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I welcome you to my blog

Dear friend,
This blog is an effort to share all the mistakes committed by me in my Life. I wish to share them with a hope that you may learn from my mistake and avoid committing them all over again!

I am blending my wisdom with that of all great Masters who have shown me the Light.

This blog is dedicated to everyone from whom I learned. Wish you peaceful life ahead.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Beware of the Spiral

The oxford dictionary meaning of the word spiral is “continuous curve around a central point or axis usually harmful”. The best example in nature is spiral forming in the river which drowns even the experienced swimmer and the spiral forming in the air called “hurricane” which destroys everything on its way! We have similar spirals in our life where we get stuck psychologically and get drowned in the process. If we have to escape from such spirals, we need someone else’s help. The spirals are vicious circles which veil our wisdom temporarily and prevent us from using our rationale. As the famous Psycho-analyst Sigmund Freud defined, spirals create a “script” which runs our life there after till we come out of it. We often pass judgement and start punishing ourselves till we realize what we are doing in this planet?  Let me deal with such spirals more in detail.

Let me try through my own life history as an example – please bear with me for my autobiography which I have chosen because it is safer than injuring someone else’s pride!

Right from childhood, I had a dream to become an engineer although my father was a medical doctor. I have mentally benchmarked where I wanted to study my pre-university (PUC as it was referred to during those days) and engineering thereafter. Having born as the last child in a family of 11, by the time I came to my school final, all resources were exhausted. Compounding to this effect, my performance in the school final was not good enough to challenge those limited seats offered in the pre-university college of my choice. What was the outcome? – The spiral was waiting to gulp me!

I was advised by my brothers to take up a polytechnic education which I hated to enter. I was dejected, felt defeated and rebellious to mankind. This is a state of mind not unfamiliar to many Indian youths – which Lord Krishna in Bhagawat Gita calls “Arjuna state of consciousness” – confused and wanted to run away from the battle field. 

J. Krishnamurthy refers to this state as “Escapism” as we are trying to escape from the onslaught of life which is the reality one has to face courageously. This challenge has created the spiral, leading to a self-talk that “I will prove to the rest of the world who I am!” These circumstances created an empty feeling in me due to the loss of “self-esteem” which triggered a chase for degrees till I reached 38 finishing my M.Tech. My hunger to prove myself was continuing even during my 40s haunting me like a ghost.

This was the time I met my friend and class mate Prof. P. Seshu in IIT, Bombay while I wanted to register for my PhD at the age of 45. Knowing my history, he asked a simple question “Whom are you trying to prove?”; “Are you not chasing a wild goose?” These questions he asked dawned on me a new insight that I was trying to fill that empty space created by my childhood dreams and failures. One may argue that this spiral created a positive outcome in my life. But the endless empty feeling would have continued in my life if my friend had not brought me out of my delirium.  I was in college throughout my life missing a precious part with my wife and children as I was perennially feeling empty. Don’t you see a similar syndrome in many of us who get into a spiral and find it difficult to come out? As Swami Vivekananda says “We create our own net around ourselves and blame others for our circumstances”

Recently, I happened to counsel a brilliant boy who just finished his 12th standard with lesser marks than what was needed to enter some of the premium engineering colleges. He had a dream to study engineering only in a few colleges of his choice, which was shattered due his inadequate score. These are the spots in life where the “spiral” is waiting to start its menace!

He chose to challenge the educational system by repeating the 12th standard exams till he got a score that would get him to those premium colleges he was dreaming about. All of us face similar circumstances in life where we are confronted with a situation which challenges our ability. Many times we take these things personally and get even with the situation spending rest of our life proving ourselves right. The efforts that we may invest in proving ourselves right will be so enormous and will often not result in any worthwhile outcome. How do we deal with this situation?

Under these circumstances the following thoughts run in our mind leading us to the spiral:
  •          Am I inferior to the rest of the students in IQ?
  •          How can I say to people that I am studying in C-class College?
  •          I will prove to the World who I am and what I am capable of!
Lets us deal with each one of those thoughts wisely:

Inferior or superior is not decided by what your academic achievements are and it is often decided by what the results you produce in life. In ultimate analysis, I measure success based on “How peaceful you are in Life”. Even if you are the topper in class or studied in Harvard Business School, how you succeeded in your career is more important than your academic pursuits. I am not belittling the premium institutes as I myself am a student of IIT. If the CEO positions are reserved for people who top the class in the popular institutions, then the data should show that all corporate are headed by them. 

