith’s daughter would not it be very difficult for her to get accustomed to the new way of living?

Second, when society used to say not to go to girl’s home after her marriage, the possible reason could be – avoiding conflicts. Indian soap opera’s show it often. Additionally, olden days, it used to be a wish that girl is married in a family of economically higher standing. So, possible that girl or her parents should not feel uncomfortable, or should not be named for their gaucherie by the boy’s family. My small mind could think of only these possible reasons.

Lastly, eastern religion – all have concept of rebirth and karma. Personally, I not only follow but also believe in these concepts. A different paradigm from these seemingly good concept is here. If you tell a student that you’re not good at mathematics because in last life time you moneylender and did mischievous calculations to let the borrowers keep on paying you unnecessarily, that is a bad perspective on the concept.

There are many wars, fights and arguments due to perspectives. Be it capitalism vs socialism, one religion vs the other or political biases. We can be passionate about our perspective yet should be compassionate to listen to others view too. Otherwise there will always be wars, fights and arguments.

Adviti is teaching me a lot of things with her growing up. The recent one is changing perspective and looking at the other side, even if it seems incorrect prima-facie. This is a difficult task, I am trying to learn though, she changes her perspective by 180 degree easily at this age. Are we as adults going to learn something from our next generation?

Image source – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Point_of_view_bias.jpg

Work, games and spirituality

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It was a pleasant evening of  summer vacation in 1996. We were playing cricket as usual. We were about 15-16 boys and kids of our colony. Few of us were in teens, me and my friend used to lead and divide team and lead them to play against each other. My friend – an all-rounder – was a very sincere, serious and fully dedicated to the tasks given and therefore respected by all friends alike. I knew his this nature because we were together in NCC too. This event happened 20+ years back. Yet I remember the day, because it taught me about work, games and spirituality. Though it took me 20+ years to learn the lesson.

That day in the very first match of 6 overs, we’re all out at 8 runs score. This was the first match for evening, my team discussed to lose this match and we will play next better. We’d given up even before beginning our bowling. I took the first over, and bowled slow delivery to my friend. He understood our thought process, instead of playing the ball, he caught the ball and threw it at me angrily. He said – if you want to play, play seriously! If you dont, either I or my team wont continue playing with you guys. Go back bowl like you would otherwise!

Actually it hurt my ego. I felt humiliated and realized that they too deserve a fair play. So, this time around – knowing that we are going to lose – I bowled the best I could. In first over we took 4 wickets and gave away 2-3 runs. Our team size used to be 7-8 mostly. So, we realized we are in the game! But the problem was – my friend was still on the crease and we had weak alternative bowlers. We’d no chance, I gave the ball to my bowler and went to field at boundary (long on).

I don’t know what was going on in my friends mind, whether it was his overconfidence or desperation to finish the game quickly he hit a big shot. I ran like mad to catch and jumped to catch the ball, bruised myself but my friend was out. This was the moment – similar to Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket in 90’s for Australia – we realized even with 8 runs score and 29 balls spare, we can win. It was just a matter of few more balls and we won.

The lesson

I learnt a lesson when I was reprimanded to immense humiliation. Though I could comprehend the learning only now when I read an interpretation of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4, shloka 22 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (Guruji). A friend of mine from The art of living shared this interpretation with me. I am sharing a select part of the message which can help identify inference.

यदृच्छालाभसन्तुष्टो द्वन्द्वातीतो विमत्सर: |

सम: सिद्धावसिद्धौ च कृत्वापि न निबध्यते || 4.22||

yadṛichchhā-lābha-santuṣhṭo dvandvātīto vimatsaraḥ

samaḥ siddhāvasiddhau cakṛitvāpi na nibadhyate (4.22)

“Being free of jealousy, having that equanimity of mind, Arjuna, do your job!”

…When you don’t think whether you will succeed or not, you will be able to give your hundred percent. Often it is the result which makes you not give your hundred percent… If you know you are going to lose, then you will not be sincere about playing the game... When you don’t worry whether you win or lose, or you don’t even consider its effect, you give your hundred percent, that is really playing, that is a real game.

“It is the same with work. Work has to be like a game.”

A yogi considers even his work as a game, so be a yogi. Yogi means ‘one who does things in perfection.’ Every little thing he does will be perfect because he has that equanimity of mind. Only when you consider your work as a game, can you ever be detached about whether it is going to be successful or not. It doesn’t matter anyway.

My friend taught me the above lesson – I learnt and understood that lesson recently.

