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I love exploring new avenues with "passion for impossible" which were not treaded by others so far. Not bound by any race or country or religion for me to associate with and contribute in their life. Regular blogger sharing my folly as "wisdom" for others. Please visit my blog http://www.ncnarayanan.blogspot.com to learn the moment of truth I faced in my life that made me wiser to handle this complex phenomena called "LIFE" 

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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.

Love
NC

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Accomplishment Vs Fulfillment

This article is dedicated to Swami Sukabodananda who enlightened me through his LIFE programme. I have attempted to articulate his wisdom which has given me a direction in my life.

There are two dimensions to Life; one is accomplishment and the other is fulfillment. The accomplishment is the measure of our success in acquiring wealth and fulfillment is the measure of how peaceful we are within. We say someone is successful based on their wealth, fame and power. We are all aware of accomplishment as we have been programmed to get mentally obsessed about it right from our childhood. 

Probably the one thing our parents, teachers and society have done consistently and correctly is conditioning us for pursuing material wealth in our life. At the time of getting into our play school or kindergarten, we have been conditioned to compete for survival. I remember, when my daughter went to her LKG in a convent, my wife and me along with many other young parents used to stand at the school gate, eagerly waiting to know what marks she had got in her “cycle test”.

We were very upset when she had got nine and a half out of ten and hurriedly investigated where she committed a mistake to lose that half a mark! The poor young child was confused to see why we are not appreciating her for the marks she has got while we are busy in our research to find the reasons for the loss of half a mark! We used to see some parents screaming at their child who is helpless and confused to figure out what is the message? We as the parents programmed our child as “poor in mathematics” or “dumb in learning” while they are “born to win” in their chosen field. For instance, my daughter whom we have pushed hard for half a mark is leading our firm playing major role as a strategist. 

Situation gets worse when the child reaches its 10th or 12th standard during which period the parents become hysterical. I remember one of our friends was rolling in the floor and crying as though someone have passed away when her son got low marks in 12th standard.  Her concern was how she could tell anyone that her son was studying in an average engineering college? In this process, we have all conditioned our off-springs as per Darwin’s theory- “Survival of the fittest”. This has created a mental map, attitude or paradigm in us that we have to fight for our survival.

 The other aspect the society programmes ourselves is the definition of “success” or “settling in our life” – having a decent degree, job with decent salary, buying a decent property, marrying a decent girl or boy, and having two children; one boy and one girl is the common man’s definition of “success” or “settling in life”! Alas! What a mediocre definition of life’s objective? In a developing economy, all these are very much within the reach of a common man. When India was below poverty line, people have migrated to US for getting these “free of cost”.

An educated youth who cannot achieve these “decent” things in life in India could get them the moment he/she lands in the US. Irrespective of social position, one could have all these in a developed economy. A person who cannot get a decent salary in India could own an apartment; drive a Mercedes and so on in a developed economy! If everyone possesses all these, then what success means?

What is the main point?

If the success is defined narrowly as “accomplishment”, as we have discussed above as “settling in life” like a common man or aggrandizing material wealth as we have all understood, it must give us a lasting happiness. In these so called developed economies like US, the statistics shows that 15 % of the people are consuming anti-depressants as they have forgotten how to sleep and lost track of their cool !! Sleeping is a natural state which all of us were doing, right from the time we have been created in our mother’s womb! There is nothing to be learnt for sleeping which is a natural process? If grown up people have to depend on drugs for forgetting themselves for doing mundane things like sleeping, it means that there is something fundamentally wrong with their being which has led to a non-alignment with the nature.

 If material wealth can give everything we want, then why people who have reached the pinnacle of fame, wealth and power like Michel Jackson, Elvis Presley, and Marlin Monroe have killed themselves at the end? One common factor that had driven them crazy was “seeking solace” through drugs! This proves the point that they were the most “un-happy people” on earth. The so called causes for the happiness like wealth, fame and power did not work for them as we all believe. Come on; let us learn from other’s mistake as we have no time to commit all of them by ourselves!

