Thursday, September 29, 2011

rainbows-are-beautiful

Rainbow Valley
Picture "Rainbow Valley" kindly provided by rwangsa
Rainbows are beautiful don't you think?
Don't try to possess them though, they are not yours to keep
The more you grasp the more it disappears
The pot of gold is not in the rainbow's end
But in the brief moment of beauty that it shares with you
For all to share and experience, not just you
Like the rainbow, the joys in your life are beautiful to experience
Enjoy them, share them, let them go...




Tuesday, September 27, 2011

can-writing-be-yoga

Buddha Mind
Picture "Buddha Mind" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney
If the aim of Yoga to "Yoke" the different dimensions of ourselves (spiritual, mental, emotional, physical) together into one integrated being, then can writing not also be Yoga?

I often wander what happens to me in the process of writing.  It seems I loose track of time, I forget myself, the words seem to write themselves.  In modern times this is called FLOW, in the 8th limb of yoga this is somewhat similar to Samadhi.

The concept of "FLOW" has been around for a while, probably since the dawn of time. Its a state where the mind loses itself in what it is doing and becomes one with the object of focus.  The arrow and the target are one even before the arrow has left the bow. There is absolutely no way that the arrow can miss its target in time.  Once the mind is focused, it is driven, it will try and try again, what difference does it make if the target is hit today or tomorrow.  The target will be hit, its only a matter of time, because the target is already hit in the mind.

The enemy of "FLOW" is a scattered mind.  In today's society there is just too much distractions, most people do not have the self discipline to maintain a healthy sense of "FLOW" for the most important aspect of their life, themselves!  How many times do people get pulled in all sorts of different directions externally and internally?  Look at anyone these days, the mind is doing something, the body is doing something else!

Flow is required to get into deep meditation or Samadhi, to connect to the real you, the unchanging you.  A great meditation session is one where one loses oneself, but one is not asleep. Time disappears, your mind disappears, your identify disappears What remains? the light of the soul, love, bliss...Some might say this is a dream.

What is real, what is a dream? What we think is real, is only a brief moment of existence compared to the eternity of life, a scale that we cannot even possibly imagine, where the wave comes out of the ocean, finds itself seemly as a separate entity to the ocean.  It thinks itself as real, and the ocean as a dream. So it is with us, when we lift ourselves out of this temporary state of ego, we merge back into the ocean. Daily consciousness is then a dream, the state of self forgetful super-consciousness is reality!

Take this further, what is the concept of romantic love? but a state of self forgetfulness, only the other person exists for you, every second, every minute, every hour, where is mind? where is the emotions? all but tied together in infatuation for this one person.  Is not love then a true expression of Yoga?

Back to writing, in yoga you connect your asana, with your mind, with your sensations, with your breathing. Writing is not much different, feel the weight of the keypad on your fingers, feel the weight of the pen, connect with those sensations in your fingertips, see the movement of the thoughts come to life on the page, write with your mind engaged, the passion of your emotions, and the richness of your spirit.  Change your inner world in the process, and the outer world is sure to follow...



Sunday, September 25, 2011

vegdc-fest-yesterday


I went to the VegDC VegFest with my kids yesterday.  I never really had any trouble convincing them to be vegetarian, I always just said, "The animals are our friends, that's why we don't eat them".  We enjoyed the cooking demo and talk by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, she has got a great blog, she is really quite hilarious on stage.  I joined the VegDC as a member and got a overly tight T-Shirt, which my son said makes me look muscly, I think he was being extremely kind with his words :)  I was a bit disappointed with the food, if you want to turn people into vegetarians, you really need better tasting food on sale!  My daughter complained to my wife when we got home, my wife responded "You have spoilt taste buds!".

They say if you want to see what a person is, you simply have to see what goes into the mouth and what comes out of the mouth.

The quality of a person's thoughts usually manifests in the what the person desires to eat, or what the person says.   Iyenger talks about building sensitivity, sensitivity to your own body, your own thoughts, your own feelings, the implications of your actions and integrating this through yoga.