Life is a celebration

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I was doing regular weekly followup at an Art of living center today morning. While breathing, I realized Something. Probably it’s nothing new for many – the moment I took the breath in, it became me! The air I breath became me and I was nothing without it. We become a part of something be it breath, food or the environment. As a kid, I enjoyed many festivals Ganeshotsva was one of them. Slowly I started feeling it is more political than social. I was disenchanted and grew over it. After coming in Mumbai, I connected to this festival once again. Slowly I this season and festival has become a part of me.

This festival has been teaching a lot of things to me. Have you observed something special? Almost whole year we have some or the other festival and celebration in India. We go out to submerge the deity with full funfair dancing. This is going to happening once again predominantly in Western India (Maharashtra). Every year during this festival I learn – and forget later – that life is celebration.

Similar worship will start in few weeks in Eastern India (West Bengal) also in Gujarat. The god on the other side would be – Devi. Imagine, a deity brought home with full reverence, worshiped twice a day and in the end submerged.

I get quiet surprised, in Indian system there is no particular festival (occasion) of mourning unlike another predominant religion. Shraddh paksh is there, but it is not exactly about mourning. Shraddh paksh is about paying respect and homage to the departed ancestors and remembering them. Probably the reason for not mourning is that we – most Indian religion – presume that there is coming back. So, why to mourn? We have to pay homage to our ancestors because of them we are here. However, they too will come back until Moksha.

If there is no end, why be sad? Why be disappointed? Why not celebrate every moment? Had there been Ganesha, he would have loved these last 10 days, and would have danced on the way for submerging – he too would know – life is celebration. Life is a celebration, better we realized it earlier in our life time. A celebration with awareness, if not realized, “life is a trouble… death is not“.

Whatever, good or bad I / you take in (be it food, thoughts or breath) becomes me / you. So it is a good idea to “be a celebration”.

Moksha – attainment of self-realization, liberation from the cycle of life and death.

Adviti and genes of generations

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As I shared last week, we are blessed with a baby girl – Adviti. Our daughter has just turned 6 months. With her coming in, and our near and dear visiting us, comparison of “who does she look like?” started. Some say she looks like me others say she looks like my wife. Yet others say, her face will change for first couple of years and we cannot make a final judgement until then.

Besides her looks, we have observed a peculiar behavior of Adviti. She has a sideways smile. This smile resembles bit of my smile. It surprised us in the beginning. Initially we brushed it aside as a random observation. However, when we saw Adviti smile often sideways, plus stretching herself after waking up, we realized that she probably has got some behavioral traits resembling mine. We started asking ourselves, besides the physical appearance does baby have behavioral similarity too with parents? It is not some behavioral trait at a later stage of (learnt by) the baby but an infant as young as 3 months.

When my wife and I had this question, we realized the value of building ourselves into a better person. We are not only building ourselves but also our coming generations. This brings me back to spirituality and meditation. You can read an interesting article on advantages of meditation at this link. Have you ever questioned how does your present life impact your offspring (born or unborn)? Perhaps meditation has some keys of evolved future generations.

Now, I am firm believer that we must teach meditation and spiritual practices to our kids, these are more likely to impact our coming generations positively. At times, when I see kids playing violence based games or watch gory movies I feel that we need to put some discretion somewhere.

I believe Sri Sir Ravi Shankar (or some other spiritual master), said somewhere once – “…meditation done by a person impacts his ancestors as well as coming generation…” When I see Adviti’s some behavioral traits I have no doubts about the impact now.

Instead of writing / reading about meditation try one (and many others), here

 

Teaching virtues to Adviti

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We were blessed with a baby girl a couple of months back. We have named her Adviti. Adviti from a Hindi / Sanskrit word Advitiya which means unparallel, peerless or no other can be like her (him). As they say in Chinese catch them young, now, I am parenting Adviti and teaching her virtues.

In last couple of months life has changed. A lot has changed for me and specially for my wife – Simple. Having a baby is a huge responsibility and taking care of her has changed us both in many ways. A dimension is added in all these personal, psychological and emotional changes – how do we provide good upbringing to Adviti?

Being bit spiritual, though she is just turning six months, I started reading Jatak tales to her. At times I laughed at myself – I am reading these stories to her in English. I wonder if she understand Hindi (native language) forget about English (non native language). Isn’t it difficult to figure out approach for correct (better) upbringing of kids? Has anyone figured it out?

When I started reading these stories to her, I asked myself, should I teach certain virtues – taught in the stories – to her? I wonder in next couple of years how our society will change.

