Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Gift Inside

Life Packaging

We all have the same things going on in our lives; they are in essence the same gift, wrapped in a different ribbon.

We have all had the experience of encountering someone whose life seems so completely different from ours that we can almost imagine we have nothing in common. However, if we go deeper into observing, we will see that we all have the same things going on in our lives. It is as if our different lives are in essence the same gift, wrapped in an infinite variety of containers, wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows. Everybody experiences loss, grief, happiness, excitement, anger, and fear. Everyone can have money issues of one kind or another, and everyone struggles with difficult choices. 

Our lives show up differently for each one of us because we each learn in different ways. One person may need to learn the value of money by having too little of it, while another may need to learn by having more than enough. We each learn about work and love, with experiences that are tailored to our particular perspective. Even as it appears that some people have it easy while others are in a continual state of struggle, the truth is that we are all learning, and it is very difficult to tell, when looking only at the exterior of a person, what�s going on inside. 

This is one of the many things that can be so valuable about cultivating relationships with people from all walks of life. As we get to know those who seem so different from us, we get to really see how much of life's challenges and joys are universal. We begin to look beyond the packaging of skin color, clothing preferences, and socioeconomic differences, hairstyles, and the cars we drive to the heart of the human experience. It is important to honor and value the differences in our packaging, but it is just as important to honor the gift of life inside each one of us, and the fact that, no matter how different the packaging, the gift inside is the same. - DAILY OM

Friday, December 24, 2010

Live Now!!

Don't postpone living by trying to solve all your problems at the same time.

In fact the nature of life is such that there will always be Things to Do, Issues to Resolve and Challenges to Overcome. You don't get started on living intelligently because you ideally want to solve all our problems and then live the life... we wish for ourselves. Let me remind you this is the biggest trap we allow ourselves to fall into. To get out of this trap, you must first know that it is impossible to have a life without things to do, complete or solve.
Your In Box is never going to be empty. Also know that you must navigate through life, one step at a time. Patiently, peacefully. Jetsun Milarepa, a Tibetan Buddhist monk, in the 11th Century, advised: "Hasten slowly and ye shall soon arrive". Hasten Slowly? Isn't that an oxymoron? Not really. Milarepa knew, and so will anyone who has been in a hurry and has been running hard only to discover that being on a treadmill never gets you to a new place, that the secret of intelligent living lies in walking in the direction of your dreams, soaking in the scenery, stopping to smell the roses, even as you watch your every step.
Today's Christmas Eve. Stop worrying. Feel the joy in the air. Hear the bells jingle. If you have postponed a vacation with your teen-aged children because you are worried about how to afford their college education, be their Santa, take them out to dinner. If you have delayed signing up for a language program because you felt you need to first achieve something with your career, go enroll yourself today and say Santa advised you to do it!. If you may have been deciding against getting married now because you are worried about the cost of running a family, go start one: companionship needs no money, honey!
Wake up and smell the coffee: Isn't it ironic that you have time for everything in life__to worry, to fret, to fume, to struggle, to postpone__except to love yourself, to Live? Life is happening, NOW. Where are you? - AVIS Motivational Speaker.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Total Happiness

The opportunity exists for you to experience this type of Ultimate Happiness.  Freedom from anger, freedom from depression, freedom from anxiety and above all freedom from self-loathing is available for us all --
We started with Freud thinking that our subconscious was responsible for our emotions and behavior.
Then we became the product of our childhood's, believing our past determines our future.

Astrology, birth sequence, genetics, you name it, we continued to search for the “reasons” we are the way we are. But in looking outside ourselves we are left feeling helpless. Victims to things outside our influence.

Hopelessness lives in the idea that who we are is somehow dependent and controlled by someone else or some outside circumstance. We start believing the best we could do was learn to cope and adapt. Taking the good with the bad, I think they call it.

The idea that we ourselves create who we are, can for many, be terrifying. We associate responsibility with guilt and blame. At first we want to turn away from this responsibility. The power suggested in that concept. The power over who you are. It can be overwhelming to some. But with that responsibility comes a freedom that no country can offer you and no man can give you.

With so many world concerns such as famine, poverty, cruelty, wars, etc., how can any thinking, caring individual give personal happiness any weight? Well here is my dream theory.

If everyone knew that they were responsible for themselves, knew that they always had choices, and started making their own happiness a priority, I believe we wouldn’t have murders, rapes, wars, or other violent acts. 

Why do I believe this? Because I believe at our very human foundation we are caring, giving, loving, and happy people. We come into this world happy. Violence and harm are simply consequences of individuals demonstrating their unhappiness. You know the feeling of joy. It’s not hateful or fearful.