You will find that yogis or meditators who build this sensitivity start practicing self leadership, they start being more in tune with the intelligence of the soul.  I like to think that everyone has an internal golden compass, that tells you always what the right things to do and say.  Its a matter of being able to connect with yourself, listen, and then act.  Yoga after all is about integrating spirit, mind, body into one.

Back to the being vegetarian, diet is a sensitive topic, instead of talking about vegetarian, lets talk in general first and circle back around.  Every action that we take has direct implications on the world around us.  Lets take a simple example.

Suppose I have a friend who is selling stolen goods, I could play ignorant, and still buy the goods for a bargain. Even though I have not stolen the goods, when I buy them and use them, I create a market for more goods to be stolen.  On the other end someone is impacted, as their hard earned money is lost, and they are hurt by the violation of privacy, and fear what else could have happened in the process.   Even though I was not involved, by purchasing the stolen goods, I am now indirectly directly involved.

This is the same with vegetarianism, you get indirectly directly involved with the slaughter of millions of animals. This places an enormous tax on our environment, in terms of competing land, food, water requirements and production of methane.  Methane is 21 times stronger as a greenhouse gas than CO2.  100 million tons of methane is produced every year 85% of this comes from livestock.  There are far reaching implications of your actions, just by what you choose to put in your mouth!

Also worth a read is the China Study, which statistically proves that eliminating animal proteins from your diet switches off cancer cells somehow.

Please consider reducing or eliminating meat from your diet, it could save your life, it could save the world!



Saturday, September 24, 2011

10000-hits-thank-you

Golden Path
Picture "Golden Path" kindly provided by  h.koppdelaney
I just went past 10000 hits on my blog. My first set of writings, I uploaded was in December last year, I get about 1000 hits a month average.

Writing has helped me a lot to clear my own head, my own priorities, and provided clarity into the type of person I would like to be.  My writing style has evolved through the practice, shorter, sharper, more intimate,  just like anything else that evolves through repetition. I still don't know when or how I will write the next post though, it sort of like having a "zen beginner mind" every time I start a new post :).

Writing and speaking out one thoughts, helps one think things out, it helps personal insights to happen, it also facilitate the inner healing process. It crystallizes your thoughts at a particular point in your life. I strongly recommend it, even if no-one comes to your blog.

You write for yourself, you write what you are, when you write about something beautiful, you scribe it into your mind, when you act on it, you create subtle impressions that stay with you forever.

Thank you for visiting my site (and glimpsing into my mind :) and sharing my work.




Thursday, September 22, 2011

The writing is on the wall....

Buddha
Picture "Buddha" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney
The following recent statement by Eric Allen Bell really resonated with me, and moved me to write this post:
"The writing is on the wall. When we break free from a reactive state of consciousness, we are free, think and feel and imagine ahead of the curve. We know what is on the horizon. If you don't, then you are still operating from a reactive state of mind. The best use of your energy and mine is to plan for the world we are consciously creating - the world we are to contribute to once this inevitable collapse occurs. And it is all going down. This big arrogant Titanic has hit an iceberg because of the quality of consciousness that was at the wheel. Some of us will swim to freedom and we will take as many with us as we can."  


The writing is on the wall!

From various metaphysical studies, law of karma, the Secret, and even Plato's Theory of Form, James Allen's classic book "As A Man Thinketh", there is an accepted philosophy that the physical world takes form around the mental world. I often call this the Mirror Effect. I have witnessed this myself, when I look back at my life, I can correlate outer conditions manifesting to inner conditions.

Now lets look at the quality of consciousness all around us at a global level.  Assuming we can somehow score the quality of thoughts or consciousness all around us using the following points as an example (a very simple model I know :)
1. positive vs negative
2. focused vs distracted
3. living in present vs the past or the future
4. solitude and reflection vs an endless stream of distractions
5. thoughtfulness vs ignorance
6. compassion vs selfishness

What is your score for the yourself, your family, your country, the world? Assuming it is very low for the world, which I think it is.  Assuming the Mirror Effect holds true, and 90% of the world is like this, what else do you expect other than the current failing conditions in the world from all aspects, economic, social, environmental.

