The Battle Within…

“The nun Wu Jincang asked the Sixth Patriach Huineng, “I have studied the Mahaparinirvana sutra for many years, yet there are many areas I do not quite understand. Please enlighten me.”

The patriach responded, “I am illiterate. Please read out the characters to me and perhaps I will be able to explain the meaning.”

Said the nun, “You cannot even recognize the characters. How are you able then to understand the meaning?”

“Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon’s location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?”

The story fascinated me completely and I began to wonder how many times in my life have I just bothered about the finger and not the moon. Another parallel I can draw here is from a book called “Sphere Of Silence” by Dato Vijay Eswaran. He talks about two friends who go to the beach for a walk to watch the sunrise. One friend is totally enamored by the beauty of the rising sun and is enchanted with the scene, while the other focuses on the mosquitoes biting him !

How many of us miss the sunrise for the mosquitoes…how many of us focus on the finger rather than the moon. The battle is within ourselves. Where is my focus and what do I want? In the bargain, what am I missing?

Eckhart Tolle said, “analyzing the the pointer is pointless”. Yet, we are all of guilty of it. We tend to analyze the pointers without noticing it. If we are discussing about whether something is good for us or not, especially if we come to a philosophical or emotional debate, we are discussing the validity of models and concepts. We can also go out and experience something directly.

Inner Belief – My Map

The map is the concept of what we have in mind about something. It’s a belief, an image or a thought-pattern. We use this map in the same way as we use a city-map to find a location. If our map is correct, we will find our location. If it is slightly incorrect, we have to correct it by new knowledge, optimize it. If it is completely incorrect or we move to another city, we have to replace the map altogether. We need to keep changing our map… regularly.

A second map is the map of self-image. We  also call it the ego. It is the map of ourselves and we act from it. We want to improve our self-image and we use our intellectual abilities to do so. We have our desires and we set goals and work towards them. The map called the ego is a very useful map that we constantly create ourselves. But here is the important thing: it is still a map.

It’s nice to have a map, as long as you know it’s a map

Which means two things…

1. The map can change : in other words our ego, who we think we are, can change and this is the basis of personal development. This changing map includes our thoughts, beliefs and actions: the whole world-view and the self-image.

2. The map is not the territory : as long as I don’t let my ego get the better of me, my life can be dedicated to a lot of good things. The moment “I” becomes stronger than the “We”, the map becomes our territory. Bhagvat Gita beautifully describes the ego as, ” nothing but identification of oneself with their body than soul.” Once we start digging deeper within ourselves, we understand having an ego  to self protect is good, but being egotistical is self destruction. 

So how do we recognize this…

1. Awareness

2. Practicing silence

3. Listening

4. Writing our thoughts, dreams, opinions…

5. Reading & reviewing those thoughts, dreams, opinions…

6. Submitting to a learned one…who in turn will teach us what we don’t know or understand.

 This doesn’t mean I remove maps from my life.  I need the map to function in the world and to relate to everything. So I create maps and use maps in a very intense way, in the best way possible. But there is one difference: I constantly try to dis-identify the map from the territory. So I know that my self-image is my self-image but not the self.

It has truly helped in keeping the negative energy at bay and empowering me to work on what I truly deserve in my life.

Have a thoughtful day… 🙂

Life’s Little Lessons…

I have realized that most of us like listening to stories and of course we love telling stories too…:).

We hear stories and we hear stories.  I always wondered whether I would be able to narrate as well as my Mother & Grandmother did. Then to my surprise I realized that my daughters inspired me to act out stories. So we would trade stories every night before going to bed :).  It automatically led me to look for more & more stories. The messaging was loud and clear when we traded stories…a tradition that continues even today as a family!

I am sharing some of the stories that have had a profound impact on my thinking over a period of time.

Empty Your Cup

A seeker of truth goes to a Zen Master. The seeker’s head was full with ideas about the truth, life, spirituality. It was read by the The Zen Master’s eyes.

The Zen master started pouring the tea in the cup, he continued to pour the tea even after the cup was full and the tea began to spill over from the cup. The seeker on seeing this pointed out to the Zen Master that cup was full and the pouring more tea was pointless.

