Monday, April 27, 2009

How Modernity afflicts many of us

The current age exposes us to a plethora of ideas through school, university, news and the media, movies, books, the internet and through other people who have been exposed to these ideas. Unfortunately it is hard for anybody to assimilate all the ideas they are exposed to.

People who have assimilated these ideas are able to find ‘relationships’ amongst these different ideas and therefore live in a “uni”-verse and not in a “multi”-verse.

[See the post Compartmentalization for a more detailed description of the "multi"-verse and see the post De-compartmentalization to understand an approach to "relate" things with each other to discover the "uni"-verse]

Many of us are exposed to ideas but have not been able to achieve this “assimilation”.

I think modernity afflicts us by creating a certain state of mind. This state of mind is best described as one where “nothing makes enough sense and almost everything seems overwhelming”.

I have felt much like floating in mid-air.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What to do and how to get things done

What to do
Seek the best in what you see [in your journey through life]

How to get things done
1.Don’t take anything [people, life] personally
a.By not allowing anything to manipulate you through your ego [See post: Becoming free of ego to find happiness]
b.Take the “emotion” out of things

2.[Through thinking] break every issue down to its smallest parts [so that you understand it clearly] - you can use a "word document" or a "paper and a pencil" to put your thoughts down in bullet points

3.Realize that you now have a “structure” to your issue

4.To get to the solution “complete the structure” you have made – build the solution “step by step”

5.Try each time you fail in order to “discover gaps in the structure you had not identified earlier” [See the post: Secret to determination]

6.Be patient till your structure completes

7.You will have found a solution

Quote from the movie Revolver: "There is no such thing as problems Mr.Green. Only situations."

The secret to determination - Law of the Seed

This is from an email i received

Law of the Seed
Take a look at an apple tree. There might be
five hundred apples on the tree and each
apple has ten seeds. That's a lot of seeds!
We might ask, "Why would you need so many
seeds to grow just a few more apple trees?"
Nature has something to teach us here.

It's telling us:
“Not all seeds grow. In life, most seeds never grow”.

So if you really want to make something happen,
you had better try more than once."

This might mean:
You'll attend twenty interviews to get one job.
You'll interview forty people to find one good employee.

And you might meet a hundred acquaintances
just to find one special friend.

When we understand the "Law of the Seed",
we don't get so disappointed.

We stop feeling like victims.

We learn how to deal with things that happen to us.

Laws of nature are not things to take personally.
We just need to understand them - and work with them.

In other words
Successful people fail more often. But they plant more seeds.

When things are beyond your control,
here's something that you must NOT DO
so as to avoid misery in your life:

- You must not decide how you think the world SHOULD be.
- You must not make rules for how everyone SHOULD behave.
- Then, when the world doesn't obey your rules, you get angry!
- That's what miserable people do!

On the other hand, Let's say you expect that:
-Friends SHOULD return favors.
-People SHOULD appreciate you.
-Planes SHOULD arrive on time.
-Everyone SHOULD be honest.
-Your husband or best friend SHOULD
remember your birthday.

These expectations may sound reasonable.
But often, these things won't happen!
So you end up frustrated and disappointed.

There's a better strategy
Demand less, and instead, have preferences!

For things that are beyond your control, tell yourself:

"I would prefer this, but if that happens, it’s OK too!"

This is really a change in mindset. It is a shift in attitude,
and it gives you more peace of mind ...

You prefer that people are polite ... but when
they are rude, it doesn't ruin your day.

You prefer sunshine ... but if it rains, it is OK too!

To become happier, we either need to:
a) Change the world, or
b) Change our thinking.

It is easier to change our Thinking!

In a Nutshell
It is not the problem that is the issue,
but rather it is your attitude attending
to the problem that is the problem.

It's not what happens to you that
determines your happiness; it's
how you think about what happens to you.

Start where you stand and never mind the past,
The past won't help you in beginning new,
If you have left it all behind at last,
Why, that's enough, you're done with it, you're through.

