Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Guru - A Catalyst in the Spiritual Process

I would like to share this interesting Article on boloji.com with you.

One of the famous novels in Tamil (Manam Uruguthe) highlights how the relationship between an individual and his guru enhances the quality of life of the individual and how it eventually leads to his overall development. For those who ask, why we need a guru in the first place, my answer would be – Why do we need to go to temples if we have a temple within the house?

We go to temples to seek peace of mind, offer our prayers to God, and have archana-aarthi etc.The ambience in a temple is of a different kind. In the villages in Tamil Nadu, we used to have a “Perumal” temple. [Perumal denotes Lord Balaji]. One of the characteristic feature of this temple is that the external walls would be painted with “kaavi’ – a special colour that is used along with the Rangoli. So, when you are in that kind of an environment, you are engulfed by a sudden calm in the mind, a renewed hope for life, a momentary relief from day to day frustrations. Those who only go to temples to seek something are making a mistake. You can also visit temples plainly to have a darshan and seek the blessings of the Almighty. 

Thus, even though we do poojas at home, celebrate festivals at home; it is also practice in our custom to visit temples. One of the important reasons why a visit to a temple purifies our hearts can be ascribed to the fact that when so many people are there in the temple, the positive energy is at its peak. Imagine the positive energies from so many individuals who have congregated in the temple premises....what a profound impact it has... Ever visited the bhajans of Satya Sai Baba or Sai baba or even Lord Ayyappa ... The entire atmosphere is surcharged with spirituality and devotion.

Whatever state an individual is in, spirituality is bound to transform him. All that you need is a pure heart shorn of all the vices that only cause ruin to mankind – anger, jealousy, negativity, frustration, depression.Mantra chanting results in vibrations around the individual, the effect of which can be tremendous. As they say, whatever you do, do it with sincerity, love and devotion. No point in doing something just for the sake of it. Rituals are only a way of life – they are not the only way of life. An intelligent man will use his ingenuity to utilise the time available at his disposal to embrace spirituality.

Who is a Guru to come between man and God? I hear someone asking the question. Why do we spice our food? Why do we need a catalyst in chemical reaction? We do all this to get that extra zing. Spice makes the food more palatable. A catalyst helps in expediting the chemical reaction. In a likewise manner, a yogi / siddha/ guru is one who enables a successful communion of the individual with the God. He helps us to realise God much faster. He creates an awakening in us about the futility of this physical form. He encourages us to eschew our emotional attachments to all that are material in the world. The Guru enlightens us like the Buddha, he shows us the way, he protects us from ills, and he embraces us like a mother would do her child. He is probably there because God himself has manifested himself in such people. A guru’s grace is what every individual yearns. 

No amount of money can equal the happiness that is obtained from the grace of your guru. Swami Samarth, Gajanan Maharaj, Mata Amritanandamayi, Satya Sai Baba, Yogi Ramsuratkumar,Saibaba – what do these people gain by blessing us ? Only the immense satisfaction of contributing to the removal of negative energies from this world, contribution to the upliftment of mankind and do manav seva.As Baba says – Manava Seva is Madhava Seva.Sittars in Tamil Nadu have performed miracles that continue to remain oblivious to human logic.

Thus, every individual should aspire within his hearts for a guru/yogi and it is a certainty that the guru will reach him in some form or the other. As far as the Hindu culture is concerned, spirituality is our identity. There is no point in our leading a life without an identity. By G Venkatesh 25-Aug-2010.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It is not the Amount that Matters but the Thought and Care!

Many years ago my wife and I were on a trip to Carmel, California for some shopping and exploring. On the way we stopped at a service station. As soon as we parked our car in front of the pumps, a young man, about eighteen or nineteen, came bouncing out to the car and with a big smile said, "Can I help you?"

"Yes," I answered. "A full tank of gas, please." I wasn't prepared for what followed. In this day and age of self-service and deteriorating customer treatment, this young man checked every tire, washed every window - even the sunroof - singing and whistling the whole time. We couldn't believe both the quality of service and his upbeat attitude about his work.

When he brought the bill I said to the young man, "Hey, you really have taken good care of us. I appreciate it."

He replied, "I really enjoy working. It's fun for me and I get to meet nice people like you."

This kid was really something!

I said, "We're on our way to Carmel and we want to get some milkshakes. Can you tell us where we can find the nearest Baskin-Robbins?"

"Baskin-Robbins is just a few blocks away," he said as he gave us exact directions. Then he added, "Don't park out front - park around to the side so your car won't get sideswiped."