Paradoxically, most of the CEOs of the corporate are neither the toppers in class nor are from the premium institutions. This disproves the hypothesis that we need to study in premium institutions to be successful in professional career. Strangely, most of the entrepreneurs are academically pathetic and all learned people work to make money for them and live their life for paying their bills, as the author of the popular book “Rich dad & poor dad” Robert T Kiyosaki says.
The next two questions are “How can I tell the World that I am studying in a C-class university?” and proving yourself to the rest of the World. It is not important where we have studied; It is important “How we have studied?” It is not important where our marriage was performed; it is important how we are living with our spouse! Often our self-worth is decided by what the society  thinks rather than how we feel! As Swami Shukabodananda said there are three states in which we exist:
  •      Looking Good
  •      Feeling Good
  •      Being Good
The “Looking good” is a state where we want to look good in the eyes of others – this is the lowest rung in our maturity where our actions are guided by the “non-existent entity” called the society. This is a syndrome called “Dhunia kya sochega?” (What the world will think?). The society is busy in looking good and has neither the time to see what we are doing nor it is interested in our well being.

Feeling good is the next state of maturity where we want to study our own feelings and make choices to fulfil our feelings rather than a non-existent entity called “society" (Dhunia). In this state we are guided better to make our choices than the earlier state of “Looking good”

In the highest state of consciousness called “Being good” which a few people like Jesus and Buddha have attained. In this state of a being every worldly thing loses its significance. When you have relinquished everything in Life, everyone touches your feet and follow you. Alas! It is paradoxical to see when we don’t need anything, everything chases us; be it money, fame, people and what not? When Gautama became Buddha he is remembered after 2500 years and Jesus is followed by two third of the world’s population even after 2000 years. Alas, we don’t even know our great grandfathers who lived a few centuries ago or their photographs are not found even in the junk in our basement!  This means our photographs probably may find a place in our children's home after our death and slowly find its place in the basement to disappear into oblivion.

In summary:
  • Spiral is a state of a being where you have a script that runs your life to prove to the society that you are somebody.
  • Spiral swallows your well being as you start chasing a “wild goose” which keeps you busy with a false goal orientation to prove your worth.
  • There is no one there in society as everyone is caught up with their own “spirals” and chasing their wild dreams.
  • It is not important where you have studied; it is all the more important how you have studied and how you have used the opportunities without a myopic view
  • Try and move from “Looking good” state of a being to at least to “Feeling good” – the second state will guide you from your heart rather than an imaginary entity called “Society”
  • Follow your inner calls and beware of spirals that will consume your energy and take you nowhere!
  • There is nothing called “second hand human being” and there is only “second hand thinking”
  • Explore all avenues in Life as in the ultimate analysis “Nothing Matters” which is the title of my next article.
Jai Gurudev

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Time - The Time Bomb

Time is a limited commodity allotted to us depending on how long we live in our human form. It is the only resource in nature which can neither be stored nor transferred to next birth if you believe in reincarnation. The concept of time is a reality only in the human species and is a non-existent entity in all lower rung of creation. I believe that the animals have no concept of time which is evident from the relaxed way they live and relate with the environment. If it is true that they are conscious of time, we will find animals going around and aggrandizing wealth like us. We don’t find rat race among rats and it is the only privilege of humans! We destroy health in pursuit of wealth and spend all the wealth to recover the health back! This is the result of our wrong concept of “TIME”. Let me deal with it more in detail in this article.

Science defines time as the interval between two events. When one is in coma, he is not conscious of time. For recognizing time, we need to be conscious and Einstein in his theory of relativity defines time as a relative quantity depending on our state of mind. For example, when we are dating our girl or boy friend, we don’t recognize how the time passes by. On the other hand, when we are bored or waiting for our boy/girl friend, even a minute looks like a day. This leads to the argument that time is NOT what the clock ticks and lot to do with what our state of mind!