One of my friend has told me about a friend of his, who is a professor in one of the famous B-schools in the US. He was grinding his teeth while he was asleep and lost three fourth of his teeth in the process! In the definition of modern people in the US, he is said to be most accomplished and successful professor! His loss of teeth is the proof of the “hidden” un-manifested feelings in his sub-conscious mind. 

I just saw the latest movie “Karthik calls Karthik” in which the hero who is schizophrenic with suppressed emotions records his own thoughts in the telephone and listens to it as though it is an advice from a good friend!! He ends up believing that it is an advice from an external source till his girl friend brings him back to reality. We are all in a way Schizophrenic within limits like Karthik. It means that we have “accomplished” but not “fulfilled” in life. Fulfilment would give you peace of mind and centring of our being irrespective of your accomplishment.

Then what is fulfillment? Let us explore little bit.

Fulfilment is a state of a being where for no reasons we are happy! Vedic literatures say that our original state of being by default is “Bliss” – “ananda”. Unfortunately, due to wrong conditioning we have lost our ability and got into this syndrome of believing that “accomplishments” will make us happy! Somewhere down the line we are lost and got ourselves mixed up with “comforts” and “happiness”. Comfort is a physical need and happiness is an emotional state. I may be sleeping in a waterbed which may make me comfortable, but I may be miserable emotionally; this makes me “comfortably miserable” as Swami Shukabodananda used to say. We need to clearly demarcate between comfort and happiness.

The main problem with our understanding is, we believe that “we will be happy after the accomplishment” such as possessing a house or a car. For our surprise, the car or the plasma television which gave that “feeling change” on the day of acquiring lost its ability to do the same a month later!! Vedanta asks the question that if the material objects have the perennial ability to make us happy; it has to do the same all the time; which is not true! 

The message is “the feeling change” called happiness has happened internally which we started believing that was a result of an external object! This has led to the next chase for another “Object” to create the “feeling change” once again and this chase for the wild cat in a dark room starts while there is no cat in the room!! Like our friend Karthik in the movie we start recording the next voice of ourselves for the next bout of happiness. In the process, we create our own misery and end up in “Elvis Presley syndrome”.

Then, am I advocating not chasing wealth? No way! All that I am advocating is “don’t chase wealth believing that it will make you happy”. There is no cause and effect relationship with objects and happiness! There may be cause and effect relationship between “comfort” and “objects / gadgets”. An air-conditioner can make you comfortable but not happy! Chase air-conditioner for comfort and not for happiness.

“Don’t Chase Happiness from material objects” instead “Chase material objects since you are happy”; this is the message from all learned people of Vedas. If you can understand the deep insight in this statement, it will transform your life dramatically. The result will be different from these two different paradigms. When you accomplish something for happiness will be different from accomplishing since you are happy!

As Rishi Prabhakar used to say “The quality of food cooked by a mother who is happy while cooking will be different from a mother who will be happy after cooking!” The former is happy before the cooking and the later is happy after the cooking!! This also applies in a corporate world where people working for their livelihood are different from happy people working to build the institution.

In Summary:

  •  Accomplishment is aggrandizing wealth, power and fame
  •  Accomplishment is a wrong measure of success
  •  Accomplishment can never make you happy for ever as it has no ability to do so
  • Accomplishment gives you a temporary sense of joy which is a “feeling change in you” and is illusive like a “mirage”
  • The so called accomplished people are the most miserable people as more they accomplished more they became miserable
  • The accomplished people were searching for happiness from their accomplishments and got disappointed as it is not there!
  • Don’t mix up happiness and material pursuits as they are independent and have no cause and effect relationships
  • Fulfillment is a sense of satisfaction within without any external factors
  • We are born with fulfillment as ananda is our very nature
  •  Don’t postpone your happiness in anticipation of a material object. It is like “preparing your bed the whole night to sleep!”
  • Many people are “preparing to live” and don’t live!
  • Life is a fleeting experience and postponing to be happy is like chasing a mirage for water
  • Don’t do things hoping for happiness; instead Do things since you are happy. The former will give mediocre result and the latter will yield spectacular outcome.
  • Live here and now with happiness as that is all the reality


Jai Gurudev

NC

       


     