What a kid!

As we got to the ice cream store we ordered milkshakes, except that instead of two, we ordered three. Then we drove back to the station. Our young friend dashed out to greet us. "Hey, I see you got your milkshakes."

"Yes, and this one is for you!"

His mouth fell open. "For me?"

"Sure. With all the fantastic service you gave us, I couldn't leave you out of the milkshake deal."

"Wow!" was his astonished reply.

As we drove off I could see him in my rear-view mirror just standing there, grinning from ear to ear.

Now, what did this little act of generosity cost me? Only about two dollars - you see, it's not the money, it's the consideration.

Well, I must have been feeling especially creative that day, so on our arrival in Carmel I drove directly to a flower shop. As we walked inside I said to the florist, "I need a long-stemmed rose for my wife to carry while we go shopping in Carmel."

The florist, a rather unromantic type, replied, "We sell them by the dozen."

"I don't need a dozen," I said, "just one."

"Well," he replied haughtily, "if you only want one it will cost you two dollars."

"Wonderful," I exclaimed. "There's nothing worse than a cheap rose."

Selecting the rose with some deliberation, I handed it to my wife. She was impressed! And the cost? Two dollars. Just two dollars. A bit later she looked up and said, "I must be the only woman in Carmel today carrying a rose." And I believe she probably was.

Can you imagine the opportunity to create magic with those around you, and all for the cost of a few dollars, some imagination and care?

Remember, it is not the amount that matters but the thought and care that often has the greatest impact upon those you love.

The small details of our lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, the property, the bank balance that matters. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves. So find time to be your spouse's friend and do those little things for each other that build a relationship.

The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up...

Live like a Candle Which Burns It self but Give Lights to Others.

 “Live amongst people in such a manner that if you die they weep over you and if you are alive they crave for your company.” 

Read from the Internet.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lessons from Pathan

One fine day, a bus driver went to the bus garage, started his bus, and drove off along the route. No problems for the first few stops - a few people got on, a few got off, and things went generally well.

At the next stop, however, a big hulk of a Pathan got on. Six feet four, built like a wrestler, arms hanging down to the ground. He glared at the conductor and said, "Pathan doesn't pay!" and sat down at the back.

Conductor didn't argue with Pathan, but he wasn't happy about it. The next day the same thing happened – Pathan got on again, made a show of refusing to pay, and sat down. And the next day, and the next..

This grated on the bus driver, who started losing sleep over the way Pathan was taking advantage of the poor conductor. Finally he could stand it no longer. He signed up for body building courses, karate, judo, and all that good stuff.

By the end of the summer, he had become quite strong; what's more, he felt really good about himself. So, on the next Monday, when Pathan once again got on the bus and said, "Pathan doesn't pay!"

The driver stood up, glared back at Pathan, and screamed, "And why not?"

With a surprised look on his face, Pathan replied, "Pathan has a bus pass."
Management Lesson: Be sure there is a problem in the first place before working hard to solve one. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Cab Ride I’ll Never Forget

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living.
It was a cowboy’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss.
What I didn’t realize was that it was also a ministry.
Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, and made me laugh and weep.
But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night. I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partyers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory for the industrial part of town.
When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window.
Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away.
But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation.
Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself.
So I walked to the door and knocked. “Just a minute”, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80′s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knick-knacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.
“It’s nothing”, I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.”
“Oh, you’re such a good boy”, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”
“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly.
“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”
I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.
“I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have very long.”
I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to take?” I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.
“Nothing,” I said.
“You have to make a living,” she answered.
“There are other passengers”.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.
“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”
I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

Reproduced on Zen Moments with the author’s kind permission

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Ant and Its Journey

One morning I wasted nearly an hour watching a tiny ant carry a huge feather across my back terrace. Several times it was confronted by obstacles in its path and after a momentary pause it would make the necessary detour.
At one point the ant had to negotiate a crack in the concrete about 10mm wide. After brief contemplation the ant laid the feather over the crack, walked across it and picked up the feather on the other side then continued on its way.
I was fascinated by the ingenuity of this ant, one of God's smallest creatures. It served to reinforce the miracle of creation. Here was a minute insect, lacking in size yet equipped with a brain to reason, explore, discover and overcome. But this ant, like the two-legged co-residents of this planet, also shares human failings.
After some time the ant finally reached its destination - a flower bed at the end of the terrace and a small hole that was the entrance to its underground home. And it was here that the ant finally met its match.
How could that large feather possibly fit down that small hole? Of course it couldn't. So the ant, after all this trouble and exercising great ingenuity, overcoming problems all along the way, just abandoned the feather and went home.
The ant had not thought the problem through before it began its epic journey and in the end the feather was nothing more than a burden.
Isn't life like that! We worry about our family, we worry about money or the lack of it, we worry about work, about where we live, about all sorts of things. These are all burdens - the things we pick up along life's path and lug them around the obstacles and over the crevasses that life will bring, only to find that at the destination they are useless and we can't take them with us.
Yes, indeed there's so much to learn from the ANT.
-Author Unknown  Read from : Creative Youth Ideas dot com.