This is another chapter in the book,
This is another race that you have planned,
Don't give the vanished days a backward look,
Start where you stand.

The world won't care about your old defeats
If you can start anew and win success,
The future is your time, and time is fleet
And there is much of work and strain and stress.

Forget the buried woes and dead despairs,
Here is a brand new trial right at hand,
The future is for him who does and dares,
Start where you stand.

Old failures will not halt, old triumphs aid,
Today's the thing, tomorrow soon will be;
Get in the fight and face it unafraid,
And leave the past to ancient history.

What has been, has been; yesterday is dead
And by it you are neither blessed nor banned,
Take courage, man, be brave and drive ahead,
Start where you stand.

Do you wish the world were better?
Let me tell you what to do.
Set a watch upon your actions,
Keep them always straight and true.
Rid your mind of selfish motives,
Let your thoughts be clean and high.
You can make a little Eden
Of the sphere you occupy.

Do you wish the world were wiser?
Well, suppose you make a start,
By accumulating wisdom
In the scrapbook of your heart;
Do not waste one page on folly;
Live to learn, and learn to live.
If you want to give men knowledge
You must get it, ere you give.

Do you wish the world were happy?
Then remember day by day
Just to scatter seeds of kindness
As you pass along the way,
For the pleasures of the many
May be ofttimes traced to one.
As the hand that plants an acorn
Shelters armies from the sun.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Quotes on success

Definition of success
Having your own goals and achieving them, not necessarily going after the biggest and beating them.

About why we should aim for success
1.The tassel's worth the hassle!
2.The future is that time when you'll wish you'd done what you aren't doing now
3.Our attitude toward life determines life's attitude towards us
4.Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work
5.Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there
6.If you think you're too small to make a difference, you've never been in bed with a mosquito
7.Happiness is our right
8.The "Game" is on [whether we like it or not]

How to be successful
1.Nothing happens unless first we dream
2.To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail
3.When things go wrong, don't go wrong with them
4.You will find the key to success under the alarm clock
5.Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs
6.Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow
7.Don't be afraid of pressure. Remember that pressure is what turns a lump of coal into a diamond
8.Be smart [see section below]
9.Seek the best of what you see on your journey [through life]
10.Pain is a constant. Either it is with you or against you. It must be embraced!
11.Live life as a play - Plato

What keeps us from success?
1.A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits
2.The company you keep will determine the trouble you meet
3.You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure
4.Falling down doesn't make you a failure; but staying down does
5.I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody

About the person on the path of success
1.Enthusiasm is contagious. It's difficult to remain neutral or indifferent in the presence of a positive thinker
2.Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind
3.Sports do not build character. They reveal it

About Competition
1.Competing in sports has taught me that if I'm not willing to give 120 percent, somebody else will
2.Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions - it only guarantees equality of opportunity
3.The person who knows HOW will always have a job. The person who knows WHY will always be his boss
4.Never argue with a fool. Someone watching may not be able to tell the difference

What is smart?
1.Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity
2.The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits
3.It is better to be silent and considered a fool than to speak and remove all doubt
4.Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don't
5.Knowledge is realizing that the street is one-way, wisdom is looking both directions anyway
6.It's what you learn after you know it all that counts
7.No one can be free who does not work for the freedom of others

About teachers
1.A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary

The journey through the 7 valleys - Javaidnama

A story was written about birds who wanted to find their king. To find this king they collected together and started a journey that would require them to cross past 7 valleys. Thousands of birds started on this journey together but, in the journey to the next valley, many of them would be left behind. At the end of the journey only 30 birds had made it through and they did find their king. The king was the collective: the 30 birds themselves.

The journey is symbolic of the journey of the individual to the Ultimate Reality [also referred to earlier as ‘enlightenment’ and also as a journey to ‘God’] I read of the valleys from Muhammad Iqbal’s Javaidnama [the abridged version] and what I understood from it I have written below.