As a kid I lived around a lot of Jain followers. During those days not eating onion and garlic was natural to me. In fact I am trying to practice their eating habits now too. Besides other concepts, the Jain philosophy teaches a concept – Asteya meaning non stealing. However, in today’s society where morally corrupt make the law and loot are mostly legalized, what is the meaning of a parent teaching such lessons to his/her children?

I have examples of previous 70 years of corruption cases of India alone, forget about the rest of the world. The law gets bent such that corruption – even though it is evident – of these lawmakers become legally correct. It is so difficult to prove – something that looks so evident – that many corruptions happened but we cannot prove it easily – case in point is – case on son of previous finance minister. Our (specially Indian) legal system is so slow and lopsided that it takes 20+ years to get someone jailed (read Sanjay Dutt or Lalu Prasad Yadav) and prove someone innocent (A postman).

Here, it is needless to say that Indian film industry tried proving Sanjay Dutt innocent with all the flaws. Isn’t it possible someone in future will try to paint these current politicians also as innocent? If our culture is getting a narrative that is distorted parents may have doubt in teaching virtues to their kids. Asteya – non stealing – is it just a good concept in books or religious sermons? Does it make sense to teach virtue’s to our next generation?

A conversation

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My friend called me and said I want to talk to you. I said go ahead we can speak. He asked for specific time as his conversation was likely to be a longer one. So, we decided to speak after office hours on a Friday evening.

He called me and said – “You know what? I always took your opinions constructively and learnt from it. Whenever you spoke with me and at times when you badgered me for my naivety or mistakes it was learning. Now when I recently had a very bad such opinion from someone, I felt like getting buried in sand.”

I was surprised. I am bit harsh some times, however I never knew that I am pursued like this by someone. Yes, intentions were most of the times for helping the person. So, I asked for more details of the recent incident. He obliged and gave me a detailed account of what has just happened with him.

My friend was visibly upset. I knew he was kind enough not to give as good as he had got. Possibly he was not upto it, or he was not in such position. I sensed he was unhappy and this recent incident was depressing. So, I shared the following story with him –

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Happiness

Traveller; “What kind of weather are we going to have today?”
Shepherd: “The kind of weather I like.”
“How do you know it will be the kind of weather you like?”
“Having found out, sir, that I cannot always get what I like, I have learnt always to like what I get. So I am quite sure we will have the kind of weather I like.”

Happiness and unhappiness are in the way we meet events, not in the nature of those events themselves.

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We concluded the call, I said lets try to look at brighter side you learnt something. So, he himself concluded few points. One point was – next time if something goes beyond the agenda of discussion, I would bring it on agenda or I will stop digression. This is a common problem with many of us today. The digression was the culprit for my friend predicament. Not just digression but also little attention span. Well, I have to learn a lot before becoming such a coach to someone. My friend was kind enough to think I can be of any assistance.

Story sourcePrayer of the frog book by Fr Antony DeMello, the book is available in two volumes Volume 1 and Volume 2.

Mumbai and ego

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Mumbai is a unique city. I was talking to a friend of mine and had a eureka moment. There is a relationship between Mumbai and ego. One can learn a lesson or two on spirituality from Mumbai.

Ego puts itself at center and everything – including the world – around itself. Similar thing happens in Mumbai. Geographically Mumbai is in length, unlike many other cities. There is no way you can be in center of the city if you are in a corner.

Map of Mumbai, Mumbai and egoMumbai has three railway lines – Central, Harbor and Western. Western line is of affluent people, Central line people feel they are in the center of city. Harbor line is of Navi Mumbai, one of the largest planned city in the world.

Western line is very crowded, at times if you are stuck in traffic on western express highway you are immobile for an hour or so. When you talk to people of Western line, you will hear oh “western” is far better. It is centrally located, I get everything in my locality. Standard of living are simply incomparable with rest of Mumbai.

Similar logic you get when you talk to people of central line. They will say trains run fastest on our line, eastern express highway is really a highway. We are centrally located and can reach anywhere easily. When you talk to people living on harbor line you will hear almost similar good reasons to be on harbor line. It is far more planned has a lot of space, wide roads and planned neighborhood unlike mainland Mumbai. Standard of living are far better than any other part of Mumbai – at least we have some space to live at home. These points are mostly by those who live in Navi Mumbai.

Our ego also works in the same manner. We are centrally located, everything is centered around me. Ego tends to look at sunny side of self and possibly shortcomings of others.