Monday, November 15, 2010

One Bite at a Time

When with your friends, you often hear yourself saying stuff like, "Of course I care about my health!  I take good care of myself!" Yet alone, in the middle of temptation, you convince yourself that just one more bacon-double-cheeseburger (with fries) won't hurt. After all, it's not like you do it EVERY day!  

You are diligent in telling your eleven-year-old daughter not to ever tell lies... not ever.  The phone rings...she answers.  It's ANOTHER telemarketer.  "Tell them I'm not here!" you silently mouth from the other room. 

"It's only twenty minutes!" you convincingly encourage yourself as you round your time sheet up to the next even hour.  After all,  why do they make you fill these silly things out, anyway?

Ever find yourself in a similar scenario?  You know... where your actions and your words don't exactly jive?  Where you tell yourself, your family, your friends or your boss one thing, but inside you know something different?  Ever?
Have you ever heard the term "congruence?"  It's been a big deal in management training circles for some time now.  Indeed, it is a very important idea.  Defined by Webster, it means, "an exact coinciding."  To use a (very) worn out phrase, it means, "walking your talk".  My definition?  Do what you say... say what you do.
Out of the grey...

There's no grey here.  It's actually quite a simple concept. And you know what?  Such virtue paves the difference between excellence and something much less in every one of your relationships.  With your employer, customers, co-workers, friends, children, significant other, and even... with yourself. Such uprightness creates the quantity of respect you're given, and in reality, the quantity of respect you deserve. 

On a very personal level, it's called... integrity.

You've most likely heard the phrase, "Your actions are shouting so loudly, I can't hear a word you're saying!"  You can probably think of someone to whom this phrase fits... perfectly.  But, have you ever considered how it might apply to you?  Sure, most of us are pretty honest when it comes to the big stuff.  We don't steal.  We don't blatantly lie.  We don't cheat our friends. But what about those "little" things?  It's been said that the way to eat an elephant is... one bite at a time!

Have you ever stopped to ponder how those small "untruths," or "oversights," or lack of follow-through, or "do as I say, not as I do," pieces of your life might be eating away at you?  Such  "chinks" in your existence - over time - wear you down.  The 'one bite at a time' concept is fundamental.  Consider the slow rusting away of metal, mountains carried over time by rivers to the sea, or erosion of the once sandy shore with each crash of ocean wave. So too, are you diminished each time you engage in any  lack of integrity - however slight.  You lose the respect of others.  You  lose respect for yourself.

Think about it.  The erosion is easy to stop.  All you need do is be honest... really honest.  Immerse yourself in integrity - total, one-hundred-percent-no-holds-barred integrity.  Stand tall.  Do what you say... say what you do.  It's simple.  It's powerful.  Those near to you will love you for it.  The rest will respect you for it. And you?  You will have a much higher opinion of... you. – Soul and Peace.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happiness is the way

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are. After that we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire.

The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now.

If not now, when?

Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred D Souza. He said: "For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life".
This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.
So, treasure every moment that you have. And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time and remember that time waits for no one.

So stop waiting until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until you are off welfare, until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you've had a drink, until you've sobered up, until you die, until you are born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination. Work like you don't need money, Love like you've never been hurt, And dance like no one's watching.