The fourth valley struck me as a valley where people [in those valleys] occupy themselves with switching from “narrative thinking” to “propositional thinking” [My post How we think talks about this] As a result of this switch you are able to process things in your environment a lot faster than other people. You can also make a lot of money because you can think better and thus make better decisions.

In any case you start to perceive reality in a way that is different from others who can not think like this. I feel that studying logic and logical fallacies [informal logic] can be instrumental to come to this valley.

Another characteristic of this valley is that you “detach” from others around you [because you have only started to see things differently and have not achieved a level of articulation where you can explain this to others]

The fifth valley is a valley where you search for direction to focus the ability you learnt in the fourth valley. This direction requires a guide [this can be a living person or maybe even a person such as Rumi whose written works can be of great help]. Together with the guide it requires that a person “has faith in HIMSELF” and therefore is [determined] able to struggle to turn his life [his world] into a beautiful happy world. [My post Steps to enlightenment talks about this]

In the sixth valley one is exposed to all the “evil, pain, misery, despair” in the world such as “rape, murder, awareness of what happened in wars and war camps, awareness of the pain that is ongoing in the world, awareness of the evil in his environment”. I understand that to move on from this valley it is necessary for the person to assimilate the exposure he gets in this valley. By assimilation I mean that the misery and pain should stop to “bother” him [this does not mean he doesn’t want to improve it, he will want to improve it in any way he can].

In the final valley “what you imagine very quickly becomes real”. This is because your imagination itself is based on reality and secondly because you have enough control over yourself to [do acts that] bridge the gap between “what you want/imagined” and “what is there at the moment”.

You come closest to understanding the Ultimate Reality in this valley.

As Iqbal said you “dive into the reality of your heart to understand the reality of the universe”. By this what is meant is that you use the direction of your heart [things such as love, happiness, beauty] as a guide to connecting “to people around you” and through them understand the Ultimate Reality. I have elaborated on this below.

An ayat says “Your creation and resurrection should be like the creation and resurrection of a single soul”. By this I understand that the single soul [in the case of the 30 birds, the collective of the birds] is the whole of humanity and that we as individuals should be “connected” to the whole of humanity [in a way I write below].

The whole of humanity however is too large [to come to an agreement]. However the single soul manifested at the level of a “corporation” and even that of a “nation” is still [a] reasonable [scope to achieve].

People in Pakistan like Ibn-e-Safi connected with this “collective [the whole nation]” and wrote books that were popular in all segments of the society. He could do this because he could relate to all segments of society.

The way to connect to the collective requires one to [“dive into one’s own heart” so that one can] relate to people from all segments of society. If you are able to do that I think the Ultimate Reality will dawn on you.

This is what I have understood from reading the Javaidnama of Muhammad Iqbal.

Added on 6th October 2009
My understanding of the 5th valley has improved. The 5th valley represents an awareness of one's heart. [I think falling in love can be instrumental in developing this awareness.]

This is my understanding of the heart:
It is that within you that cries when you see a distressed and orphaned child or that shows you the brutality in the humiliation [without purpose] of another human being. Or that knows [without argument or thought] that peace is superior to war.

One example of what can happen if the fifth valley is not reached and thus the heart not identified is shown below:

Somebody once said to another: When you go to a party do you prepare something to say? How else are you so comfortable at speaking to everybody at the party?

For the first person the socializing process was missing the element of the heart's guidance and thus suffered a lack of spontaneity.

The first person was trying to intellectualize the process and this was her mistake. Thus because she did not identify her heart she was vulnerable.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My view of my worldview

I think I definitely have a world view. Everybody has. Even a 7 year old child has a certain world view.

The more significant question is: What is the depth and breadth of one's world view.

My world view reflected in [I think] a large part by my blog has some structure. This structure is based on thinking about the most simplest of things so that I have a somewhat clear picture. [I do this because I have a curiosity to have clarity on certain issues.]