What else do get you get but garbage when the quality of the world's consciousness is garbage at an aggregate level.  Don't get me wrong everyone has a right to live their live as they choose, that is their God given right, but sooner or later the law of karma or natural consequence kicks in, and you only get what you put in.

So we are at a critical cross roads in the world today, I was quite skeptical of the Mayan Calender prediction that the world was going to end in 2012, but my gosh it is getting scary out there! Just look at the natural disasters, the financial crisis, the social injustice.

One needs to make a choice today, do something about it or bury your head in the sand. Doing something about it is lifting your own level of consciousness, and that you have to do by yourself, no one can do it for you. When you do this, you lift others around you, and they do the same for others around them.  Soon a chain reaction takes place bringing much needed change around the world.  Heed the writing on the wall!

Doing something about it is lifting your own level of consciousness



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

think-equal-for-women-and-girls


The say that God created women second so that God could perfect the first attempt at man.  I don't doubt it, women have more synapses (connections between neurons in the brain), their left and right brain are better integrated, they are much better at multi-tasking.  My wife was talking to me today that the pain of child birth is much over the human tolerance of pain possible.  I shudder to think that my wife went through labor 3 times.

Given a women's natural superior capabilities developed over thousands of years of evolution, its quite a wonder that they are treated as second class citizens when it comes to equality, past and present.  In today's complicated business environment, they do have a natural edge given all other things being equal.

In many cases women are locked into a submissive role not by their own choice, be it for many unfair reasons.  I was always at a loss why I saw personally first hand that some men don't traditionally help out around the house, many saw it as a sign of weakness, I personally think some humility is required after all bringing up a family and kids is a joint responsibility. In many cases staying at home, bringing up kids, is much harder than going to work.  I pull my hair out at home when Sharon is not around, I still can't figure out how she pulls it all off! homework, meals, errands, tidying up ahh!  

The tenth Sikh Guru Guru Gobind Singh Ji, gave the surname Kaur to all women, which means Queen, which is how they should be treated, if not then at least they should be treated as equal.

This video and related discussions really opened my eyes on how unfair society can be for whatever flawed reasoning past and present.  Its up to us to make a difference, it starts with us, in our own homes, in our own jobs, and the values we instill in our own children.

I feel the crux of this issue lies in the lack of spiritual understanding, that all human beings should be respected equally, regardless of caste, creed, country, gender, wealth and any other mental biases.  They should be treated equally and know that it is their birth right to be given equal opportunity.

Think Equal!



Monday, September 19, 2011

spirit-fest-experience


I just got back from Spirit Fest on the weekend, what can I say other than that I am humbled, I am inspired, I am moved. Not just by the musicians and the yogis but also by the people who attended. Basic humanity and love is missing so much from the world, I found it here, and it felt like home. The gifts of exceptional devotional music and yoga were only surpassed by the gift and presence of love.

I have never experienced an event like this before, where everyone I talked to was so warm, where everyone seemed so focused, where everyone seemed so genuine. I could sense the longing in their eyes for the truth, for a better way for themselves and for the planet.

The world needs people like this more than ever today. The world needs bearers of light, be it a matchstick, a candle, high beams! Every little light of awareness, love, illumination counts. You are capable of anything you put your mind to. Be the matchstick that lights the candle, be the car that turns on the high beams. Be the light onto yourself, show an example, challenge the status quo, show self disciple. Draw the arrows of discrimination, love and compassion, take a deep slow breath, and aim it straight at your own heart, at your own mind.  Be the leaders that the world needs today.

Brothers, sisters @ Spirit Fest, I am truly blessed to have met each of you...I went home and also feeling blessed to have a family that was waiting ever so patiently, that also gave me the opportunity to experience such a blessed event. We often don't see it, even another breath is a blessing to be able to let your soul shine through this mortal coil.