- Author Unknown – Inspiring Quotes and Stories.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Broken Painting

Once upon a time, a wellknown painter was finishing his painting. It's an incredibly beautiful painting to be shown during Princess Diana's marriage.
The painter was consumed by and excited with his own painting that he unconsciously took a few step backward while admiring the 2 x 8 m painting. He didn't look back when he walked backward. He kept on walking backward until it was a step away from the edge of the tall building. Just one more step backward and he could get himself killed.
A man saw what the painter was doing and was about to shout at him to warn him when he realized that his shout might have surprised the painter and thus made him incidentaly took one step backward and fell down. The man then took a brush and paint and began to paint on the beautiful painting until it was completely damaged.
Upon realising what's happenned to his painting the painter got very angry and moved forward to hit the man. However, some other people who were also present at the vicinity held him and showed him his last position which almost made him fall.
Sometimes we have painted our future with such beauty and dreamed of beautiful days we will spend with our loved one. But then God seemed to destroy our beautiful painting when He sees what danger lies ahead of us.
Sometimes we are angry and annoyed by what God has done to us, or we get angry to our superior in our workplace. But one thing we have to keep in our mind: God provides only the best for us, His children. - Author Unknown. Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Elephant and the Fly

A disciple and his teacher were walking through the forest. The disciple was disturbed by the fact that his mind was in constant unrest.
He asked his teacher: "Why most people's minds are restless, and only a few possess a calm mind? What can one do to still the mind?"
The teacher looked at the disciple, smiled and said:
"I will tell you a story. An elephant was standing and picking leaves from a tree. A small fly came, flying and buzzing near his ear. The elephant waved it away with his long ears. Then the fly came again, and the elephant waved it away once more".
This was repeated several times. Then the elephant asked the fly:
"Why are you so restless and noisy? Why can't you stay for a while in one place?"
The fly answered: "I am attracted to whatever I see, hear or smell. My five senses pull me constantly in all directions and I cannot resist them. What is your secret? How can you stay so calm and still?"
The elephant stopped eating and said:
"My five senses do not rule my attention. Whatever I do, I get immersed in it. Now that I am eating, I am completely immersed in eating. In this way I can enjoy my food and chew it better. I rule and control my attention, and not the other way around."
Upon hearing these words, the disciple's eyes opened wide and a smile appeared on his face. He looked at his teacher and said:
"I understand! If my five senses are in control of my mind and attention, then my mind is in constant unrest. If I am in charge of my five senses and attention, then my mind becomes calm".
"Yes, that's right", answered the teacher, " The mind is restless and goes wherever the attention is. Control your attention, and you control your mind". - By Remez Sasson

Source Success Conscious.Com

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One Good Turn Deserves Another

In one of India's little kingdoms of long ago there lived a Kingwho (like most of them) was fond of hunting in wild places. HisChief Advisor was a very intelligent man, and also a very optimistic one. He was famous for seeing the rosy side of things. In fact, so strong was his habit of finding good in everything that at times this annoyed his ruler.

One day when the King and his Advisor were on a hunting tripthrough a dense jungle which went on for miles, the King decided to have a fresh coconut for his breakfast, and, finding a coconut tree near at hand, with his sword cut down a coconut. But as luck would have it, his sword slipped in his hand and came crashing down on one of his toes, cutting it off! Limping over to his Advisor with loud shouts of pain, he was terribly shocked to hear the latter say, "Ah, that's wonderful!"
"What?!" yelled the King; "I cut off my toe and you say it iswonderful?"
"This is a real blessing," replied the Advisor. By now the Kingwas furious, thinking the man was making fun of him.
"Take it from me," said his Advisor, "behind this apparent badaccident there is some good which we cannot now see." That was it! The King had noticed a dry well nearby, and being a strong man, he picked up his companion and just threw him into that well. Then he set out to limp back to his fortified town and castle.
This meant, however, walking through dense jungle, frequentedby the wild tribes of those days, some of whom were headhunters. On his way the King met a band of those headhunters, who decided that, being royalty, he would make an excellent sacrifice for this month's festival. As you may imagine, the King did not feel at all honored by this decision. The warriors carried him to the tribal priest. It was the duty of this priest to approve all of the offerings that were to be presented. The priest was most particular to see that the item to be offered to the gods was perfect in all respects. While anointing the King's body the priest noticed that he was lacking one toe.
"I am sorry," he told the King, "but we cannot use you after all for this holy sacrifice. The gods will not accept anyone who is not whole-bodied You will have to go." Naturally the King was delighted and began hobbling away toward his palace. Aha! he thought, so his Advisor had been right -- there was indeed a hidden blessing behind that accident. As fast as his wounded leg would allow, he turned around and went back to the well where he had left his counsellor. There he was, standing down in thewell and whistling happily to himself.
Now the king managed to reach down far enough to grasp the hand of the Advisor and with great effort to pull him up. Then he apologized for having doubted him and having thought him afool.
"Oh how sorry I am that I threw you in there," said the King as he dusted off his courtier. "I was taken prisoner by some wild native headhunters who were about to make me a sacrifice victim. Then they saw that my toe was missing, and let me go. And you foretold all this, in a way. Can you ever forgive me?"
"You need not apologize at all; it was a blessing that you threw me down the well and left me there."
"Now, how are you going to make something positive out ofthat?" queried the King.
"Well," said the other, "if I had been with you they would surely have taken me for their sacrifice." - Mahabharata