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Attitude – the Root that bears the Fruit

There are many misconceptions about the word “Attitude” although we use loosely in many occasions. The Oxford dictionary meaning of attitude is “fixed way of thinking”; if you look at the thesaurus in MSWord, you will find the synonyms as approach, outlook, mindset, way of thinking, opinion, point of view and so on. The great thinker and change Leader Joel Barker founded the idea of “Paradigm shift” in the early nineties. He coined the word “Paradigm” which has the synonyms such as concept, hypothesis, theory and idea. The attitude is our mental map of anything in life which governs all our actions. Another word for attitude is “paradigm” as they are synonymous to each others. If you agree with this definition, I will proceed further to analyse how this has anything to do with what we achieve in our life.

First of all, I wish to deal with what is the origin of our attitude or paradigms. Attitude among the various other aspects is only applicable to human species and not the prerogative of animals. We never say that “this dog does not have the right attitude!!” All animals are guided by instincts and hence have no ability to form mental maps like us. I have dealt with the major difference between human beings and the animals in many of my topics in this blog. Human beings have been bestowed with the higher intelligence called "rationale", the ability to discriminate good from the bad which distinguishes us from the animals. It is this distinction that made us different from the stereotyped behaviour we find in the animals.

Interestingly, by virtue of this ability, we have one distinction from animals; that is called “Conditioning”. For example, we can be conditioned to identify ourselves with a religion where as I cannot make my pet Max (my lovely dog) to follow my religion! This is due to the fact; the animals have no rationale to get conditioned. Then, what is conditioning? Conditioning is nothing but creating a “mental map” or “paradigm” by repeated bombardment of ideas. For example, a militant is conditioned to develop an animosity over a country or a race. The religious belief itself is a conditioning. It is not to whom we have born decided our religion; it is the conditioning made us to believe our religion. For example, if a child born to a Hindu is brought up in a Christian family will follow Christianity.

Sigmund Freud, the famous psycho analyst of modern times formulated the process of “conditioning”. According to him repeated statements to a human being creates a belief; reinforcing the belief creates an attitude – the mental map. When we were very young below the age of 10, we are susceptible for parental or social conditioning. At this age, we have no wisdom to challenge the inputs rationally. This may be the reason; the militant organizations choose younger generations for conditioning them as suicide bombers etc. In essence, conditioning is the process and attitude – the way of seeing things is the result. There is no right or wrong attitude; never the less some attitudes produce positive outcome and some don’t.

Our ability and attitude are two different things that make us to progress in life. One may have ability but may have wrong attitude which may become an impediment for achieving success in life. For example, I have come across people who have tremendous ability in their technical skills but have wrong attitude of instigating people around them against the organization they work for.
    
The above discussion has helped us to define what is attitude; it is nothing but the metal map we carry about an object, a situation, a scenario, a person or anything else in life. This mental map is not the same for all human beings; for example one feels drinking alcohol is bad, and another feels it is a relaxant! Then where does these attitude - mental maps come from? It is the result of the “conditioning”. What is the big deal about knowing this? Strangely, all our actions are stemming from our attitude – the mental map! For example, we seek for meditation or alcohol for relaxation as per our mental map! The actions are the result of our attitude. Hence, we cannot ignore this root of all our actions.

Let’s examine little more about this monster “attitude” which plays havoc in our life with my own life history:

I grew up in a family where my father was a dominating figure whom people were afraid of approaching. Watching him from my childhood, I have been conditioned to an idea (attitude / paradigm) “I have to be rude with the people by default if I want to command respect and control them”. This is an unconscious process as mental maps are created without your consent till you recognize their destructive behaviour. I managed to survive carrying with this mental map till it became the “show stopper” in my career. My mentor once told me that if I have to retain my promotion, I need to re-calibrate my paradigm.

He gave me a very simple target saying “If you want to retain your elevated position, you will have to prove to me that everyone tells me that you are an excellent guy”. He also gave a tip that the only way you can build relationship is by grabbing the opportunity to help people. It is ridiculously simple to know that no one likes a rude behaviour from another person which I got away with for many years till I was brought back to ground realities by my mentor.