It starts with ourselves and spreads into our homes in the form of domestic violence, child abuse, addictions, and a general "dis-ease." And as groups of unhappy people get together, we call them gangs and criminals. And as more unhappy people get together, we call those wars.

Envision people being at peace and living their lives the way they’ve always dreamed. Feeling the fulfillment that comes from knowing who you are and pursuing what you desire most. Can you then envision them murdering, stealing, or raping? With happiness comes inner peace. Inner peace and violence are like oil and water.

What if we looked at ourselves as the accumulation of all the beliefs we’ve been exposed to and took on as our own. And what if we made a vow to rebuild ourselves with new, more useful beliefs? What belief system would you build? Would it be one that supported your desires and wants? Ones that encouraged and emphasized understanding, openness, happiness, acceptance, and love?

If you could, make your personal happiness be a priority in your life - Editor's Choice of Books on Happiness – Soul N Peace.

Friday, December 10, 2010

You are a Blue Pearl

Head understands head and heart understands heart. The nose can only smell; eyes can only see; ears can only hear. Similarly, the heart can only feel while the head can only think. 

We try to put the heart in the head and the head in the heart and it doesn't seem to work. Your heart feels something is beautiful, whereas head says it is beautiful. We cling on to the word in the mind but we don't feel it. We repeat the word 'beautiful' in the head but it doesn't seem or feel beautiful. 

Same thing about love, you talk too much about love, you get stuck in the head and it doesn't rise in the heart. In silence, love emits, radiates. We experience ourselves in the things we love more. That is why, when we lose the things we love, we feel hurt; we feel unhappy. Suppose you love your piano very much and you hear that something has happened to your piano, something gets cut off in you. Or, if something happens to your car or your dog, you feel a loss. So you are not just living in your body, but also in that of the objects or people you love. But if you can expand this existence even more to cover the entirety, you will know that there is no loss and you are total. 

You are a blue pearl. Blue is beautiful; blue is something that is big, vast and infinite. All that is immense and infinite in creation and that which has depth expresses itself in blue. The sky is blue, the ocean is blue. You are a blue pearl, in the sense that you can't be measured. You are so deep in your being. Though you are in the body, nobody can measure your being. The being in you is not just the blue infinity; it's a shining radiant infinity that is deep and immense. Blue pearl means that which is shining, that which is radiant, that which is infinite; yet, it seems to be finite. 

When we start listening to our heart, then we know that all is one; and one God is in all. See, in our body we have so many cells and each cell has got its own life. Many cells are being born every day, many cells are dying but they do not know you. You know if something is wrong with one particular cell; you can feel it. Similarly, though we all have small lives, there is one life that covers and governs all the other lives. 

We are all floating in an ocean of life; a big life. It is not just empty space all around us; it is lively big life. And in the big sea of life there, all shells are floating and each shell has got a little water in it which is not the water separate from the water in the sea. So, we come out of our shells and experience, "I am not just in the body, but I am expanded all over; everywhere, it's me there and it's me here. I see myself in everybody". 

That is the essence of life! 

The Art of Living Foundation.

You are a blue pearl - The Times of India

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Life as We Know It

The Status Quo

Are you more attached to preserving the status quo than to honoring the universal givens of growth and change?

When our lives are going well, and sometimes even when they aren't, we may find ourselves feeling very attached to the status quo of our existence--life as we know it. It is a very human tendency to resist change as though it were possible to simply decide not to do it, or have it in our lives. But change will come and the status quo will go, sooner or later, with our consent or without it. We may find at the end of the day that we feel considerably more empowered when we find the courage to ally ourselves with the universal force of change, rather than working against it.

Of course, the answer is not to go about changing things at random, without regard to whether they are working or not. There is a time and place for stability and the preservation of what has been gained over time. In fact, the ability to stabilize and preserve what is serving us is part of what helps us to survive and thrive. The problem comes when we become more attached to preserving the status quo than to honoring the universal givens of growth and change. For example, if we allow a situation we are in to remain stagnant simply because we are comfortable, it may be time for us to summon up the courage to challenge the status quo.

This may be painful at times, or surprisingly liberating, and it will most likely be a little of both. Underneath the discomfort, we will probably find excitement and energy as we take the risk of unblocking the natural flow of energy in our lives. It is like dismantling a dam inside ourselves, because most of the work involves clearing our own inner obstacles so that the river of our life can flow unobstructed. Once we remove the obstacles, we can simply go with the flow, trusting the changes that follow. DAILY OM

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Will of God

"A man just got married and was returning home with his wife. They were crossing a lake in a boat when suddenly a great storm arose. The man was a warrior, but the woman became very much afraid because it seemed almost hopeless -- THE BOAT WAS SMALL AND THE STORM WAS REALLY HUGE, AND ANY MOMENT THEY WERE GOING TO BE DROWNED. But the man sat silently, calm and quiet, as if nothing was happening. 