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

You, Me and God

"Swamiji, I don't believe in God".
It was a young man, modern, tight pants, tobacco pipe stuck at waist, trim thin moustache. He spoke Emglish with an Americanized drawl, and was evidently one of our university products, with higher education abroad. Sophisticated, to the points of his pointed toes.
Swamiji beamed. "Excellent!" With a broad welcoming smile, nodding his head slowly, Swamiji continued: "That's fine. I like you. You are the man I have been wanting to meet. I like your outspokenness. You are intelligent and you think independently. You have the courage to speak out your conviction, straight from the shoulder, as they say. Now come, WHAT KIND of GOD is it, that you don't believe in?"
The young man, who had made his statement about his non-believing, with a little hesitation, probably at his own audacity at denying GOD before a God-man, was pleasantly surprised at Swamiji's cordial tone and benign smile, and, feeling encouraged, went on:
"This God, who sits above the clouds, and judges men, and dispenses favours and punishments by remote-control, at his own sweet will, don't you think Swamiji, it is all hocus pocus?"
Swamiji laughed. "Shake hands, young man. I am entirely with you. Now, we are two, together. I too, don't believe in THAT KIND OF GOD. But........hmm, did ypu have breakfast before coming?"
"Yes, Swamiji."
"Well, What did you have for breakfast?"
"The usual things, porridge, toast, scrambled eggs, coffee...."
"Eggs. That's nice. Eggs! Now, where did the eggs come from Ram, that's your name isn't it?"
Ram, with his brows raised, feeling that Swamiji was leading upto something, said: " I don't exactly know, probably one of those new poultry farms near
Swamiji: "I don't mean that. How are eggs made? Do they grow in fields, or are they made in factories?"
"Simple. I think you are trying to pull my legs, but all the same I'll answer you. Hens, of course. Hens lay eggs, you know!" Ram said with an air of flippancy. Nodding his head, up and down, thoughtfully, Swamiji Continued: " I see, I see, so the eggs come from hens. Now where do the hens come from?"
Ram, an intelligent man, could see the trap he was being led into. He started saying: "Ofcourse from.....". Then wide eyed, looked at Swamiji silently. Swamiji smiled: "So, eggs come from hens, hens come from eggs, which again come from other hens, and so on, ad-infinitum. Can you, Ram, say with any certainty, which was the first cause? Egg or hen? How and why?
Swamiji, now addressing all the devotees present, went on: "You see, God is not just a person or individual, sitting in a palace above the clouds, dispensing favours. It stands to reason that every effect must have had a cause prior to it. The watch that you are wearing did not make itself. Your breakfast did not cook itself. There was a cause, in each case. The cause must have emerged from a previous cause. GOD is now the first cause. The sole cause. The UNCAUSED CAUSE. There was no cause before Him. He is the oldest, the most ancient, He was before TIME. The Sanaatanah, the Puraanah. This `Causation hunting' is the favourite pastime of the evolving human intellect -- trying to trace everything to its ultimate origin. That which is beyond the point at which the intellect gets stalled, is G-O-D. The intellect cannot come to a conclusion as to the ultimate cause as in the age - old example of the hen and the egg. `Thus far -- not farther' is the limitation of the capacity of the human intellect."
Ram was flushed with excitement. He was thrilled. In a faltering voice he asked " There does seem to be something in what you say, Swamiji. Am I to understand that THAT is God?"
"That, which you now speak of as GOD, my boy, the muslim calls Allah; the christian refers to as "My father in Heaven"; the Parsee as Ahura Mazda. These are a few of the different ways in which HE or IT is referred to, but all are referring to the SAME SUPREME PRINCIPLE. The cause behind all causes. The source of all that was, now is, and ever will be. The Vedas refer to it as BRAHMAN, the Absolute, the infinite. THE TRUTH IS ONE. THE WISE SPEAK OF IT VARIOUSLY."
" But, Swamiji, the description does not seem to be complete. Is that all that God is? How can one come to know Him?"
"Now, you are really getting somewhere. I have not `described' God. He cannot be described. To define is Him is to defile Him. What I pointed out only constitutes one way, one manner, of approaching the Truth. It is just one aspect. Now, Your second question asks `How can one come to know Him?'
`Know him!' He cannot be `known' as you know this table or this chair or your wife or your pipe. He is not an object of the intellect. He is the VERY SUBJECT. Have you heard of the great disciple of the Kenopanishad who approached the Master and enquired :"Revered Sir, What is IT, directed by which the mind cognizes objects, the eyes see, the ears hear and so on?' The master cryptically answered :"It is the eye of the eye; the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind'. In fact It is the VERY Subject that enables the eyes to see, the ear to hear etc. It is not an object of the senses or the Mind or the Intellect. Hence, to answer your question, I have to tell you that you cannot make God an object of Knowledge. An example will elucidate the idea. You are walking along a dark country road at night, occasionally illuminating
your path with the aid of a battery torch; you want to know how the torch gives light; you unscrew the torch, you will not be able to see the battery cells, as the bulb will not emit lighty unless powered by the battery of cells. Similarly, the eyes, the ears, the mind and the intellect, all of which get
their own power to function from the LIFE PRINCIPLE, cannot understand IT as an object. God is thus conceived of as the life principle, in every one."
The audience sat spell bound listening to Swamiji, exposition of a difficult vedantic truth in easy lucid style.
"Then Swamiji, you say that God or Truth is something abstract, that cannot be seen or heard or touched -- or even thought of. Am I right?"