Whether you talk to a person living in Borivali (Western), Bhandoop (Central) or Chembur (harbor). Borivali is in north – similarly Bhandoop or Chembur. This is a unique learning you have from Mumbai. You consider yourself as the center and whole world is circling around you irrespective of whether it is so. It is like Shashi Throor hidden in all of us.

Ego and Mumbai are one to one mapping, both of these show us how our mind manipulates us. We need to stop manipulation of self by the self.

From spoiled trouser to organization culture

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It happened a couple of years back when I was on vacation. I received an invitation for speaker engagement over a weekend. Who take formals on vacation? It was an eleventh hour request from a very respected business association on organization culture and innovation. I could not reject that invitation. I borrowed a trouser from my friend for attending this event.

While washing the borrowed trouser, it was spoiled by color of my father’s trouser. I was on vacations and markets were closed as weekly closure. I had no choice but to wear this borrowed trouser for this presentation. On a lighter note – I am not such a bad friend who will borrow your cloths and spoil them ;). I do not do such things often.

Since the presentation was on a short notice, I had been thinking for examples on my toes. This peculiar situation helped me understand a trait of organization culture. In fact I used this to make a point about organizational culture as well as my weird dressing; yes I wore that trouser for presentation.

Organization culture

For explanation let me call these trousers – borrowed trouser as T1 and my father’s trouser as T2.

The original color of T2 was washed away easily. However; when the same color stuck on T1 the color did not wash that easily. I had no choice but to wear the spoiled pant – T1. My father’s trouser – T2 was not my size. Well what I learnt about organizational culture from this incident was this –

  1. Building a good organization culture takes time and this cultural habit needs to stick with the organization. As the color should have stuck to the trouser T2.
  2. If the activity of culture building is not taken seriously, the wrong habits may stick more often than the right habits. Wrong habit here relates to the color on T2 that spoiled the borrowed trouser T1. The bad habits leave a bad impression, make amendment difficult, time consuming and in worst case impossible.

Right organization culture is very important for any organization, but it does not get built overnight. Once the culture is built, it is difficult to change it.

If the color on the trouser T2 were strong, it would not have spoiled the borrowed trouser T1. It is easy to mold new employees to the organization culture. It is possible for new employees to get molded to the existing organization culture like my borrowed trouser T1 got spoiled.

If an organization wants to maintain certain culture it has to depict this culture everywhere in its dealings. Be it treating its employees, clients, vendors and the whole society. The way an organization executes its business –operations, policies, analytical thinking, innovation and following laws of the land et al sets the tone.

Coming back to the trousers, it was later impossible to wash away the spot of colors on T1. I did two things –

  1. Bought a new trouser for my friends
  2. I got trouser T1 colored in dark color. Trouser became like new, I gave it back to my friend.

Alas! this is not possible for an organization.

Learning

Just imagine had the trouser T1 been an organization, what would have been the situation, impact and performance of the company. I was in an easy situation, solution was quick and effective. Imagine the management of the organization if they get into a bad organizational culture, it won’t be that easy to change the culture.

Paint employee in the organization cultureIt is said that old habits die hard. It is better to form good habits in the start itself. However, it is never too late, sometimes organization needs to make tough choices, change is always fought by the established norms, and therefore it becomes difficult to bring change. If senior management wants the change to become a norm they need to lead by example. Say for example if management wants to inculcate data driven culture in organization, management has to make it clear to everyone – “every decision should be backed by data, no decision will be made by gut feel or random idea”.

Bottom line for startups and entrepreneurs – if you color trouser T2 well, trouser T1 wont be get spoiled. If you take care of the organization culture from the start it is easy to maintain it.

Image sourcehttp://www.actiongroup.com.ar/cambio-cultural/

Thanks to Nilesh Yeram, my colleague who suggested using the above image.

Originally I have published this article on LinkedIn here, this article is modified here.

Guru poornima

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I have had privilege of meeting at least three enlightened masters in my life (until now), mentors and coaches. Some of the mentors may be enlightened masters and I am not aware about those. However, rest three I am sure – Sai Kaka, Dada ji and Guruji. It is difficult to have very close day-to-day meeting with the enlightened masters. The mentors have a special place they guide, encourage, handhold, and challenge, I have been fortunate that I have a long list of mentors.

I received a wonderful story on whatsapp “Importance of Guru” or mentor or coach in life.  Without much ado here is this wonderful story on Guru Poornima.

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Once upon a time, a cow went out to graze in the jungle. Suddenly, she noticed a lion racing towards her. She turned and fled, fearing that at any moment the lion would sink his claws into her. The cow desperately looked for someplace to escape and at last, saw a shallow pond. Barely evading the lion’s reach, she jumped into the pond, and in the heat of the chase, the lion blindly leaped after her.