The woman was trembling and she said, "Are you not afraid? This may be our last moment of life! IT DOESN'T SEEM THAT WE WILL BE ABLE TO REACH THE OTHER SHORE. Only some miracle can save us, otherwise death is certain. Are you not afraid? Are you mad or something? Are you a stone or something?" 

THE MAN LAUGHED AND TOOK THE SWORD OUT OF ITS SHEATH. The woman was even more puzzled -- what he is doing? Then he brought the naked sword close to the woman's neck -- so close that just a small gap was there, it was almost touching her neck. 

He said, "ARE YOU AFRAID?" 

She started to giggle and laugh and said, "WHY SHOULD I BE AFRAID? If the sword is in your hands, why should I be afraid? I know you love me." 

He put the sword back and said, "This is my answer. I know God loves me, and the sword is in His hands, and the storm is in His hands -- so WHATSOEVER IS GOING TO HAPPEN IS GOING TO BE GOOD. If we survive, good; if we don't survive, good -- because EVERYTHING IS IN HIS HANDS, AND HE CANNOT DO ANYTHING WRONG." 

This is the trust one needs to imbibe. SUCH TREMENDOUS TRUST IS CAPABLE OF TRANSFORMING YOUR WHOLE LIFE! And ONLY such tremendous trust is capable of transforming your life -- less than that won't do." 

Everything happens for a purpose, We may not see the wisdom of it all now but trust and believe in the Lord that everything is for the best! 

Art of Giving

WISER SAYING: "Happiness is something that comes into our lives through doors we don't even remember leaving open"
 Rose Wilder Lane,
The Art of Giving
"Rivers do not drink their own water, nor do tree eat their own fruit, nor do rain clouds eat the grains reared by them. The wealth of the noble is used solely for the benefit of others! 
Even after accepting that giving is good and that one must learn to give, several questions need to be answered.

The first question is: When should one give?  
We all know the famous incident from Mahabharat.
 Yudhisthir asks a beggar seeking alms to come the next day. On this, Bhim rejoices that Yudhisthir his brother, has conquered death! For he is sure that he will be around the next day to give. Yudhisthir gets the message.
 One does not know really whether one will be there tomorrow to give!
The time to give therefore is now

 The next question is:  'How much to give?'

One recalls the famous incident from history.
 Rana Pratap was reeling after defeat from the Moghals. He had lost his army, he had lost his wealth, and most important, he had lost hope, his will to fight. At that time, in his darkest hour, his erstwhile minister, Bhamasha, came seeking him and placed his entire fortune at the disposal of Rana Pratap. With this, Rana Pratap raised an army and lived to fight another day. 
The answer to this question how much to give is: 
"Give as much as one can! 

The next question is: 'What to give?'
It is not only money that can be given away. It could be a flower or even a smile.

It is not how much one gives but how one gives that really matters. When you give a smile to a stranger that may be the only good thing received by him in days and weeks!

"You can give anything but you must give with all your heart!" 

One also needs answer to this question 
 whom to give?
Many times we avoid giving by finding fault with the person who is seeking. However, being judgmental and rejecting a person on the presumption that he may not be the most deserving is not justified.
Give without being judgmental!" 

Next we have to answer: 'How to give?'
Coming to the manner of giving, one has to ensure that the receiver does not feel humiliated, nor the giver feels proud by giving.

In giving, follow the advice 'Let not your left hand know what your right hand gives? Charity without publicity and fanfare is the highest form of charity.'
'Give quietly!'

While giving, let not the recipient feel small or humiliated. After all, what we give never really belonged to us. We come to this world with nothing and will go with nothing. The thing gifted was only with us for a temporary period. Why then take pride in giving away something which really did not belong to us?

Give with grace and with a feeling of gratitude. 

"What should one feel after giving?"
We all know the story of Eklavya. When Dronacharya asked him for his right thumb as "Guru Dakshina, he unhesitatingly cut off the thumb and gave it to Dronacharya.   
There is a little known sequel to this story.
 Eklavya was asked whether he ever regretted the act of giving away his thumb. He replied, and the reply has to be believed to be true, as it was asked to him when he was dying.

His reply was "Yes! I regretted this only once in my life. It was when Pandavas were coming in to kill Dronacharya who was broken hearted on the false news of death of his son, Ashwathama, and had stopped fighting. It was then that I regretted the loss of my thumb. If the thumb was there, no one could have dared hurt my Guru?