It took quite some time and efforts for me to be a different person as I was getting away with my nasty behaviour with people. When I manifested with a different behaviour, people were uncomfortable as they have formed a mental map about me! It was a tough job changing my image as it is not only working with my paradigm and it is also working on others paradigms as well!

My autobiography must have helped you to appreciate the concept of attitude and its effect of what we achieve in our life.

What is the main Point?

Some of us perennially have a positive outlook of life and some of us have pessimistic view. For example some of us feel that “Life is sport” and we have to play with a sportsman’s attitude and some of us feel “Life is war” and you have to fight to survive! I feel that the attitude is the root and the result is the fruit. If the root is not strong the fruit cannot be good.  If any of the outcomes is undesirable, we need to look at closely what is our attitude?

The great guru and thinker of modern times Swami Sukabodananda has beautifully explained the effect of attitude in his lecture titled as “ABCD” and I wish to cover the gist of his thoughts here with my own examples:

All our actions are emanating from our attitude – our mental map. In ABCD “A” stands for “Attitude”. The attitude is compared to the philosophy which cannot be experimentally proved as “which is right and which is wrong?” For example, you may believe in the theory of “Advaida” which says that “you and God are one and the same”. Alternatively, you may believe in “Dvida” philosophy which says that “you and God are different”.

In both Advaida and Dvaida philosophy, there cannot be a proof before you follow them, as philosophy can never be proved! As you have seen from my own life history, I believed that “you have to be rude to people to control them!” Attitude is purely a hypothesis which has no rationale to prove it is right or wrong.

In ABCD approach “B” stands for belief. B stems from A, which means that the attitude manifests in many beliefs. If you believe in Dvaida philosophy of Adi Shankara, you will believe that you should be compassionate to all living beings; you must be helpful and so on. You may say that Attitude is the cause and belief is the effect.

In ABCD approach “C” stands for commitment which means that you will be willing to sacrifice for the sake of your belief. Commitment is “how far you are willing to go to achieve your belief”

In ABCD approach “D” stands for dedication in your action for the philosophy you believe in. The dedication is always seen in action where the fuel is coming from the attitude.

You will find from the above explanation that each one has the cause and effect relationship and ultimately the root cause of everything is “Attitude” which means what is our mental map of “that”?

If our attitude is positive, the results are positive and our mental map is negative, then the results are negative. This proves the point that if you need a better result in your life; you need to examine what is your attitude towards it.

Examples can be multiplied; but the main point is, our destiny in life is decided by our attitude – the mental map we carry about anything in life. Like a robot we carry on with our life without knowing what our attitude about anything in life is. Vast majority of us carry a negative attitude about many things which manifest in a negative outcome and we start blaming the outside factors when the root cause lies in our attitude which has produced the undesirable outcome. Unless we constantly examine where we are coming from and what is our paradigm about a given person, situation or an event, we have no redemption from the negative outcome at a later date.

I have titled this article as “Attitude – The root that bears the fruit” for the simple reason that “Attitude” is the root and the fruit is the outcome we enjoy in our life. Unless we straighten up the root, we cannot blame the fruit which is the result of the root.

In summary,
  •       The attitude is nothing but our mental map of anything in life

  •       The attitude is the result of the conditioning

  •       Only human beings are susceptible for conditioning

  •       All our mental maps need not be favourable to us

  •     Vast majority of our attitudes are destructive to our life which we are                         
               unconscious about

  •       We need to constantly examine our attitude and mend them

  •       All our actions are the result of our attitude; as the attitude, so the actions are;   
                 the attitude is the cause and actions are the effect

  •       The ABCD explains the manifestation of our attitude

  •       If your commitments are low, that implies that your attitude is wrong

  •       Positive attitude produce positive results and negative attitude produce   
                negative outcome
  •      Don’t blame the external factors for unexpected results in your life; instead   
                examine your attitude

    Jai Gurudev
    NC

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    Making a Living Vs Making a Difference

    Vast majority of us are “ALIVE” and not “LIVING”. In the modern era, common man is “Alive” and lives like an android. “Living” needs a conscious effort to know where we are now and where we are going. The famous CEO coach Marshall Goldsmith says that we need to have a compass attached with our brain which constantly shows what we are doing in this planet and what we should be doing. Just imagine a ship without a compass; it is unlikely that it will reach its destination.