These issues are of the "most immediate" nature in my life and so are very basic issues.

Many people even today and before me; for example Iqbal, Rumi, Gandhi and many many others had a world view [Now that was a world view!]

My world view has allowed me to deal with my environment, remain happy, develop good social skills and simply look at my life as a painting that I sketch myself [and that's it].

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What is love and what is making love?

Love is the highest degree to which you can submit to somebody [as a young child submits to his parents].

Elaboration: You may completely know the other person's faults, strengths and weaknesses, good habits and bad habits, but you don't judge them.

Making love is a journey to heaven you can only make with somebody you love. [you cannot make this journey alone; you cannot make this journey with somebody you don't love]

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How we can simplify our lives

We can simplify issues in our surroundings by addressing our “doubts”. There are two ways to address doubts:

First method to addressing doubts :

Removing doubts: This happens by gaining the knowledge that is the basis on which the “doubt is removed”.


Doubt: Can I ever pass the logic test [a specific test –for example from a particular book]?

Simplification: Give the test and find out. If you don’t pass the test identify the skills or knowledge set that need to be acquired to pass the test. Repeat the test and re-evaluate. Repeat the entire cycle till you pass the test.

When you do pass the test you will have:
a. Removed the doubt
b. Gained the knowledge or skill set required

Second method to addressing doubts:

De-sensitize yourself to the doubt: This happens by making oneself feel that the doubt has no basis. But this is only a “feeling” and has no basis in knowledge.


Doubt: Why do I have such a bad relationship with person X?
De-sensitizing: I don’t care about person X. It doesn’t matter whether I am on good terms with him or bad. Why should I bother?

Note: If the above doubt was to be simplified one possible method is given below.

Simplification: Person X has issues A,B and C because of which he is on bad terms with me. I have issues D,E and F which also complicate the relationship. I can address issues D,E and F and have addressed them. However the relationship has still not improved because person X still has issues A,B and C. I am not able to make person X solve issues A,B and C and I should develop the skills to do so. Until I am able to develop the skills to help person X address issues A,B and C our relationship will be at an impasse.

The best way to perceive time [that I have come across]

The text below is from an email I received

Imagine there is a bank, which credits your account each morning with $86,400.

It carries over no balance from day to day, allows you to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day.

What would you do?

Draw out every cent, of course!

Well, everyone has such a bank.

Its name is TIME.

Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.

Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose.

It carries over no balance.

It allows no overdraft.

Each day it opens a new account for you.

Each night it burns the remains of the day.

If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours.

There is no going back.

There is no drawing against the "tomorrow".

You must live in the present on today's deposits.

Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success!

The clock is running.

Make the most of today.

To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who has failed a grade.

To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of ONE DAY, ask a daily wage laborer who has kids to feed.

To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who has missed the train.

To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask a person who has avoided an accident.

To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.

Treasure every moment that you have!

And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to have your time. And remember time waits for no one...

Yesterday is history.

Tomorrow a mystery.

Today is a gift.

That's why it's called the present!

Maybe. . we were supposed to meet the wrong people before meeting the right one so that, when we finally meet the right person, we will know how to be grateful for that gift.

Maybe . . . when the door of happiness closes, another opens; but, often times, we look so long at the closed door that we don't even see the new one which has been opened for us.

Maybe . . . it is true that we don't know what we have until we lose it, but it is also true that we don't know what we have been missing until it arrives.

Maybe . . . the happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.

Maybe . . . the brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; after all, you can't go on successfully in life until you let go of your past mistakes, failures and heartaches.

Maybe . . . you should dream what you want to dream; go where you want to go, be what you want to be, because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you dream of, and want to do.

Maybe . . . there are moments in life when you miss someone -- a parent, a spouse, a friend, a child -- so much that you just want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real, so that once they are around you appreciate them more.

Maybe . . . the best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch and swing with, never say a word, and then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you've ever had.