" You are very much right. In fact, God is all this and much more. The Bhagawad Geeta says: `Weapons cleave It not; fire burns It not; water wets It not; wind dries It not. This self cannot be cut, nor burnt nor wetted nor dried.' It is not material; It is not matter, understand."
"Why did you `Self'?"
"The Supreme, Life Principle, is also the SELF in you, in me and in everybody. It is the innermost core of your personality. The popular misconception is that `man is a body, with a soul'. That it is not correct. The Truth is that `Man is THE SOUL, in a body'. He is eternal. The role of the body is likened to a worn out garment that is discarded by the wearer at
his will." Now, the other members of the audience who had been listening with awe and reverence, took the oppurtunity to clear their doubts.
"Swamiji, if God cannot be seen or thought of, is an abstraction, is there any significance to idol worship?"
"Of course there is a lot. When your dear son is in America, and you cannot see him whenever you want, do you or do you not get solace by looking at his photograph? You do know that the photo IS NOT YOUR SON, but only a piece of paper with various tones of grey, but it reminds you of your beloved boy and his great love for you. So also the idols in temples are to remind the devotees of the ideal, the Supreme. Since the human mind cannot conceive of a formless Supreme, God is conceived of in the form as represented by an idol. To the earnest devotee, the idol appears as a living embodiment of his Lord, and he goes into ecstasy at its sight. It is, however, necessary to remember that the idol is NOT God, but represents God."
" Why is it, Swamiji, that as in Christianity or Islam, a particular day of the week is not earmarked in Hinduism for temple worship?"
At this question, Swamiji drrew himself up, straightened and roared at the top of His voice; " HINDUISM IS NOT A PART TIME RELIGION." He then explained at length that aspiration to associate with divinity cannot be restricted to any particular time." Have you heard of the school boy who said that `the earth is round on Sundays and flat on other days'? So also, a man cannot be made to be divine on Sundays and devilish on all other days. (Maybe, most of us are that way!)
So constant practice, frequent association with the good etc., are needed. The temple visits and worship should elevate the mind of the seeker and help him to keep his mind in a higher plane. He should also take other steps to continue the purification of the mind at all times of the day, at home, in the office, at the market place."
"What is a pure mind, Swamiji?"
"A pure mind is one which is calm, free from agitations. Agitations are caused mainly by our likes and dislikes and desires. Desires spell disaster, fulfilled or frustrated. Mahatma Gnadhi was very fond of the `Sthitha Pragna' portion of the second chapter of the Bhagawad Geeta, in which the causes and consequences of desire are most graphically described. It is the ladder of fall:
"When a man thinks of objects, attachments for them arises; from attachment, desire is born; from desire (unfulfilled) arises anger; from anger comes
delusion; from delusion loss of memory, the destruction of discrimination; from destruction of discrimination he perishes."
Swamiji added: " The Lord also points out then the three great entrances to hell are lust, anger and greed."
One in the audience asked: "I have read a good deal Swamiji, I also have convictions. Yet, to put these values in practice is my problem."
Swamiji "This was exactly Arjuna's problem. The Lord advised him, Recognise your real enemies. They are desire and anger, born of passionate nature, all devouring and sinful'. Knowing your enemies will enable you to destroy them. Knowing your weaknesses, you will make efforts to discard them. Once you locate a dead rat in your wardrobe, that was emitting foul odour, you will promptly pick it up by the tail and throw it as far away as possible."
"Our sastras have laid down a clearcut procedure. The three - fold practice consists of Sravana, Manana and Nidhidhyasana - Hearing is not in one-ear-out-the other, `It is attentive listening to discourses on our great scriptures (including reading them), contemplating on the ideas contained therein, and lastly meditation. Many people come and tell me that they have gone through the Geeta many times. I tell them `Let the Geeta go through you once atleast. It will do you more good.' Not just hearing or reading but absorption of the great ideas contained therein, assimilating them, and living those values will alone produce a radiance in the life of an individual. Proper understanding, and correct attitudes are important. For example, we often meet the allegation that Hinduism is an `out-of-the world religion' meant only for the recluse. The spirit of Hinduism is not understood by those who say this. Wealth is not taboo for the seeker, but the constant craving for wealth IS. Property is not prohibited, but one is enjoined to use it in the service of society.
The vedantic concept of renunciation has nothing to do with have or have-not, in a physical sense; it means the attitude of non-attachment. The classical example of our ancient lore is that of Emperor Janaka, living in the luxury of a palace, but still considered such a great saint and sage that great aspirants went to him for guidance.
If you ask me `how to start', my answer is `Just start'. when? Now~
Today is the best day. A better day will not come.
The greatest master who lived and worked for the cause of religion in India, Adi Sankara, has laid down the prescription:
"Bhagawad Geeta and Vishnu Sahasranama are to be chanted; always the form of the Lord of Lakshmi is to be meditated upon. The mind is to be led towards the company of the good. wealth is to be shared with the needy.
Now, many people wait for retirement to take to religion. They will never take to it, because they will have new problems in the way.
"There goes the lunch time bell. All of you please have prasad at the annakshetra before you go."
Hari om! Hari Om!! Hari Om!!!

