May 19, 2024

Book Review: Maturity by Osho

 


During a casual visit to Sapna Book Store a few months back, I stumbled upon this book. When I looked through the Contents, the chapter "Seven-year cycles of life" caught my attention. As I read through a few pages, it resonated with me deeply, and so were a few other topics. But the tiny font size was a blocker. I added the title to my Amazon Wishlist, merely for reference. 

I spotted a second-hand pristine copy of this title for Rs.180 during a recent trip to Blossoms. I decided to buy it, overlooking the tiny font size. What are reading glasses for? :-) 

According to the author, Maturity is accepting the responsibility of being oneself. He focuses on the topic of Maturity and the aspects that contribute to this growth. He repeatedly states that it is not the same as growing old, and he substantiates it by beautifully bringing up the differences between growing old and growing up in the first chapter.

Every seven years, a new age begins, and a new step is taken. This idea is similar to the popular song from Thalaivar's Baasha. The purpose of each stage, the changes associated with it, and how one deals with the challenges are well explained. 

What blew my mind was this line:

"And near the age of forty-two, religion starts becoming important for the first time". 

This has been my personal experience in the last 1-2 years and I was nodding in agreement.

He then takes the topic of Maturity from the perspective of relationships and emphasizes why Interdependence (not Independence) is the need of the hour from the point of view of love and marriage. This is exactly what I was ruminating about while watching "Laapataa Ladies" a couple of weeks back. Though I loved the whole movie, I don't quite agree with the dialogue by Manju Mai when she tells Phool that women don't need men. 

An individual progresses horizontally from childhood, youngster, and old age towards death. But there is also a vertical progress where one's consciousness expands. 

There are some interesting insights about menopause and how it is not just for women. The topic of Saying No vs Saying Yes is just brilliant. Saying No feels like freedom and intelligence. The author says, "The freedom that is brought by no is a very childish freedom". 

There are quite a few provocative lines though, which I decided to bypass and instead, focus on the many eye-opening insights the book is filled with. 

Highly recommend this book if you are looking for new perspectives on growth and maturity.

May 14, 2024

26 Qualities of Daivi Sampath



In an earlier post, I shared about Aasuri Sampath from Chapter 16 of the Bhagavad Gita. In the first three shlokas in the same chapter, Bhagavan Krishna outlines the qualities of Daivi Sampat - qualities that lead one toward the wealth of spiritual development. Here's the list of those 26 qualities in the same order as mentioned in the shlokas:

  1. Fearlessness
  2. Purity of mind
  3. Being established in the pursuit of jnana (knowledge) and yoga (practical realization)
  4. Ability to share one's wealth with others
  5. Discipline of sensory energies
  6. Sacrifice by worship and other practices
  7. Self-study, understanding of knowledge
  8. Concentration of the energies of the mind
  9. Straightforwardness
  10. Non-violence
  11. Truth
  12. Absence of anger
  13. Spirit of detachment and renunciation
  14. Peacefulness
  15. Absence of ill-feeling towards others
  16. Compassion toward all beings
  17. Uncovetousness - not having the feeling "someone has something, I must also have it."
  18. Gentleness
  19. Modesty
  20. Absence of fickleness, a state where the mind is unable to decide on anything
  21. Energy
  22. Forbearance
  23. Tremendous willpower
  24. Purity, cleanliness
  25. Not harming others
  26. Without excessive pride or elation

This list gives a beautiful way for us to self-reflect on our thoughts, words, and behaviors and understand where we need to put our efforts.

Reference: Universal message of the Bhagavad Gita Vol 3 by Swami Ranganathananda 

May 11, 2024

Derangement of Intellect



 "There is good in every bad" - We might have heard of this phrase in the context of positive thinking and looking for a good thing that turned up due to a bad incident/situation. For eg, let's say, you are stuck in a terrible traffic jam. You are tired and getting frustrated with the wait. You turn on your Spotify playlist and the Smart Shuffle feature belts out songs that you really love but haven't listened to in a long time. It makes you feel nostalgic and cheerful. The wait didn't seem so bad, after all.