Sunday, September 11, 2011

prayer-for-peace-on-911

Peace
Picture Peace kindly provided by Cayusa
Please don't regret, when it comes to your last breath,
Thoughts, words, actions of hatred and vengeance, these are not impressions you want to carry to death,
Caste, creed, color, people of poverty and of fame,
What difference does it make in the end? when the color of blood is all the same,
Learn the language of compassion and love,
Hate, vengeance and ego imprison the soul, like a cage for a dove,
Pray for peace in your heart, pray for peace in your home, pray for peace in the world, pray for peace in every single place,
Each one of these builds on the other, all is not possible except with grace,
Please don't regret, when it comes to your last breath,
Thoughts, words, actions of love and compassion are the only impressions you want to carry to death


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Think like a CEO

Moonlight Bay
Picture Moonlight Bay kindly provided by h.koppdelaney

From the story at the end of the post (The Rabbi’s Gift), a dying monastery was revived to a thriving one, simply by the monks thinking they could possibly be the messiah. The whole environment changed by the monks simply changing their attitudes to themselves, and treating others in the same manner.

In today’s day and age, we live in a competitive world, one struggles with finding purpose and meaning, one struggles with providing enough for the family, one struggles to keep one’s body and mind in shape to be able to do sustain the marathon effort. The hurdles are far too great, far too stressful.


What is the alternative? one can grasp, or one can lead!

I seen grasping happen, I know how it feels like, its like a person in water trying to stay afloat moving drastically and incoherently, it just makes you sink further faster. On the other hand to lead, requires a different approach. It requires you to think listen, understand, think, reflect (aka be mindful :) , act independently, train and nourish the body, mind and spirit everyday.

Like the monks in the story, we require a shift in looking at oneself or a personal reframe. You are not a victim! If you are given challenges, then you are also given the innate strength to endure and overcome them. You are the CEO of your own life, family, work, start believing it and acting that way!

Great CEOs think strategically, as well as tactically, they value relationships, innovation and keep good people around them. They are no-nonsense, and do not waste time and effort on trivial things, they proactively manage risks. They show leadership by understanding what needs to be done and making that happen, because they are personally accountable to the board of directors.  Great CEOs feel the pulse of the organisation, and can detect the areas that need attention, just like a Yogi can detect which part of the body needs to be stretched.

Likewise, we have to think strategically and tactically, stop wasting our time on useless things that don't really have a purpose.  We have to figure out who we admire and befriend them!  their good qualities will soon rub off on you.  You are accountable to yourself, you want to look in the mirror and say that you are beautiful, you want to go to bed with a clear conscious, you want to be the person that other people want to be likeSlowly, slowly, a chain reaction sets off, it affects the community, the work environment, the country and then the planet!  Just like the 5 monks in the story below, impacting the local community just by changing themselves.

Robin Sharma talks about this in his book the Greatness Guide in relation to work “Take personal responsibility for the success of your business. Show up like the entrepreneur. Grow sales, Cut costs. Get the good stuff done. You will shine in your career”. I would add to this, deepen your relationships with your colleagues, start getting in their heads, and under their skin! Then make it your personal mission to do something about it to help, they will appreciate it, and others will soon pick up on it, and even if you don’t get a promotion, you will get the respect and the satisfaction.

Enjoy the story about the Rabbi’s Gift, its one of my favorites….


The Rabbi’s Gift
by Dr Scott Peck from his book “The Different Drum”

“The story concerns a monastery that had fallen upon hard times. Once a great order, as a result of waves of antimonastic persecution in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the rise of secularism in the nineteenth, all its branch houses were lost and it had become decimated to the extent that there were only five monks left in the decaying mother house: the abbot and four others, all over seventy in age.

Clearly it was a dying order. In the deep woods surrounding the monastery there was a little hut that a rabbi from a nearby town occasionally used for a hermitage. Through their many years of prayer and contemplation the old monks had become a bit psychic, so they could always sense when the rabbi was in his hermitage. "The rabbi is in the woods, the rabbi is in the woods again" they would whisper to each other. As he agonized over the imminent death of his order, it occurred to the abbot at one such time to visit the hermitage and ask the rabbi if by some possible chance he could offer any advice that might save the monastery.