To this the Master replied, “Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

The Burden

Two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It had rained and there were puddles of water on the road sides. At one place a beautiful young woman was standing unable to walk accross because of a puddle of water. The elder of the two monks went up to a her lifted her and left her on the other side of the road, and continued his way to the monastery.

In the evening the younger monk came to the elder monk and said, “Sir, as monks, we cannot touch a woman ?”

The elder monk answered “yes, brother”.

Then the younger monk asks again, “but then Sir, how is that you lifted that woman on the roadside ?”

The elder monk smiled at him and told him ” I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her.”

The Other Side

One day a young Buddhist on his journey home came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, “Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river”?

The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, “My son, you are on the other side”.

The Lost Key

One day, people saw Mulla Nasruddin out in the street searching frantically for something. The inquisitive nature of man was at work. “What are you searching for, Mulla?”
“I’ve lost my key” replied Mulla.
The helping nature of mankind was at work.So everyone joined him, trying to help him
After some search someone had the urge to ask the place where exactly, the key was lost. So that more condensed search could be made. So, the enquiry was made to Nasruddin.
“I lost the key in the house,” replied Mulla matter-of-factly.
“Then why are you searching for it in the street?” was the obvious question asked to him.
“Because there is more light here.” replied the Mulla!
It is for us to draw the lessons from these little stories…and of course pass it on to the others…for man is a born story teller!
Here’s wishing you an eventful day…so you have your own story to tell! Do share your stories 🙂 🙂 🙂


Climb Every Mountain…

” Climb Every Mountain”…the popular song from the movie “Sound Of Music” has always fascinated me…not just for the lyrics, because it also brings forth a thought, question to my mind. Why is it that some people take up challenges that others would not dream of?

The mountaineer’s obsessions with Mt Everest has  always fascinated me. It’s a dream I can relate to. Then there are people who let go of everything and indulge in bungee jumping. There’s one lot who love water and go white water rafting at the drop of a hat…I have done that when I had access to rivers.

Why are people risk-takers? What makes a person take high risks and do dangerous, even life-threatening things? Some people love speed and the thrill of racing; other people are into extreme sports such as ice climbing, and bungee jumping.

Is it the fame and fortune, or is it the sense of inner fulfillment? Is it physical challenge, or is it the mental or spiritual challenge?

Here are some thoughts shared by people I spoke to.

“Some people are addicted to taking risks. Other people just want to feel extremist. Most risk takers are men. Is it because men have more curiosity? Most women always think twice about taking risks because they are more rational than men. Men just want to feel extremist, take things to the edge, and get their adrenaline up high.”

“In my opinion, risk takers always have very similar qualities. They want to try something new and enjoy the thrill. These people aren’t conservative, and they love freedom.”

“The first time they do something, many people feel scared to do extreme sports; but when they do it several times, they feel excited and thrilled. Only the first time is difficult. Many risk takers are addicted to taking dangerous sports to the edge. They more they do it, the more they want to do it.”

All the above resonate one thing…there are people in this world who who want to step beyond the normal, because normal is boring. They are willing to take risks.

Risk-taking, which one researcher defines as “engaging in any activity with an uncertain outcome,” arises in nearly all walks of life. Asking someone on a date, accepting a challenging work assignment, raising a sensitive issue with a spouse or a friend, confronting an abusive boss–all involve uncertain outcomes, and present some level of risk. Understanding the psychology of risk, understanding why some individuals will take chances and others won’t, could have important consequences in everything from career to personal relationships.

Researchers don’t yet know precisely how a risk taking impulse arises from within or what role is played by environmental factors, from upbringing to the culture at large. The perception of risk also changes from person to person. Risk is very widely different in terms of what kinds of risks people are willing to take and the subjective reasons for why they take risks. Rather than being generally risk-seeking or risk-avoiding, people are a complicated blend, Elke Weber, a psychologist explained. ” A person might be risk-seeking in a recreational risk way. But that person may be risk-averse in financial situations. They would do bungee jumping but wouldn’t invest in the stock market .” Likewise, a financially reckless person who is willing to wager everything in a game of blackjack might never attempt a controversial joke in a conversation with strangers.