Depending on how much we value time, we use it for productive or un-productive purposes. Whether we are conscious or not, the time will deplete continuously. I am sixty now and looking back at my adulthood where I felt there was enough time to do things. To my surprise, I could not figure out how fast it has disappeared? Looking back, there were silver lines of achievements, strained relationships, and missed opportunities. If I can re-live my life  with my current wisdom, I may make better use of my life than what I did.

Alas, the mistakes committed in life over the time become the so called wisdom. The distinction between knowledge and wisdom is, the former is borrowed from other’s mistake and latter is the result of your own. There is an anonymous quote “Learn from other’s mistake, as you may not have enough time in your life to make all of them yourself!”

When we take stock of the situation in our death bed, we regret for the unlived life and relationship which we have missed and it is not wise to wait till then as it will be too late to remedy any of our folly. Rajneesh Osho once said “You cry when your parents or spouse departs from the earthly abode only for the un-lived part of your life with them – if you have lived life fully with them, you will say good bye to them saying it is your turn now and I shall see you in the heaven later!” - It is all depending on how conscious we are about this fleeting phenomenon called “Time”. He also said “Just imagine that your spouse is going to live only for the next six months and live life with him/her with the feeling you have very limited time with them”.

I remember one of my relatives whose wife was diagnosed with heart ailment and I have seen her husband treating her like a princess. Strangely she lived for nearly 20 years with a loving husband. We make New Year resolutions to stop smoking or over eating and flout the same waiting for the next year. At the same time, if we are diagnosed with terminal illness, we trade off everything for life! Strange is it not? The point I am making is; our behaviour is the result of how we relate with the time – if we feel it is in abundance, we tend to be indifferent; on the other hand, if we feel it is a scarce commodity, we tend to use it better.

What is the main point for action?

We were almost un-conscious of time while we were in our mother’s womb. Once we are in the earthly abode, we are playful till we are pushed into the competitive world in the play school. In the popular movie “3 idiots”, the director says that our competition has started when we competed with billions of sperms to find a place in our mother’s womb. Later, we are busy with our fantasy till we recognize our identity which happens during our teen ages. Like this time passes by in our formative years.

The struggle goes on with parents and teachers mostly rebelling against systems till we reach 23. We are brought to ground reality during this age (not guaranteed for all!). This is the time our identity is completed and we start seeing the sense of taking responsibility. In other words between 13 and 23 it is identity crisis and between 23 and 30 it is the formation of stature to develop the ability to take responsibilities. This is the stage where parents lose their ability for the formation of stature of their off-springs.

At the most the father can be a conduit to provide opportunities and mentor them. In vast majority of the cases the parents have no competency to do the same and the children are left with their own initiatives to form their personality. I believe this stage in life is very crucial as vast majority of the leadership qualities are imbibed during this period. The one who misses this age remains ignorant for the rest of the life.

The next precious phase in our life is 30 to 40, during which period we develop vocational & people management skills. Many of us cannot transition from technical to general management skills and reach our level of incompetence at the end of this phase. The last phase of our professional career is from 40 to 60 where we are supposed to be ready to lead an organization. As we progress higher in the corporate ladder, lesser is the number of positions and unless otherwise we are the best, we get side-lined to settle down in the lower rung  of the ladder.
Many of us develop the habit of Procrastination which means delaying things for no reasons and it is one of those modern days’ diseases which is haunting the human race. We make best use of the time only when we are conscious of Time. If not, it depletes in indulgences, sleep, gossips, blaming etc., and when we are in the death bed, we regret for all the procrastinations for not achieving enough with this precious opportunity of taking a human form in the earthly abode.