Let me turn the tables - "There is bad in every good". Yes, you read that right! And this isn't negative thinking. This is a principle to be kept in mind in these times of kali yuga when adharmic activities are prevalent and most importantly, in those cases that don't seem that way when looked at from a surface-level view.

Let's say, you have got the offer for a job that you have been looking for - excellent pay, amazing perks, higher position of authority, larger team, grand vision, etc. Everything looks too good to be true on paper. After you take up the job, you get impacted by internal politics and ego battles by peers who block you at every step, causing extreme stress and anxiety.

The same is applicable for 

  • products we buy - all those junk foods marketed as healthy, all those herbal(?) cosmetics (with words like earth, nature, mama, green, etc) but containing harsh chemicals
  • services we avail - investment policy advisors who promise big returns on paper, self-proclaimed gurus who swear that they can make you enjoy your lives
  • discount offers and deals with a *Conditions apply hidden somewhere

The intent of this post is not to sound pessimistic, but to be aware of the choices we make every day. If something sounds too good to be true, let's question it, do our research, and analyze it from various angles. If someone promises tall claims, then question how they intend to deliver such claims and what's their plan of action.

This is the power of our "intellect", which is a gift given to all of us. Off late, we have neglected this gift or used it for purposes for which it is not intended (should I drink 3 liters or 5 liters of water per day?). 

The derangement of our intellect is an important issue, and many of us are not paying enough attention to address it. It is high time we take charge and look at all those interferences that block our intellect from performing to its full potential.

May 8, 2024

Chapter 16 of Gita and its relevance in the social media influencers era

 I recently learned Chapter 16 of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita. This chapter outlines the characteristics of Daivi Sampath and Aasuri Sampath. While listening to a lecture by Prof Mahadevan on this chapter, some of the insights were hard-hitting and eye-opening. I'm now more and more aligned with the belief that if we have questions regarding values, life choices, conflicts, relationships, self-improvement, goals, and the purpose of our existence, it is best to look at our scriptures for answers. This will take time and effort, but the clarity that emerges during this process is rewarding.

Both groups (people with qualities of Daivi Sampath and Aasuri Sampath) have greatness, but only people with Daivi Sampath have goodness in them.

In the lecture, Professor talks about how Aasuri Sampath unfolds as a 6-step process. 

  1. Aasuras develop enormous strength through Tapas (one-pointed, concentrated effort). During this process, they also develop enormous ego.
  2. Because of the new-found power, they get into Adharmic indulgence, acquire more and more wealth in unscrupulous ways, and pursue activities that hurt/harm others (physically or emotionally). They brim with ego and exude a"no one can match me" attitude deluded by ignorance.
  3. As they continue such behaviors, they start to get more curses from the affected people. More debit points get added to their karma. By their own acts, they fix their destiny.
  4. Destruction begins, though they tend to ignore the early warning signs. They tend to dismiss the counseling and advice coming their way from well-wishers.
  5. Destruction is now imminent. They try to deny the reality but are unable to do so. They get into a phase of repentance but it is too late realization though they were given many chances to relook at their choices.
  6. The aftermath is colossal. Destruction not only affects them, but also their family and their circles.

I reflected on this process in the context of social media influencers gone rogue (Aasuras of modern times, if we may say so!). They start with concentrated effort, though not at the scale to be qualified as "tapas". There is a certain exhibition of greatness.

Followers and people who would blindly believe them start to increase, which reflects as high power.

This high power gets projected through a high ego. They tend to think that they are superior and no one can question them.

More egoistic behaviors start to show up with an attitude of "I know everything". They start showing authority in areas they have no expertise/experience. In this process, they also start being criticized and sometimes, to the extent of getting curses. 

Steps 4, 5, and 6 and the consequences may or may not be visible to the outside world through their carefully curated social media posts.

The important takeaway is that they are writing their destiny with their acts, for which they will pay a price. As people who are observers or those who are/were at the receiving end, we don't need to feel affected or impacted when we observe behaviors of modern-day Aasuras who operate with a motive of milking more money or power.

This is only my interpretation and I might be completely wrong. But it brought a sense of closure to the issues my mind had been grappling with.