Maybe . . you should always try to put yourself in others' shoes. If you feel that something could hurt you, it probably will hurt the other person, too.

Maybe . . you should do something nice for someone every single day, even if it is simply to leave them alone.

Maybe . giving someone all your love is never an assurance that they will love you back. Don't expect love in return; just wait for it to grow in their heart; but, if it doesn't, be content that it grew in yours.

Maybe . . . happiness waits for all those who cry, all those who hurt, all those who have searched, and all those who have tried, for only they can appreciate the importance of the people who have touched their lives.

Maybe . . . you shouldn't go for looks; they can deceive; don't go for wealth; even that fades away. Go for someone who makes you smile, because it takes only a smile to make a dark day seem bright. Find the one that makes your heart smile.

Maybe . . you should hope for enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, and enough hope to make you happy.

Maybe . . . you should try to live your life to the fullest because when you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling but when you die, you can be the one who is smiling and everyone around you crying.

Maybe . . . you could send this message to those people who mean something to you, to those who have touched your life, to those who can and do make you smile when you really need it, to those who make you see the brighter side of things when you are really down, and to all those whom you want to know that you appreciate them and their friendship.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The art of communication

1. People are interested in what “they want” [which may not at all be what they need]
2. They are not interested in what “they don’t want”
3. They have short attention spans when they are engaged with something they “don’t want”
4. To communicate to people you have to address them through their “wants”
5. In any act of communication you will have a specific goal
6. The first step is to understand this goal clearly
7. The next step is to understand the connection between this goal and the “other’s” wants
8. If you can verbalize [example by writing down on a piece of paper] this “connection” you will have come up with a “pitch”
9. If you can come up with a good pitch you will be able to show the “other person” that your goal is in his interest

Sunday, April 12, 2009

10 Keys to inspiring yourself

The text below is from an email I received.

Your destination depends not on where you are but on which way you go. Your results depend not on what has happened, and not on what you have, but on what you do with it all.

From here, you can go anywhere. There are pathways leading in every direction.

What matters now is which of those pathways you choose. What matters now is the next step you take.

Give yourself permission to decide what you truly desire for your life and for your world. And know that there is a way, right now, to begin creating it.

When your thoughts and actions have a clear, specific purpose, each moment will carry you closer to the fulfillment of that purpose. When you move consistently in a chosen direction, you cannot help but reach the destination you choose.

Lovingly, thoughtfully and carefully select your direction today. You are always moving toward something, so make that something exactly what you wish.

Below are ten keys to opening your doors to your inspiration.

1. The first key to inspiration is enjoyment. It would take a spiritual master to get inspired about doing the dishes. So find something that really excites you. It can be anything that you really enjoy.

2. The second key is love. When you are actively pouring love into what you are doing, this will guarantee that you are opening yourself to experiencing more inspiration.

3. The third key is to trust yourself. Listen to that little voice inside yourself and know that this comes from heart. This is called intuition.

4. The fourth key is to follow what your intuition tells you. The more you listen to it, the stronger your intuition will become. If you don't pay attention, that little voice gets fainter and fainter until you can no longer hear it.

5. The fifth key is to keep telling yourself "I can". These are some of the most powerful words that you can ever use. When you say this to yourself often enough, you build abridge between yourself and your inspiration.

6. The sixth key is not to listen to anyone that says "no you can't". They might think that they may not be able to, and try to project this negative belief onto you, but remember to keep telling yourself that, "I can! "

7. The seventh key is to believe in yourself. When you are backed by a strong belief in yourself and your dreams, nothing is impossible.

8. The eighth key is to avoid negativity. Ask yourself, do you really need to read the newspaper or watch the news on TV everyday ? Nothing kills inspiration quicker than being surrounded by bad news.

9. The ninth key is acceptance. Accept that on some days you feel much more inspired than on others. This is normal, nobody can be completely inspired every minute of the day.