    In human life, Success is measured by how much wealth one has accumulated. In the common man’s point of view, we measure the same by checking whether he/she has “settled in Life?” During the protected economy days, parents wanted their children to take up a Government job which they felt was a secured one and hence their off-springs will be settled in life soon! Alas, what is the fate of a Government institution where people are “settled” and have no accountability!

    Let’s now explore a little more.

    Making a living
    From our childhood days we have been conditioned to compete to survive. We have been told by our parents that we should study well, score good marks, get a good degree, secure a good job and settle down in our life. The concept of 'settling down' is so deeply ingrained in our consciousness which means that we should get a good job, get married, have children, buy properties and pay the bills forever! Vast majority of us have settled down to this routine in life, working for someone, earn and make the financial institutions rich by paying the bills for acquiring the properties. This is the mundane aspect of crowd behaviour. Osho Rajneesh used to say that the crowd behaviour is always average and the arithmetic average is always lower than the best performance.

    Just to site an example of the average crowd behaviour, once myself and my son went for his BE admission where we had a specific time slot allotted for each student. While we entered the college premises, we saw a big queue standing. Out of sheer habit, we also went and stood in the queue. While the names were announced, people were going into the interview room which meant that the queue has no meaning! In spite of this happening, still people stood in the queue without going and relaxing in the lawn waiting for their time. While no one thought of this, my son suddenly asked me “Dad why are standing in the queue as it is not first cum first serve basis?” Yes, I saw a merit in what he was saying and we went and relaxed in the lawn while all others were blindly standing in the queue! This is a good example to show how the average human being behaves without any rationale following the CROWD behaviour.

    We have seen in the recent past that every parent wants their children either to become an engineer or a doctor! Even among the various branches of engineering, people considered computer science as the only branch worth studying! This is due to the fact that, the software engineers are paid the highest salary as compared to engineers in engineering companies. This crowd behaviour shifted the entire engineer’s from engineering to software companies draining away the brain for the hard core engineering, resulting in imbalance in the economy which got automatically corrected by the recent debacle in the software industry. Examples of the crowd behaviour can be multiplied.

    The important point I am trying to make is, the average man is keen on “Making a Living” and least interested in making this planet a better place to live. Strangely, among all creations, human beings are the only species which takes more from this planet than it gives; the plants take carbon dioxide and gives oxygen, the cows eats all junk and gives milk and so on.
     
    Making a difference
    Let us look at a few who have made this planet a better place to live; may be Henry Ford who gave us the automobile, Michel Faraday who gave electricity, Edison who gave electric bulb and so on. Just imagine our modern life without automobiles, electric bulbs and electrical appliances! Is it not frightening? Edison conducted approximately 1500 experiments before he could find how electricity can be converted into light and he has almost spent his life time to invent the electric bulb. The interesting point is, these great people who have made this planet a better place to live, had never concluded that they would make the invention in their life time. They had pursued their investigation with a mindset “Nothing matters” – which means “if they find success, it is fine; if they don’t, then also it is fine!” 

    It is evident from the statement Edison made when his friends cautioned him that he was wasting all his life in the laboratory in fruitless pursuits. He is believed to have said “By the time I die, I would have proved how in 1200 ways electricity cannot be converted into light; and this will help the scientists in the future to avoid these experiments!” This is what I mean by “Making a difference”

    What is the main point?
    I am not suggesting that every one of us must shift from a common man’s way of life to a scientific enquiry. Even when we are “making a living” still we can “Make a difference” This is possible only when we shift our focus from surviving to pay the bills to look forward to a self actualization in whatever we do. Many of us work for a company purely for the “belly sake” and virtually not feel like going to work in the morning. Swami Chimayananda used to compare a farmer who works in the hot sun for 12 hours and still very fresh in the evening where as an employee in an urban area is already tired when he reaches his office! The farmer feels he is “playing” and the employee feels that he is “working”. Every one of us has an equal opportunity to make significance in the job we are doing. It is possible only when we love what we do.