May 7, 2024

My Reading Process



 K asked me to write about my reading process. If you are a reader, I'm sure you would follow a process that's unique to you depending on your values, preferences, and idiosyncrasies.

Your reading process tells a lot about your personality. Let me share a few specifics of my process.

When I pick up a book, I read from the first page to the very last - yes, the preface, prologue, forward, epilogue, and acknowledgment pages as well !!

I feel compelled to finish the book cover to cover. The same holds for movies too. I don't advocate this practice, as I have wasted quite a bit of time watching boring movies, just because of this need for "completion"! But for books, I don't consider it a waste of time, as sometimes a boring chapter could be a temporary barrier to be crossedpost which there could be relevant insights in the latter chapters. 

If my interest in a book wanes off after a few chapters, I add the title to my "Books in progress" list. I don't add it to my "Books completed" list. I would feel a sense of guilt IF I say I have completed a book that I haven't.

I read at least 2-3 books at the same time. Depending on my mood at a given time, I pick up one of the books and read a few pages.

I read for at least 40 minutes every day - 20 minutes while having my cup of chai in the mornings and 20 minutes before sleep. The habit of picking up a book happens on autopilot during these times, until and unless I'm tired or busy with some other work.

I carry 2-3 books whenever I travel. I notice that I progress faster in my reading during vacation days. There are pockets of time when I resort to reading - the quiet mornings in a hotel room where you only have a corner and nothing much to do, the late evenings after a long day of roaming around in a new town/city, the waiting times in the airport/railway station, etc.

I always read a book, along with a highlighter or a pencil. I love to underline or highlight important lines or passages in a book. Many people read an entire book without a smidgen of ink on the paper. I don't belong to that category! At the same time, I don't write a lot on the margins, scribble, or put up colorful sticky notes. 

In the middle of the spectrum. No extremes, as always! 

I don't like to skim through passages having content that I'm already familiar with. I would still read them with the same level of focus. I also tend to subvocalize while reading, but it doesn't deter my reading speed.

I choose books based on the genres of my interest. Recommendations, Amazon reviews/ratings, and of course, price plays a vital role in my purchase decision.

My max cutoff price for a book is Rs.300. I rarely buy books beyond this price. 

Though I have a Kindle and have read many e-books, my preferred choice is a paperback any day. I find reading physical books more enjoyable than e-books. I have also observed that I retain the material more effectively when I read from a physical book.

I don't listen to audiobooks, as I find myself getting easily distracted without a visual medium. I prefer to read the words and learn. 

I love second-hand books. They are not only affordable but also provide the opportunity to connect with the previous reader in a subtle way - the underlined passages, earmarked pages, scribbled notes, or old bills inside the book.

I love to shop in cramped bookstores, with books stacked all over and very little space to move around. The dusty shelves, the aroma of old books, and the messy organization have their old worldly charm!

I prefer to gift books to friends and family. I prefer to receive books as gifts.

It bothers me a lot that the habit of reading books is on the declineI believe that a new idea/perspective doesn't stick when consumed in a 30-second reel format. It needs long-form content, dedicated focus, and convincing insights.

Our reading process is unique and special to us. There's nothing right or wrong about what we read, how we read, and how often we read. It just shows a glimpse of our unique tendencies.

May 4, 2024

Knowledge isn't given


 

 "Knowledge isn't given. 

Knowledge is to be taken

It is taken through a process of deep questioning.

The intent of Questioning is not to prove someone right/wrong, but driven by the need of a real quest."

I came across this perspective recently and it made so much sense. As I pondered over the "quest" being referred to in this context, it is THAT insatiable thirst to quench one's curiosity and gain a better understanding of the world - both the external and the internal.

But somewhere down the road, many of us have either

  • lost the connection with our inherent curiosity
  • lost the will to pursue where our curiosity might take us
  • started to look for easy, quick-fix solutions
  • started to rely on a single person or a resource that would hand over all the knowledge that we needed on a platter
  • decided to wait for the right knowledge to come knocking at our doorsteps
  • settled with commonly held beliefs and notions about life, values, and goals
  • adopted certain ideologies and principles but kept switching them depending on what was popular and trending
  • pushed ourselves to a point of high distraction that we no longer feel the urge to sharpen our intellect

We are living in times where information is abundant and easily accessible by all. But the efforts to synthesize, assimilate, apply, experiment, absorb, and align with our learned experiences are likely missing.