Having taken a few risks myself…all I can say is that being naturally optimistic helps me decide easily. Miley Cyrus comes to mind here with her song…

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s a climb

That’s what life is all about also…sometimes its not about the mountain, it’s only about the climb!!!

I would love to hear from you about the risks you have taken or if you know people whose stories you would like to share…

Have an adventurous day 🙂 🙂 🙂

And It’s A Goal…

The moment I talk about goals, I get two kinds of responses: “why do I need goals…let me just take life as it comes along” and the second, “sure, goals are important…but you know what…”. 

Both have the same end result. No goals. However I am not writing about why we need to have goals…most people do have goals. It is achieving them that is a challenge.

Emotionally connected.

When I have set goals and failed to achieve them…very often I have realized that the emotional connect to my goal was missing. So, the first lesson I learnt was that goal setting is not a feel good factor. We don’t set goals and forget about them. We set goals because they really matter to us. We do want to achieve them. If your reason for setting your goal is not sincere, your motivation and enthusiasm can wane drastically as you progress on your goal path. Setting personal goals is just that – personal, and if you do not have deep-rooted reason for your goal, your chances of succeeding are reduced dramatically.

Dream big with goal posts.

The old saying – shoot for the moon, if you miss you’ll still be in the stars. We all had big dreams when we were kids. What happened to most of us as we grew up? Precisely that…we grew up! Universally we are conditioned that as we grow up in life, our life has to be practical, logical, realistic etc etc. And the dream of being an astronaut, flying a hot air balloon, becoming a businessman, umpiring a tennis match, everything flies out of the window. My submission to all such people…man is the only living being on earth who can dream! So dream big…have smaller goal posts to achieve those dreams. The smaller goals posts will tell you whether you are on track or not.

If Edison hadn’t dreamed, I would not have been writing this blog 🙂 

Write & Review.

Writing down your goals creates the roadmap to your success. Although just the act of writing them down can set the process in motion, it is also extremely important to review your goals frequently. Remember, the more focused you are on your goals the more likely you are to accomplish them.

Sometimes we realize we have to revise a goal as circumstances and other goals change, much like I did with being an entrepreneur. If you need to change a goal do not consider it a failure, consider it a victory as you had the insight to realize something was different.

Reward Yourself.

It is a good idea to give yourself small regular rewards for taking incremental steps towards achieving your goals. This is in addition to rewarding yourself in a bigger way when you reach your ultimate goal. For example, I treat myself to a spa once in a while for taking action on my high priority goal every day of the week.

Be sure the reward is something that really motivates you to take action. Plan in advance what the reward will be, that way you will motivate yourself. 

Willpower

I’ve saved the best for the last.  Willpower. Once you realize you only have so much will power everything becomes clearer. So stop beating yourself up about not being able to change.  The thing is that we only have so much will power in our mind and body to make changes. Will power runs out like a muscle that becomes tired.  It’s extremely  important to ask yourself the following questions.

During the 24 hours I have each day, what do I truly, truly, truly wish to focus on? If you find yourself eating too much junk, watching too much television or shopping needlessly you have run out of will power.

What can I do to get more will power ?  Usually your goal , keeping that goal in mind and  making sure you live according to your core personal values should be enough….right? Yes…that and make a pledge to either yourself or someone else.  You pledge money, something valuable or your self respect.

Stay tuned to yourself and your goals…:)

Seven Types Of Humor Anyone Can Use :)

A new convict is sitting in his cell. Suddenly someone yells out, “419.” The whole block laughs loudly. Someone yells, “78.” More laughter. “641.” Hysteria! And this goes on every afternoon. A new prisoner can’t figure out what this is all about. He asks his cell mate. “There’s only one book in the prison library and it’s a joke book. All of us have read it so many times we memorized the jokes. Now, all we have to hear are the numbers!”