10. The tenth key is possibly the most important of all. Take action every day, no matter how small a step it seems. Action is the fuel to the fires of inspiration. Make it a daily practice to keep your fire burning. The taking of actions, no matter how small, will fill you with inspiration for taking the next step.

May your life be filled with love, happiness and inspiration.

Do less thinking,

and pay more attention to your heart.

Do less acquiring,

and pay more attention to what you already have.

Do less complaining,

and pay more attention to giving.

Do less controlling,

and pay more attention to letting go.

Do less criticizing,

and pay more attention to complimenting.

Do less arguing,

and pay more attention to forgiveness.

Do less running around,

and pay more attention to stillness.

Do less talking,

and pay more attention to silence.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Becoming free of ego to find happiness

This post is an addendum to my previous post titled: "Explanation of the movie Revolver". However I think it is a post in and of itself and so I have posted it as such.

To get to the post about the movie Revolver click here.

The movie talks about ego and by doing so gives us cognition that we are approval junkies i.e we are addicted to seeking the approval of others. It says we are approval junkies primarily because we feel good when we are recognized as special. We think it is good to be recognized as special because it means we have achieved something. It is of course good to achieve things because as long as we keep achieving things we keep moving towards a better life.

This is not a very bad thing at a certain stage of one’s life because it is related to the rule of “self-preservation”. The rule of self-preservation as I understand it tells us to be selfish and protect our own interests in order to protect ourselves. As long as we do this however we keep seeking for other people’s approval. As we become more cognizant of the reality around us we notice that different people approve of different things and so we have to choose what it is that is worth getting approval for.

While becoming aware of the way the world works, we realize that our selfishness should mature into not only protecting our own interests but also the interests of other agents [people, skills, knowledge, etc] in our environment. This is because our lives are intertwined with other things/agents around us and so the more we strive for others the more we are in fact striving for ourselves. [And in this effort we also begin to learn “what it is” that we should ask approval for]

Many times however people “do not” realize that helping other agents is actually in their benefit [so they never wake up!].

For example if somebody hates me and I was to be rude to him or even to ignore him, I would generally think that I am doing the right thing by protecting myself against him! On the contrary if I were to really protect myself against him, then I would have to ensure that his actions do not influence me, in fact I would have to ensure that my enemy has no influence over me of any kind. If my enemy were to really not influence me then I should actually be able to be good to him [because this is an opportunity for me to grow, an opportunity for me to learn how to handle such a person, an opportunity to create happiness around me]. I should [have reached a point] be good to him so much so that I do not feel the need to point out his fault [since he probably will not listen] instead manipulate him so that he is able to figure out where he is going wrong. To be able to manipulate him I would first have to earn his trust, for which I will have to [make him invest in me] react to him in a way that I gain his trust. Once I have gained his trust I can continue to manipulate him to show him what I know.

I would like to pause here to mention what I think is the quickest route to moving from being an approval junkie to being somebody who is “preserving himself” while becoming free from the need for “approval” and so reaches a state where he is “sustainably happy” i.e. is happy within his environment [by having the power to make other people around him happy for example].

The quickest route I think is “to do good for goodness sake”, i.e. to do good because “good is beautiful”. So for example if I were to want to help my enemy [not in order to negate my own ego but] because of the realization that he and I make up a very small microcosm and that there is a much greater macrocosm to which I “feel” connected. And so in helping him, all I would be doing is participating in this “macrocosm” to my heart’s content [My heart beats with this macrocosm and not with the small petty things. These small petty things are significant only as far as they are themselves a part of this macrocosm. We are all thus equally a part of this macrocosm, each one of us just like any one red blood cell in our body!]. If we go about connecting with the macrocosm in this way we would in fact be negating our ego or what little remains of it after continuous practice of this exercise.

However there is one very big trap that we must avoid here!

If one’s perception of good is “unrealistic” then they will only harm themselves and others around them, till they wake up to the reality that will inevitably give them the knowledge they didn’t have.