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)

Why-Analysis – Karma

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In operations consulting we used to do why-why analysis. It is a method to identify cause of an occurrence. There are other methods also available for doing such analysis. The objective of such different methods is be to find the root cause of some occurrence.

Why this happened? Because of that. Why that happened? because of something else.This why question is asked on the answer of previous question until an actionable cause is identified. Mostly a root cause is reached in maximum of 5 why’s. It is a very commonly used cause and effect analysis tool in operations management.

I watched this video and could relate to karma, our entanglement to karma (Maya) and that root cause analysis technique mentioned above. The lesson here is, one must try to find “The cause of cause”.

Guruji (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) is saying in this video that when you stick at one or lower levels of the cause attribution you do not get to the real cause. On the contrary that entangles you, in Karma, even more.

If we do not perform Why-Why analysis correctly, we get frustrated and the operations do not get improved. Thus, properly performing this analysis will get to the root cause – mostly management. How and why a decision was made which resulted in the issue say for example high inventory or poor quality output. Thus that can help improve operations of the organization.

Similarly when we analyze karma we would reach to the ultimate – the cause of all the causes. Guruji calls it – Shiv tatva in this video.

Karma plays a role everywhere, be it spiritual life or professional. However, doing a why-why analysis on operations is easy on the contrary doing a why-analysis on “the cause of all the causes” is easier said than done.

Perceptions create reality

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What defines something as good or bad, best or worst? Isn’t it all about perceptions? ‘Perception’ this word is made up from a verb “Perceive” which means – to become aware of through the senses. Is “something sensed” by sense organs actually truth? Let us expand the question stem, what is truth? These are some weird questions I had. Our perceptions create our reality. The reality is very relative in that sense.

I had written the brief of this blog in Jan 2017, kept it as a draft. Now when I review the text, it reminds me of a story of The Prayer of the Frog. The book is in two volumes Volume 1 and Volume 2. If I try to elaborate perceptions and reality it would be very long. So read a story from the book, I shall write my longer version of thought some time later. In the mean time, relish this story –

Half full, half empty, possibility thinking, optimism, pessimism… and a fearless heart.
There was a loud knocking in the seeker’s heart. “Who’s there?” asked the frightened seeker.

“It is I, Truth,” came the answer.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” said the seeker. “Truth speaks in silence.”

That effectively stopped the knocking—to the seeker’s great relief. What he did not know was that the knocking was produced by the fearful beating of his heart.

The Truth that sets us free is almost always the Truth we would rather not hear. So when we say something isn’t true what we all too frequently mean is: “I do not like it.”

——

Our perceptions create our realities, and many of the times we believe these are the “sacred truth” and most of the time, we mean – “I do not like the truth”. Because more often than not – the heart knows yet the mind does not want to believe or accept.

Focus

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It was a carefree weekend, I woke up as usual in early morning and was brushing my teeth. Chirping of birds, how did I miss it everyday? Today, I heard it clearly and with full attention. The thought came in mind again – I don’t even remember hearing this good morning call of birds; everyday.

Is it a distraction from outside or there is some distraction inside? I left this thought as it is. It is difficult for ego to accept that something within can also be a distraction and cause botheration. It means – ego finds it difficult to accept the problem was/is itself / inside.

These thoughts kept on lingering in mind. After two weeks of these thoughts, this Sunday I went for my regular group meditation practice. At the Art of living center, where we were doing our practice I got the answer. Renu di – the teacher – briefly discussed what is needed –

Wherever your focus is, other things become distraction. If your focus is clear there may not be any distraction. On the contrary you may, once in a while, notice something and with awe observe it and move on to your focused activity. “Distractions are felt if you are not centered”

This Sunday during our session, a generator was switched-ON nearby, naturally it was noisy. However, we all could do our meditation easily. Renu di asked us – how was the session? Almost everyone had a good practice. She further asked – how many of you felt the loud noise was a distraction? It was not a distraction to any one. She added – whenever you are jittery go inside, when outside world distracts you, go inside. If there is anything bothering you observe yourself you will find botheration are when your focus changes.

Life is easy, we complicate it by the concept of Monday blue and Friday fun. Even a Monday can be fun so can any other day. Just listen to the chirping of birds, give mind some rest, focus on what you are doing and life is fun.

Image source – Pixabay – fxxu

Grass grows by itself

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For last couple of years, I have been buying stuff (mostly grocery and vegetables) from where I get a bill (invoice), even if I have to pay a bit more. Reason has been straightforward – I am fine paying more because presumably the one who gives me bill pays tax. It reduces burden on my tax and thus country can improve and prosper. Straightforward logic. However, another thought runs in mind – things are getting automated, be it agriculture or industries. Technology based jobs are likely to get automated too. This will create a scarcity of jobs. We should support roadside vendors otherwise how will they sustain their livelihood.

Next level challenges for Governments and even for private sector will be job creation at grass root. The other thought says possibly there would not be a need of job creation. Things will happens automatically due to automation. On a philosophical level as Ramana uncle keeps on quoting – Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself. ~ Basho. This no one would require to do job, the same possibility suggested by Keynes.

The world thus would be a kind of utopia, we hopefully wont require ruling over the other. It would be a time of soul searching, digging inside doing inner revolution. I strongly believe prosperity of each individual is the best way to reach the Utopian world. Economics, fails at such Utopian world, because where there is scarcity there is demand and supply. However, if everyone is prosperous probably no one will feel wealthy. Feeling of being wealthy at that time would be defined by some other measures – not necessarily by money. Currently too we are on the verge of redefining wealth, money is not what you have in your pockets or home is no more the only wealth. Wealth is – stocks you have, count of zeros in your accounts, may be in future we would look at bitcoins in your electronic wallets.

Possibly, the Buddha was disillusioned by wealth – he was a prince after all, wealthiest of kingdom – when he saw a sick old man, a dead body etc. Likelihood of seeing a Buddha like person is far higher in prosperous economy. India was at peak of its economic, scientific and spiritual knowledge. The world now and in future needs to think about spirituality and economics in same plane. The world we are creating for our coming generations should have growth, livelihood, sustainability and spirituality together. This requires learning a couple of concepts of Buddha’s teachings deeper – i. interdependent co-arising ii. the middle path and iii. righteousness (speech, action, livelihood,efforts, mindfulness, concentration, view and resolve).

I think we need to think beyond jobs creation, wealth, we need to think about a holistic development of human race because the grass grows by itself.

Happy Buddha Purnima, may everyone become The One soon.

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