The message to us is clear.
  Give and never regret giving!   

And the last question is: ˜How much should we provide for our heirs?'
Ask yourself 'are we taking away from them the gift of work? - A source of happiness? 

The answer is given by Warren Buffett:   
"Leave your kids enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing!" 

I would conclude by saying: Let us learn the Art of Giving and quoting the Saint Kabir:

"When the wealth in the house increases, when water fills a boat, throw them out with both hands!" This is the wise thing to do!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Judgement (Wisdom)

Judgement means a stale state of mind. And the mind always wants judgement, because to be in an unknown process is always hazardous and uncomfortable. Be very, very courageous, don't stop growing; live in the moment, simply stay in the flow of life. 

This story happened in the days of Lao Tzu in China, and Lao Tzu loved it very much:

There was an old man in a village, very poor, but even kings were jealous of him because he had a beautiful white horse. Kings offered fabulous prizes for the horse, but the man would say, "This horse is not a horse to me, he is a person. And how can you sell a person, a friend?" The man was poor, but he never sold the horse.

One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. The whole village gathered and said, "You foolish old man! We knew that someday the horse would be stolen. It would have been better to sell it. What a misfortune!"

The old man said, "Don't go so far as to say that. Simply say that the horse is not in the stable. This is the fact; everything else is judgement. Whether it is a misfortune or a blessing I don't know, because this is just a fragment. Who knows what is going to follow it?"

People laughed at the old man. They had always known he was a little crazy. But after fifteen days, suddenly one night the horse returned. He had not been stolen, he had escaped into the wild. And not only had he return, he brought a dozen wild horses with him.

Again the people gathered and they said, "Old man, you were right. This was not a misfortune, it has indeed proved to be a blessing."

The old man said, "Again you are going too far. Just say that the horse is back... who knows whether it is a blessing or not?" It is only a fragment. You read a single word in a sentence - how can you judge the whole book?"

This time the people could not say much, but inside they knew that he was wrong. Twelve beautiful horses had come.

The old man had an only son who started to train the horses. Just a week later he fell from a horse and his legs were broken. The people gathered again, and again they judged. They said, "Again you proved right! It was a misfortune. Your only son has lost the use of his legs, and in your old age he was your only support. Now you are poorer than ever."

The old man said, "You are obsessed with judgement. Don't go that far. Say only that my son had broken his legs. Life comes in fragments and more is never given to you."

It happened that after a few weeks the country went to war, and all the young men of the town were forcibly taken for the military. Only the old man's son was left because he was crippled. The whole town was crying and weeping, because it was a losing fight and they knew that most of the young people would never come back. They came to the old man and they said, " You were right, old man - this has proved a blessing. Maybe your son is crippled, but he is still with you. Our sons are gone forever."

The old man said again, "You go on and on judging. Nobody knows! Only say this, that your sons have been forced to enter the army and my son has not been forced. But only God, who sees the total picture, knows whether it is a blessing or a misfortune."

Judge not, otherwise you will never become one with the total. With fragments you will be obsessed, with small things you will jump to conclusions. Once you judge you have stopped growing. Judgement means a stale state of mind. And the mind always wants judgement, because to be in a process is always hazardous and uncomfortable.

In fact, the journey never ends. One path ends, another begins: one door closes, another opens. You reach a peak; a higher peak is always there. God is an endless journey. Only those who are so courageous that they don't bother about the goal, but are content with the journey, can be content to just live in the moment and grow into it; only those are able to walk in the total. - Inspirational Stories.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Overcome Communication Fears

Many people quote FDR who said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." His wife's more practical challenge inspires me more: "Do one thing every day that scares you." Eleanor didn't argue that we should avoid or try to beat fear, but recognize it and move forward anyway.
Below are my favorite strategies for coping with the fears my students and clients have most commonly shared with me.
Jerry Seinfeld made famous the line about funerals and public speaking: "According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy."

The best way to work with fear in this area is to practice your remarks in advance. Rehearse in the space, if possible, or at least in a setting which simulates where you will speak. If you can practice with a few supportive friends who will do nothing but give you good eye contact, smile at your jokes, and build you up: all the better. When you are actually delivering the speech you can recall the warm regard this audience had for your talk if the actual audience is less engaged.
It's also important to visualize success. Much like a golfer who mentally "walks the course" before a tournament, you want to envision delivering your talk before you get there. Don't affirm any negative thoughts (they'll hate me) but rather envision success, connection, and composure. For more on this I suggest you look at Ron Hoff's tongue-in-cheek book, I Can See You Naked, in which he gives some great advice on how to overcome public speaking fears.