- The Chinmaya Mission Chicago. Intersting Articles from Swami Chinmayananda.

How to Recognize (and Cure) Your Own Hubris

Confidence is an attribute that every leader needs to embrace and to foster in others. But when confidence goes too far, it can become hubris.
Overdosing on confidence is easy to do. Jim Collins writes about the organizational side of hubris in his latest book, How the Mighty Fall. Stage 1 of organizational failure is "hubris born of success." It "sets in when people become arrogant, regarding success virtually as an entitlement, and they lose sight of the true underlying factors that created success in the first place."
Many leaders veer into hubristic behavior without realizing their shortcomings. We may be well intentioned, but we all suffer from a blind spots.So how can leaders know when their own confidence is verging on hubris? Here are some warning signs:
·                          You make many decisions independently. No, dithering isn't good. But bosses who make all of their own decisions without speaking to others are asking for trouble. How much do you ask for others' input?
·                          You can't remember the last time you spoke to a customer. Failure to discover what people think about what you offer is not only foolhardy, it's a recipe for failure in the future. If you think you're "too busy" to connect with customers, that's a warning sign.
·                          You always have lunch with the same people.Socializing only with select peers cuts you off from people who might offer alternate views.
·                          Your team always seems to agree with you. If no one has contradicted you in a while, you may have inadvertently created a no-bad-news culture. Surrounding yourself with people who can only do one thing — nod — is an invitation to disaster.
·                          When something goes wrong, the first thing you ask is, "Who's responsible?" This may be a sign that you overemphasize accountability at the expense of problem-solving — which your team may see this as finger-pointing.
If any of this sounds familiar, consider what you need to change. What can you do?
Start by asking people to talk back. Employees need to be able to tell their bosses what they really think. Bosses who make people uncomfortable about telling the truth are asking for trouble. They end up sandbagging reality.
So take it a step further — insist on candor. Ancient Romans embraced the concept of simplicitas— straightforwardness. Every boss owes his employees straight talk about their own performance as well as the performance of the team and the company. Candor can be cleansing in that it clears out the haze of "smoke and mirrors" that organizations tend to create.
Make time to walk the halls, talk to customers, and speak with vendors. Get the straight dope on how the company is performing. Do not take internal reports at face value. Sometimes reports are created to shield the guilty from accountability. Use your own "walk the beat" approach to finding out the truth.
Finally, remember that once your stakeholders start talking more openly, it's your job to listen.
Confidence is very often a virtue. Without self-confidence, a manager is one waiting for someone else to step forward. Leaders need to have faith in themselves in order to have the gumption to lead, and they need to spread that self-assurance throughout their organizations. Every employee needs to know that his boss believes not only in himself, but also in the capacity of the team to achieve its objectives.
But, as we have seen so often, too much confidence is a toxic cocktail, one that can lead to a very long hangover.
- John Baldoni is a leadership consultant, coach, and speaker. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Worth-Your-Time Test – Peter Bregman