I did an analysis some time back as how we spend our life time in productive and un-productive way. If we live for 60 years in this earthly abode, we spend:

  •    Sleeping                               :               17.5 Years
  •    Travel                                  :                 6.4 Years
  •    Quarrel, upset etc.                :                 7.5 Years
  •    Eating, bathing etc.               :                 5.0 Years
  •    Gossiping                             :                 5.0 Years
  •    Holidays                               :                 6.5 Years
  •    Education                             :                 5.0 Years
  •    Total                                          :                    53.0 Years
  •     Effective usage                        :                  7.0 Years
  • (11% of total life span)

In Summary,
  • Time is the only commodity democratically allotted equally to all of us.
  • Time is the only resource which cannot be stored or transferred
  • It is the rarest resource that needs to be spent prudently
  • Formative years from 23 to 30 are very crucial – beware of this precious  time
  • Don’t procrastinate – postpone things to next day which can be done today; because you may not have tomorrow to do them!
  • How you relate with time decides your paradigm for relationship and your behaviour with the loved ones and human beings at large
  • Life will be merciless with you if you waste your time and unproductive
  • Don’t think you have lot of time to start later! As you wink your eyes, you will be sixty!
  • Learn from other’s mistake and live life wisely as you may not have time to commit all mistakes yourself
  • Live life as though you have very limited time in store.
  • Lastly,
o   Scarcity mentality with respect to time is the best way to push you to use Time prudently.
o   Don’t apply abundance mentality with respect to time because you have only one day to live and that is TODAY

Jai Gurudev

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Worry - "Interest Paid on Trouble before it is due"

What is worry? 
Let me attempt defining “worry” before proceeding with the investigation of its effects on the quality of our life. “Worry is an anxious thought we entertain anticipating a trouble in the future or regretting an incident of the past”. If we agree with this definition, worry is connected with the unborn future or buried past! We can classify all our thoughts into two categories namely negative and positive. Jealousy, greed, anxiety, worry etc fall under the negative category and love, compassion, etc. fall under the positive. All the negative thoughts have destructive effects on our heath, as the science has proved beyond doubt how our quality of thoughts has an influence on our health.

One of the modern day killers is the worry which has many destructive effects on human health such as tooth decay, hypertension, stomach ulcer etc. How can a thought create a physical effect? The physical body reacts according to the mental state. If you are anxious, you breathe faster and if you are cool, you breathe softly! The body and mind are so interconnected that one influences the other. William James, the greatest psycho-analyst of this century has demonstrated several experiments to show how body and mind respond to each other.

 Many of us succumb to this silent killer “Worry” without knowing what is happening within us. It appears that this concept of worry does not exist in the animal kingdom and it is an exclusive right of human beings! I would say it is a unique feature of human evolution as it requires higher intelligence to worry – namely the rationale! Like the feeling of upset, one cannot be productive when they are busy with the worrying thought.  In order to master this negative state of a being, we need to understand what worry is all about, and how we can overcome this habit? This is the main topic of discussion in this article.

In order to appreciate why we are caught up with the habit of worry, we need to understand the anatomy of human personality. The moment we are born, we certainly know that we will die one day! Whether anything else is certain or not, death is certain. Due to the higher intelligence and fear of death, human beings want to escape from death somehow. This concept has created a feeling of security. We feel that if we have enough money, we are secured. With the result we go around aggrandizing wealth thinking that money will help us to escape from death. All these have  created a phobia of an un-born future making us to worry about our health, future of our children and so on.

Science has studied about the composition of our thoughts and found that we process an average of sixty thousand thoughts in our waking hours and out of which 80 percent of them are about our un-born future! Invariably they are anxious thoughts of worrying about future. In other words we spend 80% of our time in imagining about worst to happen in the future. This may be of bad health, safety of our children gone to school and so on. Invariably we find that 99% of the worst we visualized have never happened in reality! Even then we continue to entertain the worry thoughts helplessly.

We need to learn many things from the animal kingdom to improve our quality of life. In the animal kingdom there is no concept of past and future and the only reality is “present”. The animals are believed to be governed by their instincts; hunger, procreation, self-preservation and rest. As they don’t have the concept of self-awareness as we have, they don’t know that they exist! As they don’t recognize that they exist, they don’t have an idea of death either. In another words, they have no fear of death as we human beings have. This fact leads to the conclusion that they have no desire to aggrandize wealth for securing their future like we do! If there is no concept of future, obviously they cannot worry about the same!

 If scientist could invent an instrument which can study the pattern of thinking of an animal, we will find that they have no worry thoughts. Even when we examine their behaviour we find that they have no anxiety about their next meal as they are never denied of it as the nature has planned to provide them when they need it! It may not be an exaggeration if I say that they are more confident about the love and compassion of the creator than human. In one of the discourses, Sukabodananda refers to the kindness of the creator by referring to the formation of the milk in the mother’s breast when the child is just delivered. We notice that the food nature creates is just-in-time and ideal for the infant to consume and survive. There cannot be a better example than this to re-assure us that nature provides what we need and not what we want!