    Shri. Rishi Prabhakar used to say that “Life is like a bridge which can be used to cross over and not to stay permanently” It implies that Life is a transient phenomenon; a collection of experiences which can neither be stored nor transferred. Every one of us have two choices namely “Be a reason for change” or a “Victim of the Change”. In the former choice, we are the few who made a contribution to the mankind and in the latter we become one of the crowd who is a victim of the changes.

    There are three drivers that make us achieve better things in life:
    1.       Contribution
    2.       Meaning
    3.       Happiness

    Contribution:
    One of the motives that drive the human beings is Contribution. We all feel happy when our ideas are implemented and the company achieves some results. I used to be amused by seeing people donating a tube light to the temple by writing their name on it. All of us want to leave something for the legacy so that we will be remembered after our death. May be this motive is coming from the human desire to be immortal. This may be the reason we wish to engrave our name in the rock believing that it will remain even if we depart from this planet to a new abode. Very strangely, some of us don’t focus on this basic ingredient which helps us to make a difference and we end up becoming a rebellion of new ideas and draw attention by opposing them.

    Meaning:
    Dr Viktor Frankl, the founder of Logo therapy in his famous book “Man’s search for meaning” dealt with the need for finding purpose for human to remain sane. Logo means purpose. Just imagine a life without a purpose, is it not frightening? I guess the society has created the system of marriage, family, off-springs etc to create a sense of purpose so that only sane people will roam in the society! In one of the art of living sessions which I attended a few years back, the master asked the question to the aspirants “what is the purpose of your life?”  One of the youngsters sitting next to me said “It is 3 M’s”. The teacher asked him what did those 3 M’s stands for? He said “Money – Mansion – Mercedes”. The young man explained that his purpose of life is to achieve these 3 things which he believes will make him happy. Alas, if you read the book “The monk who sold his Ferrari” written by Robin Sharma, you will appreciate what this 3 Ms would do in terms of happiness!

    The human beings at the lowest rung of maturity feel that the purpose of life is to aggrandize wealth and physical indulgence. The people in the middle rung of the maturity, feel that making a contribution to mankind is the purpose of life. The people in the highest rung of evolution feel that realizing God to avoid rebirth is the purpose of life. Never the less, the purpose is one of the active ingredients of human life and higher it is, better is the quality of life for the individual and the mankind as a whole.

    Happiness:
    As per the scriptures, our true nature is – Sat (Truth) – Chit (Eternal) – Ananda (bliss). By default we should be happy! The unhappiness is our making! In other words, there is nothing called unhappiness, but when we fail to recognize and enjoy the happiness which is prevalent within us naturally, we create the state of unhappiness in us. Looking at the two motives we have seen namely Contribution and meaning, they are the means to make us happy. In another words, human beings aim to contribute and find purpose (meaning) to achieve happiness. Hence happiness is the end result. There are two schools of thoughts; one is happiness is a “state of mind and does not depend on any stimuli” and the other is “happiness is the effect which needs a cause to make it happen”. If we accept the latter paradigm, we need 3 M’s to make us happy. The data shows that the people who have achieved all wealth are the unhappy people and this proves the point that material pursuits are not causing happiness. If you agree to the former paradigm, you don’t need any external stimuli to make us happy. It is just our decision to be happy. Please read more about Happiness written by me which you will find below or by clicking the archive button in this blog.

    In Summary,

    • Making a Living is a mundane aspect of life which has no greatness.
    • Making a difference  needs courage and different mindset to leave a  legacy behind
    • The Crowd behaviour is always average and if you follow it, you will be an average human being at the most.
    • Contribution, Meaning and Happiness are the three drivers that provide fuel for our life; use them well to draw energy to go beyond.
    • Happiness is a state of mind and needs no inputs to make it happen.
    • Material pursuits can never have a lasting happiness as the data shows that it is incapable of causing happiness.
    • Great achievers have always lived with the paradigm “Nothing matters in the ultimate analysis”

    Jai Gurudev
    NC