Let's take a simple example. We bookmark so many posts (recipes, book reviews, interesting insights, tips and tricks, health guidelines, etc). Among the bookmarked ones, how many have we gone back and looked at and taken some action on?  

Let's invest some time every day, nurturing the sapling of curiosity.

Water it with new ideas and perspectives.

Nourish it with the fertilizer of authentic, reliable sources of knowledge that have stood the test of time.

Sprinkle the manure of deep questioning.

Prune the unwanted weeds that lurk around in the form of self-judgments, self-doubt, and lack of visibility into where it might lead us.

May 3, 2024

Book Review: Creative Use of Emotion by Swami Rama and Swami Ajaya



 An impulse purchase sometimes turns out to be the book with the right insights you need to hear. During my recent trip to Mussoorie, I stopped by the famous Cambridge bookstore to check out Ruskin Bond's books. Amidst the shelves with limited walking space, I spotted Swami Rama as the author of this book. The title sounded interesting and of course, the print quality and font size were perfect! As you age, font size becomes an important criterion for buying a book🙂 

This book written by Swami Rama and Swami Ajaya brings out the interesting contrast between Western and Eastern psychology. Though the title emphasizes "Emotions", it is NOT the core theme of this book, I must admit.

The authors start with explaining the need for expanding our consciousness, the misconceptions surrounding this idea and the changes one starts to experience when one moves from individuality to universality. This perspective shift is fundamental, as we progress in our spiritual journey. 

One of the hurdles that come our way is the attachment to our identities and self-concept. The authors clarify how the evolution of consciousness doesn't mean annihilation but an expansion of identity. The difference in the importance given to thought - The Western idea "I think, therefore I amvs Eastern perspective "You are not your thoughts" is explained very well. Similarly, the concept of Self in both these streams of thought is brought out beautifully.

There is an exclusive chapter dedicated to the role of suggestions coming in from external environments and their conflicting nature. Though this book was written way before the social media era, the insights are quite relatable.

My favorite chapter is the one on Freedom and Responsibility. This line "Freedom exists only in proportion to the amount of responsibility that we assume" requires deep introspection in today's times. There are some relevant takeaways for young parents in this chapter. 

The chapter on Emotions breaks down each emotion into its source and explains how one could understand them better - be it desire, fear, greed, depression, pride, etc. 

The book ends with fantastic insights into the role of forgiveness and the pitfalls of pursuing social justice in the name of inequality, much needed for the present global situation. 

Though the language is simple and the book is only 160 pages, the material is dense because of the sheer volume of insights. Not to rush through, but to read slowly and contemplate many of these perspectives. 

Mar 10, 2024

Perspectives on Homeschooling

 



Perspectives are a person's point of view that one has gathered based on their limited understanding of the world through their beliefs, perceptions, knowledge, and experiences. What works for one person MAY NOT work for another. Whenever you gather perspectives (be it from me or any person), take them as inputs but critically evaluate them for yourself.


Pre-requisites for homeschooling:

(1) Homeschooling a child is an important decision to be made by both the father and mother together. It is NOT a decision made by one spouse because of the perspectives that he/she received from Instagram influencers.


(2) It is a long-term decision (not for the next few weeks or the next few months, but for the next 12-14 years) which involves multiple changes and uncertainties.


(3) It is a decision being made on behalf of the child, who is not yet mature enough to understand the pros and cons of it.


(4) It requires one of the parents (typically, the mother) to take full responsibility for homeschooling. This would mean that she will either have to postpone or put aside her personal career goals/ambitions.


(5) It requires the family to be financially well-established for the present as well as the future so that the mother can completely dedicate her focus to the child(or children)'s homeschooling needs without the need to share the financial responsibilities of the family.


One can say things like "homeschooling stems from LOVE for oneself, mother nature, family, etc etc". 