So, the new guy goes to the library, reads the whole book & memorizes the jokes. One afternoon the jokes session starts. Someone yells, “316.” Everyone is howling. “56.” Gales of laughter. The new guy yells “237.” Absolute silence! He’s wondering what happened, when he hears a voice, “Some people can’t tell a joke.”

It’s true…a lot of people can’t use humor effectively. I have been asked frequently how I manage it. A lot of it I owe to an author called Malcolm Kushner, whose books have inspired & taught me how to use humor effectively.

There are seven simple types of humor anyone can use. They can be easily delivered even if you don’t have any comic ability. They are: Quotes, Cartoons, Letters, Lists, Analogies, Definitions and Observations.

Quotes

Quotes not only add spice to any conversation, but also provide one of the simplest ways to introduce humor. They are easy to find & use. Quotes should be analogized to the situation. Here’s an example of what I mean. My favorite quote for opening a statistical presentation comes from Yogi Berra. It is about Yogi walking into a pizza parlor and ordering a pizza. The waitress asked him if he wanted 4 or 8 slices in the pizza. To which Yogi replied, “Make it 4. I don’t think I can eat 8.” We have all heard variations of the same quote.

What we have done here is to buy a small amount of audience attention with a humorous quote. Remember statistics is considered boring world over :). When I teach MBA students, all my quotes are attributed to either Aristotle or Socrates and I begin by saying, “I believe it was Aristotle/Socrates who said…”

Cartoons

Like the quote, cartoon has in built insurance policy. It is not yours, somebody else has created it, you only selected it! Cartoons make ideal speech material because of their wide variety of style & topics. You can always find one that related to your message. No matter what kind of a day we have had, cartoons always bring in respite. Even if you can tell a joke, it never hurts to share a few cartoons. After all, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a cartoon is worth two thousand!

Letters

This is one of the most overlooked form of humor. It is a simple device that can become the highlight of any communication. There are a wealth of funny letters out there…you only need to google for the one to suit your presentation. One of my favorite ones is the one that appeared Huffpost Comedy.

                                  

 

 

Lists

Let’s focus on the geometry of humor. Two points make a line. Three or four make a trend. It allows you to build informational points right into a quip or anecdote. Here’s a simple example to illustrate:

“There are three ways to get things done. (1) do it yourself. (2) ask someone else to do it. (3) ask your kids not to do it.”

The first two points are serious & mundane. They set up expectations that the third will be the same. The third however, violated that expectation & catches us off guard. The technique isn’t limited to three items…it is just the starting point.  Another of my favorites is from a graduation address at the business school I taught.

“Mr Dean, members of the faculty & board, distinguished guests, honored graduates, friends and finally dear parents whose tuition payments have ended!”

Analogies

Analogy is a concise statemet that highlights the similarity between two objects. A simple analogy that is funny is also a rae jewel. I have listed some of the globally popular ones here:

  1. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
  2. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
  3. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
  4. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

Definitions

Definitions provide a simple way of breaking up long chunks of dry material. Here’s how Bank of America President A.W Claussen defined inflation to liven up a discussion:

“Inflation is the process that enables you to live in a more expensive neighborhood without going to the the trouble of moving”

Definitions can also be combined with some of the other techniques that I have mentioned above. They can serve as raw material for analogies. This Ronald Reagan example is a classic:

“Government is like that old definition of a baby. It’s an alimentary canal with an appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”

Observations

Observations are short, clever lines that can be inserted anywhere in a presentation or communication. “Pearls of wisdom” is how I would describe them. The observation is phrased like the fortune in a Chinese fortune cookie & attributed to an ancient philosopher. Observations are basically colorful comments pertaining to an individual or situation. For example, “He carries around a hose pipe so he can always walk on water”. 

Then there are observations of the absurd, silly and no comic ability is required. Anyone can produce humorous observations based on data, phone numbers, typos, politicians, paperwork etc. Just stop for a moment, lift your head above the fray and the view will be enlightening.

After all, that’s what we advocate in everyday life too…stop and smell the flowers! Have a humorous day :):):) 

 

My Guide Of Destiny…GOD!