Nate Eisman* recently started working for a large consulting firm after many years as an independent consultant. He called me a few days ago for some advice.
"I'm wasting a tremendous amount of time," he complained to me, "I'm in meetings all day. The only way I can get any real work done is by coming in super early and staying super late."
Nate had gone from an organization of one to an organization of several thousand and was drowning in the time suck of collaboration. He is not alone.
I recently surveyed the top 400 leaders of a 120,000 person company and found that close to 95% of them — that's 380 out of 400 — pointed to three things that wasted their time the most: unnecessary meetings, unimportant emails, and protracted PowerPoints.
Working with people takes time. And different people have different priorities. So someone may need your perspective on an issue that's important to him but not to you. Still, if he's a colleague, it's important to help. And often we want to help.
On the other hand, we've all felt Nate's pain. The question is: how can we spend time where we add the most value and let go of the rest?
We need a way to quickly and confidently identify and reduce our extraneous commitments, to know for sure whether we need to deal with something or avoid it, and to manage our own desire to be available always. I propose a little test that every commitment should pass before you agree to it. When someone comes to you with a request, ask yourself three questions:
1.                       Am I the right person?
2.                       Is this the right time?
3.                       Do I have enough information?
If the request fails the test — if the answer to any one of these questions is "no" — then don't do it. Pass it to someone else (the right person), schedule it for another time (the right time), or wait until you have the information you need (either you or someone else needs to get it).
In the last few weeks, in The Cardinal Rule of Rules and in The Mostly Unplugged Vacation I wrote about how to avoid being interrupted. But sometimes it's impossible or inappropriate to wall yourself off completely. For example, what if your boss is the person who interrupts you? Or what if you're on vacation and a critical client reaches out with a time sensitive and crucial question?
These three questions offer a clear, easy, and consistent way of knowing when to respond. So we resist the temptation to respond to everything.
If your boss asks you to do something and her request fails the test, it's not just okay - it's useful - to push back or redirect so the work is completed productively. It's not helpful to you, your boss, or your organization if you waste your time on the wrong work.
That's the irony. We try to be so available because we want to be helpful. And yet being overwhelmed with tasks — especially those we consider to be a waste of our time — is exactly what will make us unhelpful.
When we get a meeting request that doesn't pass the test, we should decline. When we're cc'd on an email that doesn't pass the test, we need to ask the sender to remove us from the list before we get caught up in the flurry of "reply all" responses. And a fifty-page presentation needs to pass the test before we read it (and even then, it's worth an email asking which are the critical pages to review).
A few weeks after sharing the three questions with Nate, I called him at his office at around 6pm to see how it was going. I guess it was going well because I never reached him. He had already gone home.
*Some details changed to protect privacy.

Better Stress Management

There's no way to eliminate stress if we keep doing the same things. But just the thought of change can cause more stress. Here are lots of little things to try that can have a soothing cumulative effect:
Remember that perfectionism is doomed to fail. Forgive yourself now for any mistakes you'll make in the future.
Keep goals small and manageable. The huge goal that's never reached only adds to a sense of frustration. Break up the big into the little, and little by little you'll conquer.
Prioritize. This is important not only to make sure you get the most important things done first, but also to learn what is important. If everything appears to be of equal importance, you can become paralyzed.
Do the worst first. Whenever possible, do the most unpleasant task of the day first, even if it means a bit of juggling of priorities. Otherwise the dreaded task ahead of you will always occupy part of your attention.
Don't skip lunch. And use lunch to eat lunch. Eat, exercise, listen to music: don't make lunchtime another source of stress by squeezing in 14 personal errands.
Put it in writing. Nothing sends stress soaring like suddenly remembering a forgotten chore. Don't rely on your memory, even for the most obvious tasks.
A clear desk helps clear the mind. Try to keep your office neatly organized. It saves time hunting for lost items, gives you a peaceful-looking work area, and makes a good impression.
Avoid what gives you stress. Minimize contact with people and things that bring on sweaty palms and churning stomachs. If that's impossible, try to determine exactly what's stressful about this person or thing and see if it can be dealt with. – SOUL and PEACE