LOVE is available in abundance for a child irrespective of the mode of school.

One can love and care for Mother Earth even if the child goes to a regular school and learns history/geography. 


Issues to think through:

(1) Having a clear understanding of WHY you believe that traditional schools are not the best option for your child. Not because 5 people whom you follow on Instagram say so, but do a deeper dive and understand why you want to make this decision and what factors push you towards this decision.


(2) Any family emergencies (elderly care, business loss, layoffs, health issues, etc) in the future can potentially affect the child's homeschooling schedules. Such scenarios cannot be ignored completely.


(3) If this decision needs to be reverted due to unforeseeable circumstances in the future, what's your backup option?

  • Regular schools will require one to keep a copy of the curriculum followed at home, worksheets done, and concepts learned by the child.
  • Certain schools MIGHT give your child a seat IF you have the financial muscle or power strings to pull.


(4) The school environment is not just about books, exams, and marks. It gives the child varied social and emotional experiences:

  • how to wait for your turn to speak
  • how to learn from other kids
  • how to ask questions
  • how to participate in group discussions
  • how to contribute to group projects
  • how to share your tiffin box
  • how to face disappointment when you get low marks
  • how to plan your studies well ahead to avoid last-minute stress
  • how to handle pressure during exams 

and so much more.


(5) One of the common reasons being given is that the child is being overloaded with too much information in the school curriculum. But through the alternative - pull him out of regular school and enroll him in 100 different classes/workshops - aren't we doing the same thing?


People who preach homeschooling and diss regular schooling => consider their backgrounds - family business, a large inheritance, passive income for just being on the board of Directors, and on top of that, conducting workshops and earning easy/quick money (Rs.600 per person. Let's say, 400 people join. Rs.2,40,000 per month for just spending 30 min. This is just one of the many workshops and recordings. Consider the various courses they offer and compute the total earnings! Not sure how the tax gets reported in such cases).


If for some reason, they had to secure a seat for their kids in regular school in the future, they can easily grab one with their financial power.


Is this a viable option for a middle-class family? Even if the family chooses a simple lifestyle, backup options and risk mitigation plans need to be discussed.


The child is NOT going to be in school 24*7 (unless he/she goes to a boarding school). If as parents, we would like them to imbibe certain values and learn certain skills (that are not part of the traditional school curriculum), we can dedicate time for the same in the evening hours, weekends, and the numerous holidays they get throughout the academic year. As parents, we are their role models and if we demonstrate these values and lead by example, their subconscious minds automatically pick them up.


If pressure towards marks and exams is your concern, I personally believe that it is the parents who put more pressure on the kids than the school or teachers. It is up to us as parents to avoid pressurizing the child to be the top-rank holders. If the child gets enough free space and time, he/she will explore their hobbies and interests at their own pace.


In summary,

Be very clear about WHY you are making this decision.

Evaluate the feasibility of a middle path that brings the best of both worlds.

Discuss with your spouse and plan for the LONG TERM - financial sustenance, risk mitigation, and plan for extended family responsibilities if you do go ahead with homeschooling as the right choice.




Mar 8, 2024

Four aspects to introspect on Women's Day

Women between 25-45 years old, this one is for you.

4 aspects to introspect, not just on this day, but any day.

(1) Self-Perception

How do we perceive ourselves? 

What is our self-concept - our idea about who we are?

How do we talk to ourselves? 

What is our level of acceptance of who we are currently?

What is the difference based on our perception between who we are and what we ought to be?

(2) Self-Expectations

As we grapple with multiple life challenges, and responsibilities, pursuing new ideas, opportunities, and initiatives, are we sometimes putting ourselves under too much pressure?

Are we being patient with ourselves? 

Are we giving ourselves enough time and space to pursue our goals and ambitions?

Are we ready to wait it out for the results that we want for ourselves, irrespective of the progress made by friends/peers?

(3) Critical Thinking

When we buy a new pair of shoes or a piece of jewelry, we take so much time to evaluate our options. We don't mind checking out 3-4 shops to pick what we like the most. We are very sure of what color, design, or material type we are looking for. We take time to try out different choices.