Guide Of Destiny…GOD!!! I have been at two different events over the last few days…seemingly different, yet the same. The differences are not what I am writing today. My focus is on the commonality I saw and that is to have someone in your life who will hold your hand to the finish line.

 I am not writing about mentoring as a process    today…I love telling stories and am going to share some experiences here…personal & others.

Pallavi’s story personally touched me. She was the one who coined the term “Guide Of Destiny”. After a very successful career, achievements &  glory, she decided to take a break. The break became a challenge for her.  By the time she recognized this 6 months had gone by and then she desperately started seeking for help. A couple walked into her life to handhold her and bring her out of her despair. They enabled her to see opportunities that she may not have seen otherwise. So, the first takeaway I have here is you need to become a seeker. Seek & you shall receive…but seek with your heart!

Harrison’s experience brought out another dimension for me. Growing up in northwest Montana, he was fortunate to have an innovative neighbor who encouraged him on a weekly basis. One morning, six year old Harry, walked over to Mr. Clawsonʼs garage to see what he was building. That day, he was working on a contraption to clean up oil spills in the ocean. Mr. Clawson showed Harry how his device worked, talking to him as an equal. He then asked Harry to critique his design and offer suggestions for improvement. This genius was asking a six year old for improvements on an invention that would clean up oil spills! That simple gift of encouragement from Mr. Clawson changed Harry’s life forever. Harry realized that his own thoughts about the world had value & was on cloud nine for days and felt he could pursue anything and be successful. The second takeaway is as a mentor to be genuinely interested and to listen to what your mentee is saying.

A mentor is someone who guides you because of the experience he/she has and not necessarily because he/she is a subject matter expert in your field. My own mentor is someone whom I liked from the day I first met him. Binod & I clicked as individuals when we met and I thought initially that it was because both of us are people oriented. As days passed I realized that everyone connects to Binod & that is his unique quality. He has remained more committed to my success than I have been at times. And when I have felt low, he has been a sounding board & a punching bag. As my Guide Of Destiny, he continues to stand by me, giving me that firm yet gentle nudge to take the next step & move ahead. As a mentor Binod gives me so much that I have no choice but take a leap forward. Here is the third takeaway – you need to be a Go Giver.

Lastly, here’s my own experience of being a  mentor to a young cousin who subsequently became a business partner also. Seema spoke to me about pretty much every aspect of her life & looked for advice, suggestions, etc. I only realized I was put in the role of a mentor when her parents (my Uncle & Aunt) started telling me about her actions at home…she was implementing most of things that I had encouraged her to do, to the extent that today a lot of people call us mirror images of each other in thought & behavior. That brought home another point…the absolute trust that a mentor & mentee enjoy with each other & duplicating what the mentor says & does. 

We will all have challenges, both as a mentor and as a mentee. However, I end with a very insightful statement made by Dev Wadhwani, a phenomenal human being & entrepreneur I have had the opportunity to know & learn from…

“Are you a victim of your challenges or the master of your destiny?”

Unsung Heroes

As you go through life you realize that there are many people whose contribution to the world is rarely known. These are our unsung heroes. I was reading about some of them and I have personally picked four of them who I thought had left imprints on the sands of time.

Henrietta Lacks (1920-1951)

When Henrietta Lacks (1920-1951), an African-American mother of five who migrated from the tobacco farms of Virginia to poorest neighborhoods of Baltimore, died at the tragic age of 31 from cervical cancer, she didn’t realize she’d be the donor of cells that would create the HeLa immortal cell line — a line that didn’t die after a few cell divisions — making possible some of the most seminal discoveries in modern medicine.

Though the tumor tissue was taken with neither her knowledge nor her consent, the HeLa cell was crucial in everything from the first polio vaccine to cancer and AIDS research. To date, scientists have grown more than 20 tons of HeLa cells.

Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459)

Bracciolini is the most important man you’ve never heard of.