The rabbi welcomed the abbot at his hut. But when the abbot explained the purpose of his visit, the rabbi could only commiserate with him. "I know how it is," he exclaimed. "The spirit has gone out of the people. It is the same in my town. Almost no one comes to the synagogue anymore." So the old abbot and the old rabbi wept together. Then they read parts of the Torah and quietly spoke of deep things.

The time came when the abbot had to leave. They embraced each other. "It has been a wonderful thing that we should meet after all these years, "the abbot said, "but I have still failed in my purpose for coming here. Is there nothing you can tell me, no piece of advice you can give me that would help me save my dying order?" "No, I am sorry," the rabbi responded. "I have no advice to give. The only thing I can tell you is that the Messiah is one of you."

When the abbot returned to the monastery his fellow monks gathered around him to ask, "Well what did the rabbi say?" "He couldn't help," the abbot answered. "We just wept and read the Torah together. The only thing he did say, just as I was leaving --it was something cryptic-- was that the Messiah is one of us. I don't know what he meant."

In the days and weeks and months that followed, the old monks pondered this and wondered whether there was any possible significance to the rabbi's words. The Messiah is one of us? Could he possibly have meant one of us monks here at the monastery? If that's the case, which one? Do you suppose he meant the abbot? Yes, if he meant anyone, he probably meant Father Abbot. He has been our leader for more than a generation. On the other hand, he might have meant Brother Thomas. Certainly Brother Thomas is a holy man. Everyone knows that Thomas is a man of light. Certainly he could not have meant Brother Elred! Elred gets crotchety at times. But come to think of it, even though he is a thorn in people's sides, when you look back on it, Elred is virtually always right. Often very right. Maybe the rabbi did mean Brother Elred. But surely not Brother Phillip. Phillip is so passive, a real nobody. But then, almost mysteriously, he has a gift for somehow always being there when you need him. He just magically appears by your side. Maybe Phillip is the Messiah. Of course the rabbi didn't mean me. He couldn't possibly have meant me. I'm just an ordinary person. Yet supposing he did? Suppose I am the Messiah? O God, not me. I couldn't be that much for You, could I?



As they contemplated in this manner, the old monks began to treat each other with extraordinary respect on the off chance that one among them might be the Messiah. And on the off off chance that each monk himself might be the Messiah, they began to treat themselves with extraordinary respect.



Because the forest in which it was situated was beautiful, it so happened that people still occasionally came to visit the monastery to picnic on its tiny lawn, to wander along some of its paths, even now and then to go into the dilapidated chapel to meditate. As they did so, without even being conscious of it, they sensed the aura of extraordinary respect that now began to surround the five old monks and seemed to radiate out from them and permeate the atmosphere of the place. There was something strangely attractive, even compelling, about it. Hardly knowing why, they began to come back to the monastery more frequently to picnic, to play, to pray. They began to bring their friends to show them this special place. And their friends brought their friends.

Then it happened that some of the younger men who came to visit the monastery started to talk more and more with the old monks. After a while one asked if he could join them. Then another. And another. So within a few years the monastery had once again become a thriving order and, thanks to the rabbi's gift, a vibrant center of light and spirituality in the realm.”

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Toastmaster Speech 10 - Zombies, Karma & Mindfulness

Continuing my focus on communication as a key foundation skill for life helping just about everything, from relationships, promotions, to letting some of that pent up emotions out, I wanted to expand on learning and why it is important.
I finished my Competent Communication Speech Manual today. It took me about 9 months to complete 10 speeches, unfortunately my IPad did not catch the recording bummer!, it must be because I put the volume down to zero.  I reworked the blog I did called Zombies, Karma & Mindfulness, with a much greater focus on the structure and the speech, I used the content framework (Ramp, 3 Points of Discussion, Desert)  from the book “As We Speak” in the Guruhabit Bookshelf, a highly recommended book. Some of the feedback to incorporate for future, is more use of humor and making use of more examples that the audience could relate to. I really learnt a lot about public speaking.  The Competent Communication manual has got much of the foundation of all great speakers, all the rest of the advanced modules build on the core techniques in here.
However learning any skill is not complete unless you can do integrate it into all aspects of your life.  What use is communicating, if you can’t talk about the important issues at hand with anyone, what use is meditation if it does not give you a softer yet assertive approach, what use is it in speaking if you can’t truly listen? 