Sai KakaTo the surprise of them both, the pond was extremely shallow yet filled with deep recesses of mud. After toppling over each other, the cow and the lion found themselves a short distance apart, stuck in the mud up to their necks. Both had their heads above water but were unable to free themselves no matter how much they writhDada Gavanded.

The lion repeatedly snarled at the cow and roared, “I am going to enjoy the sound of crunching your bones between my teeth!”

He thrashed about in fury but soon became fretful as he found no prospect of escape.

The cow thoughtfully laughed as the lion struggled to free himself and asked him, “Do you have a master?”

The lion disdainfully replied, “I am the king of the jungle. Why do you ask me if I have a master? I myself am the master!”

The cow said, “You may be the king of the jungle, but here all your power has failed to save your life.”

“And what about you?” Retorted the lion. “You are going to die here in this mud too!”’

The cow smiled mildly and said, “No, I am not.”

“If even I, the king of the jungle cannot free myself from this mud”, snapped the lion, “Then how can you, an ordinary cow?”

The cow gently replied, “I cannot free myself from this mud, but my master can. When the sun sets and he finds me absent at home, he will come looking for me. Once he finds me, he will raise me up and escort me home sweet home.”

The lion fell silent and coldly glared at the cow.

Soon enough, the sunset and the cow’s master arrived. He immediately recognized the plight she was in and lifted her to safety. As they walked home, the cow and the master both felt renewed gratitude for one another and pitied the lion they both would have been happy to save if only the lion had allowed them.

The cow represents a surrendered heart, the lion represents an egoistic mind, and the master represents the Guru. The mud represents the world, and the chase represents the struggle for existence therein.

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Its good to be independent and not rely on anyone. But don’t take it to an extreme, you always need a partner/coach/mentor who will be always on the lookout for you.

Having them does not mean you are weak, it’s just that you can be stronger with their help.

Intentions

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Once upon a time, there was a woodcutter, Ram. He was hardworking and had been doing woodcutting as a ancestral (family) profession. He was in this business for good about two decades. Ram’s daily schedule was to wake up in morning, get ready and go to the jungle to bring wood for selling in the village market as a fuel. His experience in all these twenty years were mixed, some days he found good wood and buyers with least heckling, other days neither of these.

In old days in India, seeing a saint meditating was a common siting, specially outskirts of town or in jungles. One day a saint arrived in the jungle where Ram used to go for cutting wood. This saint started meditating at an open space under a tree. A couple of days passed, he was in meditation.

Ram happened to cross this place and noticed the saint. Ram kept on cross this area daily for want of good quality wood. He noticed this saint meditating everyday. Ram was extremely impressed with the radiance of this unknown saint. The steady, unfazed and peaceful demeanor used to make Ram’s day calm, monetarily rewarding and merrier. When you’re around enlightened masters, your life changes for good, somehow things start falling in place.

One day, Ram felt that he must help the saint by keeping some food for him. It will help the saint continue practice without wasting his time on searching for food. So he brought honey from nearby apiary, without disturb the beehive much thus avoiding disturbance in the area. Once honey was available, he kept this honey and water near the saint and left for the day.

Saint was in deep meditation, completely unaware of the number of days passed by or someone keeping food for him. How long can you keep ants away from sweet? Ants came soon and rather than being a help; honey became a nightmare. Same evening some mischievous people also crossed this place. These people threw sugarcane sticks at the saint with full intentions to disturb his meditation. Thankfully instead of hitting the saint, these sticks fell nearby. Now, these ants got diverted to the sugarcane stick!

One must look at the intentions behind actions, it is not always the case that someone throwing a stone at you, he/she is likely to hurt you. Someone’s good intentions may be deterrent whereas bad intentions can be a boon.

Have you heard that one must not help caterpillar in it’s metamorphosis to a butterfly or should not break an egg to take chicken out? Good intentions but harmful outcome. Similarly –

It happens occasionally that your colleagues help you. If this assistance does not make you learn, possibly the long term outcome is harmful to you. On the contrary if your colleague does not help you; may be it is good for you because you will learn harder way with mistakes. These mistakes can teach you many ways not to do something, or how to do other new things. Isn’t it? Perspective!

Bad things may not happen to good people. If you feel something is bad in your life, possibly you need to involve yourself in more of good work. My sister – Preeti – told me this story recently, I liked it and so I put it here.

Image source – http://tathaastu.com (via Google search)