One cold winter night in 1417, the clean-shaven, slender young man pulled a manuscript off a dusty library shelf and could barely believe his eyes. In his hands was a thousand-year-old text that changed the course of human thought — the last surviving manuscript of On the Nature of Things, a seminal poem by Roman philosopher Lucretius, full of radical ideas about a universe operating without gods and that matter made up of minuscule particles in perpetual motion, colliding and swerving in ever-changing directions. With Bracciolini’s discovery began the copying and translation of this powerful ancient text, which in turn fueled the Renaissance and inspired minds as diverse as Shakespeare, Galileo, Thomas Jefferson, Einstein and Freud.

Fred Harvey (1835-1901)

Without Harvey, modern life would be devoid of such staples as Starbucks, Yelp, Top Chef, and even dating — for Harvey pioneered the restaurant chain in North America and thus elevated the restaurant itself from a small-town business to a formidable industry. From his first eating houses along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad to his eventual Harvey House empire of restaurants, lunch rooms, dining cars, hotels, and souvenir shops, the cunning entrepreneur and marketer inspired the iconic Judy Garland musical The Harvey Girls (which might, in fact, disqualify him from the “unsung” game) and embodied the spirit that makes America America.

Mary Anning  (1799-1847)

British fossil collector and paleontologist Mary Anning was only twelve years old and the child of a poor family when she made her first seminal discovery. While fossil-hunting on the cliffs of Lyme Regis, England, she found the first dinosaur skeleton, that of an ichthyosaur. Until her landmark discovery, animal extinction was believed to be impossible.

The great Stephen Jay Gould, arguably the most beloved popular science writer of all time, famously called Anning “probably the most important unsung (or inadequately sung) collecting force in the history of paleontology” — indeed, her work ignited a fundamental shift in scientific thinking about prehistoric life in the early 19th century.

Anning inspired a popular piece of folk poetry, the tongue-twister “She Sells Sea Shells by the Seashore.”

 

 

 

My Favorites – Stories From My Grandmother :)

I was travelling by an overnight bus and had difficulty falling asleep…for the obvious reasons. So, out came the headphones and the music followed. It also led me down memory lane. In the good old days, when sleep eluded me as a child, the solace was my grandmother’s stories. Every story eneded with a teaching or moral which she insisted that we express in our own words. The lessons have stuck on for a lifetime.

Different from fables and parables, teaching stories have meaning at many levels, and have been used as a tool for spiritual instruction in many wisdom traditions. Now they are also finding use in psychotherapy and education. I am sharing a few of them here…

Story One

A prince goes to a Zen master and tells him that he wants to be enlightened—and now! Instead of sending him away, the master says it could be arranged. After finding out from the prince that he plays chess very well, the master sets up a game between the visitor and one of his monks who has just a passing knowledge of chess. The condition is: whoever loses will be beheaded. Predictably, the prince starts dominating the game. Soon, however, his conscience starts to prick: “I had come to this monastery for a selfish purpose, but now I may become the cause of this poor monk’s death.” So, feeling compassionate, he deliberately starts playing badly. But playing well was second nature to him, playing badly needs his entire attention. Neither does he want to play too bad a game to make his real move obvious. His nerves stretched, soon he starts sweating profusely. After some time, the master stops the game. “The first lesson is over,” he tells the prince. “You learnt two things today: compassion and concentration. Now go and hug your chess opponent who made it possible.”

Story Two

Two travelling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up on to his shoulders and carried her across the water to the other bank. She thanked him and departed. As the monks continued on their way, one was brooding and preoccupied. Unable to hold his silence, he spoke out: “Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up on your shoulders and carried her!” “Brother,” the second monk replied. “I set her down on the other side, while you are still carrying her.

Story Three

Once, during the course of his travels, Guru Nanak arrived at a village where the people were a quarrelsome lot. He blessed them and asked them to prosper and live in that village forever. In the next village, where the people were peace-loving, Guru Nanak blessed them too but asked them to abandon the village and disperse. Mardana, his close disciple, puzzled by the guru’s strange blessings, asked him why he blessed the first village with prosperity though its people were unworthy |of it and asked the good people of the second village to disperse. Guru Nanak smiled and answered: “The quarrelsome will only spread unrest and friction wherever they go. So I asked them to remain where they were. But it is better for the peace-loving to disperse and take their good qualities with them so that all those who know them can learn the art of peaceful coexistence.”