Let’s us examine now how we can come out of the habit of worrying all the time.

To start with we need to understand that worrying is a habit like smoking or drinking. In order to manage anything in life, we need to know more about the subject we are trying to manage. If you wish to come out of the habit of worrying, you need to know more about “Worry”. As Stephen Covey said, formation of habits needs three ingredients; Desire, knowledge and skill. Most important ingredient is “Desire” to form a new habit and once it is taken care, the next is “Knowledge” about worry. 

One of the great thinkers has said that “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due”. What a great statement it is? Worry is like paying interest on the money which we have never borrowed! This implies that majority of the worst outcome what we imagined have never happened in reality, but we have already paid the interest by draining our precious time worrying about it! Another great quote I remember is “Worry is like a rocking chair; it keeps you busy but takes you nowhere!”

Having mastered the Desire and knowledge, the next in habit formation is “skill”. To develop a habit of eliminating the worry thoughts is to know when they attack you. As we have heart attack, we have to be aware of “Thought attack”. Whenever we get busy to encourage the worry thoughts about the future, we have to stop entertaining our mind by substituting with a positive assertion saying that the present moments are more valuable for us rather than the anxiety of un-born future! Dale Carnegie in his famous book “Stop worrying and start living” calls this habit as “Living in a Day tight compartment”.

Dr. Richard Carlson in his famous book “Don’t sweat the small stuff; it is all the small stuff” suggests an allotment of “worrying hour in a week”. Tell your mind when the worrying thought hits you, you will take it up in the worrying hour and not now! If you really look at, all these suggestions are nothing but re-education of the mind imitating the animals. If you like, you can surrender all your anxiety to the divine which has brought you here providing the ambience for you to survive in your mother’s womb and created the food you needed when you are just born!

In Summary:
  • Worry is one of those negative state of being which ruins your present moment making you ineffective.
  • All negative thoughts including worry affect your heath leading to disease. Disease is “Dis” “Ease” with the nature – non-alignment with the plan of the nature.
  • Learn to live in the present moment like an animal. Don’t underestimate animals as they have better quality of life as they obey law of nature better than us.
  • Worry is a habit like smoking and drinking which can be changed at your will if you desire.
  • Don’t wait for the doctor to say that you are terminally ill to change your habits! The will-power what you get that time is already there within you even now.
  • New habits can be made if you have desire, knowledge and develop skills.
  • By re-education of mind, you can eliminate the worrying habits over a period of time.
  • Don’t throw away your invaluable present moment by worrying about an un-born future.
  • Remember 99% of the worst future you imagined have never happened! Why continue this wrong habit of worrying?
Jai Gurudev

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Upset - The bug in Life

“Upset” is a negative state of a being or feeling which paralyzes us from action. It is a sort of an un-expressed anger which veils our wisdom momentarily. When we are upset, which often happens, we can’t be productive till we come out of it. We cannot sing a song or dance when we are upset! We tend to lose our valuable time of life during these un-productive incidents.  In modern life we are often confronted with many situations which throw us out of our bearings. The causes for upset may be the other human beings are not behaving as per our needs or situations which do not meet our expectations. As we take more responsibility, we have more canvas to cover; in which case more reasons to get upset as one thing or the other will go wrong. As we climb up the corporate ladder, we have to insulate ourselves from this energy draining monster called “Upset”. If the leader gets upset, it will propagate along the line as we see in many organizations. 

Let us examine the various circumstances that can make us upset. For this we need to understand what we mean a Situation. Swami Chimayananda classifies these circumstances in three levels depending upon its severity namely; Situation, Problem and Crisis. For an example, let us consider a situation when we walked inside a restaurant feeling hungry and about to order food. At that moment we find that we have left our wallet at home – we call it a “Situation as we can coolly walk out of the restaurant – no damage done. On the other hand, we have noticed the same after ordering the food; it is a Problem” as we owe an explanation to the hotel authorities. If we have noticed the missing valet after eating the food; it is called a Crisis” – an ambiguous and nasty situation. Such of those who are paralyzed under these circumstances are diagnosed to have a mental block which psychology calls “Allergic to ambiguity”. Ambiguity makes us upset where we have a crisis in hand and we don’t know how to handle. I will talk about these blocks more in my future articles.