One-on-One Conversations
Often our fear of having a conversation with somebody about a sensitive subject can be worse than having the conversation itself. We put off bringing up a tough subject because we are waiting for the "perfect opportunity." For some conversations no right time exists. We simply have to cause the conversation to happen. In these instances I suggest you use a less threatening media (e. g. a text message or voicemail) requesting time to chat about something "delicate." This will allow you to signal to the receiver that you need his or her attention, that it's a tough conversation for you to have, and possibly to suggest how and where to have the conversation.

You may wish to leave somebody a voicemail early in the morning saying "when you arrive at work let's find some time to chat face-to-face; I need your input on a touchy matter." Once you've left the voicemail you have put in motion that you and this person will talk. Sure, you may still stress a bit before the two of you actually sit down, but you've framed the conversation that needs to happen.
One friend of mine knew he had to fess up about a substance abuse problem that he needed help with. In the middle of the night he phoned his superior's work number and gave enough information on the voicemail that at 9:00 am he got a phone call back which put him on the path to recovery. Had he waited until work hours to place the call, he might never have admitted he desperately needed help.
A book I often suggest in this arena is Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes Are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler.
Email Communication
We may fear that we're not going to express something clearly, powerfully, or effectively in email. This is particularly true when we need to reply to an email which demands some time, thought, and consideration, yet we know that an immediate response is probably expected. In these situations I suggest a two-part response. Reply to the original request with a concise: "Got your message, but want to take some time to create a response. I will get back to you by (insert reasonable time frame) with my thoughts."

This signals to the other that you are aware of the request, but that you're not going to rush to answer. Take the time to draft a reply, set aside for a few hours, and then review it again before hitting send. The delayed reply can be especially effective if the issue is emotionally charged for you. The first draft can be as full of venom and anger as you want, just be sure to save it and not send it. Once you've cooled and can see clearly how you wish to reply, send a more reasoned email. At times the best reply is simply "Let's chat about this in person." You can bring your draft with you to the meeting, and then send a follow-up email which confirms what the two of you discussed. Just because the person expected an email reply, doesn't mean that's how you have to respond.
Written Documents 
When we freeze up before writing a proposal or document we often call this "writer's block." Many job-seekers, desperate to find work in this economy, find themselves blocked from beginning a cover letter or consulting proposal. Their fear gets in the way of taking the first step.

Carolyn Foster has done some great work with my students at Stanford on how to "tame your inner critic" through some daily exercises like journaling to get in the habit of writing. You can also be creative about what part of a longer document you begin with. Start with the part you will enjoy the most or can most easily create from a previous proposal. Just get started so that you can build momentum for tackling the tougher parts of the document.
I often find that if I start my writing on a white board in an empty conference room (with some classical music in the background), my creative juices flow better. Eventually I have to get to a keyboard, but staring at a blank screen can intimidate me, while staring at a blank white board can energize me. Each of us has to find a strategy through writers' block that works for us. Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way is my favorite tool for working with blocks to creativity, though business writers may find the approach circuitous.
Only by pushing through our fears in communication (and life) by taking some small and calculated risks, are we able to grow. Take a moment and do a quick self-analysis in the above four areas and consider where you may be harboring some fears of communicating. Then commit to taking one small action toward mitigating that fear. Feel free to add comments below and let me and other readers know what you did and how you fared.
J D Schramm

JD Schramm, Director of the Mastery in Communication Initiative at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, teaches a variety of communication course to MBA students. He can be reached at schramm_jd (at) gsb.stanford.edu.

Source: Harvard Business Review

The Tiger and the Fox

Read from SUFI Tales

A fox who lived in the deep forest of long ago had lost its front legs. No one knew how: perhaps escaping from a trap. A man who lived on the edge of the forest , seeing the fox from time to time, wondered how in the world it managed to get its food. One day when the fox was not far from him he had to hide himself quickly because a tiger was approaching. The tiger had fresh game in its claws. Lying down on the ground, it ate its fill, leaving the rest for the fox.
Again the next day the great Provider of this world sent provisions to the fox by this same tiger. The man began to think: "If this fox is taken care of in this mysterious way, its food sent by some unseen Higher Power, why don't I just rest in a corner and have my daily meal provided for me?"
Because he had a lot of faith, he let the days pass, waiting for food. Nothing happened. He just went on losing weight and strength until he was nearly a skeleton. Close to losing consciousness, he heard a Voice which said: "O you, who have mistaken the way, see now the Truth! You should have followed the example of that tiger instead of imitating the disabled fox." 

"And Rumi said, "You have feet; why pretend that you are lame?"

Sa'di of Shiraz