Story Four

An Indian Brahmin was interested in gaining supernatural powers. Learning that a monk in Tibet could grant him his wishes, he undertook an arduous journey through the Himalayas to meet him. The monk told the Brahmin: ‘‘The mantra to gain supernatural powers is simple. Just say Buddham Sharanam Gachchami, Dhammam Sharanam Gachchami, Sangham Sharanam Gachchami three times, but don’t think of monkeys.’’ Content, the Brahmin thought: ‘‘I am such a learned man. Why should I think of monkeys when I chant the mantra?’’ But when he sat down to chant the mantra, the first thought that came to his mind was that of monkeys. Later, all he could think of was monkeys. The monkeys roamed all over his consciousness until he lost his peace of mind. Seeing his condition, the monk smiled: ‘‘If you force your mind to travel in a certain direction, it will go the other way.’’

Story Five

As the old man walked the beach at dawn, he noticed a youth ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the young boy, he asked him why he was doing this. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. “But the beach goes on for miles and there are thousands of starfish,” countered the old man. “How can your effort make any difference.” The young boy looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to the safety of the waves. “It makes a difference to this one,” he said.

I hope the stories above find some place and meaning in your day today…here’s wishing you a fruitful day 🙂 🙂 🙂

Perceptions…Two Sides Of A Coin!

There was a murder in Texas at Halloween, and the FBI were called in to investigate. Hitchcock, one of the officers, saw something written in blood on the wall. It looked like the number ‘7734’, but he was not sure; anyway, he took lots of pictures.

When Hitchcock got back to the lab he developed the film of the crime scene, but he still could not make any progress with the number. In the hope of inspiration, he took the sheaf of photographs home and spread them on the dining room chair. Just at that moment his 7 year old daughter Emma came in through the patio door opposite, and looked in the mirror.

‘Why have you photographed hell?’, she asked, then Hitchcock saw that upside down, and mirrored, 7734 spelt: ‘hELL’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very often in life we need others to show us the mirror and yet we may not see what they see. When we do…it is defined as an “Aha” moment!!! A picture that actually creates such a moment is given below. It will be interesting to see how people interpret the picture.

 

 

 

The picture doesn’t really change…we just emphasize different parts of it and assign them different meaning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at these two arrows. Which horizontal line is the longest? They are exactly the same size. However the top one looks longer than the bottom one. It is on optical illusion tricking us into assigning a different meaning to what we see.

We fill in a lot of blanks with our minds. If we have incomplete perceptions, which we practically always do to a certain extent, our minds fill in the rest. Perception is a process that many of us find ourselves focusing on as we go through the journey of awakening. The reason for this is because we are beginning to see how our thoughts affect our reality, how our feelings and understandings of a thing can either expand or limit our experiences. Perception is a tool much like a pair of glasses, as it helps us to understand better what it is before us. Here’s one more image for you to interpret and understand 🙂

A chalice or two faces? See how your perception slips from one to the other once you recognize them both? The thing about perception is it is an internal guidance system, can also act as a reflective tool of self-aware learning, and it is something each of us is using every moment of every day.

Though it can be painful to really examine ourselves internally, and try to understand our own motivations and behaviors and cyclic patterns, it inevitably leads to a truer sense of self awareness. And this is the goal of any awakening; to better understand who we are.

My experience has taught me to always be careful and watchful of how I am perceiving things. This was difficult at first, it was not always easy to shift from “I am my mind” thinking into “I am observing my mind” consciousness. And yet, when I practiced it, I found how simple it is to shift back and forth. From doing to being.

One of the most inevitable result is conflicts that can arise with others when our perceptions clash. See how you may be limiting yourself or another based on your perception. Are you able to differentiate between what you perceive, and what another perceives? We do this in everything in life, and some of our most intense personality clashes occur due to a perceptive difference which lends itself to aggressive defensiveness.

So watch, observe…understand, accept and then communicate! Have a fun filled Monday 🙂 🙂 🙂