Most of us living in urban areas often come across unavoidable situations such as traffic jam, train services not available in monsoon and so on which results in a desperate feeling which we term it as “Upset”. There is no dearth of opportunities to get upset in modern life; people upset you or situations do. We know that we cannot feel happy when we are upset and till we recover, the quality of our life suffers and we make the people around us also miserable. Many times we are helplessly caught up with this “Upset” and take a long time to come out of it resulting in throwing our precious moments of life. What is this upset and how we can deal with it is the topic of discussion in this article. The only way to manage Upset is to understand how it works! Let’s do that now.

The profound definition of “Upset” I learned is expressed in a mathematical form:

Upset = What happened X What you think has happened (your interpretations)

Let’s examine this equation in detail. Upset is possible only when both the factors “what happened” and “your interpretations” are present. If one is zero, the Upset will be zero as you see a multiplier sign in between (anything multiplied by zero is zero). Sounds complicated? Let us take an example to explain what does this really mean?

Let us say you are caught up in a traffic jam. You will be fuming and fretting as it is a good recipe to get upset. Let’s apply the above equation – what happened – “there is a traffic jam”. What you think had happened? The drivers are irresponsible; traffic constables are not regulating, roads have not been broadened to take the traffic density and so on. Your mind keeps on interpreting the situation and goes into a loop ultimately upsetting you. If you have separated the two as “what happened?” – There is a traffic jam! What you think has happened? Again traffic jam! If you stop your interpretations (making it a zero), then there is no possibility of getting upset!

Let me try another example. One day while I was preparing to leave for my office in the morning, my wife slipped and poured the coffee on to my trouser. I was about to get upset. Having learned the upset management techniques, I caught hold of myself in time and applied this above equation mentally. I asked myself, What happened? – My mind answered “my wife slipped and poured the coffee”; what I was about to interpret the situation? – “she is irresponsible, conspiring to spoil my day and so on”. The moment I stopped my interpretations, the upset feeling has disappeared and I was compassionate to my wife!

 My wife cannot be conspiring to spoil my day as she loves me. When we understand the true intentions of the people and situation, we have a different reaction. The situation remaining the same, we can choose different responses if we use our rationale and stop the momentary impulses. The essence of life is in making choices which I discussed in one of my articles before titled “Making Choices – Chocolate or Vanilla". Managing upset is also one of those occasions of making choices.

I remember the famous statement made by Viktor E Frankl in his famous book “Mans search for meaning”,

“You can snatch everything from human being except their last human freedom to choose ones attitude in a given set of circumstances to rise above the circumstances”.

Mahatma Gandhi also said in similar lines as:
“Everything can be taken away from you except your freedom to make choices in any given circumstances”

This means that the circumstances remaining the same, different people will respond differently depending upon their maturity. For example, caught up in traffic jam, one may fume & fret where as another may be listening to a discourse in his audio utilizing the time well or make calls to some of their friends whom they missed for long! The former is upset and the later is not! This explains the freedom exercised by an individual when the circumstances remaining the same. This is what Viktor Frankl refers to as human freedom to choose their responses. This faculty is available only to human beings and not for animals. If you pull the tail of your pet dog, it will bite you as it has no freedom to exercise like you and I have!

In summary:

  • Upset is an energy draining event which we succumb to in modern life.
  • You cannot be productive when you are upset and it also spoils our relations.
  • Upset is possible only when two factors are present; an incident and your            interpretations.         
  • If one of them is absent, it cannot happen.
  • We have no control over the incidents in life, but we have control on how we interpret them; the choices we can make to de-personalize the event from our opinion.
  • Higher the levels we go, greater is the chances of getting upset and as a leader you are not offered to transmit your feeling down the organization.
  • Stop interpreting the situations using your rare discretionary power of “choosing your freedom to make choices”
  • Improve your quality and productivity of life by eliminating this “Upset” completely.

Jai Guru Dev