They say that learning goes through 4 stages in a life cycle, first we don’t know that we don’t know, then we know that we don’t know, then we know that we know, then we don’t know that we know Smile

Learning is really critical to keeping you sharp and focused in life, over time with stress our natural curiosity fades, we become more zombie-like, synapses (connections) in our brain die, unless we pursue an active learning path we pretty much fade away to mediocrity more like a vegetable.  I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be like that!

“We are born into genius but resigned into mediocrity” Robin Sharma
“When one teaches two learns” Robert Heinlein

Learning is also directly tied to progress, what separates the person in the street to the person in high profile role is hugely influenced by formal and informal education.

“To double your income, triple your rate of learning” Robin Sharma

I hope this blog gave some motivation for learning, and why it is important for your own success and happiness.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

toastmaster-table-topics-competition

I came second in this week's Toastmaster Table Topic's Competition, something I was not expecting.  I am not big into competitions personally, I have no interest in proving I am better than anyone else, I feel that one always need to approach things with a spirit of  humility, service and learning.

My motivation for joining to contest was to just practice speaking on the fly which is what table topics is all about.  There are many situations in work, social or family situation's where you are thrown a curve ball! Speaking, listening, writing is a skill that can be improved through practice and repetition.

We all have inherit strengths and weaknesses, I do however believe that one should push beyond one's comfort zone, so that one can build on one's strengths and overcome one's weakness, so that learning and self growth happens.

I feel that one always need to approach things with a spirit of  humility, service and learning

The random question I got was, as a child what did I get into trouble the most for.


Friday, September 2, 2011

wherever-you-go-there-you-are

The Golden Path II
Picture "The Golden Path II" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney
I am up to the chapter "Wherever you go there you are" in the book with the same name by Jon Kabat-Zinn. I love this book, as he talks about mindfulness, meditation, karma in plain simple English, no need to de-crypt scriptures or poems, just straight up, sort of like a spiritual espresso, except it wakes your soul up!

One of the things about mindfulness and meditation is that it is pretty much opposite to our normal patterns of thinking:
- Instead of doing , there is non-doing
- Instead of thinking, there is emphasis on not thinking, just paying full attention without judgement
- Instead of thinking time, you let go of time, focus on the present, time loses all meaning
- Instead of changing outside, you change inside

You work on yourself, you listen, you pay attention. There is no point running away from anything, it just follows you, until you address your own mental conditions.  Real change only comes when you change your mentality.  This the mirror effect! you look to the world, and over time the world reflects back yourself, crystallizing material things around your thought patterns everywhere you go.

Real change only comes once you change your mentality.

Einstein said something like "Problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them"

The following is the extract from the chapter which emphasizes the importance of acceptance, facing the current challenges whatever it is, softening to it, learning from it ...

"If this job is no good, change jobs, If this wife is no good, change wives. If this town is no good, change towns ... The underlying thinking is that the reasons for these troubles is outside of you - in the location, in others, in circumstances ...This way of thinking and seeing is an all-too-prevalent trap.  There is no successful escaping from yourself in the long run, only transformation ... There can be no resolution leading to growth until the present situation is faced completely and you have opened to it with mindfulness, allowing the roughness of the situation itself to sand down your own rough edges.  In other words, you must be willing to let life itself become our teacher"  Jon Kabat-Zinn

There can be no resolution leading to growth until the present situation is faced completely and you have opened to it with mindfulness, allowing the roughness of the situation itself to sand down your own rough edges. Jon Kabat-Zinn


No-one can run from oneself, no-one can change oneself except oneself
No-one cannot change one's circumstances unless one changes one's thinking
No-one can change one's thinking until one stops thinking temporarily, allowing deeper contemplation (non-thinking) to guide the response and establish more thoughtful patterns of thinking....

No-one can change one's thinking until one stops thinking temporarily, allowing deeper contemplation (non-thinking) to guide the response and establish more thoughtful patterns of thinking....