Why aren't we doing the same due diligence when it comes to seeking varied perspectives? 

Why do we jump onto a new fad if it surfaces in our social media feed?

Why do we accept new perspectives at face value? 

Is it because of fear, lack of confidence, or self-doubt?

Or do we believe that the idea of critical thinking is reserved only for men?

(4) Speaking up

When we are in a group, 

What stops us from being different? 

What stops us from raising our objections? 

Why aren't we asking more questions? 

Is it because of fear of public speaking or to avoid unnecessary attention?

Why do we tend to agree by default with what the larger group agrees with?

Why do we accept the viewpoint of the loudest in the room OR the person leading the discussion?

Why do we hesitate to "speak up" when we have an alternate point of view?

Is it due to the fear of not being accepted?

Is it due to the need to avoid confrontation?

Why do we put ourselves down, when we don't quite get the reason why everyone else in a group tends to agree on a certain view? 

Does your mind voice say - "If everyone else seems to resonate with this and I'm not getting it, then maybe there is something wrong with me only!" ?

Most of us don't pay much heed to these four aspects. If we trace back to the struggles, challenges, and mental distress we face - be it workplace, career, relationships, parenting, self-growth or social circle, we could trace the root to one or more of these four aspects.

Awareness is the key before action.

Facing pressures at the workplace? Introspect upon self-expectations or the lack of speaking up.

Facing confusion in parenting? Introspect upon self-perception or critical thinking

Facing stagnation in self-growth? Look at self-perception 


Mar 7, 2024

The childhood dream



 While working on my Anatomy assignment this afternoon, I just paused for a moment and looked at my desk. Books, papers, YouTube videos, and PDFs opened in multiple tabs as I was learning about the structure of muscle fibers and the function of muscle contraction. 

Anatomy & Physiology - the subjects I was hoping to study when I was 18 years old. It didn't happen at that time and is finally happening at the age of 42. 

Since 9th grade, I had set my eyes on doing MBBS. Studied really hard in my 12th grade, ran from one tuition center to another for the 4 core subjects, did so many revision tests (wish I could bring back the same rigor now!!), circumambulated the nearby temple almost every day, and said many prayers. The 12th board exam results came out very well but my marks slipped slightly in the entrance exam of Physics paper. 

I didn't get through the high cut-off that was set for the General category. If I didn't belong to the General category, I would have got through. I was devastated and cried so much. It was one of the huge disappointments, which took me almost a year to recover. 

I only wish in hindsight that I had the awareness that there are other forms of medicine (Ayurveda, Siddha) that I could have evaluated at that time. 

I took the next best option at that time - Computer Science Engineering. The first year of Engg went in silent mourning that I didn't get to pursue my dream. I wished for something magical to happen, that would fetch me a medical seat. Taking a break year and reappearing for the exams OR paying a huge capital fee to secure a seat in a private college were not viable options, given the financial situation at home. From the second year onwards, I started to work hard in Engg and put my best efforts, as I was way behind the students who had taken CS instead of Biology in their 11th/12th grades.

Though medicine wasn't meant to be as a career, learning about the human body has always been a keen interest. While researching nutrition in my early 30s, I learned about the gastrointestinal system in depth. In the past few years, I have become fascinated by the functioning of our brain and have been learning about the nervous system. Thanks to Yoga, I'm now understanding the musculoskeletal system in depth.

I just enjoy learning about the systems of the human body and the beautiful coordination and interconnectedness of the workings. 

As long as curiosity and interest are alive and kicking, one can learn any subject, irrespective of age.

I now have no regrets that I didn't get to pursue an MBBS. Supreme Divine has always the best plans for us if we give our sincere efforts.

Those of you who missed out on opportunities in your early years, don't worry. What is meant for you will come back to you - maybe, not in the same way as expected but way better. 

Mar 3, 2024

Two attitudes to adopt in Karma Yoga

 Until around a couple of years back, I had these nagging questions - 

Why is life unfair to certain people? 

Why are people with good intentions and those who work hard not getting the recognition they deserve?

Why are people who abide by ethics, moral values and social responsibility not getting the spotlight?

But after learning about the law of Karma, the emotions behind these questions subsided to a large extent.

I no longer get affected too much by people who "seem" to be winning through unethical or unfair practices.

I no longer get angry with people who fool the common man (or woman) with the glossy, attractive outer presentation and marketing but empty promises when it comes to the actual value being delivered.

I no longer feel triggered when people manipulate or play the corporate politics game to rise the ranks while pulling others down.

I now strongly believe in the concept of Karma and that we will pay a price for all our actions. This belief brings peace and stability to our daily interactions with the outside world. This way of thinking helps to reduce the external influence on our emotions to a considerable extent.

The next stage was to understand how one goes about their duties and responsibilities without getting impacted by the outcomes (or the struggle towards it). 

In times of social media, many of us might put in a lot of effort to convey our thoughts using articles/reels/videos but might not get the reach and engagement we expect. 

At the workplace, we might want to make a meaningful impact through our work but the ideas might get shot down due to various reasons (ego, politics, lack of business potential, priorities, lack of resources, etc).

At our homes, we might put in a lot of effort towards taking care of everyone's needs but we may not get the required appreciation or words of gratitude.

While pursuing an introductory course on Vedanta, I learned about two attitudes that one adopts in the context of Karma Yoga. 

(1) Ishvararprana bhava - every action we do becomes an offering to the Supreme Divine. With this attitude, our actions become more mindful and attentive. We take care of every little detail and not rush to wrap things up. We pursue the action with so much love and care and dedicate the result to the Divine.

(2) Ishvaraprasada bhava - the fruit of every action is considered sacred and received with contentment and without criticism. The fruit we receive may not be what we expect, but we receive it with a sense of gratitude. We also acknowledge that the Supreme has better plans for the future if something doesn't go as planned.

It is hard to explain in words how much of a perspective shift these two attitudes have brought in for me ever since I started practicing them. I'm sure it will take years of conscious practice to make these attitudes the default ones in any work that we do. But the first step is to get started with these attitudes in simple tasks - cooking, organizing a cupboard, writing an article, learning a new topic, preparing a work presentation, etc.

Immerse yourself fully in the task and dedicate the end output to the Supreme. Whatever be the fruit of the action, receive it with gratitude.

Feb 28, 2024

Polarized Views



 There is a tug-of-war happening big time on social media and all mass media platforms. This war is called "polarized views". If you aren't strong enough, any side can easily pull you and convince you to accept and follow their polarized viewpoints.

I see this happening virtually in all aspects of life. A few examples from the domains I keep track of:

Vegan OR Keto

Naturopathy OR modern medicine

V@ccine OR No V@ccine

Homeschooling OR International School + All possible extracurricular classes

Home-made foods from scratch OR Eat packaged foods

Traditional OR Modern Values

No Fridge OR Frozen meals for months

No Screen time for kids OR Full-on screen mode filled with educational apps and games

Completely organic food OR food from a factory/large-scale manufacturing unit

Is it because we spend too much time with devices and gadgets that there is now an alarming trend of viewing the world in binaries? Computers can understand only 1s and 0s, whereas we humans are smarter than that, aren't we? We can decipher the grey shades in between. 

We are blessed with Viveka, the discriminatory ability to analyze the options in front of us. In Kali Yuga, the good and bad are so strongly intertwined into one that it is hard to decipher the real nature.

Instead of viewing the world in binaries, let's look at it as a range or a spectrum.

Every option on either side has pros and cons. It also heavily depends on one's situation, environment, family beliefs, and availability of resources (time, money, effort, energy). 

Please note, that the fear and guilt of having chosen one side (in the past) OR the anxiety of choosing a side (without comprehending the repercussions in the future) creates more mental agony and distress than the actual choice itself.

Let's understand both ends of the spectrum and choose a point on it that works for us (as an individual and as a family). Accept the choice and trust in the Universe that things will work out well.

The unnecessary fear, panic, or lackadaisical attitude that are being perpetuated by these extreme influencers on both sides will only end up adding to the mental health-related issues that are already on the rise. These also contribute to relationship issues because of conflicting ideas within the family.

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